In Part 1 of this article, I discussed how I took the leap into concentrating on my fitness career full-time.
In this article, I want to give you some information on what we did wrong, what we did right, and how you can take the leap for yourself. I have 10 tips to give you, but I don’t want to overwhelm you, so I’ll give you 5 today, and 5 more tomorrow!
1. Start small and lean.
A lot of new businesses want to invest a ton of money up front to have state-of-the-art everything. This is rarely a good idea, unless you have an unlimited source of money and/or you want to bring on some heavy duty investors who will own a lot of your business and who will want to have a lot of say in what you do.
We started our renting space from another gym on a percentage basis. If starting a gym is what you want to do, I’d recommend this route almost every time. Tons of places are looking for an additional revenue stream during their off-hours (think dance and yoga studios, churches, etc.). We also had minimal equipment (some bands and a few kettlebells). Start with the absolute basics and build from there.
2. Have a good partner.
Jim Laird is my business partner and I think we both agree, we could have never, EVER done this alone. Having someone else to lean on, someone else to rely on, and someone else who is strong where you are weak is absolutely essential! Do your best to find someone who complements you, and make sure you pick wisely. Owning a business together is very similar to a marriage, and you want to make sure they are in it for the long haul!
3. Make sacrifices.
In part 1 of this article I discussed foregoing a “grown-up” job so I could have more time to focus on my own businesses. In the meantime, I supported myself with a job as a cocktail waitress. Yes, it was an awesome job for me during that time, and I will forever be grateful for it. But I was an MBA grad who was waiting tables at a bar.
I always head my held high because I knew I was doing what was best for me in the long haul, but I’ll admit, it was a bit embarrassing at times. Please understand I am not saying there is anything wrong with that profession. I did it for almost 7 years and have the utmost respect for those that do it. I just never thought that I’d be a 27 year old with a Master’s degree asking if people wanted a side of ranch with their Chicken Nachos.
And try explaining to people why you’re working at a bar 2 nights/week if you’re actually a really good trainer and coach. It was tough.
As for my partner Jim, he made the sacrifice and lived in our old gym for a while so we could put more money back into the business. He had a tiny little room with a bed on the floor. It wasn’t exactly a great place to live. But he did it because he knew he had to.
4. Pick a do-or-die date.
Several times over the last few years, I told myself that I would stop working at the bar, “once X, Y, and Z happened.” I was waiting for the “right time” to quit.
Guess what? There is NEVER a “right time.” If you wait until all of the stars have aligned and everything is perfect, you’ll never take the plunge. You MUST have that sense of urgency… that “Holy crap! If this doesn’t work, there is no other option.” It’s at that point, that your survival mechanism kicks in and you get shit done.
I remember feeling like I was on a bungee cord plummeting towards the ground, and I didn’t know how long or how scary my fall would be… all I knew is that somehow, some way… my cord would catch me before I hit the ground. I can’t explain how I knew. I just knew.
5. Differentiate yourself.
No matter what field you are in, it’s imperative that you differentiate yourself from the crowd.
What makes you special? What makes you different?
For us, it was telling our clients to exercise LESS. To leave a “quarter in the tank.” To choose sleep over exercise if they are lacking sleep. To eat real food. To walk for leisure, not exercise. To not overdo it or push themselves too hard.
When the current trends include P90X, Insanity, CrossFit, Spinning, Cranking, and other activities that are very intense and hard on the body, you better believe we were able to differentiate ourselves with the advice above!
I have no doubt that one of the reasons you want your own business because you think you can do it better than your competition. So be different. Do it better. And tell everybody about it.
Tune in tomorrow where I’ll follow up with 5 more tips for you!