How to Stop Worrying About Competition and Start a Business

How to Stop Worrying About Competition and Start a Business

Yesterday consisted of 4-6 hours working on my sites, email campaigns, and setting myself up for future success. This was in addition to a few hours on Saturday morning. These things will eventually lead to sales or monetary compensation for the time, but there’s also a chance that I’ll never see a dime from my efforts. In the near future, there’s a near 100% chance that I won’t see any return.

Online business is, in most cases, an extreme case of delayed gratification. If that sounds icky, it’s because it is. Spending large chunks of your weekends and nights on something that may or may not pay off is tough. And that’s why you should do it – start the thing you’ve been wanting to do today.

Once you get over the scarcity mindset (there’s too much competition, you’re not good enough to compete, everyone is so far ahead), you begin to realize that most people quit and won’t keep going. Being good is important, but you won’t be good for a long time and that’s to be expected. As long as you keep going, you’ll begin to see others stop putting in the nights and weekends and eventually, you’ll prevail.

Think about everyone you know. How many of them would dedicate the time required to build something substantial outside of their 9 to 5? Not many, right? They have other interests – sleeping in, watching Netflix or sports all weekend long, partying, dating, wasting time on Facebook (finish reading before you log off) and other social media sites, etc.

Now take everyone you know and scale that to 320-million Americans. Chances are the same percentage of your network who would sacrifice that time to do something big isn’t far off from the percentage of 320-million. Your competition pool just got a lot smaller.

Realize: You don’t have to be an Einstein or Richard Branson to make an impact and improve your life. You can’t control your natural abilities and gifts that much, anyway. No, you only have to put in the work that others won’t, and that’s something you have 100% control of. So what are you waiting for, perfect timing? So is everyone else.

How to Make More Money as a Personal Trainer: Focus

How to Make More Money as a Personal Trainer: Focus

If you work in the fitness industry, I’m sure you’ve heard the adage, “You don’t go into the fitness industry to get rich.” The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports personal trainers in the US earn $36k/year. That’s not too shabby, but it’s far from rich. Typically income follows value in the market. If a trade is overly valuable to consumers, prices will increase and the laborers in that industry will make more money as a result.

Looking at today’s world, with obesity at an all-time high and preventative health care’s increased awareness, personal training should be booming. And while business is booming for some personal trainers, the $36k/year statistic isn’t coming from thin air. So what’s the difference between the high earners and the mean? And how can you up your income and move your business forward? It all starts with your focus.

This article will look at four areas of personal training and fitness business where many trainers become lost in weeds and lose focus – or in other words, where they focus on dumb shit instead of making money.


Continuing Education

Knowledge is a powerful thing to possess, and every personal trainer should spend several years learning anatomy and physiology, exercise science, behavioral psychology, and other coaching skills before taking on clients. Take Bret Contreras, Brad Schoenfeld, or Layne Norton for example, who’ve taken their passion for training to the PhD level. Most leaders in our industry have a long list of credentials, higher education, and practical experience in the trenches. Knowledge and an infinite learning process are almost prerequisites for being a thought leader in the fitness industry.

All that being said, do you really care about being a thought leader? If you do, that’s cool, skip to the next point and keep on keepin’ on. But here’s a little nugget: for every thought leader or titan of the fitness industry, there are ten other guys/girls running six and seven-figure personal training businesses. I’m going to take a shot in the dark and say most of these high-earning fitness professionals don’t hold certifications, either. Some of them may have even skipped out on college or if they did go to college, they studied something unrelated to fitness *gasp* like accounting or liberal arts.

Let’s backtrack for a second. I’ll admit, educations and certifications are important barriers to entry for most. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t take pride in mine (BS, CSCS, Pn1), but I know plenty of folks without them who are superior coaches and trainers with successful businesses. The point is, knowledge and credentials only get you so far. What really matters to your business is your bottom line and how much revenue you can generate.

Once you have a baseline level of fitness/training knowledge and can get results for people, you need to shift your focus to growing your business and personal brand. Ask yourself: Can you sell your services face-to-face or through sales pages? Can you generate leads through the internet or locally? What’s your strategy to grow your business over the next three, six, twelve months? Is your business set up for success in terms of legality and tax efficiency? Are you making any money? Are you making enough money for your time? Is your business profitable?

If you can’t answer any of the questions above, don’t read another thing about fitness or training (assuming you’ve reached the getting results for clients level) until you can. Continuing education will be important to your long-term success but if your business isn’t making money, all will be for naught.

Final note: Nobody cares how much you know. They care about what you can do for them.


Social Media

“Worrying about your followers, you need to get your dollars up.” As an avid hip hop listener, I have mixed feelings about Drake, but I couldn’t agree more with him on this one. While social media followers are important and can definitely be monetized in one way or another, they should be a product of your business success – not the other way around. Put in the work and create a product or business worth following and they will come. Don’t waste time hacking your way to 10k followers or other spammy tactics only to build a following of people who could care less what you’re posting about.

