An interview with Ana Santos Gitzinger, president and founder of Orinoco Fitness Inc.
Q: Describe your business. What do you do?
Address: 116 N. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville, IL 60048
Owners: Ana Santos Gitzinger and Thomas E Gitzinger, Jr.
Year business started: 2012
Web address: www.orinocofitness.com, www.facebook.com/orinocofitness
A: Our slogan is "Fun & Fitness in Perfect Balance." At Orinoco Fitness, our mission is to help people find balance and reach their fitness goals through fun group exercise classes. Our beautiful studio provides an intimate, inviting atmosphere for people to exercise and relieve stress. Orinoco has no contracts so you only pay for the classes you take. The first class is free if you are a local Illinois resident.
Q: What made you start your business?
A: I have always enjoyed fitness and strongly believe you should take care of yourself to become the best person you can be. I wanted to be able to attend group exercise classes without being tied to a long-term contract (or pay for high membership fee at a large gym with facilities and equipment I didn't use). I decided to create Orinoco Fitness to delight consumers who wanted the same thing: high quality group exercise classes, a clean, large studio, intimate atmosphere and great location without a contract.
Q: What has been the most difficult obstacle in starting a small business?
A: Getting additional funding from banks or SBA. Since the economy and housing market are still recovering, banks are not lending money to first time business owners (not even as a government guaranteed SBA loan). You need to be in business for at least 6 months before they even consider giving you a loan. Tom (my husband) and I are financing the business completely with some help from family to be able to open Orinoco Fitness.
Q: What do you enjoy most about operating your business?
A: The interaction with people. I have an amazing team of instructors and staff.
Q: Is this what you pictured yourself doing when you were young?
A: I wanted to be a career woman like my mom. And I've always admired successful business women (who also have a family and find the balance between those two important roles). That is what I aspire to become.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
A: For the past several months, construction delays. We have a very tight schedule and I keep getting calls from my contractor and landlord about unexpected delays. But I take each problem as it comes and tackle it (letting others do their job as well.)
Q: If you could give one tip to a rookie business owner, what would it be?
A: Don't try to do it all yourself. Ask others for help, especially if they have the expertise. Surround yourself with people who are very good at what they do and ask them to join your team -- and use your gifts and strengths in all the other areas of the business.
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