For many years, I have watched fitness professionals try to become entrepreneurs and business owners. And for many years, I have watched them fail. The excuses are always the same: I don't like the "business" around training, I don't have time to run the business and train clients, my area just won't sustain my business, and, my favorite, I am burned out. What is unfortunate about all these excuses are that they are excuses. Before you decide to start a training business or start your own training company because you love training, take the following steps to set yourself up for success.
- Be sure you want to be a business owner. Think long and hard about this. Becoming a business owner will require you to spend less time training and more time running your business. You will have to master marketing, follow-up, financials and hiring, just to name a few responsibilities. If you are not open to learning these new skill sets, stick to training. Find a great company to work for and keep your training pants on. You will continue to love your job, and you will honor yourself by sticking to what you do best. Just because you are a rock star trainer does not mean you have to become a rock star business owner.
- Learn to delegate. Are you a control freak? Most trainers reading this are laughing because they know the answer is yes. Most trainers are type A, self-motivated, results-driven people. And, these are qualities that make you a great trainer. However, if you are going to run a successful business, you will need to learn to delegate. At some point, you will become overwhelmed with the day-to-day operations of the business, as well as the stressors of delivering results to your customers. This is when you ask for help. Bring in someone to help with your marketing. Look for someone to manage your social media. Interview someone to help manage your financials. Most of these positions can be part time, and because you are hiring experts, their deliverables will move your business forward. Remember, your expertise is in training; allow experts in the other areas to help you out.
- Don't underestimate your deliverables. If you are contemplating a training business, you have probably already experienced success as a trainer. Now is the time to evaluate what has made you successful, what makes you great and use these deliverables as your differentiator. Do not overlook the small stuff. For example, your clients tell you they love working with you because you really listen, understand and empathize with them. Although this may seem inconsequential to you, it is a skill set most have not mastered. Use this as a marketing strategy to compete with your competitors. Also, use testimonials from your current client base to market your business. Competition is not the reason businesses fail; it is the inability to clearly and concisely shout to your target market what differentiates you from your competitors. What better way to do that than to use the words of your clients? Trust me. Your clients will love the opportunity to boast about the "best trainer ever."
- Avoid burnout. When you first start your business, your work hours will far outnumber your hours of rest. You will be training clients during the day and managing your business well into the evening hours. This is the reality of a new business owner. However, you must have a plan of action to rest, restore and reset. Because you give all of you to your clients, and you are a 'student' in business, your brain will have little time to recharge. If you want a sustainable and viable business, your mental and physical health must be a priority. This does not mean you have to take a month off from building your business and fly away to an island (although, that does sound amazing). Take one day off per week and just rest your body and your mind. You will be surprised at how excited you will be to jump back into your business.
Lori Patterson, owner and CEO of VicteliB LLC, is the creator of fee-based programs that include Boot Camp Challenge, Kids Kamp Challenge, Baby Boomer Boot Camp Challenge and Break Through Challenge. Patterson served in the U.S. Army and has served 30 years in the fitness industry. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, 636-734-8594 or at www.victelib.com.