You should be focusing on one platform, and this platform should be where your target demographic hangs out. (I.e., middle-aged women are likely to be on Facebook/Pinterest and 18-35-year-olds are likely to be on Snapchat/Instagram) A quick Google will tell you the demographic breakdown of all the major sites and where you should focus your efforts. Like Joe Dirt said, “It’s not what you like, it’s the consumer.”

This doesn’t mean you should completely abandon other platforms. Go crazy, use ‘em all. Just remember the Pareto Principle – or the 20% of work that yields 80% of your results. It’s also worth noting that if you have a particular skill set (think video or cinematography for long-form video on YouTube or Facebook) that will set you apart on any platform, you should double down on that.

Final note: email marketing conversion > social media conversion. Start building an email list and write regularly without selling anything. Give, give, give, give, take.

Total Client Ceiling

This may sound counterintuitive to the ABC (Always Be Closing) mindset I subscribe to, but I think it’s important to know your client limit. For a new business, sales cure all and more clients is exactly what the doctor ordered. But at some point, you’re going to need to cap it off to avoid quality control issues, burnout, and to maximize client retention and referrals.

If you’re a personal trainer with an already stacked client roster you may be thinking, “Mason, my goal is to make more money and to do that I need more clients.” And you’re right. There’s very little to do other than acquiring more clients. You may be able to tip-toe the line of too many clients, but it’s very likely you won’t know you’ve reached critical mass until you’re there. The best piece of advice I can give you, and this is super important, is to raise your prices. Raise prices today. Actually, raise prices yesterday.

Raising the price of your service allows you to make more money on all clients from this point forward, meaning you could eventually work less for the same money you make now. Prices are a tough thing to adjust retroactively with current clients, so I’d suggest leaving them alone unless they’re set up with a long-term agreement that’s up for renewal. (Think leasing agreements that slightly increase year over year.)


Your Own Training

Growing up, I thought I was destined to play in the NBA. I played basketball year-round and actually turned out to be a great player, especially for a slow white guy. Spoiler alert: I didn’t make it to the NBA. Fast forward to after my basketball career ended and I was still playing every day for hours at a time in city leagues and pick up games. All the while, my career and college studies were falling by the wayside and it was beginning to look like I’d be following the footsteps of Woody Harrelson in White Men Can’t Jump.

Fast forward again to one of the most pivotal discussions of my life. My dad, one of the most awesome dudes you’ll come across in this world, decided to finally intervene and let me know that I would undoubtedly be a loser if I didn’t shift my priorities and give up the hoop dreams. You know the scene in Step Brothers where Dale’s dad tells the story about his dad telling him to stop being a dinosaur and get a job? It was a bit like that, handled with precision and just the right amount of honesty. Shortly after that, I got my shit together and the rest is history.

The moral of the story being, at some point you will have to shift the focus from your personal fitness and training to your business or career. There are certainly exceptions to this rule. If you’re an elite-level fitness-er and make money from your fitness level, by all means, do you. This thought applies to the 90% of fitness professionals who are in great shape but haven’t achieved full “Instagram Model” status.

Final note: You should be fit as a personal trainer and practice what you preach, within reason. However, it’s important to realize that the largest pool of potential personal training clients is comprised of complete beginners. While this group may find motivation in the extremely fit person, most want to work with someone who can simply get them off the couch and drop a bit of body fat, not prep them for a contest. Relatability goes a long way with client acquisition and retention.


The Takeaways

  • Once you have a solid base of PT knowledge and can consistently get results for clients, it’s time to shift your focus to your business.
  • Nobody cares how much you know. They care about what you can do for them.
  • Becoming an industry leader takes years and years. You’ve gotta pay the bills until that happens.
  • Unless your personal fitness level pays the bills, shift your focus to your business.
  • Raise prices yesterday.
  • Determine who your target demographic is and where they’re hanging out on social. Go wherever their attention is directed. Forget about everything else until that’s working.
  • Sales hierarchy for most personal trainers – In-person or video conference calls > phone > email marketing > social media
  • The bigger your email list is, the more sales you can generate at any given moment.

