We had the good fortune of connecting with Jon Cleveland and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jon, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
For the last several years, I’ve known that I want to own my own business, both to create something valuable for others and provide an additional income stream for my family. I knew I needed something I was passionate about because of the time and effort it was going to take to make it amazing. About a year ago, I joined 9Round, a kickboxing fitness studio, to get in shape. After a few months as a member, I knew it was the business to pursue. It was the best workout I had ever done. The workouts were different every day, the trainers were awesome, and there were no class times – something that matched my busy schedule. I purchased the location two months ago and am on a mission now to make it the best fitness option in Northern Colorado.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I’ve always been one to keep busy. When I finished up my doctorate in 2020, having additional free time that had previously been devoted to reading, coursework, and my dissertation, I began to seriously consider opening my own business. I wanted to pursue something that complemented my skillset but was distinctly different than my full-time job (which I love, as a college administrator!), allowing for more variety in my day-to-day life. 9Round felt right – it’s an amazing workout (check, I’m passionate about fitness), required supervision and leadership of a team (check, I lead a large team in my full-time job and enjoy leadership roles), strong business acumen (check, I love data and budgets), and grit and persistence (check, that’s my jam). I purchased the existing 9Round Fort Collins two months ago and it’s going great so far. It’s too soon to claim success but the future looks bright and I’m on a mission to make it the best fitness option in Northern Colorado.
There are a few things that jump out to me regarding my success. First, take the time to invest in relationships. Don’t only call on people when you need something. Offer to help others, give free advice, and don’t keep a scorecard. If you’re sincere in your relationships, people will help you be successful. Second, while I really want people to like me, I don’t need anyone to like me. My self-worth is tied up in the meaningful relationships I hold with family and friends and acting on a set of values and principles that allow me to sleep at night. I won’t shy away from a tough conversation, am willing to cut a toxic person from my life, and don’t mind losing a sale to a jerk.
Third, you’ve got to figure out the 80/20 Rule. We have limited time and you need to find the 20% that drives success. This is more art than science, in my experience. It’s about connecting an outcome back to a specific input or recognizing when something you’re doing doesn’t make a difference. Last, you’ve got to roll with the punches. The perfect circumstances rarely, if ever, exist. You’ve got to take risks, own and learn from your mistakes, and go easy on yourself. Nobody’s journey is all positive, it’s a mix of positive and negative experiences. The positive journey comes from continuing to move forward and continuing to do better.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If you’re visiting me in Fort Collins, there are several things on the to-do list. A workout at 9Round Fort Collins is obviously a must! A hike up Horsetooth is also a great option. Downtown Fort Collins is a great place to walk around – check out The Exchange. My favorites are Vatos Tacos and Tequilla (I recommend the Vato Macho Margarita) and Churn (get the Salted Oreo Milkshake!). Regarding drinks, I’d recommend folks check out the tasting room at Noco Distillery and the amazing outdoor space at Backyard Tap in Loveland. When my wife and I do a date night, we love Little on Mountain. Brunch is definitely at RISE! A Breakfast Place. You can also often find me with my wife and kids at the 3 Margaritas in Loveland (great food and team), Los Chingones, and Blue Agave.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My wife, Gretchen, gets the biggest shoutout! Her unwavering support and belief in me definitely makes the entrepreneurial journey easier!