Build A Better Business 5 Day Challenge

As business owners, we wear a lot of hats—CEO, Director of Marketing, Scheduler, Head Janitor, Costco Supply Shopper—the list goes on.  But seriously, can someone please let me retire from IT Specialist?!

Do you find yourself exhausted at the end of each day … but haven’t made a dent in your to-do list?  Does it seem like you’re working just to pay American Express?  Are you on the verge of massive burnout?  #beenthere

Then, the Build A Better Business 5-Day Challenge couldn’t have come at a better time for you!  The Challenge starts, Monday, May 14th!

Oftentimes, as busy business owners, we are so focused on the day-to-day and getting our massive to-do lists complete that we fail to recognize if all this work we’re doing is really moving our businesses forward.

What do I mean by that?  Well … if you’re doing lots of things, that doesn’t necessarily mean your business is benefiting.  In fact, you might be doing your business more harm than good by doing everything yourself and not delegating work to others.

Yep.  It’s time to take a cold, hard look at how you can build a better business over the next 5 days and whether it’s time to hire an employee to help you take your business to the next level.  Each day, I’ll walk you through a quick, mini-lesson, on how to become more effective and efficient in your business.  You’ll spend about 15 minutes each day making some small improvements—these are the exact steps I took before I took a big leap forward and hired enough employees to help me run my business.

The Challenge starts Monday, May 14th.  Here’s what you can expect over the 5 Days …

Day 1: Find the Remedy to Never Having Enough Time  

I’ll show you how you can easily and quickly determine where you’re spending your time. This is gold!

Day 2: Prepare for Change

Even after 1 day, you’ll be ready to make a change to build a better business.  I’ll walk you through how to plan and prepare.

Day 3: Create the Right Business Environment

“If you build it, they will come.”  Right?! Yes!  I’ll help you get started on an important step before considering hiring a new employee.

Day 4: Double Down on Extra Time

At this point, you will have extra time.  I know it seems too good to be true!  I’ll help you determine the best way for you to maximize your priorities as a business owner.

Day 5: Design Your Ideal Day

No explanation needed!  You’ll create your ideal schedule and I’ll give you the tools to actually make it happen. #forreal

Completing these 5 steps was a huge eye-opener!  And … totally transformed the way I worked in and on my business.

All you need is about 15 minutes each day for the 5 days starting Monday, May 14th.  Are you ready to build a better business?  Are you in?!

I’m in! I want to Build A Better Business!

Click here to receive access to a special Challenge Google Drive with each day’s quick, mini-lesson.  Remember … you’ll only spend about 15 minutes each day building your better business.  I’ll also be on Instagram Live at 6:00 AM EDT to walk you through the steps.  6:00 AM!  I know, but it will be great to start the day off thinking about all the good things you can do to make your business better … and it was the only time that I could consistently join you for these messages all week.  For you night owls … just watch the videos later in the day.  No big deal.  Follow along @shesonhertoes on Instagram.

Click here to gain access to the Google Drive with all 5 mini lessons to Build A Better Business!

It’s Time. Time to Focus on Other Things.

One of the tough things about being an entrepreneur and owning a business is you always have to be “on.”  You’re the one who motivates your team and keeps them moving to grow the business.  But at some point, you have to ask yourself … who is there to motivate me?

And so, I find myself at the ActionCoach 2018 Business Excellence Forum in sunny San Diego with my business coach, Mary Ann.

She's On Her Toes Hotel Coronado.JPG

Here’s our view … the historic Hotel Del Coronado.

Shes-On-Her-Toes-Beach-Selfie.jpg

Selfie on the beach–look at that blue sky!  Juust a little windy.

If you recall, I attended last year’s conference in Houston and won an award for Best Service Based Business Under 25 Employees (Click here to read all about it).  I left that weekend feeling inspired and looking forward to putting into action all of the great things I learned.

But … this year is a little different.  Why?  Because I’m not necessarily looking to pick up useful tips for the daily operations of my business.  Instead, since my team, led by my managers, Emily and Christina, are already doing that, I need to focus on giving up parts of my business to them.  This time around, I will be learning how to bring about my most transformative identity shift … becoming the visionary for my business … and that’s it.

