If you're a fitnessentrepreneur, you no doubt understand the value of keeping an optimistic andpositive outlook on how you tackle your daily activities and long term plans. That'swhat keeps you dreaming, building and achieving where most people give up.
However, I have to admitI'm a bit of the opposite-- I'm more of a pessimist, always looking for thedownside of any move so that I can first of all avert it, and secondly, copewith it if it happens.
But despite my general pessimism,right now I'm going to ease up and give myself a pat on the back. I just openedmy own first stand-alone fitness studio (my last one was based out of a gym)and although it feels like we've made every mistake in the book, things havegone fairly well. I'd like to share six things I did right opening and growing mybusiness that you can take with you if you as you build your business.
1. Having a MinorityBusiness Partner Most new businesses fail and most new training studiosfail, so when you go into it, you have to take every precaution. To save moneyand ease the load from the outset, I brought on a minority business partner. Besideshaving someone to keep me grounded in the business and to bounce ideas off,it's someone else that is personally invested in it and committed to mybusiness' growth. When it comes to multiple-location (my next step) privatelyowned businesses, taking on chief employees as minority partners happens moreoften than you think. It saved a ton of money and time in the beginning, andalthough I had to give up a part of the biz, I'm expecting it to pay offmultiple times over in terms of speed of growth.
2. Networking I try to be a realistat all times, and one thing I knew from the get-go was that I knew little tonothing about running successful bootcamps. And with my goals, I know I neededto become a leading expert on this subject, fast.
You can learn a littlethrough books and seminars, but networking really speeds things along. Inetworked aggressively during my start up phase and continue to do so everyday. I've attended conferences and networked through my old blog,super-trainer.com, and have become friends with many of the top bootcampoperators in the country. Their advice has been indispensable in this process.
3. Doing Some of the Training While we all want to be business owners at a level where we havehigh-quality trainers servicing our clients, you still have to know yourproduct at a hands-on level. Even though I've been a trainer for years, when itcomes to bootcamps, I still had some dues to pay. When it comes to running thebootcamps, I jumped in all the way, teaching many of the classes myself. Itturned out to be about a dozen hours a week, but the experience has beenpriceless in helping me create a world-class training experience for my valuedcustomers. I've learned the product inside and out, and during this vitalformative phase of the business, it has given me retention, referral, andlong-term contract rates that are off the chart.
4. Doing the Selling Just like with thetraining, I also had to jump in on the selling end. As I usually do, when Ijumped in, I decided to go in ultra high energy and then calibrated backwardsuntil I found the right level. This has allowed me to make sure retention andconversion rates have been at the level I wanted, and it's also done one morething that relates to a lesson I learned from studying the work of the latemarketing legend Gary Halbert. I remember Garysaying the best and in many ways the only way to know who your market reallyis, what they really want and what really motivates them is to pick up the phoneand actually sell them something. Most business people are just too scared todo this and never end up learning the absolute most valuable skills to make abusiness succeed -- knowledge of your market's desires and hot buttons, andsales. That's what this initial phone experience gave me.
I'vesince outsourced the sales job but like to jump in on the face-to-face stufffrom time to time.
5. Having a Good Location My biggest sourceof new leads and the biggest factor that has essentially saved my business ismy location. I'm in an affluent area, have great neighboring businesses and amon a very busy major roadway. This has gotten me a lot of walk-ins, drive bytraffic, call-ins and force multiplication on my advertising. Sure my rent ishigh, but not as high as you'd think considering the benefits I get from it. Iconsider my store location an advertising expense, and all advertising goesback to your numbers. It doesn't matter what you're spending as long as it'sbringing you an ROI, and so far, my ROI on location has been tremendous.
6. GoingLow-Budget on Equipment If you come to my studio you won't findany Vortex machines, treadmills or piece of equipment that costs more than$100. While I have more here than I've seen at some bootcamp facilities, I haveway less than you'd find at a personal training studio. This kept start-upcosts way down and will probably have me making back the entire initialinvestment in cash by the end of the year. It's a new age now where service,personality and results trump all. If you can deliver in those areas, you'recreating REAL value that beats any expensive, shiny equipment hands down.
So that'sit for patting myself on the back on how things have gone so far. Don't worryand think I'm getting a big head -- if I had to write a post about my mistakesso far, the list would be about 100 points long.
Everything I've mentioned has involved a lot of work on my part. Ifyou're currently overworked yourself, you might think "who cares?" Thedifference is that all the work I've done to now has had the strategicpurpose of giving me certain skills so that I could later outsource thesetasks, as I am already starting to do. I had the purpose of creating thesystems in mind from the beginning. If you want to extract yourself from yourbusiness, think about your work and what you do more strategically. And if youdon't have enough business to speak of, start hustling a little harder. Thatwill never fail.
Kaiser Serajuddin is the writer of the popular personal training blog, Super-Trainer.com. He guides personal trainers through the challenging period of starting their personal training businesses and helps them on the road to six figures. For more information, you can download his special report, The Six-Figure Formula, at www.super-trainer.com.