When we were first posted to Singapore in 2009, I had high hopes of finding a job on the local economy as an actuary. I had done a lot of research prior to our move and Singapore was one of the best posts for actuarial work, so I was very optimistic!

After spending a few months looking for a job, and coming up with nothing, I reached out to some contacts in the US and started doing some marketing and project management consulting work. I loved it, but found myself traveling a lot. Between the 12-hour jet lag and 15-hour work days, I was tired and cranky and had no time for exercise. I had always relied on exercise to keep me focused and as stress-free as possible, so losing this aspect of my life was a big deal to me.

I spent quite a bit of time searching for a fitness routine that fit my lifestyle. I found a few DVDs and YouTube videos, but nothing that seemed to work long-term. I decided to just start writing out my workouts before each trip and doing them in my hotel room. They helped, but I got tired of looking at a piece of paper all the time. I decided to put the workouts on video, and that’s how “Fast Fitness to Go” began.

I now create three new workout videos each month and deliver them to subscribers via email. The workouts are less than 25 minutes and require no weights or equipment, so they can be done anytime, anywhere. My goal is to eliminate all excuses for not working out, and I think I’ve come pretty close!

Starting a home business was definitely more challenging than I expected it to be. Everyone I talked with loved the idea, so I expected to sell thousands of memberships as soon as I launched. In reality, I sold just one membership during my first month in business. I have an MBA and a background in marketing, so this was really embarrassing. I clearly had a lot of work to do.

I started networking with other entrepreneurs and taking classes specifically geared to online businesses. The course that really got me off the ground was Marie Forleo’s “Rich, Happy, and Hot B-School” (http://rhhbschool.com/). No. I don’t recommend adding that name to your résumé, but the content was fantastic! Along with eight weekly online modules and training calls, I got access to a private Facebook group where I could network with other students. I’m still friends (in-person) with several of those women today. It’s a very global group, so it was nice to have connections that understood life outside the U.S. along with my desire to start my own business.

One of the most important things I learned was that I needed to spend time getting to know my ideal customer. I thought I was my ideal customer, so clearly I must know everything I needed to know, but it turns out that not everyone who travels for work is exactly like me. I also discovered other “ideal customers,” such as moms who love being able to work out at home while the kids are sleeping. I’m not a mom, so I had no idea this demographic would have any interest in what I’m offering.

So, my advice is: write down a few ideas of the people you would like to target, then go out and find them. Ask friends and family if they know anyone in those categories who would be willing to talk with you on the phone or in person. Ask them questions that will help you fine-tune your offerings—or change your concept of your ideal customer altogether.

Even after you find your perfect target market, there is still a lot of work to be done in order to create a thriving business. It takes time, so be patient. I really thought my business would be a success within weeks, but it didn’t turn out that way. Most businesses fail within the first year because of unrealistic expectations like my own; it’s easy to get discouraged and give up. Fortunately, I met several successful business owners along the way who told me that it usually takes at least two years of hard work to have a successful business. That doesn’t mean that you can’t make money along the way and have plenty of small successes to celebrate. It just means that you shouldn’t expect to be making six figures in your first month. [quote float=”right”]Taking consistent action will ultimately get you to your goal.[/quote]

I’ve found that creating a plan for each month and sticking to it is extremely helpful. Taking consistent action will ultimately get you to your goal. Find out what your target market wants and find ways to deliver the best possible products and service. If you go above and beyond your customers’ expectations, they will likely tell others about your business and send you new customers.

Now that I’ve been in business for about a year and half, my business is finally starting to look more like I expected it to look after that first month. Reminding myself that every action I take today will likely benefit me in the future is great motivation. I would encourage anyone who wants to start a business to just get started. Give yourself plenty of time for research and planning, but put a launch date on your calendar and get moving!

Shay de Silva is founder and fitness coach at Fast Fitness to Go. She believes that everyone should be able to work out anytime, anywhere. She creates three new 25-minute workout videos each month, all requiring no weights or other equipment. Visit her at http://fastfitnesstogo.com or pick up your free workout video at http://fastfitnesstogo.com/free.

[box]We love it when you share our content! Anyone in the American Foreign Service community, especially Community Liaison Office Coordinators (CLOs) and newsletter editors at posts worldwide should feel free to reprint or otherwise share the articles on our website.

Please credit the original author of the article, and include the following: This article was originally published by AAFSW, a non-profit organization connecting and advocating for the American diplomatic community. Find more articles and resources at www.aafsw.org.[/box]