What Being a Colts Cheerleader Taught Me About Running a Business

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Dance has been a lifelong passion of mine, spending much of my youth in and out of dance studios and recitals. To keep this passion alive after graduation, I auditioned for a spot with the Colts Cheerleaders. Over the course of four seasons with the team, I was awarded countless, unforgettable experiences and gained lifelong friends. But, eventually, it was time for a new chapter in my career.

Dancing and cheerleading for that long takes a toll on your body, both mentally and physically. After leaving the Colts, I turned to massage therapy to help work out some of the tension leftover from my years-long dance and cheer career. It took just one appointment to sell me on the true benefits of massage therapy. Over time, my investment in this regimen grew, and I knew my next career move would focus on providing the same relief and relaxation to others.

In 2017, I turned my passion for dance into a purpose to help others by pivoting to become a business woman and opening two Massage Heights retreats in Indianapolis within one year. Surprisingly to some, including myself, I found so many similarities between my cheer career and my new role as a business owner. For example, skills like relationship-building and teamwork apply to any role and both are incredibly important for success. Here are a few lessons I learned as a Colts cheerleader that have helped me find success in operating two businesses.

Teamwork

As a member of any team, big or small, it is important to conduct yourself as a team player, both on and off the field. As a cheerleader, being part of the team means more than just supporting your fellow squad mates. It also means possessing strong communication skills, pulling your own weight and stepping up to pick up the slack.

As a business owner or a team leader, it’s important to make sure everyone’s voice is heard. Teamwork means recognizing and appreciating the hard work of your staff and knowing how to communicate effectively, even during a rush. We’ve worked hard to build a culture at Massage Heights centered around teamwork and supporting one another.

Relationship building

Another key skill refined in my cheer career was building lasting relationships everywhere I go. In my four seasons with the Colts, I traveled to various countries for all types of opportunities, including to Hong Kong for the Chinese New Year parade. This allowed me to learn more about different cultures and customs around the world and find ways to relate to others on a deeper, more meaningful level.

I've translated this skill into running a multi-location business by understanding what makes people tick, from the way they were raised to treat others to how their culture influences the way they make decisions. Since opening our first retreat in Indianapolis, I’ve leveraged my relationship with the Colts in a mutually beneficial way. Not only did Massage Heights sponsor the Colts Cheerleaders and the Colts Cheer Junior Program during the 2017-2018 season but we also help many of the current and former cheerleaders take care of their bodies.

By better relating to others and their goals, I’ve also built lasting relationships with other local business owners and organizations to further promote the Massage Heights brand in Indianapolis. I am my own biggest cheerleader, so it’s important for me to constantly be on the lookout for new and exciting relationships that will benefit my business, but also seeking opportunities to help others in my everyday life.

Persistence

In cheerleading, your spot on the team is never guaranteed. In fact, in my second season of tryouts, I was cut and faced with the choice of giving up or coming back the next year to try out again. I dusted myself off and got back in the game, auditioning and earning a spot on the team once again. Had I not stayed positive and persevered I would have missed out on three additional seasons and all the experiences that came with it. 

The same logic can be applied to running a business. Didn’t hit your sales goals for the quarter? Lost an employee to a competitor? No matter what life throws at you, it is important to continue putting yourself out there. Had I given up at the first bump in the road, I wouldn’t be running two successful businesses and opening a third.

Adaptability

Routines can change at the drop of a hat. If someone is out sick or has to miss a game due to personal reasons, the rest of the team needs to reset dance formations. The entire squad must adapt in the heat of the moment, ensuring the fans never know the difference.

In business, things rarely go as planned, but you can’t let that be an excuse to drop the ball. As a business owner, you have staff and customers counting on you every day. If things don’t go according to plan, it’s up to you alone to adapt and overcome. I’m constantly on my feet, filling in for sick team members or commuting between locations to ensure that everything is running smoothly.

So, the next time you think being a cheerleader is all fun and games, remember that the many valuable life skills to be learned in this activity. The lessons I learned with the Colts have allowed me to contribute to the local business economy in Indianapolis, employ a staff of more than 50 people and find success in even the smallest achievements.

Cristina Goebel is the owner and operator of Massage Heights Indianapolis.

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