Amber Williams, Founder of Power in Motion Gymnastics

Amber Williams is so hyped up about the upcoming Summer Olympics in London that she’s put a digital countdown clock on her website. A gymnast since she was seven, Amber started her Michigan-based business Power in Motion Gymnastics and Fitness, at 21.

“Gymnastics teaches you so many life skills – it helps develop strength, flexibility, motor skills, coordination and balance. It also helps teach children commitment, discipline, hard work, following directions, and taking turns.”

Amber’s business has grown and she now employs over a dozen gymnastics instructors. Read her story and you’ll get a sense of what it’s like to train for Olympics, which seems like good practice for the endurance needed to run a business.

Amber shared her startup story on our website.

Reason for starting: At the age of seven, I began gymnastics which led to my lifetime dream of operating my own gymnastics facility. People constantly asked if I wanted to go to the Olympics and my reply was, “No, I want to grow up, own my own gym and coach.” My dream to continue gymnastics was not always an easy task. I traveled six years to a gymnastics facility in Grand Rapids four to five times a week. I left school at 2:30, traveled 1½ hours to the gym, workout for 4½ hours, and travel another 1½ hours back home.

As my grandmother drew closer to her deathbed from cancer, it was no longer feasible for the family to be away from home so often, so I began coaching. While coaching I graduated from High School with honors in 2005 and went on to earn my Associate’s Degree in Business Administration in 2008. My plans to continue my education were cut short when the opportunity to follow my lifetime dream became a reality. I am still continuing my education today by attending National Congresses, gymnastics boot camps, and reading and studying all materials about small businesses.

Biggest success: On December 8, 2008 Power In Motion Gymnastics opened its doors in a two-room warehouse with a 40-foot sailboat between the two rooms. By June, the space was already too small. I bought a piece of land next door and less than a year later the doors opened to my new 12,400 sq. ft. building of Power In Motion Gymnastics. My business continues to grow, with over 450 students enrolled in preschool, recreational and competitive gymnastics programs, cheernastics, zumba, ballet, and birthday parties. My staff of four has grown to 20.

In 2009 I received the Cornerstone Entrepreneur of The Year and Platinum Business Award. In May 2012, I received Michigan’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Biggest challenge: I would have to say the biggest challenge was starting a new business during a feeble economy when banks were reluctant to finance a new structure, especially to a 21-year-old. They requested I lease a building, grow my clientele and then come back to request a loan. They did not understand that I had looked at numerous places, but the local buildings were not conducive to the specific needs of gymnastics buildings with ceiling heights in excess of 20 feet. How could I build a strong business with no building to begin my business if no one would lend me money?

The one thing you would do differently: I truly cannot think of anything I would do differently other than being able to delegate some of my responsibilities to others. The reason for this thinking is due to the fact that over the last 3 1/2 years it has become overwhelming working seven days a week from daylight to dark and still feeling the need for more hours in the day.