That means I’m going to have to stop teaching (at some point soon), which is something that I really like doing and is meaningful to me.  The simple fact is, I have 20 teachers, so I really don’t need to be filling that role.  I’m not even the best.  Several of my teachers do a much better job than I do.

Why am I clinging to this role?  Teaching is something that most of the owners in my franchise value and many of us are extremely proud that we are teachers.  Teaching the Pure Barre technique and showing our clients how amazing class is defines us.  It’s why we opened our studios in the first place.  And in the beginning, it probably is important for an owner to be a teacher and set the standard for the experience in your business.  But with most things, your role evolves and eventually you need to ask yourself, “Is teaching what’s best for moving my business forward and growing?”  I think I’ve just answered that in the previous lines:

I have 20 teachers.  I have 2 managers leading those teachers.

Time for me to focus on other things.

My Why

So incredible!  Yesterday, I attended the annual meeting and luncheon for the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce … and Pure Barre Winston-Salem won the Truliant Best Small Business in Winston-Salem award for 2017!

I mean, seriously?  What an honor.  Winston-Salem was literally built from small businesses growing into large corporations (think RJ Reynolds, Hanesbrands, Krispy Kreme, Wachovia/Wells Fargo, BB&T and the list goes on) paving the way for thousands of other startups and small businesses to make their mark on the city.  And now, my business has been recognized as being the best.  Thank you!  To the Chamber, Truliant, my amazing clients, and my incredibly talented team of hard-working employees—Thank you!

So why do I do what I do?  Being a small business owner isn’t always glamourous.  It can be really hard sometimes.  But, I am motivated by the idea that there is nothing worse than wasted talent in this world.  You know, the idea that everyone has great potential and can accomplish great things.  And for me, that starts with being physically fit to accomplish all those great things.  When your body is strong, your mind is strong and you can do just about anything.

Every day, I get to see my clients do amazing things in the studio that I know help them do amazing things outside of the studio.  I’ve been fortunate to see clients who walk into Pure Barre completely unsure of themselves and their physical capabilities, transform into confident and strong individuals.  I’m extremely fortunate to experience these things on a daily basis.  It’s inspiring.

What if you were at the center of a workplace where everyone was pushed to be their best?  What if your business was bigger than yourself?  What if you could wear leggings EVERY SINGLE DAY?

Yep.  Life is pretty damn good.

How Many Years Does It Take to Become an Overnight Success?

I have to shake my head when people talk about “overnight success” in business.  You know, “She’s just an overnight success.  Her business has really taken off.”  Or, “All of a sudden he’s doing really well and his business just grew overnight.”

Ok, so as I’m writing this, I’m literally laughing out loud.  Folks, there’s no such thing as overnight success.  No magic.  No fairy dust that is sprinkled over a business so that in six to twelve hours (a rough estimate for overnight) it doubles in revenues while holding costs to a minimum.  There’s only hard work and persistence.  You, the customer or outside observer (we), just didn’t notice all that seemingly boring, behind the scenes activity until the business got big and exciting.

No one wants to acknowledge a business owner for all the boring stuff, like successfully completing their annual worker’s comp audit, or consistently making phone calls, emailing or texting clients to remind them to buy again.  And it’s super unsexy to think about how often that business owner vacuums or goes to Costco to buy enough toilet paper so the business never runs out.  Yet, all these seemingly boring, unexciting tasks lead to this perception of “overnight success.”

Why do we, as outside observers, ignore the struggle and the grind and instead pay attention to what appears to be shiny, bow-wrapped stories of success?  I don’t know.  Maybe it’s more exciting to recognize people who have seemingly accelerated the business journey.  When was the last time you heard about someone being acknowledged for their patience and ability keep after their business vision day-after-day, year-after-year … all while never running out of toilet paper?

So, next time you go to praise someone for their overnight success, ask them how many years it took to reach it.

