When Is it Time to Open Your Gym- Part 3

When Is it Time to Open Your Gym- Part 3
We have taken 2 looks into opening your own gym (When is it time to open your gym – Part 1 and When it is time to open your gym – Part 2).  Those guiding factors are both intangible and tangible.

We now need to dive into what you need to do in order to put the final stitch into your gym’s initial preparations.  Here are the steps that you will need to take today in order to get off and running quickly:

  • Define and build your specific network NOW
  • Understand your unique position in the market
  • Build your business model

Any one of these topics could be an entire book let alone a part of a blog post so please do not think that my thoughts here are all encompassing!  

Defining and building your specific network NOW

You are playing a game when you open a gym.  How many more clients can you bring in than you churn out?  Believe me, I understand that you want it to feel more peaches and cream than that but if you lose that game, you die.  You must build a business that is going to limit the clients who leave and you must concurrently build a business that attracts clients into your gym consistently.

If you want to succeed you need to setup your network of people into a few groups:

  • Your inner circle – you won’t have too many of these people because you will build deep relationships with them.  This is the group that you really engage deeply with, help build each other’s businesses, and lean on when things are challenging.
  • Your outer circle – this is that network that you add value to and they add value back to you.  But, the value is more surface level because you can’t spend all of your time with this person (again, no butterflies and rainbows here haha).

If you don’t have any deep connections with people in your area, I would suggest you work to build those relationships prior to opening your facility.  I am not talking about some sort of weird LinkedIn stalker strategy of trying to infiltrate yourself into their life.  I am talking about making sure that you are spending time with your existing network so that you are offering them real value and they are offering it right back.  When you have deep connections you will immediately have an audience to speak to because you have a local influencer who will speak highly about your product and you will have an trusted friend who can help you make better early decisions.  For a deeper look we can always go to the trusted Stanford here – Stanford Networking – YouTube.

You need to have your outer network built because it opens avenues for you to work with and speak to a much larger audience but the outcome is similar…when you have REAL relationships built with people (even outer circle relationships) they will be far more likely to speak highly of your business which will be a hugely valuable help to you as you are opening your facility.  A great book if you are curious – The Startup of You.  Spend the time now to build your network so that you can hit the ground running when your workload goes way up as you launch.

Understand your unique position in the market

Success comes when the right clients have the right experience with the right coaches at the right time.  It may sound intuitive but you are the scribe of their user experience and you are the one building the public brand of what your gym is and isn’t.

To succeed you need to have a clear vision of what you want your gym to be and you need to recognize why that position in the market is potentially successful.  Not every market segment is created equal.  If you have a goal of scaling your business and making more money over time you have to ensure that you have a business that serves a large enough market who can pay for your service and who you highly want to work with.  

If you want to be the guru of weight loss for people over 40, that market is gigantic.  You may even want to segment farther and say “We help women who are working, taking care of kids, and over 40 lose weight and feel empowered.”  Yes, it limits your total market size but if you can create a highly positive and quality program for that market you damn well better believe that you will be uniquely known for that.  

The point here is this…you need to be recognized for something and you can choose to create what you are recognized for or the market is going to create it for you.  Control your narrative with top notch results within a specific section of your market and you are on your way.  If you can shape that narrative today rather than after you have opened your gym you will be ahead of the curve.

Build your business model

You do not need to be a Fortune 500 company to build a business model.  Every company needs to understand what they are going to do in order to succeed and grow.  You create that and you need to do it now before you open the doors because you will end up reacting to every decision that needs to be made as opposed to leading the market.

When it comes to building a business model, it does not need to be complicated.  In my opinion your business model needs to answer a few questions well:

  • Who is your audience (target market) and why?
  • How large is that market?
  • How much of a percentage can you expect to take of that market – so, if you want to own that women’s 40+ market how big of a percentage of the local market do you need in order to get 50/100/200 clients?  This research alone will help you greatly define who you will work with and, yes, you will have others slightly outside of that target over time.
  • How will you service your target audience – you need to understand your products and services specifically.
  • Who will be helping you – You need to identify who you will need staff wise so that you can get out of that reactive mode and into driving mode
  • Who are your competitors – why are they your competitors and why are you better and more unique than them?  If you aren’t, you had better work to be
  • Where are you going?

Just as with your network and your unique selling proposition, you must be clear on how you will grow and succeed. This needs to be clear before you open your gym.  I cannot tell you how many small gym owners fail to this ahead of time and in most cases it costs them dearly.  In today’s market there are micro gyms everywhere.   If you don’t know how you will bring in your clients, service them brilliantly, and take care of your staff you will make quick decisions in the heat of the moment and it will make it harder to build your business.

While building a highly effective business model is out of the scope of this article, Harvard Business Review wrote a great article on it here – HBR Business Model.

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