Do You Have What it Takes to Survive?

Nine out of 10 businesses don’t survive the first 5 years. And for the ones that do, 9 out of 10 of those don’t survive the next 5 years. Do you like those odds? Me neither! But like it nor not, we’re stuck with them. So, here’s what you have to do – Be Passionate!

If you own your own fitness business like I do, you know how challenging they are to run well. You know how tough it can get in the middle of summer when everyone else would rather be outside, ignoring their health and fitness doing everything they can to maximize their summer break.

Here’s the opportunity for you right now…

Take the extra time to stop digging and start planning for the best fall you’ve ever had. And one way you can ensure that is by putting together the same Gold Rush program that I’m going to run this September. I’ve run it before with smashing success. The infrastructure is built and now I’m using some slow time during the summer to plan and ultimately make up for it in September.

In short, the Gold Rush program is offered through NPE and will teach you how to put together a very productive and satisfying public speaking event that will do more than just bring you new clients. It will bring your fitness business to a whole new level.

So, stop moaning about how slow you are and start taking the action you need to make up for it this fall.

Check out the Gold Rush program right now. It’s fantastic!

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PS My post on Tuesday goes into more detail about what I was able to do with my first Gold Rush program and helps you understand even more why this is something you should have in place in your fitness business no matter what…The title is, “It doesn’t matter how much money you make, it’s how much your keep.”

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Use Your Blog to Share Your Journey…

For me, writing is a means to an end. I write because I love the work. It feels good and it gives me a place to put all of the thoughts, ideas, passion and expertise that travel through my head every day. I find that when I do that regularly, I feel more balanced and alive and less likely to let little things bother me.

For the last 60-90 days I’ve been in the middle of a major clean-up project within my fitness business. I’ve cut excess expenses, re-shaped my marketing plan, and have begun the gigantic project of honing all of the important systems that will help me run my business more efficiently, and allow me to squeeze out a little extra profit. I’m also working with more clients than I did last year, and this is for a variety of reasons, including the savings in payroll and the fact that unless I stay entrenched until all of those systems are built they won’t turn out right. Kind of like trying to take the cake out of the oven when your down the street at your neighbor’s house.

Believe it or not, one of my most important marketing machines right now is my fitness blog (http:www.fitnessnomadblog.com). I have had more than one new client come to work with us who was already on my list and had been receiving regular updates about my blog and everything I’m writing about there. One client in particular told me that one of my writings made her feel as if I was speaking to her directly. That is powerful stuff. Because if you can connect with your readers in that way, people will come.  And the only way to connect with them in this way is to share as much as possible about who you are and why they should listen.

I have not posted to this blog as frequently lately because of the important work I’ve been engaged in at The Fitness Nomad. And that’s not OK with me so I promise to do better. This morning, I simply wanted to take some time to re-connect with you and to share something I noticed about the writing I am posting to my fitness blog. As I looked back over the last month I realized that one of the most important things my blog allows me to do is to share my journey with clients, potential clients, colleagues, and friends.  To share my journey through life.

Not everyone will come and work with me as their coach and trainer. That much is obvious. But that does not mean that my time writing and making connections with people is not well spent.  Just last week, three different people shared with me how my blog and my mere presence has inspired them to get fit and get going.  One of these people was a women I met at a Rotary meeting with my father-in-law while on vacation recently in Illinois with my family.  I had presented at that same Rotary group a couple years back and she was happy to report to me that I had inspired her then, and that she has lost 20 pounds and kept it off!  It made my evening…

This is the journey and we are all playing our important roles.  The most important role is the passion, expertise, and willingness to connect that is paramount to your mission as a fitness professional.  So share it!

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Share a story about your journey using the comments box below.  I would love to hear from you!  John

Your work saves lives, remember that!

Every once in awhile I run into a story (usually from a prospective client) that disturbs me.  They’re not getting results and hence they’ve gone looking for another trainer.  That’s where I enter the story…

We go through the usuall drill of discovery about why they’re interested, what they would like to accomplish and why they’ve been struggling to achieve it on their own.  And while it comes as no shock to me that the guy charging them only $25 a session is not producing results, it comes as a big shock to the prospective client that what we charge is almost 4 times that amount!

