Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Random Business Thoughts

As BBA continues to grow, we continue to consult or get questions from people wanting to start their own sports performance gym.

BBA has been rocking for almost 3-years now, and we're far from having it figured out, but we have taken our bumps and bruises along the way and have learned, in many instances, the hard way.

This is why we're starting to write a little bit more about the business side of things (see all our Business articles HERE).

We hope to provide an un-filtered, realistic look at owning a gym.  No sugar coating, no BS - just the honest truth about the hardships and upsides of owning a gym.

Here are some more random thoughts that I've jotted down over the past 2-months.

  • I see a lot of young coaches wanting to own a gym for nothing more than because they love to lift.  Let this be clear - Your lifting will suffer - this is a hard pill to swallow for some.  You need to love the success and progress of your athletes more than your own.
  • I have put out over 200 free articles, spoken to many groups/organizations (for free), put on a yearly clinic (for a very low cost and make NO money from it), and answer tons of questions via email/phone/facebook/twitter/blog - All of these have helped increase "traffic" and referrals to our business - Yet there IS a hidden expense to this.  
    • For example, people WILL and DO steal your stuff and use it against you.  Area coaches have come to my clinic or courses, and then used and implemented what we teach (which is awesome!), BUT some have gone on to bash us and tell their athletes not to come to us because they do the same things as us.  Understand this will happen and accept and feel confident in your services and that people will see through this.
Our Clinic
  • Typically I arrive between 45-60 minutes before sessions (except for 5:30am) and stay 45-60 minutes after sessions to set-up, plan, write-up that days movement/youth/adult workouts, tear down, clean, vacuum, wipe down, re-arrange, laundry, etc.  If we have sessions from 2:30-8:30pm - it's not just 2:30-8:30pm - it's more like 1:30-9:30pm. 
  • Most weekends I am at the facility for an additional 2-3 hours doing projects, clean-up, maintenance, etc.  So just because we close at 1pm on Saturday and are closed all day Sunday doesn't mean work isn't being done at the gym. 
  • I put in some loonnnggg days - I'm talking sometimes 16 STRAIGHT hours of coaching.  I alway laugh when someone will tell me - "Well it's better than 8-hours in an office" or "at least you get to do what you love".  
Yes I love coaching and everyday I get to do what I love.  I also love my wife, but 16-straight hours, 6-days a week with her and I'd get a little tired.  No matter what you do, doing it for 100+ hours a week can make you sick of that thing - So please stop saying that to people, because you have no clue what you're talking about.
  • Remember this about owning a gym - you get no built in medical insurance, no benefits, no retirement, no PTO, no sick days, no vacation, etc.  Still like the thought of being the boss?
  • I recently had a great talk with a College Professor about the realities of undergraduate studies and it's preparation towards a S&C career.  I said in a previous article that my undergraduate program did little to prepare me for what I currently do on a day-to-day basis, and I stand by that.  Things like individual assessment/evaluation and what to do with that information, short-term and long-term periodization plans, athlete programming structure, linear/lateral/multi-direction speed development and mechanics, exercise technique, exercise progressions and regressions, coaching/communicating/cueing large groups of athletes, how to design a training template on excel, best sets, reps, loads, velocities for different training stimulus, etc.
BUT that's not to say it was useless, not at all - I was suggesting that NO undergraduate program truly prepare students for the realities of any profession - not just the S&C world.  Students need to understand undergraduate programs tend to be GENERAL in nature - and if you want to be great in your field, you NEED to get outside of the academic textbooks and get practical experience, coaching exposure, and/or get into a weight room ASAP!  Let this be clear - an undergraduate degree, a CSCS, and even a master's degree say nothing about your readiness to coach in a S&C setting.  I have a ton of respect for academics and professors, but the reality is undergraduate programs CANNOT prepare students for the specifics of S&C, and accountability needs to be placed upon students to bridge that gap.
None of this was taught during my Undergrad or Master's program
