It’s kind of crazy to me that I’ve received more “Ask Joe” emails regarding business, as opposed to training, during this past month. I say it’s “crazy” because the last thing I ever wanted to become was a “business man”. But, as the saying goes – “shit happens” – and like it or not, I now have to be as much of a “business man” as I am a Performance Coach. With that being said, I’m far from a business “expert”, but I have learned a lot during the past decade.
[Hopefully I’m receiving so many business questions because more and more people are opening garage/warehouse-style gyms…this gives me hope that “we” (people who actually goto a gym to train and see results) will not let “them” (average, lazy people — aka, Planet Fitness-types) take over our industry!!!]
The one thing I can say with 100% certainty is that my most valuable business lessons were learned “in the trenches”, as opposed to what I read in books. (This is much like training knowledge.) Most business books are filled with “fluff” to make them look more comprehensive and thorough. And the bottom line is that if you’re trying to start/run a successful business, you don’t have a lot of “free” time to be reading 300+ page business books! So I thought I’d take my decade’s worth of business experience – along with what I learned (or didn’t learn) from reading 50+ business books – and sum up my most valuable lessons/advice with just six guaranteed rules! If you’re looking to take the entrepreneurial plunge; read my following rules very carefully!
And by the way; YOU’RE WELCOME…I just saved you a couple thousand bucks – and hours – from buying/reading long and boring business books! Consider this the “Cliff Notes” version of the most valuable business “book” you can ever read 🙂 Enjoy!
RULE #1: SLEEP WHEN YOU’RE DEAD!
With all do respect to my good friend, Tim Ferriss, author of the 4-Hour Workweek — I haven’t worked less than 4 hours on any given day, let alone WEEK, since I started my business in 2002! Anyone who knows me knows that I eat, sleep and breathe my gym/business. A four, or even FORTY hour workweek for that matter, would get me one thing and one thing only — unemployment!
Most business books I’ve read have chapters on the “keys to success” and “business longevity”. These chapters will usually discuss the importance of things like “delegating”, “freeing up your time” and finding “balance” in your life. While these things may be important aspects of growing a business; I can tell you first-hand that they are not the KEY(S) to success (especially during the first 5-10 years)! In order to have a successful business, the key is to put in an insane amount of hours and work your ass off! It’s that simple. I’ve had the good fortune of developing relationships with some pretty successful people and I can tell you that the ONLY time they work 9:00-5:00 is during a HALF DAY…or during their vacation!
50 Cent made this quote regarding sleep; he said, “Sleep? Sleep is for those people who are broke. I don’t sleep because I have an opportunity to make my dream a reality.” It’s this type of attitude/work ethic that has turned 50 Cent into a MEGA-SUCCESS (even outside of the rap game).
Lesson to be learned: When I was younger and I saw someone driving a nice car or wearing an expensive watch, I’d say things like, “Wow, must be nice”, or, “What a lucky bastard.” Now, whenever I see someone driving a nice car, or living in a beautiful home, I inquire about their “back story” and try to learn how they got started and what they did to get to where they are today. The common denomenator(s) with 99% of successful people – regardless of the industry they’re in – is that they OUT-WORKED their competition, made insane sacrifices, took risks, and totally engrossed themselves in their craft. “Luck” usually had nothing to do with it! You may have to go days without sleep…you may have to go years without a vacation…hell, you may even forget to friggin’ eat sometimes…but if you want to truly be successful, you’re going to have to be uncomfortable long before you ever get comfortable! So next time you see a “lucky” businessman driving an expensive car; ask yourself what he did 10, 20 or even 30 years ago to get to where he is today.
RULE #2: FU#K ‘PLAN B’!
This is something I spoke about when I wrote my “Can’t Rant” last year. Once again, I can’t say this is sound business advice, but it’s something I did – or I guess I should say, didn’t do – when I started my business; so I feel compelled to share it with my readers.
