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Think Big and Start Small

Think Big and Start Small
Published by Ashkahn Jahromi on April 04, 2013

Deciding on how many tanks to have is a big question for anyone starting a float center. Answering that question can depend on factors ranging from the philosophical to the inescapably practical. It really depends on what you want out of a float center. If your vision is to have a float tank perched atop a mighty redwood, overlooking to bountiful beyond, well then you probably only need one (and some sort of salt elevator). If your goal is to float the entire football team right before the big game, you’re going to need considerably more.

Within these extremes are where most people lie. I think it’s always nice to have at least two float tanks. As ironic as it is, when someone wants to experience an isolation tank, they often want to come with someone else. And it actually makes sense. You get to go out afterwards, eat dinner, talk about your experience, and feel all floaty together. Having a partner in crime also seems to be key to getting a lot of people in the door in the first place.

With 4 tanks, you can handle 95% of requests from groups that want to come together. The more tanks you add above that, basically the crazier stuff you can do. You now have a bunch of spare float tanks that you are trying to fill, which is an invitation to launch interesting programs, and run great events. Float an entire cast of ballet dancers before their performance. Have entire boards of organizations float before their meetings. The opportunities really start to open up, but obviously the costs start to pile on as well.

Most people’s answer will come from financials. How many float tanks can they afford to start with. I think it’s best to always leave room for yourself to grow. Rent a building that you can put 2 tanks into, but has room for 2 more. Or 10 more! 

Of course, this big or small question doesn’t just end at the number of float tanks you have. It’s a pervasive question in all parts of your business. Do I launch a giant $10,000 ad campaign, or hand out flyers on the street corner? Do I start a floatopia, offering massage, acupuncture, infrared saunas, biofeedback machines, a martial arts gym, a sound studio, and a house made entirely of trampolines? Or do I just stick to floats for now?

I think it’s always good to think big. Start by picturing your ideal setup, the grand daddy of all float centers. However, launching big can sometimes be disastrous. It’s usually much more effective to figure out a kernel of your grand idea that you can actually start implementing with little to no money.

Then go for it! Instead of starting with a fleet of massage therapists, start with just one. Or better yet, see if you can sell packages that include a massage at a nearby spa. That costs you nothing! And what it gets you is a chance to experiment. A chance to see your idea interacting with the real world. Maybe no one is actually interested when you mention massages, but their eyes light up as soon as you start talking about that trampoline house.

Starting small is not just about playing it safe, it’s about having a chance to play, to iterate, to be light on your feet and light on your wallet as you give your ideas a run for their money. Often you will find that you’ll start straying from that grand idea you began with. Don’t fight it. Your ideas are evolving and growing, being morphed by real feedback from the real world. Your new grand vision will be even stronger than before, with twice as many trampolines. And this process will continue. Hopefully forever. Because it’s the big dreams that drive you to keep working, and the small tests that make sure you still have a place to work.

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Ashkahn Jahromi, Founder, Float On

Original author: Ashkahn Jahromi
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