www.otctoronto.com | www.nichellelaus.com
Transformation Specialist and Owner of Optimum Training Centre
Fitness has always been part of my life. I used to be a competitive kickboxer and boxer. When I started our family, I found the demand for training for a fight was far too great. I went to my best friend’s fitness competition and decided that I could do that too. Training can be done on my own time and still have the competitive edge. I started coaching a short time after, and by word of mouth, my online training business started to grow rapidly.
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or to make significant changes in an existing business? How did the idea for your business come about?
This whole time, I had a career as a full-time police officer. The shift work and days off made it easier to have a second job. But after a while, all my time off was spent working on my online training business. At the same time, my husband who was also a police officer, started working a second job as a fitness photographer. Our passions for what we did shone through and as the years went on, our second businesses became so successful that we decided to take it to the next level. Dave decided to spread his wings and look for a studio space of his own, He came across this beautiful, well lit, easy accessible location in Etobicoke and asked me if I wanted a small space to train clients out of. One thing led to another, and after a few consultations with some business mentors, we decided to open OTC Toronto. The name is actually a derivative of OPC (Ontario Police College), which we thought would be a neat idea considering we were police officers. We decided in order for us to run at our full potential, we had to make an important, risky decision. After 15 years as police officers, we both resigned to nurture our new baby, OTC. It was very hard to leave my comfort zone. I had a secure job, with great benefits and a pension. But sometimes in life, you have to take a risk. You have to follow your heart and your passion, and realize that other great things are meant for you.
2 years later, and we are going strong! Never give up! Jump. You will find your wings along the way.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
The biggest hurdles for me are the constant changes that need to be made on an ongoing basis. Because we don’t know what exactly works, we have to keep an open mind and stay flexible all while not trying to lose our current clientele. We overcome these difficulties by always treating our current members as family. Show them respect, and that you truly care about them goes a long way to loyalty, integrity, and sustainability.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?
How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
Leaving a secure 15 year career as a Police Officer definitely had family and friends raise their eyebrows and doubt our decision, but they also knew this transition was coming. They knew that fitness and helping others was my calling. It is something that comes natural to me, and knowing that I am motivating, inspiring, and changing lives for the better made the transition a little smoother.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
Knowing that we cannot give up. We have put too much time, effort, and money into the business to give it up. We grind, hustle, and strive to make Optimum Training Centre a facility that no one forgets, and that everyone who walks in leaves satisfied.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
How hard it truly is to be an entrepreneur. The endless non-paid hours, the sacrifices, the ups and downs, and the bad advice. But as always, we prevail because we believe we can make a difference in someone’s life.
What advice would you give to an upcoming young and old entrepreneur locally and internationally?
Keep an open mind and realize that things don’t always work out the way you expect them to. Be patient, work hard, never give up, and be flexible with your realizations.