Years ago, Cassandra Nuamah posted a piece of paper on her door that read: “In 2013 I’m going to help people live and fulfill their best lives.” A year passed and Nuamah’s early mornings, evenings, and occasional lunch breaks were filled with wellness coaching gigs and teaching dance. Both were things she found fulfilling, but she was still paying the bills with a full-time job as a producer at an advertising firm.
By the time 2014 rolled around, she said to herself, “This is the year it’s going to happen” and took a marker to the note, replacing 2013 with 2014. And indeed, 2014 was the year Nuamah, known by many as Coach Cass, became a full-time wellness coach and master dance trainer. The switch was a big deal in her own life, but she’s not sure if the people she worked with even noticed. “People didn’t know I had another job. In their mind I was always Coach Cass because I introduced myself that way,” she said.
When Nuamah describes the evolution of Wellness with Coach Cass, one thing is apparent: What matters is not how you get there, but that you do get there. “You can start a race so fast, [but] if you don’t finish, the race doesn’t even count.”
Over the years Nuamah, who was born and raised in Washington D.C. and whose family hails from Ghana, built a following of devoted and enthusiastic clients. “The joy is unexplainable,” she said. “When I see people meet or exceed their goals or when I see somebody who isn’t confident as a dancer or doesn’t even dance at all turn into John Travolta, I absolutely love that.” (She teaches Kukuwa African Dance, a program created by her mother). The positive influence she had on her clients, and the feedback they gave her, extended to the digital realm of social media, where Nuamah grew much of her clientele. Before venturing to fitness and dance full-time, free marketing on Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter, along with recommendations from friends and family, helped her build a hefty client base.
THEY SAID, ‘YOU JUST HAVE TO GO FOR IT. YOU HAVE TO START BEFORE YOUR BODY LOOKS LIKE THIS OR YOUR BANK ACCOUNT LOOKS LIKE THIS.’
Perhaps sensing her drive and passion, people advised her to take the leap to full-time wellness coach and dance instructor before she felt ready. “They said, ‘You just have to go for it. You have to start before your body looks like this or your bank account looks like this,'” she recalled. “It’s kind of like getting into a cold pool. You dip your leg in until somebody pushes you in the pool, and you’re like, ‘Okay this isn’t that bad.'” With a steady number of participants in classes and personal training clients, she was able to plan out her revenue in advance, making a fair guess at how much she could bring in monthly. Still, she’s quick to say she wasn’t as prepared as she should have been financially to make the transition; rather, determination made her brave. “Ideally you’re suppose to have minimum six months’ rent and expenses saved up. I had barely two months worth saved up, but I was determined to make it stretch and make it work until my income was a little more steady to live comfortably and build up my savings again.”
Within a little under two months, she was able to increase the amount of dance and fitness classes, training and wellness coaching gigs, and paid travel opportunities. Eventually the revenue from those income streams were able to match and exceed her corporate salary. On taking the financial risk, Nuamah says, “It’s like everyone knowing how to swim, but their corporate job is their life jacket, so they just float and never really swim to their potential. However, when there’s no life jacket, and you have no choice but to swim, you will.”
“When you go out on your own, you can’t think of your job as kind of cool. It has to be your everything because it’s not going to be easy if you’re halfway passionate about it.” After figuring out how to monetize your passion, “don’t try and reinvent the wheel. People should remember that almost everything you want to do, somebody has already done it.” Research, study, and learn from their examples.