Why It’s Important to Celebrate Your Wins

Oh my!  It’s been a wild few weeks for me—literally everything happened in September.  And I mean EVERYTHING.  To recap …

 

  • I attended the annual Pure Barre Conference where I was asked to speak about my best practices for hiring and leading a rock star team, to 500+ owners. Just a little nerve wracking!  That’s a lot of ladies.

Shes-On-Her-Toes-Speaking.jpg

 

  • When I got back from Conference, I bought a house. Oh yeah, and moved.  The moving part wasn’t so bad because I decided to get rid of almost all of my furniture.  This seemed like a good idea at the time, but now that there’s no place to sit, might have been a little rash.

Shes-On-Her-Toes-All-Moved-In.jpg

 

  • Just a few short days after moving, we celebrated some big milestones at my Pure Barre studios—Pure Barre Winston-Salem reached its 5-year Anniversary and Pure Barre Clemmons reached its 3-year Anniversary. And I had my first book signing.  So of course, we had to throw a big party to celebrate!

She's On Her Toes 5 Year Celebration

The three of us have been together since Day 1–cannot believe it’s been 5 years!

  • And the day after the party, I had an allergic reaction to something I ate and basically had to save my own life. Good times.  Sorry … no pictures of my face turning purple.

 

After this swirl of activity, I’m pretty content to get back to basics, like heading out to the grocery store and buying more than one meal at a time, walking the dogs, writing more regularly, and spending time with friends—hopefully at my new house with a place for them to sit.

But as much as I just want to get back to “real life” where a major event isn’t happening by the minute, it’s important to take the time to celebrate my and my team’s business wins, both big and small.

When you own a small business, every sale is important.  It all adds up.  And my team is doing some really incredible things right now—they’re achieving the same level of sales that we had last year with one exception, I was the one driving most of those sales.  This means, that they’re working together and will surpass the standard that I set by the end of the year.  Pretty cool.  I’ll drink to that!

We’re just about to head into the final quarter of 2017 and all year we’ve been gaining inches.  A little progress has been made each month towards our sales goals and towards my goal of giving my team more responsibility to run the studios without me there every day.  It hasn’t seemed like that much has been happening.  And I’m notoriously impatient.  But I can see that we’ve been doing some really great things and they’re adding up.

Our focus going forward into Q4 and 2018 will be to create a stronger health and fitness community amongst our clients.  Next week, I’ll explain how I’m developing more robust customer service training for my team so we can keep growing our client base and daily sales.  I’ve also been reading some amazing books and I can’t wait to fill you in so you can be inspired for a strong finish to 2017!

Until then, stay on your toes!

When Things Seem Out of Your Control in Business

“It’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”  -Chinese Proverb

One of the most difficult things about being a business owner is accepting the fact that a lot of things impacting your business are completely out of your control.  Things like the weather, the economy, a catastrophic event, or overall trends in your industry can all have a huge impact on your business and there’s not a damn thing you can do about any of them.

I myself, experienced a period about a year ago when everything in my business seemed out of control (read about it here).  I’m not going to lie, it was an extremely scary time and at one point, I thought I would lose everything—as we all know, the exact opposite happened.  But as a business owner, how do you cope with that uncertainty?  When things seem out of your control in business, how can you remain calm to make sound decisions when all you’re thinking is, “I’m scared.”

I was in my studios working this weekend, and stopped to re-read an article that appeared in the local newspaper about 5 years ago featuring Pure Barre Winston-Salem.  I framed it; walk by it every day, but I haven’t read it since I hung it on the wall.  The article discussed the “new” trend of the importance of working out and how local residents were now placing value on health and fitness.  Now, in most places the subject of this article might not even be news-worthy.  But since Winston-Salem serves as the corporate headquarters for both RJ Reynolds (think Reynolds Tobacco) and Krispy Kreme doughnuts, a focus on fitness in the community seemed important to discuss.

The article listed several big box gyms and a few smaller boutique fitness studios in the area for readers to check out and start their new fitness journey.  Of the 10 listed, only 3 are still open … my business, the YMCA, and a Crossfit gym (owned by good friends of mine).  Wow.  The Y’s not going anywhere, so what special secret had my friends and I found to stay in business?  I can’t speak for my friends, but I guess I do have “secret” for coping with and managing things that are out of my control … I don’t worry about them.

