Scaling up: how Lift Brands’ founder became a serial entrepreneur

Sarah Stowe
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Peter Taunton is the founder of Lift Brands, the US-based parent company of Snap Fitness and one of the largest wellness brands in the world. 

Peter’s latest venture as CEO and co-founder is Nautical Bowls, an Acai bowl franchise concept which is poised to launch in Australia. It’s a long way from his childhood in small town America. 

In this podcast we talk about his childhood experiences with business from selling popcorn outside his father’s grocery store to lessons learned about leadership. We talk about scaling a business from one fitness studio to a global chain, about business failure, and what motivates him after 35 years of building businesses.

“Never bet the farm,” he says. “It is important to be fiscally accountable, thinking not just of yourself but of the family’s you impact.”

“Anyone will tell you that all the learning in their career came in times of strife, in times of difficulty.”

Anyone can run a company when the wind is at your back, he says.

He describes himself as a head coach, spotting talent and polishing individuals into fine diamonds.

“I’m very grateful I had a front row seat to the American dream. We didn’t have much, but my dad gave us opportunity to work in his little grocery store, and then I had the opportunity to turn around a failing health club and turn it into one of the world’s largest health brands.”

When one of the businesses close, it affects me, I don’t want them to lose faith. There’s nothing more rewarding than getting into a business and gowing that business having it thrive, and suddenly you’re in a place in your life where you’ve go financial freedom, flexibility to spend time with friends and family.”

Show notes

Lift Brands, founded in 2013, has more than 6,000 franchises or licenses operating across its three brands in 28 countries.

It is the parent company of 24/7 gym chain Snap Fitness and premium virtual fitness classes business Fitness On Demand. Lift Brands also has a minority share in the 30 minute kickboxing franchise 9Round and the Aussie-born Fitstop functional fitness chain.

Peter was named the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2010 and is currently a Master Class instructor at the Forbes School of Business.

Peter’s business success has been featured in a host of business and industry publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur 500, Inc 5000, Top Global and Franchise 500.

He has also written a book, Impossible Hill, in which he shares 30 years of the stories that lie behind his business ventures.

Nautical Bowls is opening three stores in December in Brisbane, Gold Coast and Perth. The Australian business is headed up by Dean Lightfoot, who will lead expansion and support franchisees.