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July 1 2016

How to balance three key roles as your business grows

If you’re going to work for yourself, balancing working in your business versus on your business will be an ongoing journey you must learn how to navigate.

Over 25 years ago, Michael Gerber first wrote about this topic in his best-selling business book, The E-Myth: Why Most Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It. The “entrepreneurial myth” is the mistaken belief that if you understand the technical work of how to train and deliver results to clients, then you understand the business.

You don’t. That’s a very false (and painful) assumption.

The education and skills required to grow and manage a business are very different from the technical work of getting results when working with clients. In every business there are three critical roles that must be played in order for the business to continue growing:

The technician… does the labor. In this case, working with the clients.

The manager… looks after the people and systems that allow work to get done efficiently. Things like scheduling, billing and making sure all operational systems and people are working together smoothly.

The entrepreneur… creates the vision and defines the strategic objectives required to fulfill the vision. They’re responsible for leading the work that allows the business to continue growing.

Which of these roles is the most important? Every role is critical to the continued success of your business. Your responsibility is to understand each role, know how and when to play them and learn to multiply others who can join your team to continue growing (and winning) the game!

The following six stages of fitness business growth and development demonstrate your evolution at each stage; your role and the balance you (and eventually your team) must manage between training clients, managing the business and leading growth.

Stage 1: Just starting out

Revenue: Less than $1,500/month

Challenge: You’re still new to the industry and aren’t sure how to grow and follow your passion.

Goal: You want to discover if you can make a business out of your passion and if it’s something you truly love doing.

Success factors: Mindset, vision and community

Training vs. business ratio: At this point in the journey, you are everything. You’re working 100% in your business. That’s what you should be doing. Invest time working with clients, honing your craft to deliver value, and creating remarkable results for those you serve. But you must also begin developing relationships with others that can help you develop a powerful vision for what success looks like as you continue growing in the industry.

Stage 2: Want to work for yourself

Revenue: Less than $3,000/month

Challenge: You love working with clients, but are struggling to fill your schedule and charge premium rates for your services.

Goal: You want to grow your client base so that you can make a comfortable living as a full-time fitness professional.

Success Factors: Mindset, vision and sales

Training vs. business ratio: Here you must begin splitting your time. Begin with 80% working in the business, and 20% working on it. Invest time in learning how to best package, price and sell your services. Master salesmanship and how to effectively communicate the value of the services you deliver.

Stage 3: Ready to open and grow a business

Revenue: Less than $7,500/month

Challenge: You’ve started to grow a business, but aren’t consistently producing the revenue required to reinvest in continued growth.

Goal: You want to build upon your initial success, accelerate growth and create the opportunity to work on the long-term growth and success of your business.

Success Factors: Mindset, vision, sales and marketing

Training vs. business ratio: Here’s where you begin feeling stretched (and in some cases really stretched). While you have to keep working in your business (you can’t back off), you must now devote even more time to working on your business. But you won’t be able to spend less time working with clients. This is where you’re going to have to work harder and longer hours if you want to breakthrough to the next level. Expect 50+ hour work weeks. The faster you push through to the next phase, the easier things will become.

Stage 4: Committed to long-term business success

Revenue: Greater than $7,500/month

Challenge: You’ve got a business, but you’re still struggling with putting all the pieces together to hit targets, earn a profit and make it all work.

Goal: You’re ready to get serious and committed to developing a long-term business plan, achieving consistent profitability and growing your personal income.

Success Factors: Mindset, vision, strategic planning, sales and marketing, personal and professional management, finance strategy and operations

Training vs. business ratio: Congratulations! You’ve got a real business now and it’s growing! Here’s where the ratio starts to flip. Now you’re working 40% in the business, and 60% on it. That ratio might fluctuate a bit as you work through some of the inevitable challenges and learning curve of bringing on your first group of staff members. But refining the work you do on the business is what will allow steady revenue growth and consistent profitability in the months ahead.

Stage 5: Lead a team that grows your business with you

Revenue: Greater than $25,000/month

Challenge: You have a successful business but haven’t yet achieved your personal financial goals, and your business still depends too much on you to run and hit targets each day.

Goal: You’re ready to step into a leadership role and develop a team that allows your business to continue growing while getting the freedom to do more of the things that you love to do.

Success Factors: Mindset, vision, strategic planning, sales and marketing, personal and professional management, finance strategy and operations

Training vs. business ratio: Now your time is spent leading and growing a team. Less than 20% of your time is best spent on training, and 80%+ on growing and developing a powerful team that will do a better job playing the technician and manager roles than you. This is where leadership skills become essential to develop an organization that makes a bigger impact on the world than you ever could alone

Stage 6: Achieving your goals and ready for the next challenge

Revenue: Greater than $40,000/month

Challenge: You’ve achieved your initial goal and now have a bigger dream that you aren’t quite sure how to make happen yet.

Goal: You want to be inspired and challenged to continue growing by engaging with other elite entrepreneurs and having fun along the way.

Success Factors: Mastermind and fun

Training vs. business ratio: Depending on your vision, you may spend your time anywhere and everywhere at this stage. Many entrepreneurs often decide they want to build something “from scratch” again and go after a dream that fulfills them on an even bigger scale. Perhaps your time will be spent on developing new products and services to create value for the world. Perhaps more time spent in leadership. The most fun and exciting part about this stage of business growth is that whatever you want to do you can do it and it’s fun when you’ve got an amazing team around you!

Balancing working in your business versus on your business will be an ongoing process you must learn how to navigate at every stage of business growth. Just don’t ever think that because you know how to train clients, you know how to manage and grow a business.

The technician, manager, and entrepreneur are each critical roles at every stage of business growth, and you can’t do them all by yourself and get very far. By learning to understand each role, how and when to play them, and the keys to multiplying people, you will achieve what most businesses never do. You will have earned the opportunity to continue playing (and winning) the game!

Sean Greeley, CEO of NPE, has an unrelenting passion for supporting entrepreneurs and growing businesses. For nearly 10 years, NPE has grown to serve over 21,000 fitness business owners in 95 countries. The company has offices in Orlando, London and Sydney and has been listed six times on the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing, privately owned U.S. corporations. You can find out more about how NPE is helping fitness business owners across the globe at