I have always been motivated by success, but as my life has evolved my definition of success has changed with it – a fact I’m reminded of by my daughter who sits on my lap as I type this. Being a good father is one personal requirement for success; building a thriving business that adds value is another. But, as I look around the fitness industry, it seems the latter is becoming more and more challenging. Thousands of trainers enter the health industry every year with some sort of qualification under their arm, but so many exit too. The reasons are as varied as the people who give them, but the answer I’m often told it has something to do with a loss of passion or drive. I’m sure there’s truth in that, but I also know that nothing kills passion and drive more than failure to achieve a certain level of success. The guy who leaves the industry might be doing so because it genuinely didn’t fulfill him, or it might be because he just wasn’t working smart enough, finding his own path and being rewarded for it.
I don’t like the huge turnover of trainers and instructors in my industry and I think a lot of it can be avoided. Coming up to my 11th year training professional athletes, corporates and other trainers around the globe, I’ve learned a few things (from lots of trial and lots of error) about what successful trainers do, and what the broke ones don’t do.
Invest Everything You Can Into Your Brain!
This is one of the most valuable principles I have discovered. In my career I have seen a direct correlation between hard work and my bank balance. I expected that. What I did not expect was how working smarter has had as significant an effect on my financial wellbeing and quality of life in general. Working smarter? Well, I have always committed time and money to increasing my knowledge and enhancing my skills set, allowing me to do what I do best better. And I didn’t spend thousands at expensive schools to do this.
Spend time reading, learning and studying. It’s a skill-set like any other. The more you do it, the better you get at it. The bonus is with the more you study (well!) the more information you’ll retain.
We live in a brave new world with access to countless resources online and offline, at your computer or just around the corner. I run them through the Atlas Performance Academy but I know numerous other resources around the globe that are worth the money. And on that topic, self-education is more affordable and more accessible than ever before so ‘I don’t have the money’ is no longer a sufficient excuse. Commit and make it happen – you will be greatly rewarded.
Here are some of my best weekly practices for staying sharp:
- Read a book a week (yes, it is possible!)
- Subscribe to journal articles
- Read blogs from world leaders in your chosen fields
- Join webinars
- Find the best and most successful specialist in your area and pay for an hour of their time (this is hands down the best thing I’ve ever done because I learned exactly what I wanted to)
Stop Dealing With Cash
If you’re using an excel spreadsheet to manage your cash flows then you are probably wasting effort, losing time and, therefore, money. Cash still has its place in the business world but as far as cash flow tracking and management, it’s madness to continue this way.
On average, each cash transaction adds 3 minutes to the time I spend doing administration (which I try to limit anyway). If I’m dealing with 125 people a week, I’m effectively spending 6.25 hours on handling cash that I could be investing in activities that will grow me, my business and my clients. It’s unnecessary and self-defeating, especially when automation in payment gateways is so quick, easy and efficient. Companies to look at are eWay, FFA Paysmart, EzyDebit, Paypal and Stripe. That should get you started.
Personally, you’re letting your clients down by not having a direct debit service and preventing your business from growing.
All of my students get told on day one that a direct debit system is the only way forward. Handling cash is painful and complicated, requiring more systems to take notes, track payments and potentially chase them. There are so many companies out there that offer simple and effective direct debit solutions to small businesses. It’s easy for your clients, it’s easy and secure for you. Personally, I have set EVERYTHING up on debit, because that way I know which transactions are happening when, for how much and in what currency. Those times when I have rushed around trying to find an ATM to draw cash – those are the times that I have added stress and unnecessary complications to my day, robbing me of energy and valuable time with my daughter.
Even in 2015 one finds businesses that have been operating for a long time but haven’t adapted to the times. Sadly, in that case I doubt they ever will. What they will do, however, is throw away more and more time that they can never claim back.
Let me be clear: throwing away time is the same as throwing away money!
P.S – That all being said, if someone comes up to you with a wad of cash and wants to give it to you to train, consult or help them out……..take it! haha
Don’t Fight Technology, Embrace It!