Instead, I think about all the things that are within my control.  I focus my efforts working ONLY on those things that I can control.

Oh man, are you confused after reading that?  It really is that simple.

I can’t control the weather.  I can’t control the economy or the aftermath of the 2016 Election.  I can’t control if one of my employees sleeps in and doesn’t show up to teach.  I can’t control if someone sees how great my studios are and decides to open a competing business.  And I definitely can’t control if my clients would rather eat Krispy Kreme doughnuts instead of drinking green juice and eating vegan, non-dairy desserts.

But I CAN control how I REACT to all of these things.

I try not to get sidelined by problems.  Instead, I try to jump straight to thinking about their solutions.

Turning problems on their head and re-focusing your energy towards finding solutions takes some practice.  For most people—including me before I adopted this way of thinking—this also requires a total mental shift.  Why?  Because it’s easy to be negative and complain about all the things that go wrong in your business.  It’s a lot more difficult to take the time to find a solution, create a plan, and stay disciplined while executing that plan.

Does this mean I’m never frustrated with how things are going in my business?  Of course not.  In fact, I get frustrated and mad about my business all the time.  I have a rule.  I can only stay angry about something for one day.  After that, I have to move on and solve the problem or just let it go.  And if the first solution I come up with doesn’t work, then I try something else.  This is why I love working for myself—when you are constantly challenged to solve problems and find solutions, it’s pretty rewarding to add up all of your accomplishments.  The studios probably average about 1-2 problems each day we’re open, and after five years, that’s about 3,650 solutions found.  That’s a lot of accomplishments.  No wonder I feel like it’s time for a vacation!

If you find yourself stuck in the vicious circle of negative thinking because things just feel out of control in your business, take a step back and start to think about what you can control—your reaction to what’s going on around you.  Focus on improving yourself as a manager.  Focus on only working on what you can control and see what happens … You might just create some light in all that darkness.

Until then, stay on your toes!

Did you see my book’s on Amazon?  Check it out here:

64036705_High Resolution Front Cover.7185146

My Thoughts on Surviving 5 Years in Business

Well, I made it.  I have officially survived 5 years of being in business.  I guess technically we didn’t open the studio doors until September, but someone had to find the location, build it out, and train everyone—and that process started months prior to our first day of operations.  Wait, the studio didn’t just build itself and everyone didn’t just learn how to teach class the night before?  Nope, sorry!  There was a lot that went into opening, including writing some very large checks.

Last week, I renewed my franchise agreement with Pure Barre for my second 5-year term.  I also renewed my lease.  And neither of these things seemed like great accomplishments, despite the fact that according to the U.S. Small Business Administration and The Bureau of Labor Statistics, only half of all the small businesses that stated in May 2012 are still open today.  So, how did I beat the odds?  I could go on and on about how business success is all about great client services and offering an amazing client experience, and yes, those things are important.  But fundamentally, there are 3 things that are required to make it to the 5-year mark in boutique fitness:  you want to have reasonable rent, you have to properly manage inventory, and most important, you can’t do it alone.

Your Rent Must Be Reasonable

This one is tricky because when you are trying to find your location, you don’t really have control over how much the rent is.  Or do you?  It’s important to remember that everything is negotiable, including who pays for your buildout.  As a new business owner, you’d like to keep as much cash as possible in your own pocket before you open and one way to do this is to have your landlord pay for all or part of your buildout.  Not the best negotiator?  Get yourself a great realtor and she’ll negotiate for you.  You’ll have the most leverage to negotiate if you’re looking to sign a long-term lease of 5 years or more.  My landlords have paid for all or a portion of the buildout for each of my studios and that allowed me to have more cash on hand before each business opened, which is always a good thing.

But how much should your rent be?  If your rent is lower than 14% of your monthly budget, then you have a reasonable rent expense.  Another way to look at it is how many days sales does it take for you to pay your rent?  If it takes you longer than the first week of every month to meet your rent obligations, your rent is either too high or you need to increase sales, which leads us to the importance of properly managing inventory or more broadly properly managing cash flow.

