5 Things You Need To Run A Highly Successful Family Business

Jason Hartman. (2021, Nov 17). Rob Darnbrough of The Smart Fit Method: 5 Things You Need To Run A Highly Successful Family Business.

Apply the 80/20 principle — Try not to overreact to everyday occurrences. Determine quickly whether they affect 80% of your clients or business or it’s part of the 20%, and react accordingly so you don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

As a part of our series about 5 Things You Need To Run A Highly Successful Family Business, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rob Darnbrough.

Rob Darnbrough is the CEO and Co-founder of The Smart Fit Method. The boutique fitness studio combines exercise robotics and Artifical Intelligence for a perfect, personalized training session. Rob’s mission is to improve individuals’ relationships with health, nutrition, and fitness while creating a lasting legacy through his family business.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

At the age of 49, I was suddenly diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm. I was told by doctors and cardiologists that I should avoid all forms of strenuous exercise, as the inflammation and damage caused by typical workouts like biking, running, and even walking uphill could potentially trigger my condition. As a former competitive cyclist and 5-days-a-week gym enthusiast, this was terrible news for me since I’ve always loved working out and pushing my body to the extreme. I made it my mission to find a way for people like me to be able to work out and maintain physical fitness levels without the side effects of inflammation and overexertion, and The Smart Fit Method was born.

Can you tell us a bit about your family business and your role in it?

After months of research on how to find a healthier, better way to stay fit and prevent further damage, my son Connor and I came across 4 machines that utilize Artificial Intelligence, cooling methods, and adaptive resistance. We realized that these machines, under the right training regimen, could be the key to not only a safer form of exercise, but also a more effective way to train. Connor and I developed The Smart Fit Method, a holistic training program incorporating AI machines, nutrition, and lifestyle changes. Our boutique fitness center provides the most effective, personalized workouts in the shortest period of time. I’m the CEO of the Smart Fit Method, located in Cardiff, CA and Koloa Village, Kauai, HI.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?

One of the most interesting, rewarding parts of this career has been seeing the progress of our clients from our 6-Week Challenge. Our clients have been able to see over 3% change in their body composition, whether it be fat loss or muscle gain, in just 6 weeks’ time. They’ve also been able to recover their health and fitness levels that were lost during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

We try to look at everything through the lens of opportunity — whether it’s a positive or negative outcome, we can use the experience as a breakthrough in our business. Our brains always focus on what didn’t work, so make sure to always identify what worked before we dive into what didn’t. This allows us to brainstorm new ideas and keep improving. Something we underestimated early on was believing that if we gave people the proper information on nutrition, that they would follow it. What we realized is that “knowing” accomplishes nothing, while “doing” accomplishes everything. We had to pivot and develop digestible action items for our clients that would give them better results. For example, we’re now partnering with the meal prep service Trifecta, offering our clients a discount on meal prep services in order to simplify their relationship with nutrition and fitness. We took this experience and created a simple, easy way to fit good behaviors into their day to day life.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I think our company The Smart Fit Method stands out because of our ability to help people measure their progress through quantifiable data. For example, every client gets a routine biometric body scan that provides precise measurements of body fat, muscle mass, postural alignment, and dozens of other data points. Their reports are then uploaded to our Smart Fit App so they can track progress and overall health improvements throughout their training. This state-of-the-art scan shows our clients where and how they make improvements, rather than just stepping on a scale at the end of a workout.

We’re also able to give them access to the benefits of high intensity interval training in a safe environment. The Smart Fit Method replicates 5–7 hours of exercise in just three, 20 minute workouts per week. Our company allows people to gain health and fitness benefits from exercise without the restriction of time constraints, making time for movement in even the busiest of schedules.

A story that stands out is one of our clients recently lost 9 inches and 6 pounds of body fat loss, as well as gained 3.5% pounds in lean mass in her first 6 weeks. She felt so confident and excited about a family reunion that she was looking forward to attending, and we’re glad we helped her achieve this goal both physically and mentally.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We’re currently opening a second location of The Smart Fit Method on the island of Kauai, HI in early 2022. We’re also developing new features in our personalized app that will allow members to track progress on strength gains, cardiovascular improvements, and changes in body composition. When individuals focus on progress rather than perfection, their achievements are much greater.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

When I was 17, my father identified an entrepreneurial spirit in me and helped me start my first business. He wasn’t able to provide any financial support, but he gave his time, experience, and belief in me. I have been an entrepreneur ever since. When my oldest son Connor approached me about becoming an entrepreneur himself, sharing my experience with others, and making this technology available to everyone as opposed to just elite athletes and celebrities, I couldn’t resist paying forward the gift my father had given me.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I retired in 2013 at a relatively young age, but found my life lacked purpose. I needed to find something where I could create value for others. After going through personal health challenges, finding a better way to exercise, and connecting with my son on a business opportunity for us to work together, I knew that we could help so many others overcome the health challenges that they developed throughout the pandemic.

