Steve Rollings is the Proprietor of ten Anytime Fitness gyms throughout the Hunter region. He was at the forefront of the franchise expansion, opening the first Australian outlet in Muswellbrook in 2008.
His experience as an entrepreneur has been embedded as a franchisee, having previously owned five Eagle Boys franchises in the Upper Hunter. However, he realised that this ownership didn’t align with his personal values and commitment to fitness, which is when he sold the businesses and began looking for a different opportunity.
Steve’s experiences have taught him the importance of market cycles, the value of a team, and that cashflow is king.
- What journey led you to start your own business?
I guess the journey started when I was probably 13. I used to grow carnivorous plants, which is a bit strange. We used to get these pots in from Queensland. I built this little place to grow them in. We were growing them and selling them to local markets, and that went on for a few years. That was pretty fun.
I guess most kids got a job at McDonald’s. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. Then, I finished year 12 and did an electrical apprenticeship. After that, I was working at Eagle Boys Pizza delivering pizzas, and one night I was chatting to the owner in Tamworth. We were chatting and he goes, why don’t you buy one? I thought that sounded like a good idea.
I spoke to my parents and we put a plan together. I had a bit of money saved up. About six months later, I opened up an Eagle Boys Pizza in Muswellbrook, which was about two hours from where I lived. I was about 22/23.
It was funny; each week I used to fax my bank statements to Mum and Dad, and they reconciled them for me. They said, yep, you’re good. That’s kind of how that started. Then, we put another one in Singleton after that. Then, I bought Tamworth and opened up another one in Tamworth. It was a big learning journey, but I really enjoyed myself.
- Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I think I always knew that I wanted to have more than a job, a normal life and going through the motions, but I didn’t really know what I wanted to do growing up. It wasn’t until I went into Eagle Boys that I realised that that’s what I was good at.
For a lot of young people, you don’t know what you want to be going through school. I didn’t even do commerce in year 11 and 12. I thought, what’s the point? I finished year 12 and I actually got accepted into university in Coffs Harbour to do a business degree and I thought, why would I want that? Then, three years later I was in business for myself.
I think sport played a big role in my life when I was growing up, as well. Parallels with sport and business, I feel, are really close. I think that, for whatever weird reasons, inspired me as well to craft my own businesses.
- What’s one action or task you ensure you incorporate into your diary each week?
This year, I really thought about my New Year’s resolution cliché. What’s something that all the people that are successful have been doing? I’m going to follow that this year. The worst thing about it is that one thing from everything I read and that everyone was doing to be successful, was getting up at 5:30am in the morning and creating a morning ritual. Meditating for 10 minutes, having a power smoothie, having a workout, and then being back home by 7:00am in the morning. I’ve been managing to do that probably five days a week so far.
Even this morning, I did it when my three-year-old was up at 11:30pm last night. I got up at 5:15am this morning. I feel by doing that, I can then plan the day well. I spend 20 minutes planning the day. I’ve been meditating for 10 minutes with this cool meditation app, which I find challenging, but I’m getting better. I also go to the gym in the morning because I’m really busy, even though my gym is actually next to my office. That, to me, I think is probably the best thing I’m doing at the moment each day or each week.
- What do you attribute your success to?
I think the two keys things are finding a market that you’re really passionate about and you understand, and just backing yourself to have a go. If there’s no market there and you don’t understand it, you’ll just be really frustrated, and I’ve done that a couple of times. I thought, this is really cool to go in and I didn’t understand it, where I guess the fitness market, I understood really well. When I went into this business ten years ago, it was the first Anytime Fitness going into Australia. There’s this massive market for 24-hour gyms. Just back yourself and just have a go, and that’s what I did with Anytime Fitness.
- Which local entrepreneur do you find inspiring?
There’s a lot of people who I find inspiring. I guess one that particularly took my attention partly probably because Michael’s kids and my kids go to school together as well, is Michael Hope from Hope Estate. I’d read an article about him probably two or three years ago in The Newcastle Herald about how, when he was in his early 20’s, he just had a go as well and went into some pharmacies. Did four, five or six pharmacies really, really quickly. Now, he’s produced an amazing business doing what he’s passionate about in the Hunter Valley. I think that’s a really, really cool story; from where he started to where he is now.