I was so engrossed in starting my business, I never thought “what if” it didn’t work out. Some may call this “stupidity” or “lack of planning” (and I wouldn’t necessarily disagree), but it’s what I did – even though I wasn’t aware at the time. In hindsight, I think this played a big part in the early success of my business. FAILURE WAS NOT AN OPTION. I had no “Plan B”, so I HAD to make my business work! Don’t get me wrong, I went through tough times, occassionally doubted myself and I even suffered a mental breakdown during my first week in business (after going 48 hours without sleep). But, you’ll be surprised at what you’re capable of when you have nothing to “fall back on”!
RULE #3: DON’T HATE!
One thing I now know for sure is that if you’re the type of person that’s consumed with what other people are doing – as opposed to engrossing yourself in your own business/life – you will NEVER be successful. Period.
If you spend your days negatively commenting on internet forums or other people’s youtube videos under a fake name; there’s a pretty damn good chance you’re not successful! I’ve also come to the conclusion that if you actually take the time to respond to your haters; this is a sign that you’re not truly successful. Think about this: Have you ever seen people like Jay-Z, Donald Trump or Vince McMahon get in an “internet argument”?!?! All three of these successful people have had negative blogs and comments written about them on the internet, but you’ll be hard-pressed to get a response from them! You wanna know why? Because they’re too busy being successful to worry about what people are saying about them!!!!
Lesson to be learned: Nobody talks about “average” people! If people are “hatin’” on you, there’s no need to get mad and there’s definitely no need to respond! The only thing you should be doing is smiling…because if they’re talking about you, that means you’re doing something right!
RULE #4: TUNNEL VISION!
There is much truth to the phrase, “Jack of all trades; master of none.” Learning a little bit about everything gets you nowhere! If you want to dramatically increase your chances of having a successful business, my advice is to be the best at ONE thing! Period.
RULE #5: BE YOURSELF!
When I opened my “gym” (aka, storage closet), it was the “SAQ” (Speed, Agility, Quickness) Facilities that were the big trend in the performance training industry. SAQ facilities catered to young kids, played pop music and didn’t dedicate much square-footage to the iron; but they were extremely profitable and marketable.
My passion has always been strength training and an “old school” gym atmosphere (not fancy health clubs). So instead of following the “SAQ trend” that had proven success, I decided to start a business that fit my individual passion and personality. My personal taste just happened to be the anti-SAQ type of facility, but I really didn’t care. I was never much of a follower anyway. And even though my “business model” wasn’t as pretty or even close to as profitable (on paper) as SAQ facilities, something very interesting happened…
Athletes weren’t just signing up for my program because of the incredible results we were getting; many athletes showed up just to see the “crazy back room” they had been hearing about from their friends! Basically, my “gym” was so unique and so different from every other place out there; many people just wanted to see what the hell this place was! There was a certain aura surrounding my “gym” that no other gym in the area had (because all the other gyms were similar to one another). My “gym” was so completely different than anything else that it developed a crazy buzz in the area — “Was it really a storage closet?”… “Was it really only 500 square feet?”… “Do they really let kids bring their own music? “Were there really that many members of the NY Giants training in a small storage closet?”…
You see, the pure “uniqueness” of my storage closet/gym got many people through my door during the early years. (We then obviously kept them in the door by showing them we knew what the hell we were doing and getting extaordinary results!)
NOTE: I am NOT telling anyone to be different just for the sake of “being different”! But, we are all unique in our own way so no one should ever do something just because “everyone else is doing it”. BE YOURSELF and good things will happen!
RULE #6: FOLLOW YOUR PASSION!
One of my all-time favorite quotes is, “Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” There is so much truth to this statement. Want to know how you become too busy to be looking for success? You do this by finding your passion in life…and make it your career! Trust me; if your hobby also happens to be your “job”, you will rarely feel like you’re “working” and eventually “success” will follow.
Lesson to be learned: Throughout high school and college, my sister constantly made fun of me (and rightfully so) for not working. I did have jobs here and there, but they usually didn’t last long because I hated them! Truth be told; I often had nightmares about what the hell I was going to do after college and for the rest of my life because I dreaded going to work. The only thing I loved doing after school/class was playing football and/or working out. So after graduating college, I made “working out” my career…PROBLEM SOLVED!
Hopefully my decade’s worth of business lessons can help point some future gym owners/strength coaches in the right direction!
If you would like to share some business advice or have some feedback on this article, please share your thoughts in the comments section below!