Ok thank you for that. Let’s now pivot to the main parts of our interview. How do you define a family business? How is a family business different from a regular business?

Our family business is a technologically advanced private training studio. The family dynamics can sometimes create challenges when establishing roles, responsibilities and who gives who direction on a day-to-day basis. With anything, it’s about balance — remembering at the end of the day, we’re business partners, but we’re also father and son. Owning and operating a family business is also incredibly rewarding. There’s a purpose beyond success — it’s also about enjoying what we’ve created and experiencing it together as a family.

In your opinion or experience, what are the unique advantages that family owned businesses have?

In my personal experience, the opportunity to assist and educate family through the day-to-day challenges and opportunities of being an entrepreneur is invaluable. In my opinion, there is no better way to create a legacy.

What are the unique drawbacks or blindspots that family owned businesses have?

It’s important to find the discipline to separate family matters from business matters. That’s the biggest challenge in a lot of family owned businesses. You also have to be disciplined in your life and determine the difference between focus time and free time. This balance is imperative in avoiding stress and burnout.

What are some of the common mistakes you have seen family businesses make? What would you recommend to avoid those errors?

One of the most common mistakes I’ve seen in family businesses is when they don’t clearly define an entrepreneurial time system that allows for focus time, prep time, and time for rejuvenation. The best way to avoid these errors is to define a clear schedule that provides an understanding of the responsibilities, roles, and necessary time freedom for the individuals to thrive and grow. Doing this will help the business avoid becoming all-encompassing and lessen its likelihood of negatively affecting the family dynamic.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders of family businesses to help their employees to thrive?

I would remind other CEOs and founders of family businesses that leadership comes from providing individuals with the appropriate tools to help them ask the right questions. Give them the space to make their own decisions. Don’t demonize failure, but encourage entrepreneurial spirit and creativity to bring out the best in those around you. Avoid rugged individualism at all costs, and learn how to delegate and elevate others to their unique abilities.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean with a story or example?

Leadership, in my opinion, is providing direction through clear expectations. We often fail when we say, ‘Use your best judgment,’ when what we mean is ‘use MY best judgment.’ If we don’t clearly define what that is, it’s easy to become unaligned on the business’s goals and procedures. For example, Connor and I lead together and separately — as co-founders, we have to trust that each other will make the “right” decision. We make it a point to meet regularly to ensure that we’re on the same page and checking everything off our list.

Here is our main question. What are the “5 Things You Need To Run A Highly Successful Family Business”? Please share a story or example for each.

1. A go-giver mentality — You must try to create more value for each individual client than that person feels they are compensating you for. Compensation is determined by the amount of lives you touch.

2. You must take extreme ownership — Own every decision you make, whether it is good or bad. Try to learn from what worked and correct the things that didn’t work.

3. Don’t fall in love with your own ideas — It’s important to remember that all growth starts by telling the truth and until we are ready to do so, it’s difficult to correct the things that need correcting.

4. Systemize the predictable so you can humanize the unpredictable — Processes matter! Never do the same thing twice without creating a template.

5. Apply the 80/20 principle — Try not to overreact to everyday occurrences. Determine quickly whether they affect 80% of your clients or business or it’s part of the 20%, and react accordingly so you don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite quote comes from the first principle in the book “The Go Giver.” It reads, “Always try to create more value for each individual that you come into contact with than they feel they are compensating you for.” This has become so relevant in my life and our family business. Our business was born out of adding value to the lives of others, specifically health and wellness.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Richard Branson. His entrepreneurial spirit is inspiring, along with his energy and love for life.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love to create and inspire a more positive relationship with food and exercise for people. We find that too many people use exercise and nutrition as a punishment in their minds for having a good night out with friends, or they restrict themselves continuously. I’d love to see people fill their plates more with what is good, rather than focus on eliminating foods. I’d like to help them get the minimum effective dose of exercise so they can do the things they love better, and enjoy the people they do them with as opposed to making everything a training session.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Readers can follow along our journey on Instagram @smartfitmethod and on our website,

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

Thank you for interviewing me!

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