Perry Smith is the founder of Perry Smith Fitness Concepts in Nashville, Tennessee. He practiced physical therapy for over 20 years and is an expert in the biomechanics of movement. Over the past 15 years, Perry Smith has channeled his passion for health and wellness into initiating and expanding two successful physical therapy businesses in and around the Nashville metro area.
Perry Smith helped lead both physical therapy businesses to profitability in under 6 months, yielding an average yearly net profit growth of 23% over a 16 year period.
Smith combined his extensive knowledge of biomechanics with a solid business model that disrupted traditional physical therapy with better patient results and solid financial success.
Where did the idea for Perry Smith Fitness Concepts come from?
I became interested in health and fitness in my early teens. To foster my growing interest, when I was 14 my dad purchased a custom-made squat rack (actually called a power rack) bench, and Olympic weight set from a local company that manufactured strength training equipment. I set up my “gym” in our garage and that become a place of physical, mental, and spiritual growth for me.
That early spark led me to an understanding of the foundational importance of health and the empowering energy of fitness, which has continued to center me. In terms of heiracrhy of needs health is one of the stabilizing blocks that life is built on. Separate, but also very important, is the concept of fitness which entails using health to a higher level. Because it is a higher level it takes work and commitement to obtain, but provides the empowerment of achievement as one of the many fruits of its acquisition. It is from my understanding of the value of health and the power of fitness that I wanted to help others appreciate, care for, and develop these pillars in their own lives.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
A typical day orients around scheduled client appointments. In between appointments, I have a predetermined list of to-dos which may include writing content, sales and marketing activities, or next-step planning. Typically, I eat light and schedule some type of cardio exercise during the day, as the combination of those two keeps my energy level pretty high.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I tend to have a good balance between dreaming up ideas for the future of my business and the practical “what needs to happen tomorrow” steps that keep things working right now. But I also spend a lot of time thinking about products that would make the world better. I am extremely equipped at the concept stage of idea creation. And for ideas that have a short implementation cycle I can effectively bring them to life. However, when the idea requires a concept transforming into a “hard” product, I have not been effective at guiding that concept to the appropriate next step so that it reaches a finished product.
What’s one trend that excites you?
One trend that has been on a positive trajectory for several years now is people investing in their health proactively versus retroactively. Running concurrently with this is people’s increasing understanding of the role of fitness in proactive care of their health. For example, science has shown that cardiovascular exercise is a top preventative measure you can take to reduce your chance of developing dementia. Understanding that exercise is much more than just losing weight or being in shape leads to people being more invested in the work I do with them. By utilizing resources like I provide, my clients are proactively investing in living their healthiest life.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I regularly do mid-day or afternoon cardio. It is better than caffeine! It will energize you for hours after, allowing you to be maximally productive. The activity needs to be long enough to be aerobic but not too long that your body enters into an immediate recovery phase.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be confident in yourself and be an unashamed self-promoter. Many people feel uncomfortable talking themselves up but you have to become intimately comfortable with being your biggest and best promoter.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
The term I use is “cutting edge and evidence proven.” In the field of health and fitness there are a lot of shiny new objects to choose from. It is questionable as to how many actually do what they claim, or if they have verifiable research and data to justify their product. As a part of my professional education at Emory University, we did deep dives into not just conducting research but evaluating research and being a keen judge of validity and reliability of claims. This helps significantly in choosing cutting-edge technology, products, and techniques that actually do what they are supposed to do and do it at the highest level. Also, it lets us be able to market the proven strengths of our services against the less proven products our competitors may be utilizing.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Early in my business I did not invest enough of my time and energy into mentoring people that worked with me and provided the same services I provided. I was in high demand for my services and I incorrectly thought that maximizing my time with clients was the best way to grow the business. Unfortunately, it created a self-induced choke point of growth. My schedule soon became maxed out and I had no more room for new clients. Because I had not sufficiently mentored my staff, there was a perceptible decrease in expertise when new clients were placed on their schedules and they often wanted to only work with me. As I became aware of this situation I consulted with peers to implement a system of educational mentoring which decreased my client time but overall raised our client reach and level of being a valued community resource.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
We live in a neighborhood in Brentwood, near Nashville, Tennessee, that was just started in the last 3 years. All the homes are new construction. The amount of building waste associated with residential home construction is incredible. So much lumber, drywall, bricks – everything goes into dumpsters and a lot of it ultimately into landfills. My wife and I often discuss that there should be a way to limit the drywall excess. Drywall comes in certain sheet sizes and then the excess is just cut off and thrown away – by the dumpster load for a single house. There should be a way to have more customization of the sizes so there is not so much excess that goes to waste. I am not sure how to take that project forward but I am sure there are plenty of smart people out there who are.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
This is easy. – the tea pot I got a few months ago. I have been wanting to switch from coffee to tea for a while and was making my tea in a labor intensive “old school” way. My new tea pot not only makes making tea easier but it adds to my excitement about the process of making tea. And I love a good cup of tea!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I don’t think I can live without my smartphone.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
A successful business requires a solid foundation that grounds you and helps identify your purpose. There have been times I didn’t put my marriage first and that impact goes further than just in family. These books are great for helping remind you how to communicate with your spouse and nurture your love for each other.
- Invest time and energy into mentoring people you work with that can provide the same services you provide.
- Take time to think about practical things to improve your business now and don’t forget to set goals and dream about what could be to set your business up for growth in the future.
- Look for products and solutions that are “cutting edge and evidence proven.” Don’t chase after every flashy new technology that promises big, but can’t really deliver.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.