Direct debits are just one example of technology that makes life and business more efficient. And that type of technology is not only here to stay, it is getting better every day. Too many businesses are stuck doing things themselves or making sure everything is done a certain way – often the same way it has always been done. If you’re willing to expand your view, even a little, it is clear that digital innovation is making the most common and basic practices of life – and business – easier, faster and more convenient.
Here are a few things you need to start looking into if you’re wanting to edge out and stay a personal trainer for the next 5 years.
Paypal / Stripe
Be able to take payments over the phone
Have email software so that you can communicate with ALL of your clients and set up responders for them.
Take as many notes as you can from books, videos, podcasts as you can. Store that knowledge and study it.
Store and send files, linked files and share your files with clients and partners. This is going to save you so much time and energy in the long run.
And for heavens sake, sort out your own email account so that it’s @yourbusinessname.com instead of everything being @gmail.com or @hotmail.com. Professionalism is key and it doesn’t cost much at all!
Realise That You’re NOT The Ducks Nuts!
Yeah, I said it. You’re not all that. You’ve got a lot of work to do before you become the best.
I train some of the most elite athletes and executives around but there is so much that I have left to achieve. So much left to learn. I have a long way to go before I reach the mountain top. And you know what? The journey there excites me.
Love yoga? There are people who can hold postures deeper, stronger and longer than you.
Do Crossfit? There are holes in your programming. You need to learn from the elite level dudes and dudettes on how to tweak and enhance your lifts and movements. Seek the best out and learn from them.
Bodybuilder? If you think you’re big, there is someone bigger! Study them and sponge what they teach.
Moral of the story, there is always someone better and smarter than you. Embrace it and see it as motivation to get better. Don’t get your certificate and call it a day. The second you stop learning is the day you start going back to the bottom of that mountain while the rest of us enjoy the view.
You Can’t Do Everything Yourself
The best thing I learned from some really cool people in the industry like Kim Barrett and my main bad-asses Leela and Gulliver is that you can’t do everything yourself. Jacks-of-all-trades are not the people that get the most done. They are often ineffective and spend too much time being busy, not productive.
What do you need to be doing?
Get other people to do the work that you’re not good at. This involves everything that isn’t training clients, presenting or writing programs. Other than that, I pay people to do the work for me. At my hourly rate, it is more cost effective to pay someone to type up an article I recorded than it is for me to type it. It saves me time that I can use to train people.
To be clear, this isn’t lazy. It’s intelligent design that actually let’s me do MORE. Outsourcing the small stuff so that I can focus on the big stuff let’s me maximise the return I get on my time and effort.
Do you enjoy doing your taxes? I sure as hell don’t. However I pay a whole accounting team to make sure our business is doing all the right things, ticking all the right boxes and that it’s growing in areas of investment and strategy.
For the record, this isn’t lazy. It’s intelligent design for my time and effort. The less small stuff I worry about, the more I can focus on the big stuff. You don’t see corporate CEO’s replying to minor enquiries do you? That’s why they have an assistant which is simply just a full time outsourcer. The only reason we don’t snuff at outsourcing in this capacity is because it’s accepted that CEO’s need assistants.
Find A Hobby
Business, especially if it’s your passion, can be all-consuming. It’s not uncommon to lose weeks or months to your mission. Sometimes you need to unwind and put your brain somewhere else so that you can return to what you do best (your business) with a vengeance.
I play guitar. A creative hobby gets my brain inspired and moving in the right direction. I like the creative outlets a little better than the analytical ones, but that’s personal. Each to their own really. But whatever alternative exercise you choose, make sure it’s something you love and enjoy. Make sure it takes you to a world that is far away from the one that you’re normally in. I often listen to music with a nice set of headphones while reclining in my couch, my dog by my side. This total relaxation helps me refocus and realign with what I’m doing.
Do something that you can use to take your mind off of what you’re doing. Become a movie buff, go fishing, bowling, take up cooking lessons etc. That sky is the limit.