The Entrepeneur Behind Ambition Fitness, Katie Daniel

About Ambition Fit Studio CEO, Katie Daniel

It all started with a dream and a passion for helping others. Today, the mission-driven Ambition Fitness is a state-of-the-art fitness facility assisting women in achieving their fitness goals. The story behind Katie Daniel’s success in building her successful Louisville, KY, women-only gym brand from the ground up with limited initial business acumen is a testament to her desire to make more meaningful contributions. 

So, despite not having any significant business acumen and only a negative experience visiting testosterone-heavy gyms, she stepped outside her comfort zone and took some free workshops offered by the Kentucky Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and began planning to launch Ambition Fitness, a women-only gym. While her gym’s launch was initially well-received, COVID-19 struck soon thereafter, causing it to shut down for 11 months soon after its opening. Her business emerged from the crisis still standing. That fact is representative of the limits of her grit and tenacity.

While Katie’s gym certainly inspires women to become better versions of themselves every day, the story about her path to becoming an entrepreneur and weathering all the highs and lows that comes with it is perhaps even more impactful and empowering. The lessons Katie Daniel has learned along the way could be useful to anyone looking to pursue their ambitions. 

Katie's Path From a Sales to Entrepreneurship

Katie Daniel spent years rising through the ranks in the medical sales profession, ultimately becoming Regional Territory Manager for a stem cell and biologics company leading up to 2018. She'd always had a passion for fitness, yet a keen dislike for the male-dominated options most widely available in her area. She didn’t feel comfortable sitting idle and not doing anything about it. She wanted to instigate change. 

She spent her latter years with that medical supply company trying to identify the best approach for getting her business concept off the ground. After attending business workshops and receiving free SBDC mentoring, she successfully launched her gym on December 1, 2018. 

Katie's Goal To Inspire Female Entrepreneurs

Katie's mission statement for Ambition Fitness speaks about her interest in empowering women by providing them with a comprehensive and effective fitness plan that helps them achieve long-term results and thus gives them body confidence. The key here is a roadmap and a feeling of invincibility. 

While these are attributes that Katie Daniel hopes to instill in her gym members, they're also key elements that led to breaking free from the daily grind of working for someone else and becoming her own boss. 

Advice Katie Has for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

The path to opening the gym wasn't easy. Initial efforts that focused on finding a location for the business fell through. Katie Daniel realized that this was the universe telling her that she still needed to learn a few things before launching her company. She enrolled in some SBDC workshops, which led to her working with a business mentor, who helped guide her through applying for a business loan, negotiating leases, hiring contractors, performing competitive research, gaining other strategic insight and learning the fundamentals of making informed decisions.

From all of this mentoring combined with blood, sweat, and tears she's endured during her foray into opening up her own business now nearly four years ago, she has a few pieces of insight that she'd impart to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to launch a startup as she did:

  • Be passionate about what you do. Make sure the business you plan to launch centers around something you're passionate about. This is key to ensuring you'll wake up every day willing to put in the effort to continue fighting to continue making it a success.
  • Ensure the company you're looking to launch is niche. It needs to fill a void in the market by either being nuanced (new and different) or something that revolutionizes (challenges the status quo; improves upon the way things have traditionally been done). 
  • Do your research. While you may not think you have any competitors, or at least not any in the local market, customers may perceive things differently. Research competition, even ones offering loosely related services, to see what they're offering and how you might be able to gain a competitive edge over or partner with them to grow your business. Also, look beyond your local market to see what others are doing that works. 
  • Know your numbers. This includes looking up competitors using business databases to see how successful their businesses are (so that you know what to expect or can set goals for your business). Knowing your numbers also entails taking time to become well-versed in financial management. Knowing your overhead and how to make small reductions necessary is key to achieving certain financial benchmarks like profitability. 
  • Reach out to others for help. This is ideal for filling in knowledge gaps as Katie did when consulting with the mentors at the SBDC. This is just one example of the many free resources available to aspiring and existing small business owners. 

The other advice Katie Daniel would give to those wanting to launch their own business as she did would be to be prepared to roll up their sleeves and commit. 

As hinted above, Katie's continued success as the owner of Ambition Fit Studio has been wrought with obstacles that would have led many owners to shutter their business doors. One of the primary reasons she hasn't had to consider doing that despite all the adversity she's encountered since its launch is a testament to her passion for her industry, extensive pre-planning, and a good measure of resilience and ambition thrown into the mix.