You Must Properly Manage Inventory

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, the number one reason small businesses fail is because they don’t properly manage cash flow.  In my experience over these last 5 years, the only reason I’ve had cash flow issues (meaning, more cash is going out than coming in) is due to mismanagement of inventory, or buying too much retail merchandise.  Often, it’s the timing of cash coming in vs. cash going out that puts me in a bind.  That’s right!  Even I have problems!

How does a cash crunch occur?  First I have to pay for the retail merchandise (cost of goods sold).  The clothing or accessories ship (usually from California, which is about 1 week via ground shipping).  Then we have to enter everything into inventory (maybe an hour, maybe an afternoon).  Then the merchandise gets sold which sometimes happens right away if the clothing is really cute or there is anticipation built up to purchase.  But sometimes it could take as long as several weeks or a month.  Do you see the issue here?  I’ve already paid for the merchandise and by the time I sell it at a minimum I’m out that cash a week at the maximum over a month.

This is where cash management really plays a role in the financial success of my business.  If I have to pay my bills with the revenues from clothing sales, I have to make sure it’s hitting my account in time.  Also, my vendors are trying to manage their cash flow as well so they usually send me my orders at the end of the month ensuring that they get to book their revenue when they need it.  This means I usually book the expense of buying the clothing in the month before I actually sell it.  Tricky.

How do I make sure that I have enough cash to pay my obligations?  I work to keep my reoccurring membership payments for classes equal to the amount of my payroll expense and my fixed expenses, which are the expenses I have all the time and won’t typically change, like rent, utilities, insurance or carpet cleaning.  If I keep all monthly reoccurring payments equal to my most critical expenses, then I won’t run into a cash crunch when I’m purchasing clothing.

When I evaluate the financial performance of my business, I’m looking at how many clients I have on reoccurring memberships.  I’m also looking at how fast we can turn our inventory.  And I’m keeping a close eye on any expenses that are larger than usual or not typical each month.  Evaluating each of these things ensures I am managing my cash flow and it stays positive.  Because after all, cash is king.  And I’m sure my employees wouldn’t be too keen on not getting paid or my landlords for that matter.  Let’s delve into the final consideration, hiring a team to help you run your fitness studio.

   You Can’t Do It Alone     

You probably know a lot of people who mistakenly believe they are running businesses, but in fact, just own jobs.  The simple fact is: if you are doing everything and nothing happens without your direct input, then you’ve not yet built a business.

It’s important to remember that most businesses all start in a very similar fashion.  At the beginning of your business inception, all you have is an idea, a product or service, and you to sell it.  In the beginning, it’s just you.  Eventually, you’ll have to grow a team to replace yourself otherwise, you’ll risk hitting the maximum threshold of work that only one person can perform and probably physically exhaust yourself in the process.

In business school, hiring more employees to grow your business is called “scaling your company.”  And don’t let anyone fool you.  Scaling is just as risky as going into business in the first place.  So why risk hiring employees?  In the business of fitness, you don’t have a choice—you have to scale in order to survive.  Let’s review the definition of a fitness business:

Definition of a Fitness Business

A fitness business is a commercial, profitable enterprise that can be run without you so you can be a role model in the health and fitness community you are creating.   

There is absolutely no way that you can operate a fitness business, teach all the classes yourself, keep up with your clients, manage all of your finances, marketing and all the other daily activities required to keep your studio open without hiring employees.

There are no guarantees in small business ownership, but it seems your odds greatly improve getting to that 5-year mark by making sure you have a reasonable rent expense that doesn’t exceed 14% of your monthly sales, properly managing your inventory and cash flow and then finally, hiring a team of employees so you can be the leader of your fitness community and have time to think up the “big” ideas.

Did the last section just blow your mind with awesomeness?  It’s an excerpt from my book!  That’s right, I wrote a book.  And it’s being published for release by the end of August, which is probably why I didn’t pop the cork on getting to 5 years in business.  I’m just so jazzed about what lies ahead.

