Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and fitness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ilan Cumberbirch, Founder of Yard Athletics, located in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Yard Athletics is built around a community of like-minded individuals who are constantly striving to elevate their overall well-being. Utilizing systematic, science-based training methods rooted in fundamental human movement patterns.

The Yard is foundational strength & conditioning. Our community consists primarily of young professionals working, living, or commuting through Vancouver's downtown core, who make a point of prioritizing their health and wellness on a daily basis. Offering Customized Strength & Conditioning, Semi-Private Training, Athlete Development, Corporate Training, Open Gym access, and Online Training, The Yard's wide variety of service offerings ensures that there is an accessible service for all demographics, experience levels, and goals.

Tell us about yourself

Growing up in Vancouver, I spent my youth playing an array of sports. Eventually, focusing on hockey and rugby, I began taking my off-season training more seriously around the age of 14. Going on to receive a post-secondary scholarship for athletics and academics, I completed my Bachelor's in Kinesiology while attaining my Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist designation. I spent my summers at University training elite athletes ranging from minor hockey to NHL players. I eventually bought into a business that no longer exists today, then went on to create Yard Athletics.

What motivates me on a daily basis is to see the impact that we can have on an individual's well-being and livelihood by sharing our knowledge and expertise in regard to fitness and lifestyle. Helping our community achieve their goals, improve their quality of life, and improve their overall well-being is what motivates me to continue to provide the best team of coaches, culture, and community possible. I want to leave a legacy.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Eventually, taking the leap to open up our own brick-and-mortar space in Downtown Vancouver. We opened in June 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic that brought on a wide range of its own stressors. However, we have made it through that time and are stronger because of it. I feel confident that being able to open our business during that two-year period to today, having grown our business, coaching roster, and client base - we have a strong business model, product, and loyal customer base.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Managing people/staff's unique needs wants & desires - no two individuals are alike. Being able to approach each situation differently, understand both sides of the situation, and navigate through that together takes time, experience, and an open mind. Scaling a brick-and-mortar business where the exchange of time is the commodity - there are only so many hours in a day. We need to find creative ways to scale our business in order to grow.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Be patient - nothing good happens overnight.
  2. Work hard - people are afraid to work, to be uncomfortable, to sacrifice, to alienate themselves. Something has to give, and that might be your Friday night, your sleep, your "ideal" schedule, or your weekend.
  3. Don't try to do it all - find the best person for the job and pay them to do it. Paying them might mean trading them a service or product for their time and expertise if you are able to afford it initially. We have a team consisting of legal, bookkeeping, accounting, financial management, marketing, social media, web design etc., etc. These are not my areas of expertise - so we outsource them to the professionals to do a better job than we could, allowing us to focus on our strengths.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

You'll never be ready to start your own business, to go out on your own, to expand. It will never be easy. Nobody knows what they're doing, as much as they might tell you they're the best at what they do. You might lose track of what you are trying to achieve or where you're trying to go. It's important to stop and take stock of everything that you've accomplished to date and to ensure that the path you are pursuing aligns with your morals and goals in life.

Where can people find you and your business?





If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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