The price you demand for your services is a direct reflection of your self confidence, your self-esteem, and your passion and belief about the value of what you offer.  In order for all of us to demand the respect we deserve as fitness professionals and to continually communicate the value of the work we perform, we all need to make sure that we charge the right amount for our services and that we communicate to each and every prospective client the importance of what we do.

I do this constantly through my fitness blog (http://www.fitnessnomadblog.com) and it works swimmingly.  In fact I just landed another client today who has been regularly reading my blog posts and recently read one in particular that she felt spoke to her directly.  This stuff really works, but you have to write to make it happen.

Probably the even more significant blunder this trainer is making, and that concerns me even more, is that he believes that 10 sessions is all he needs to get his clients up and running and able to achieve long-term success on their own.  10 sessions!  That’s about a month of training and coaching.  That’s complete non-sense, but makes for great blog material so I’m happy.  And if you’d like to read the direction I took this same story for my fitness blog, you can see that here:

http://madisonfitnessblog.com/2009/05/13/walking-barefoot-in-your-garden/

Communicating to clients and prospective clients and the world at large that your service does not hold much value (by charging insignificant amounts of money for training; and being ignorant about how to deliver it) and then telling them that they only need to see you for about a month, is a disservice to all of us.  Especially those of us who have spent the last 16 years honing our careers, taking on the risk of a fitness business in a small midwestern town, and spending as much spare time as possible working to get better and better at what we do.

What we do is worth a lot of money, takes significant time to teach, and should not be treated like a 4-week holiday on Catalina Island.  This is serious stuff.  Just ask any of my clients and they will tell you the same story.  This process saved their life.  In fact, if you’re interested, I’m in the process right now of writing their stories and turning them into a series on my blog called, “The Journey.”  You can click here for stories:

http://madisonfitnessblog.com/category/thejourney/

In the mean time, stay true to your dreams, believe in what you do, and for the health of the fitness business in general, get clear on your vision, and the true value of what you do for people.  All of our lives are at stake…

Critical Mass or Critical Mess?

“The cash flow statement is often the most interesting and at the same time the least understood part of your monthly financial reports…”
-Luella Schmidt, CPA, Fine Point Consulting in Madison, WI

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “Cash is King.”  If you haven’t, well, then I think I may have just done you a favor.  It’s a simple truth and in today’s current economic climate, I think those words ring as true as the liberty bell.  Because all of that money you had on paper in your 401K account?  Well, like I said, “Cash is King!”

Here’s another example…a client pays me $300 cash for a month of semi-private training, and I have two choices.  Take it to the bank where it becomes a number on a statement and earns interest (more money), or put it in my pocket, walk down to the local coffee shop and buy my friends a latte and a piece of marble bread.  Tip the barista, flip a 50 cent piece into the homeless guy’s coffee can, buy a newspaper in the machine, and save the rest for a rainy day at the bookstore.

Not all of those activities require cold hard cash, but about half of them do.

So what’s the point?

There’s nothing like a little cash in your pocket and in your bank account, and it will act like a magnet for more if you can manage it’s elusiveness, and understand exactly how it relates to your profit and loss statement and your balance sheet.  Cash is easy to spend, and can blow away in a good breeze if your money clip’s not on tight.  So hold on, there really is a lesson in all of this that even I’m only beginning to understand…my own private MBA program.

There are self-proclaimed experts in the fitness business that have ideas about how you should think about the early growth of your business, and what you can expect might happen in your first year or two.  The term they like to use is “Critical Mass.”  It refers to their naive belief that even though you might be spending aggressively, and in fact in excess of what you are actually earning each month in your fitness business, you will become solvent in the long run once you reach the magic land of critical mass.

In other words, it’s OK that you spent the 10K that came in this month in personal training sales already, even though you haven’t delivered those services to the client yet. Because assuming you spent it on business growth opportunities, your business will continue to grow, and another 10K in sales will come in again this month.  Only now, you have to spend twice as much time to deliver those services.  Do you see what’s happening here?

Eventually, these experts promise, you have a solid staff in place and they are delivering those services for you.  You can spend more of your precious time finding more clients and making more sales.  After all, you have more overhead in your payroll department now and someone has to pay that bill…

Can you see the problem with this unfounded, vague and unsupported philosophy?  I’ll bet you can.  I only hope it didn’t take you as long as it did me.