I’ll share the cover design with you as well as my thoughts on publishing in my next post on Thursday.  Click on the right column to join my email list to get notified when the book is for sale (I hate spam, so no need to worry about your email being used for anything beyond great She’s On Her Toes information).  On Friday, I’ll share with you a new tool I’ve been using to think up big ideas.  Because, what’s the point of thinking small?!

Until then, stay on your toes!

3 Ways to Get Unstuck in Business

It happens to the best of us.  Eventually you get to a point in your business where you’re just not sure what to do next.  You feel stuck.  Frustrated.  Unsure of your path or even your qualifications to be a boss to your employees.  And getting stuck can happen just when you least expect it.  You can be moving along thinking: “Everything in my business is awesome.  I’m so lucky to be doing this well.”  And then, BAM!  You’re stuck.  And you’re asking yourself, “How the heck did that happen?  I was just on top a few days ago.”  Below are my top 3 ways to get unstuck in business and jumpstart you and your team to get to that elusive next level.

Make Small Changes

If you do one thing for yourself as a business owner, buy a copy of Darren Hardy’s The Compound Effect.  Seriously, it’s like $10.20 on Amazon.  Use some Amex points.  This book literally changed my life.  My business coach, Mary Ann, gave me a copy to read before one of our first meetings.  Since reading the book, I cancelled my cable, started reading every day, enacted a strict budget both for my personal spending and business spending, and stopped going to Starbucks every day for coffee (I still drink coffee.  And sometimes go to Starbucks.  Seriously, that would be terrible to have to give up coffee.  But I learned how to make a latte at home—that tastes just like Starbucks.  Check out a previous post on how to make amazing coffee.  It’s really easy and I only had to spend $40 to get the right tools.)  Anyways, back to The Compound Effect…this book is all about making small changes that “compound” to effect bigger more amazing changes.  And it really works.  If you are in the fitness industry you can attest, like I can, that just making one change to work out on a regular basis leads to making other smarter choices about eating healthy food and drinking.  Then all of a sudden, you’ve lost weight and people are commenting about how good you look.  Anyways, get this book immediately, if not sooner.  Read it.  Implement just one suggestion—after all it’s called The Compound Effect.  See what happens—I bet you get unstuck.

Start Writing Lists

Making small changes inevitably leads to writing lists.  For instance, if your goal is to save money and you start by not spending money on lattes every day, you’ll eventually get to the point where you’ll start asking yourself, “How can I painlessly save money on other things I use on a daily basis?”  And … you’ll get a pen and some paper and hammer out some lists.  As an FYI, I realized after I made the coffee change that I could compound my savings by ordering the same brand of dog food online at www.chewy.com, switched to buying laundry detergent and gas at Costco, and started meal planning to avoid wasting or spoiling food.  Making those changes and a few others has literally saved me $1,000 a month—kind of incredible!  But writing lists is a great habit to get into because it shifts your mentality and turns you into someone who is always looking for the possibilities.  Once you start writing lists, your brain starts to shift into “how can I make this happen mode” instead of “oh, sorry, don’t have enough (time/money/etc.) mode.”  Still not convinced?  Check out this great blog post from James Altucher called How to Have Great Ideas.

Rearrange the Furniture

I mean this literally.  Anytime I feel stuck in my business, I know I need to shake things up to get a new perspective and the best way to do that is to move around the furniture in our retail area.  All of our fixtures are modular, so we’ll just move the desk to the other side of the room or move the clothing racks around in a new display formation.  This also shakes our clients up and forces them to see the studio in a different light.  Some of them get really freaked out about it—cue the evil laughter!  Because what’s the point of owning your own business if you can’t make a few people uncomfortable.  Just kidding.

Do you find yourself stuck in business?  Or are you struggling with how to solve an important problem?  Try making some small changes, start writing some lists, and rearrange your furniture to get a new perspective.  These things are so simple and easy to implement, they just might work!

