Success magazine recently named PreventObesity.net Leader Tami Provost the winner of its “Start Small, Win Big” challenge, a national competition designed to help small business owners transform their endeavors.
Provost is founder of Fit on the Fly, an organization that offers five simple, positive strategies to help people lead healthier lives. Fit on the Fly primarily works with schools and youth organizations to help kids build healthy habits, but also offers in-person workshops in clients’ homes, and wellness seminars at workplaces.
When Provost launched Fit on the Fly in 2010 she knew her services were needed, but was having a hard time generating business. Provost didn’t grasp how dire things were until she began the challenge in January and discovered she had just $52 in her business checking account.
But after taking part in the 12-week, 12-step challenge, she generated loads of new business and even earned an endorsement from First Lady Michelle Obama.
“It really helped me to refine and define what my mission really was,” Provost says. “To be able to see tasks and day-to-day things I perhaps was doing that [weren’t] contributing to my outcome and [were] a waste of time.”
In the article announcing Provost as the winner, Success editors write that while some people “had small businesses with more revenue than Fit on the Fly… few others seemed to go from zero to 60—literally starting small and winning big—like Provost.”
Winning required Provost to completely transform the way she reached out to potential clients, she tells the Inside Track. Before the challenge, Provost most often promoted Fit on the Fly to people via email. During the course of the challenge, she realized she needed to do much more face-to-face interaction with potential clients, which she admits wasn’t easy.
“When I first started, it was crippling, just the thought of rejection,” she says.
But like many of her clients — who fear they will fail at getting healthy and so they just never begin — Provost knew the health of her business required that she step outside her comfort zone. So she began meeting with school administrators, and soon found that working with parent-teacher groups was a successful strategy to get clients. She also stepped up her game in social media and provided free resources for teachers to spread the word about Fit on the Fly.
Her efforts succeed. Along with drumming up new opportunities in schools, Provost found that many people were contacting her for one-on-one support, which gave her the idea to begin hosting conferences designed to help people kick start a wellness routine.
The next event, slated for Sept. 22 in Dover, N.H., will be a conference designed specifically for teenage girls. The mission is to teach the girls that “being FIT is not about how you look, but how you feel,” Provost says.
“It will empower girls to recognize the connection between making five simple lifestyle choices and having more energy,” she says, adding the girls will also likely find that they’ll “do better in school, make better choices and feel better about themselves.”
Provost says she never expected to win the Success challenge. In fact, when Tory Johnson from Good Morning America called Provost to tell her she had won, Provost was actually away on vacation in Guatemala and didn’t get the message.
“I had decided that I was going to be unplugged,” Provost recalls. “I thought, ‘Great! Tory Johnson from Good Morning America called me six days ago.’”
Being declared the winner has given Provost the confidence to continue to grow Fit on the Fly, she says. Her overarching mission remains teaching people, especially young people, that being healthy and fit isn’t about how you look, but how you feel.
Provost has set a goal to offer lessons to 1 million children this year, which she hopes to achieve in part by visiting schools and hosting conferences with young people, including the Sept. 22 event for teenage girls.
“I have always believed in my offerings, but this award offers me credibility, which in turn gives me the confidence to approach clients [and] sponsors,” she says. “Winning the challenge has also opened up opportunities for me to network with other small businesses nationwide.”