What you end up with instead of critical mass is a critical mess.  A monthly race in which you are always in last place, trying to catch the leader out on a cross country trail that you’ve never run before, gasping for breath and unable to see anything except the ground in front of you with any real clarity.  No matter what you do, you’re always one new trainer, one new client, and one $5 bill short of a financial statement that you can sleep with at night. If you’re reading them at all.

Tonight at my board meeting (yes, I now have an advisory board for my fitness business now.  One of the best things I’ve done for my business, ever) I reviewed with my accountant and other board members in attendance a 30 page financial report that provides a clear picture of exactly how healthy my business is right now.  A full report on how much of that cash I have laying around, and how much I can actually use this month to buy another piece of that marble bread from Starbucks I like so much.

I’m happy to report that in spite of tough economic times, mistakes on my part, and a little too much spending in 2008, we are in good shape and I’ve never been more clear about the numbers of my business, the bedrock.  This is important for many reasons that I will begin to communicate in future posts.

For now, I’ll spare you the details and instead bring you back to that statement I started with,

“The cash flow statement is often the most interesting and at the same time the least understood part of your monthly financial reports…”

My guess is that you might not even know what I’m talking about and that’s OK, because that’s the point.  And for those that do know, you are aware that the cash flow statement is only one of many reports you should be looking at each month in your fitness business.  And if you’re not, hold on, because you’re in for one helluva ride very soon.  Trust me, I’m just now returning from mine, and it will be nice to remove that seat belt that fit so tight for awhile.  It was beginning to constrict my vision.

“Know your numbers!”  And if you don’t, get to know them and get plenty of help.  It will become one of those life lessons that pays dividends forever, in your business, your personal life, and probably both.  It will make you a KING (or Queen)!

The Sheer Importance of Your Personal Brand

I read a good article about Michelle Obama over the weekend.  The story talked about the control she maintains over her image and why this is important to her and for her role as the first lady.  On the March cover of Vogue magazine, you will see here wearing another sleeveless number that she was in charge of picking out for this cover shoot.  Unlike her last two predecessors, she did not let Vogue dress her, she dressed herself.  I already like her a lot just based on that one fact!

This story alone tells you a lot about who she is, how she works, and what she represents.  A strong, assertive woman who is in charge of her own role as first lady, and who is not afraid to follow her own instincts about  the best way to present herself to the country.

The article goes on to explain other aspects how Michelle tackles this challenge so there is no need for me to repeat them here.  I simply want to make another point today about the importance of your own personal brand.  Whether it be for the you are marketing services as a personal trainer and fitness business, or trying to advance your career as a fitness professional, establishing, maintaining, and continuing to develop your own personal brand is paramount to your success.  And it’s a lot of work so please pay attention.  It is no longer enough to post your resume online and hope for the best.  It never was, but what I’m talking about here takes this idea to the next level.  Especially in a job market as tight as this one, your presence both online and off must be crafted with forthought, originality, creativity, heart, passion and kept up to date and added to constantly.

Can you say that you know what I’m talking about and that you are following through on this process?  If the answer is no to either of these questions, it’s time to get to work on your personal brand.  And before you disregard this advice because you don’t really understand it or are uncomfortable thinking of yourself as an actual brand, consider this passage from the New York Times article:

“By focusing on her domestic persona and harnessing the fascination with her family, the first lady and her communications team have emerged as the key architects of one of the most remarkable political transformations in years. Only 10 months ago, Mrs. Obama was described as an angry black woman by some conservatives and as a liability to her husband. Now, she is widely admired for her warmth, and her vibrant and accessible manner, and her race seems almost an afterthought to many Americans. She has the highest favorability ratings of any incoming first lady since 1980, and is even more popular than the president.”

“Obama administration officials say this shift has occurred organically as more people have had the opportunity to see and hear the first lady for themselves rather than through the lenses of her critics.”

femara

Now yes, Mrs. Obama has a team of people working for her to help create the result, but she is in charge of all of them, and you are in charge of you.  Which in turn means that you are also in charge of your personal brand and how it is created,  by you or by others, because it will happen so you better be in charge of it.

The last sentence of the text from the snippet above is very important.  Once Mrs. Obama had a chance to allow people to get to know her, she became even more popular than the president!

How popular could you be with clients, prospects, and employers, if you took some time to create a personal brand that is always working for you?

Look for more articles on this subject coming soon.  It’s an important topic for all of us…