Sorry this post is so late on Thursday evening.  I got back from spending some time at the beach and you know how it goes … went into the studios for what were supposed to be quick, easy tasks.  Somehow they turned into hours-long activities.  Tomorrow, I’ll have a more timely post sharing my favorite under-eye treatments—because it’s important to at least look well-rested even if you aren’t.

Until then, stay on your toes!

 

The Compound Effect, Darren Hardy

How to Have Great Ideas, James Altucher

How to Make a Simple Checklist a Powerful Tool

Last week, I told you about a book I just finished called The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, Atul Gawande.  I read this book in one sitting.  It was so fascinating.  It’s all about how the simple idea of a checklist can take away the complexity of our lives and have a huge impact on how efficiently and safely we can accomplish tasks.  Atual Gawande is a doctor, so the majority of the examples and stories in the book are from the medical field and how adding checklists can literally save lives and reduce healthcare costs.  The idea of adding a checklist somewhere in your business is so simple, yet so powerful.   A larger discussion of what checklists can do for any business seemed appropriate.  So here goes …

On the surface, checklists seem overly simple.  As smart business owners, do we really need something as simple as a checklist to improve our overall business performance and better serve our clients?  We sure do!  If someone told me they had a tool that was simple for all my employees to use, yet ensured accuracy and consistency across our processes, I’d say, sign me up!  And the best part is … creating a checklist requires time, but it’s totally free.

So why are we so skeptical of checklists?  If they’re so effective and useful, why don’t we use them more often in business?  Why do we overcomplicate things or try to create fancy multi-colored flow charts in PowerPoint?  This is one of my favorite sections of the book found on page 177.  I think it sums up any checklist skepticism and also explains why checklists can be so effective:

“The fear people have about the idea of adherence to protocol is rigidity.  They imagine mindless automatons, heads down in a checklist, incapable of looking out their windshield and coping with the real world in front of them.  But what you find, when a checklist is well made, is exactly the opposite. The checklist gets the dumb stuff out of the way, the routines your brain shouldn’t have to occupy itself with (Are the elevator controls set?  Did the patient get her antibiotics on time?  Did the managers sell all their shares?  Is everyone on the same page here?), and lets it rise above to focus on the hard stuff …”

So basically, incorporating checklists into your business won’t give your employees a pass on thinking critically.  The opposite happens—once employees no longer have to worry about the many details of a simple process, they can actually work towards solving more complex problems.  Checklists provide a structure to complete simple, everyday tasks leaving our minds free to focus on more complicated matters.  But do they really work?

This week, my manager, Emily, created some checklists for all of our front desk associates to ensure they are never without a project during their time working in the studio.  I’m interested in learning the following:

  1. Did the checklists simplify any of our daily tasks?
  2. Did more work get accomplished?
  3. Did we sell more?
  4. Did we retain more clients?
  5. Did I hear any compliments from clients about my employees going above and beyond?
  6. Did the employee have a better understanding of what work to complete?
  7. Did the employee feel more empowered to help our clients?
  8. Did employees pick and choose which tasks to complete?  Why?
  9. Could the checklists be improved?
  10. Was anything missing from the checklists?

Since I employ several different personality-types in the front desk associate role, I’m very curious to see if we will need to create individual checklists or if we can create something that works well for everyone.  I’ll give it a few weeks and report back.  In the meantime, start thinking about how you can incorporate checklists into your business.

The best businesses solve problems that matter—have you ever thought about whether solving a problem that’s been holding you back, could help your clients?  On Thursday, I’ll discuss just that:  how solving my own problems with consistently working out and eating healthy led to some big changes at my studios.

On Friday, I’ll share my newest life hack—how to make a smoothie without bananas or avocados.  I am allergic to bananas and avocados, which makes smoothie consumption pretty difficult—but I finally figured out how to substitute those elusive fruits and now feel like I’m winning at life—or at least breakfast.

Until then, stay on your toes!

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, Atul Gawande

 

4 Reasons Why Your Fitness Studio Should Make More Money

One of my bucket list items is to write a book and I’ve actually started doing just that.  I’m writing about how to run a successful boutique fitness studio and of course, I’m drawing heavily from stories from my own experience owning Pure Barre Winston-Salem and Pure Barre Clemmons.