  • It's hot during the summer - and each day we go through roughly 75-100 towels.  That means EVERY SINGLE NIGHT I have to wash, dry, and fold 75-100 towels for the next day.  Luckily my beautiful wife helps (I should say does) this duty.  Moral is, this is actually a very tedious and time consuming job, but it's very important - when you own a business, you'll find a number of small jobs like this that pop-up.
  • You know what's expensive - liability insurance, renter's insurance, property taxes, LLC renewals, trademarking, etc.  So whether you rent or own, know there are some tremendous expenses just to keep your business "legal".  Also, if you work at a facility or in the public sector - know that your employer takes care of these things, which is a HUGE hassle off your hands. 
  • Mark Zuckerberg was asked, how much time he spends working, his answer - "If you count the time I'm in the office, it's probably no more than 50-60 hours a week. But if you count all the time I'm focused on our mission, that's basically my whole life."  
I thought his answer was incredibly accurate for most business owners and something others, who don't have to carry their work home with them, don't understand.  The programming, emails, phone calls, thinking about how to improve, what to change, projects that need to be done - it never stops.
  • Spending money on advertising is a huge waste - This includes everything from newspaper ads, radio ads, tv commercials, movie theater commercials, signage (no one has ever stopped in a gym because they saw a sign - people actively seek out gyms, not stop in by chance).  In almost 3-years of business, I've spent $180 on advertising, and it was a flop.  With social media today and word of mouth - there is no point.  Be creative
  • One of the most powerful advertising tools is to attend your athletes sporting events. Not only is it great to watch your athletes play and see their hard work pay-off, but it's also a chance to get exposure in front of other parents and athletes.  When an athlete is excited to see you after the game to give you a high 5 and hug, people take notice. 
  • No one or gym makes a living training JUST professional athletes.  Even the big time gyms like Exos, Bommorito's, Mike Boyles, IMG, etc - DON'T make the bulk of their income from strictly professional athletes - they make it from training the general population and youth/HS aged athletes.  So stop striving to train professional athletes - IT'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.  Get great at training youth, HS, and college.
  • Some people are surprised by the amount of fun we have at our gym. We goof around, we play basketball, before sessions athletes are throwing footballs around, after sessions athletes are playing games, etc.  It can't be all serious, all the time - there need to be times when we lighten the mood and let athletes have fun and ENJOY their time spent in the gym. 
  • Gyms are becoming more and more popular these days.  So the question becomes how to differentiate yourself from the others.  Do you have a niche? - specific sports you specialize in, training youth, speed and agility, training teams, etc.  There is a Crossfit gym at every corner, a 24-hour fitness in every town - what do you provide that these places don't? 
  • The private sector is a tough place to find good help/assistants.  If you open a gym with a partner(s), then everybody has some understanding and appreciation for what goes into making a gym successful, and they're all on the same page.
If you don't start with partner(s) or co-fonders and you're looking to hire, it's extremely hard to find someone who is bought into the process and understands the hardships of a small business.  Especially when you're in a small city and don't have a nationally recognized brand - like BBA.  What you'll typically see is someone who is just working for a paycheck, and not willing to do the small things that it takes to be successful.  They also don't understand all the hard-work that's been put forth to date, and how much more work it will continue to take to keep being successful.  I've brought in assistants, and for the most part it's been bad for ME.  As the owner, I know that some months - I DON'T GET A PAYCHECK - this is especially true if you're trying to pay 2 full-time salaries.  Assistants, don't understand that, and I actually end up paying the assistants more than I pay myself - the one who is here everyday, writes all the programs, bought all the equipment, and is responsible for every single client/dollar we bring in.

For this reason, we only hire past interns or volunteers so we can get a feel for how the coach fits into our environment, interacts with our athletes, and appreciates the details of our programs/business. 

That's all for now.
Go Get 'Em!

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