How to build a (6 figure) fitness business
In this series on how to become a strength and conditioning coach and how to build a fitness business I have covered getting qualified in part 1, getting experience in part 2, going from good to great and getting a job in part 3. In this final part of the series I want to look at how you can work for yourself and become a 6 figure coach.
Starting a personal training business
I cannot put into words how satisfying it is for me when our students set up businesses, build gyms and achieve fulfilment, freedom and autonomy through our courses. That’s entirely why we are here and I suppose it excites me because that’s the path I took.
I went from martial artist and aspiring coach, to intern under Mike Boyle, to employed strength and conditioning coach with many different governing bodies, to hybrid employed consultant, to full time business owner with SCE. It’s a journey I’ve lived and fully understand. From the emotions involved to the strategies and tactics required to make it a success for yourself.
So in the next few minutes of reading this I will attempt to be clear in how you can make it as a successful coaching business owner and build a thriving fitness business. I use the term 6 Figure Coach as it represents a milestone of achieving a 6 figure revenue business.
The best coaches are the ones with a deep understanding of the principles of training and who apply those principles in a way that responds to their customers needs and solves their problems. Similarly the best coaching businesses are built on solid foundations and that starts with improving your own knowledge and understanding of how to run a successful coaching business. Following the steps in this article won’t guarantee you suddenly start bringing in tons of dough, but my hope is that it paints a clearer picture for you and gives you the confidence to go out and start your business education just like when you started your movement education.
What does success look like for you?
There is no hierarchy here. Being an employed coach or trainer is absolutely just as good as having your own gym and working for yourself. But before we get into the detail of running a business ask yourself if it is something that really does excite you or is it a shiny object that you ‘think’ you should go after.
Doing what other people think is not achieving your version of success. Before you jump into this define what your version of success actually is.
Now for some cold hard truths, just to scare you off even more!
Here’s a few things you must accept if you work for yourself:
It’s on you. No one else is responsible for your success or failure but you. Everything comes down to you. Are you ready and okay with this?
It will be hard. If you choose to work for someone else as long as you do a good job you’ll get paid. Having your own business means that as long as everyone else does a good job they get paid. There’s no promises there will be anything left over for you at the end!
It could be great. You can achieve freedom, complete control and have everything you want in life. It’s the only true way to achieve this level of freedom. Does that excite you? If it does you might be the right path for you.
It takes risk. You will have to put money into your business and if you are not prepared to do this it’s not the right time or opportunity for you.
The highs are high and the lows are LOW. You will have sleepless nights and dark days. But these will be balanced out with the good days if you work smart and hard.
Phew…I needed to get those key points off my chest before we move any further with this. I hope you are still with me and excited about building your business!
Mission, Objective, strategy, tactics.
It’s important to approach in this order.
Your Mission and Objectives: What type of business are you looking to develop?
If you are a trainer or coach looking for more clients and your own gym down the line that’s one pathway, but the fitness industry has TONS of opportunities for you that stem from being a PT or S&C coach. Here’s a few examples:
- Online coaching and training- look at precision nutrition for the gold standard here.
- Supplements company- look at the thousands out there already and see what they are missing.
- Online product sales- are you great at coming up with new ways off training and creating products of this kind?
- Education Business- Are you a great teacher? Come and work for us!…Or create your own education company with your own message and niche.
There are a lot more that you can think of. Perhaps you’ve already got an idea, comment below or on social media and I’ll let you know my thoughts.
A few more key questions to consider:
What must it look like for you to call it a success?
How many customers will you serve and impact?
How much money does it give you during and at the end if and when you sell it?
What does it represent? What are the values and the vision for the company?
Your strategy is basically how you are going to get to your objective. Is it through online training, having your own gym, selling supplements, doing live events, building a team of trainers or being a highly paid consultant?
How many sessions will you need to do, and at what price point, by when? This is the area that most people struggle with the most. They tend to skip the strategy and jump straight into tactics, setting up facebook ads before they know how many people they need to draw into the business. It’s worth building a financial model of what your business will look like and exploring this so you can look at best case, worst case and medium case scenarios. It’s always advisable to settle somewhere in the middle or towards the conservative side. Get some help from someone who understands finance as well as your business here.
Now you know your strategy how will you move forwards? How are you going to attract people to your business? You will have a marketing plan of some kind already from your strategy considersations above, now it’s time to think shorter term and exactly how you are going to make money, hit your numbers and make the business a success.
Are you going to get customers through facebook ads, email marketing and google adwords? Or perhaps you will use a telesales company, send letters and do live workshops to attract people? Why would you choose one of these over another?
How will you make your product look like great value and what promotions will you run?
All these considerations you really do need to think about and come up with answers.
The PT Pathway
Here’s a tried and tested pathway that I recommend for personal trainers and coaches looking to find out how to build a fitness business, and either build a performance gym or go into the online coaching space.
Task 1: Define who you are and what you do.
Define your brand, your audience and your initial product(s).
Write your marketing plan as to how you are going to bring in clients, sell to them and ultimately get the ball rolling.
Milestone 1: Make yourself a fully booked coach with 30 sessions per week of people paying you £50 per session on average. If you’re no where near this point yet learn about how to build a fitness business and market yourself, go and see marketing and web development agencies for advice, and really think about your messaging and how you’re coming across in the public eye. Speak to your existing clients, your past clients and even friends and family about what makes you unique and why they chose to work with you and even why they left you.
A question at this point: – Are you happy with this or do you want to push again for the next level?
