For years, I languished at an office job that didn’t pay much, and brought me even less personal enjoyment. I looked at my life, and I realized that I wasn’t inherently fulfilled by anything that I was doing at work; I realized that—if I was truly going to be happy—I’d have to determine what I was truly passionate about, and turn that passion into my main source of income. As an avid fitness enthusiast, I decided to “go back to school” and get certified as a personal trainer—but, I wanted more for myself than to work for others. Through lots of hard work, I built an online presence through social media and other online platforms that made it possible for me to invest in a studio space, and I opened my own gym. Through the dedication of loyal clients—and the valuable input of inventive investors—I’ve managed to build a successful business that I’m extremely proud of. Here’s how I go there.
First, I had to identify my strengths: what were the skills on which I could build a reliable brand? I had spent some years working on my communication skills, and on public speaking. I asked friends and family—the people who knew me best—to give me some sense of what it is about me that would attract a following. As I developed my free online content to connect with the brand that I’d built, I allowed those strengths, like a personable, encouraging nature, to shine through. Those traits shaped and molded the next steps I took. Discovering my strengths helped me to monetize my passion.
Before I invested in my studio space, I looked around me for inspiration: what sorts of businesses did I want to emulate? It’s so much easier to follow trails that have already been traveled. No, this doesn’t mean that I copied another business’ exact model: I just understood how important it was to research the successful systems that others had put into practice—to understand what they were doing, and how they were doing it—and then applied my own vision and unique spin to the product that I was providing. Another added benefit to doing my research? I knew for sure that the paths I’d planned on taking were indeed profitable. When I developed my pitch deck for investors, this research went a long way in convincing them that my vision was credible.
The next step was identifying my target audience. Once I figured out that market—generally, other men in my age group that wanted to get back into shape in an engaging, inviting, and challenging way—I became the solution to that market’s problem. I learned what it would take to truly understand my clients. I learned where they were starting from, and where they wanted to get to. I had to understand their struggles; the kinds of lives that they were living, where they wanted to get to, and how they would get there. My program was the catalyst that would move forward in their lives, and the reason that they’d reach their goals.
Next, I created my sales ladder. I looked at the services that I was offering, and developed a product price range: I evaluated which services that I might offer for free—a phone consultation, for example—and then decided on a price for my “biggest ticket” item; afterward, I developed a price point for everything in between. Identifying these prices helped me start off clients on that sales ladder: I’d start them off on the bottom rung, and if my services were a good fit for them, they’d naturally continue climbing up my “sales ladder” to the top rung, by purchasing my most valuable service.
Invest in Credibility
At first, I only pitched my idea of expanding the brand that I’d built online into a physical gym—an extension that would incorporate my online coaching platform into a real-time location—to friends and family. They helped in whatever ways they could, but it wasn’t netting me the kinds of funds that would propel the business forward. I decided that I wanted to take things to the next level, so I obtained an official business valuation in order to prove to outside potential investors that my brand really had legs. When I was discussing my business strategies with high-quality potential investors and venture capitalists, my business valuation increased my credibility.
Keeping their Trust; Gaining New Clients
I listened to my audience. I became a confidante by genuinely caring about providing a service that could be the solution to their problem. It took a lot of hard work, consistency, and dedication to build my business from the ground up, but my passion pushed me through. More than anything, I wanted to share that passion with others, and that’s what really kick-started my journey. In those early days, every positive client experience—along with their subsequent reviews—built both my brand’s recognition and trust in my name.