Know Your Role: Owner, Not Athlete.

May 13, 2016
Know Your Role: Owner, Not Athlete.

We all decided to start our business for one reason or another; and those reasons vary amongst us. However, there’s a certain gym owner avatar that I’m running into more often that perplexes me in regards to the future health of their business — the lack of awareness as to WHY you opened your business and WHAT your primary role should be within the business.

WHY Did You Start a Business?

When and why did you have your first entrepreneurial seizure?

The genesis story for most of us is very similar — we have a deep passion for fitness and helping people. And though this is very admirable and I too share this same sentiment, it doesn’t mean you should start your own business. Unfortunately, many of us are finding this out the hard way. Some of us started as customers at a CrossFit gym, we fell in love with the model and the results it brought. We looked around at the gym we were training at and thought “I can do this better”, so we decided to start our own business. Some of us fell in love with the training and the thirst for competition within the sport of CrossFit was unquenchable. Our 9–5 job was a major training obstacle in advancing up the Open leaderboard, so we decided to start up a gym…because “then I can train all the time!”.

Some of us had a love for coaching, a love for training, a love for people — but nothing compared to the love of problem solving and creating. We had the desire to start with nothing and build it into something special. We fed off the negativity of naysayers who told us we would never make it work. We relished in putting our heads down and quietly going to work on a dream that couldn’t be illustrated in conversation. We decided to open a gym and start a business because that’s what we are — We are creators. We are problem solvers. We are entrepreneurs. Look back at your first entrepreneurial seizure, when you first realized you were going to start your own business — and think to yourself, “What was the real motivating factor?” “What was the catalyst that lead to my current position?” and then, looking at the present, ask yourself — “Does that paradigm still exist?”

WHAT is Your Primary Role?

Are You Still Trying to Be a Full Time Athlete & Gym Owner?

If your business is performing subpar, but you still get pissed because you didn’t’ get a chance to workout during the day — then you my friend, are missing the point. Your primary role is no longer that of an athlete. The day you formed your LLC, you signed your lease, you quit your 9–5 job — the transition from athlete to owner began. Your fitness level now takes a back seat to those who pay you for this service. It’s your obligation to put the needs of your members in front of yours. Invest less time posting videos and photos of yourself PRing on social media and spend more time on the people who pay your bills.

If being a professional exerciser is your real pursuit — make sure you have trained your staff to keep the doors open. Because I promise you, the percentage of gym owners who are going to make competition a career falls within the slim & none category. Please don’t confuse this for “let yourself go”. You most definitely need to find time throughout the week to workout — it’s needed for the mind, body and soul of an entrepreneur. However, if you find yourself with only 90 free minutes during the day and you’re stuck between working out and following up with sales leads from the week before — I hope you know which one I’d recommend investing your time in. Then make sure to invest some energy in time management.

Are You Spending Time on the Business Side of Your Business?

If your membership base is not growing adequately, but you know that your coaching is excellent and that you provide the best fitness service in town — then you my friend, are missing the point. Having the best fitness service in town is an absolute necessity and the foundation of any successful gym. However, I know plenty of gyms with below average coaching that are flush with positive cashflow. They may lack the technical aspects of a world-class coach, but they have a marketing and sales strategy that is streamlined and effective.

Your primary role is no longer that of a coach. You now have to assume responsibility for the marketing, sales, customer service, brand identity, developing your staff and maintaining the future vision of the company. Yes, pursuing excellence in your craft will bring success. However, it will be blunted by your lack of business acumen. If you cannot effectively tell your story, inform prospects of your service and efficiently sell them on committing to the program — then the best coaching in the world won’t save you.

Please don’t confuse this with “chase money, not excellence”. That’s the furthest thing from what I’m pitching. Instead, look at this as working on your weaknesses. Look at this employing “general business preparation”- GBP. This means having the skills (if not yourself, then hiring someone) across the board at all levels of business ownership. Sit back after reading this and perform a self-audit. Everything you think of, write it down. Then hammer away at those thoughts with ways you can improve yourself and your business.