If you are happy with where you’re at, enjoy it and well done. If you want to push on to the next level consider the following actions:
- Raise your fees further and recruit some new coaches to work for you ideally on a salary or at worst on a fee per session basis.
- Start to price up facilities of your own and begin to cost up the investment into a performance gym of your own.
- Continue to market your business and your new coaches.
Milestone 2: Make your trainers fully booked. You’ll need to really push the marketing, make sure your brand is strong and that your trainers are delivering what you expect from them. You’ll also need to start looking at your systems and processes to ensure that your coaching and programming methods are documented and that everyone understands what is expected from them. At this point you are becoming a business owner and your day to day tasks will change from being a fully booked trainer.
As you approach milestone two start looking at the following actions:
- Full costing up of your performance gym space and financial model in place ready for banks and/or finance companies to look over.
- Finance in place to support your enterprise.
Milestone 3: Open the doors to your new gym. This is a huge achievement and you will have had some sleepless nights and headaches along the way. You’ll need to look at things like change of use for your facility with the council, negotiations on leases with landlords, equipment hire or purchase, marketing and launch campaigns to ensure the numbers are through the door. There’s a ton of stuff to take care of, but think of the end result of that short term pain and suffering…you’ll have your own performance gym space and a platform to grow from for years to come. That’s brilliant.
Now if you’re looking at milestone 3 thinking wow that’s a LOT of work and heartache, my advice to you is just look at milestone 1 and work on becoming a fully booked trainer. This is an achievement that will bring life changing money for most people and give you the ability to reflect, refocus and decide on where you really want to go. This is the way I went, I didn’t think about running a gym until I was an in demand coach and it became a natural progression for me.
Of course if opening a gym is not for you I would encourage you to work out exactly what is for you and map it out in a similar way or speak to someone like myself who has walked that path before you and might be able to help. Over the last ten years we have had around 50 people successfully open up their own spaces so we certainly know what it takes to thrive in this industry.
Why people don’t succeed:
I have been asked to mentor many aspiring business owners to help them sculpt and build their vision. In fact in addition to my own business activities I am a Princes Trust Enterprise mentor working with young people to help them towards their business goals and am part of the growth accelerator government programme which provides subsidised business coaching to start ups and young businesses.
Here’s 5 reasons that come up time and again that often lead to your business not being the success you want it to be and preventing that dream from becoming a reality:
- Not thinking of the customer and instead thinking of themselves and what works for them.
- Under prepared for that initial outlay and the risks involved.
- Underestimating the start up costs and running out of money.
- They don’t have the expertise in their team or the mentors to help them to grow.
- Their product just is not good enough.
To help combat some of the above it helps to look at the MVP or minimum viable product approach.
What is the minimum viable product (MVP) you can get in front of people to gauge feedback?
Forget trying to find the perfect offering, create the perfect product or service. It doesn’t exist. Look at what problem your customer is trying to solve and put that solution in front of them. You can create mark 2, 3 and 4 down the line when you know that what you’re doing has traction. Get some reviews, make some money and build your confidence before you drop a ton of cash or get yourself into debt spending three years developing something that no one wants.
What do your customers want?
Why do some people pay thousands for personal training, others pay hundreds and some people would never part with any money at all?
People have different values and needs. Your job is to decide who your customers are and then go and talk to them. Don’t be afraid to repel some people with your marketing efforts. When I first started doing the mentorship programme one of the key messages that we went with in our marketing was ‘Achieve years of success in just 6 months’. I went with this because I knew the programme could deliver that and our methods worked. I also knew it would attract a certain kind of person, someone who really wanted to get somewhere quickly and didn’t want to mess around. Whilst it certainly did attract those people it also sparked some anger amongst coaching purists who felt that you cannot or should not try to ‘accelerate success’ because true greatness takes time.
Those people are not our customers.
Our entire brand is built around achievement and speed. Our company slogan is ‘Accelerating your Development, Inspiring your Success’. It literally is everything we stand for and it’s what has made us a big success in the field. We don’t mess around and we challenge our customers to really make the best of themselves.
The point here is that if we had tried to please everyone we would have failed miserably and at best been like the rest of the companies out there, at worst maybe we woudn’t be here today!
What is your point of difference or unique selling point (USP)?
Think about what seperates you from the rest and build your brand around that. There’s enough to go around so don’t be generic and try to find the magic solution. Ask people you know the three things you do better than the rest and incorporate their words and language into your marketing and messaging.
You categorically must become comfortable selling yourself and your product at the price it’s worth. You are the best advert for your product, no one else can sell your services like you can. So have a well defined process for taking people through consultations, following up, presenting your programmes and packages to people and finally getting their business.
Remember, if you don’t sell yourself well enough that person will go and spend their money with someone who isn’t as good as you. It’s your job to not let that happen!
Go big or go home
Don’t be afraid to set big targets for yourself. Whether it’s financial, material, or legacy based you cant hide from what truly motivates you. Whatever it is go and make it happen and don’t be afraid to talk about it or share it with people if it will help to anchor that drive in yourself.
Becoming a business owner is a great road to go down for people who are driven and really want success.
And with that in mind I think it’s time for you to get out there and start building your business.
If you want my help or would like to find out about our 6 Figure Coach (6FC) programme leave your details in the box below. The 6FC programme literally takes you through all the stages above and covers all the strategy and tactics required to build a thriving fitness business. It really is a strong programme, but I would say that because I designed it and I believe in it, just like you should with your programmes!