Back in 2012, I started my own personal training business. Between 2013 and 2016 it was my main source of income. Other than producing results that my clients were proud of, I was happy that I was one of the finalists for the Vancouver Island Top 20 Under 40 Business & Community Achievement Awards in both 2015 and 2016. To top it all off, I was also able to purchase my first home. In 2015, I was working a lot of hours (too many!!) and I was starting to feel very burnt out. I didn’t have time for much of a social life and I was always extremely busy. Between being burnt out and getting injured in 2016, I was no longer able to continue personal training full-time. During this hiatus I had a lot of time to think and I learned a lot. I also realized that there are several things that I could have done better. I want to share those things so that when you start your own business, regardless of which industry you choose, you won’t make the same mistakes that I did.
- Outsourcing. I wish I had discovered digital marketing when I first started in business. Q Academy is a great resource for all things related to technology and the Internet. For example, if I hired someone from Q Academy to create my website, I would have saved so much time trying to put it all together myself. I still did it, but it definitely looks like something I created myself. That time I spent trying to create my own website could have been spent more usefully such as recovering, or coming up with other business strategies that would propel my business further.
- Taking full advantage of technology. Technology is designed to make our lives easier and our business processes smoother. There are so many ways to use technology to automate certain aspects of our business so that we can focus on the core product and/or service that we provide. Technology makes it easier for us to communicate with our customers, suppliers and business partners. Search engine optimization (SEO), automated email marketing, Google Analytics, as well as Social Media marketing are all things that I could have implemented more effectively.
- Don’t pick too many target markets. Trying to be everything for everyone is a recipe for disaster. Not only does it dilute your marketing efforts but it also makes it very difficult to standardize your business processes. My mistake was that I feared being “too exclusive” and I also feared that I would “alienate people” so I had made the mistake of having too many target markets. It wasn’t until later that I realized I primarily wanted to work with office folks who want to live a healthier lifestyle. These were the people who were interested in improving their running skills as well as beginner runners were looking to get faster. I definitely could have done a better job of defining my target market.
- Take time to rest and recover. We are not robots and are therefore not designed to be working 12-16 hours a day every day. I used to feel that whenever I was not working with clients I should be working on my business. Recovery is good for your long-term health and taking proper days off allows you to clear your head, as well as spend quality time with friends and family. Rest and recovery are very important for long-term success no matter what anyone says about how hard you should be working.
- Not being afraid to raise prices. There is nothing wrong with raising prices to keep up with inflation and with the cost of living. Additionally, as I gained more knowledge and experience, the value that I offered the client increased. With that in mind, I should not have been as afraid to raise my prices, knowing that a reasonable client would be totally OK paying an extra $5-10 per session.
I hope that these tips will help you start your business journey right.