Like many of those in the corporate world, Carolyn Homberger was forced to slow down during the pandemic. She’d spent her career working in the FinTech industry, and she had achieved a C-suite level; she was financially successful and widely recognized as a leader in her industry. But in the early days of the pandemic when her office was closed, Homberger found herself at home, thinking. “It was the first time in 20 years that I slowed down,” she says. “And that’s when I realized I wanted something more.”
In what way? “I knew I had this amazing job and I was very successful, but I felt like I was missing a connection with my community,” she adds. “I felt like I needed more in my work. I’m an extrovert, and I love being around other people. In my next chapter, I knew I had to figure out how to make a living with something that tied me a little deeper to the community.”
In July 2021, on the heels of a corporate leadership change that moved the office of her company from Naples to Coral Gables, Homberger decided to leave her position and set out on her own. “Honestly, I could not imagine moving away from Naples.”
She hired a franchise broker to scan the market and suggest different concepts. That’s how she landed on Athletic Republic, a sports training center for athletes of all ages and disciplines. In May 2022, Homberger and her husband Eric launched Athletic Republic Naples.
The concept made sense for the pair. They’re both lifelong athletes—Eric has run seven marathons in his lifetime, one for each continent (including Antarctica); Homberger has run four, and she runs the Naples half-marathon every January. Their three children are also in athletic activities.
Yet even with nearly two decades of professional experience, Homberger said the leap from the corporate world into entrepreneurship was still daunting. Thankfully, she had a vast bank of knowledge to draw on. “At the end of the day, it’s a business,” she says. “Whether it’s a small community business or a multimillion-dollar software company, I feel the same deep sense of personal responsibility.”
That personal responsibility has led her to make successful choices, both for her new business and for her own life.
Always Have a Goal in Mind
Homberger gives the same advice to entrepreneurs that she gives to other athletes: “Always have a goal in mind. Then you’re working toward something.”
Both in her family and with her professional team, Homberger sets long-term goals, quarterly goals and monthly goals. These are goals that can be measured and used to hold themselves accountable. “They motivate us to do more than we thought possible,” she says.
Her biggest tip for achieving any goal? Work on it every day. “Even if you only make 1% progress, that’s how you move forward. Then suddenly, one day, you’ve arrived at your goal.”