11 Lessons about Business from “Tools of Titans” by Tim Ferriss

11 Lessons about Business from “Tools of Titans” by Tim Ferriss

(An under 5-minute read.) Pick up Tim’s new book here. Read part two, “17 Lessons on Success from ‘Tools of Titans’ by Tim Ferriss” here

  1. I believe you shouldn’t start a business unless people are asking you to. – Derek Sivers
  2. It Doesn’t Always Have to Be Hard “I have come to learn that part of the business strategy is to solve the simplest, easiest, and most valuable problem. And actually, in fact, part of doing strategy is to solve the easiest problem, so part of the reason why you work on software and bits is that atoms [physical products] are actually very difficult.” TF: The bolded lines are key elements that I’m prone to under-examining. In doing an 80/20 analysis of your activities (simply put: determining which 20% of activities/tasks produce 80% of the results you want), you typically end up with a short list. Make “easy” your next criterion. Which of these highest-value activities is the easiest for me to do? You can build an entire career on 80/20 analysis and asking this question. – Reid Hoffman
  3. “The blog post I point people to the most is called ‘First, Ten,’ and it is a simple theory of marketing that says: tell ten people, show ten people, share it with ten people; ten people who already trust you and already like you. If they don’t tell anybody else, it’s not that good and you should start over. If they do tell other people, you’re on your way.” – Seth Godin
  4. Speed as a Principle “We agreed I was going to make judgment calls on a range of issues on his behalf without checking with him. He told me, ‘In order to move fast, I expect you’ll make some foot faults. I’m okay with an error rate of 10 to 20%—times when I would have made a different decision in a given situation—if it means you can move fast.’ I felt empowered to make decisions with this ratio in mind, and it was incredibly liberating.” – Reid Hoffman
  5. This is counter to classic marketing thinking, which is brand oriented: How do I get people to prefer my brand? Forget the brand. Think categories. Prospects are on the defensive when it comes to brands. Everyone talks about why their brand is better. But prospects have an open mind when it comes to categories. Everyone is interested in what’s new. Few people are interested in what’s better. When you’re the first in a new category, promote the category. In essence, you have no competition. DEC told its prospects why they ought to buy a minicomputer, not a DEC minicomputer. In the early days, Hertz sold rent-a-car service. Coca-Cola sold refreshment. Marketing programs of both companies were more effective back then.
  6. Are You J. Crew? “We send millions of emails a month with multiple-million [combinatorial variants] of email funnels, and we generate roughly 99% of our revenue through email. “[My emails] look like plain emails. . . . I am not J. Crew. J. Crew is selling a brand, so their emails have to be beautiful. My emails look like I am writing to you because I want to be your friend . . . at scale. That is why my emails appear to be really simple. Behind the scenes, there is a lot of stuff going on, but they appear . . . like I just jotted you a note.” TF: One of the reasons I put off using email newsletters for years was perceived complexity. I didn’t want to have to craft beautiful templates and ship out gorgeous, magazine-worthy missives. Ramit convinced me to send plain-text email for my 5-Bullet Friday newsletter, which became one of the most powerful parts of my business within 6 months. – Ramit Sethi
  7. 1,000 True Fans “[‘1,000 True Fans’ by Kevin Kelly] was one of the seminal articles that inspired me to really build amazing material, rather than just recycling what else was out there. I knew that if I had 1,000 true fans, then not only would I be able to live doing the things I wanted, but I would be able to turn that into 2,000, 5,000, 10,000—and that is exactly what happened. “In terms of getting my first 1,000 true fans, you can look at my posts. They tend to be very, very long [and definitive]. In some cases, 15, 20, 25 pages long. . . . If your material is good, if it is engaging, there is almost no maximum you can write. . . . My point is not ‘write longer.’ It is ‘do not worry about space.’ “Second, I cannot recommend guest posting enough. I did one for you [‘The Psychology of Automation’]—that probably took me 20 to 25 hours to write. It was very detailed. It included video, all kinds of stuff, and to this day a lot of the people I meet, I ask, ‘How did you hear about me?’ and they say, ‘Oh, through Tim Ferriss.’” – Ramit Sethi
  8. “If you go out there and start making noise and making sales, people will find you. Sales cure all. You can talk about how great your business plan is and how well you are going to do. You can make up your own opinions, but you cannot make up your own facts. Sales cure all.” – Daymond John
  9. Aim Narrow, Own Your Own Category The following is one of my favorite excerpts from The Art of Asking, which I highlighted because it beautifully showcases the “1,000 True Fans” philosophy I’m so fond of (page 292): Dita Von Teese, a star in the contemporary burlesque scene, once recounted something she’d learned in her early days stripping in L.A. Her colleagues—bleach-blonde dancers with fake tans, Brazilian wax jobs, and neon bikinis—would strip bare naked for an audience of 50 guys in the club and be tipped a dollar by each guy. Dita would take the stage wearing satin gloves, a corset, and a tutu, and do a sultry striptease down to her underwear, confounding the crowd. And then, though 49 guys would ignore her, one would tip her fifty dollars. That man, Dita said, was her audience. – Amanda Palmer
  10. “General fame is overrated. You want to be famous to 2,000 to 3,000 people you handpick.” I’m paraphrasing, but the gist is that you don’t need or want mainstream fame. It brings more liabilities than benefits. However, if you’re known and respected by 2–3K high-caliber people (e.g., the live TED audience), you can do anything and everything you want in life. It provides maximal upside and minimal downside. – Eric Weinstein
  11. “You get paid for being right first, and to be first, you can’t wait for consensus.” – Naval Ravikant