There seems to be a checklist for everything. Especially in the age of information available at our fingertips, what someone has significantly invested in time and money to learn can now be boiled down to be tweetable, scrollable and visual in 15-60 seconds.

However, no checklist that can replace experience. The Cliff’s Notes of information may offer an edge or a slight leg-up but is certainly not a replacement for doing the actual work and gaining experience as a result.

This checklist is based on experience to highlight a handful of items that have the potential to give fitness professionals and business owners a slight (or even significant) advantage simply by bringing awareness to the importance of each. Some aren’t the typical that crowd social media feeds but are essential to simply surviving as a business and provide the foundation for a strong competitive edge.

Have a clear, concise message

Can you describe exactly what you do, how you do it, and who you do it for in one consistent, strong, clear message? There’s a tendency for fitness professionals, especially when threatened by competition, to believe they need to add more to their business. The studio down the road offers barre? We should too! Kids fitness? Yes, I’ll add that! Childcare? Ok! Rather than strengthening the business, what this does is detract and dilute the business’s core services and messaging, making it infinitely more difficult to stand out. Know your message and be able to communicate it.

Work from a business model

A business model defines the ways in which you operate your business from how you get the right people to know about you, how you convert and retain them (delivering specific programs or service options), and the details of financing. Running a business without a business model is like trying to build and maintain a house without architectural plans.

Know and respect your hourly rate

What is the dollar value you assign to one hour of your time? Are you paying yourself with the same accountability as you pay your staff? There is an opportunity cost for everything you choose to do from small tasks to large projects. If you don’t have a set hourly rate for yourself - at least as a reference point to determine if a task or project is worth your time as compared to something else you can be doing of greater value – you diminish your value and profitability.

Determine and maintain consistent principles

Just like we follow training principles, consistent principles for yourself and your business will help make difficult decisions and awkward situations more manageable. What are your principles on giving discounts? Bartering? Hiring? Spending money? Adding a new service? Use every situation in your business as an opportunity to determine your guiding principles and stick with them.

Project a professional image

Perception is reality…especially in the eyes of a consumer. Become hyper-aware of how you project yourself physically, digitally, and in your written, verbal and non-verbal language. Step outside of yourself and view yourself as your ideal client; even without a conversation with you, do you appear approachable, authentic and someone they can connect with?

Establish a stake in the community

Camping out behind your laptop or confining yourself to the walls of your training space will stifle your trajectory of success. The value of personal connection is arguably a gamechanger now more than ever to separate you from the noise of social media and differentiate you from the competition. Get involved in your community in whatever way resonates best with you and be consistent.

Consider this a checklist that requires constant review and adjustment as your business morphs and changes over time. Experience is a gift, and the gift of experience – as long as you pay attention – will direct your business exactly where it needs to go.