Since writing my book, I’ve come to the conclusion that owning a boutique fitness studio comes with some special business considerations.  Just about every boutique fitness studio owner has encountered the following 5 problems:

  1. The perception that making money is “bad” in boutique fitness since making money is often associated with greed, miserly-ness and unjust corporate power—the opposite of the environment we’re trying to create for our clients to enjoy when they come to take class or workout.
  2. Lack of business experience or expertise. Many boutique fitness owners have no formal business training.  They love the classes they teach and the studio environment.  They are great teachers, but don’t know how to run a business.
  3. Lack of leadership experience. Many owners don’t know how to motivate employees or teach them how to sell.
  4. Most employees are part-time, dis-engaged and lack business savvy. Many boutique fitness employees float from job-to-job and often don’t stay at the studio long-term.
  5. Since teaching and taking class literally requires the owner to work to exhaustion, finding time to work on the business is difficult or limited.

It’s the first problem that I’d like to delve into with this post.  There is a perception that making money is “bad” in boutique fitness since making money is often associated with greed, miserly-ness and unjust corporate power—the opposite of the environment we’re trying to create for our clients to enjoy when they come to take class or workout.

The goal of every business, even in fitness, has to be to make money.  If you’re not making money, you’re going to be forced to close your doors pretty quick.  Unfortunately, your landlord, utility companies and employees need to be paid.  You need to be paid too!

But is it bad to want to make money?  Is it greedy to want to make more money?  Is there such a thing as making too much money?  No!  And here’s why…

No Money, No Growth:  Growing your business requires money and the ability to qualify for credit.  If you don’t have any cash reserves, you won’t be able to expand your service offerings, buy new equipment or hire more employees.  If you don’t have a solid business plan that shows a profit, you won’t be able to get credit from a bank to make bigger investments, like adding another location.

This Thing Called Inflation:  Ever notice how everything gets more expensive each year?  That’s called inflation and it effects everyone including your business.  If you can increase your business earnings you can help mitigate the hidden costs of inflation.

If You Don’t Make Money, Your Competitors Will:  Competition in fitness is fierce.  The industry is by definition, competitive.  If your clients don’t pay you for classes or access to workout in your studio, they’ll pay your competitors.  Those who are health conscious will stay focused on health and working out.  If they don’t pay your studio, they’ll just find somewhere else to spend their fitness dollar.

Money Can Do Good:  At my studios, a huge part of our business is helping our clients discover how strong they really are.  This involves encouraging them to work hard in classes, but it also means teaching them to get away from saying things like “I can’t” or “That’s too hard.”  No, it’s not!  You just have to try.  Or come up with a plan to get there.  Helping someone reach their fitness goals is extremely rewarding.  And it’s no small task.  Maybe it’s time to change the way you perceive making money and think of all the good things you can do with it including, helping your clients and   providing jobs in the community.  Both of these things are pretty admirable.

So, no, it’s not bad to make money at your studio.  Making money doesn’t run counter to the atmosphere you’re trying to create for your clients when they chose you to work out.  In fact, making money can help you do some amazing things in your community beyond helping clients and creating jobs.

Beyond ensuring I have enough to live on, feed the dogs and retire comfortably, I have 2 really big money goals that I’d like to use my businesses to help me reach.  I’d like to donate to create a scholarship for a student-athlete interested in majoring in business at Wake Forest.  That will take $100,000.  And I’d also like to reduce all food insecure children in Winston-Salem to 0 (zero).  I currently support the Forsyth County Backpack Program to help make this happen.  I have no idea how much this will cost, but I’m sure there are a lot of zero’s.  I’m going to have to work hard with other individuals and businesses in Winston-Salem to make this reality.  I think it’ll happen.  Why?  Because “I can” and “It’s not too hard.”  I just have to keep working at it and make more money to make it happen!

I’ve been working on some things with my studios that are taking longer than I thought.  Nothing is happening fast enough for me.  Next week, I’ll talk about staying positive, even when things don’t seem to be going your way.

Until then, stay on your toes!