EDITOR'S NOTE: The following article is adapted from the first chapter of Marjorie Geiser’s book "Just Jump: The No-Fear Business Start-up Guide for Health and Fitness Professionals."
You’ve been dreaming about what it would be like to open your own fitness business. It has been on your mind since you were in school, and there are times, especially on Monday mornings, when you daydream about it. Maybe you are a personal trainer working in a health club. You went through all of that work to get your degree, and now you’re also being treated as a “piece of meat,” keeping up with quotas and always being pushed to sign up more clients, and in some clubs, push products or eating plans you don’t feel comfortable about pushing.
But you’re not really sure what your business will look like. You’ve got some ideas about how to get started, but maybe you’re afraid that you will put your heart and soul into it only to fail and look like a fool. You barely even talk about it out loud because you don’t want family and friends to laugh at you.
I am here to tell you that anything is possible. The only limitations you have are the ones you put on yourself! If you have something you really want to do and you do your homework, you can do anything AND succeed greatly at it as well! This article will begin to walk you through the steps necessary to get you up and running by addressing your fears, determining who you want to be and what you want to create and then by helping you to create the plans and steps necessary to make your dream a reality.
I’m not saying it’s easy! Nothing worth having is. I have had to learn a great deal about myself, about business, about my clients and potential clients. You will struggle with the questions of what you are all about, what is it about you that will attract potential clients to you and how to spread your marketing message in an exciting way. And it never ends, because your interests and passions will change with the years. But how exciting the journey is!
The Creation of Your Vision
I always ask potential clients this question during our first conversation to help them think of the BIG picture, the big dream: What would you do if there were no fear of failure? What is your very first reaction? Do you know? Does your mind go blank?
Exercise 1.1 - Right now, answer this question: What would you do if there were no fear of failure? Don’t walk away without writing something. Write it down. Then look at it. Then ask yourself why you are not doing it, and what will it take from you to make it happen?
It’s important to bring up a very critical point here. It is impossible to totally separate your personal vision from your business vision. Your business WILL be you! Your business will be part of who you are and will represent you in all ways. So if you don’t already have a personal vision, start with that first and then work on the business vision.
Now it’s time for some more work. Begin by writing down all of your thoughts around your dream. Never mind that you may think it’s just not realistic. This first “idea” session should be free flowing and unedited.
Exercise 1.2 - Be very specific. Don’t just say you want to make a lot of money. Close your eyes and envision exactly what you want that business to look like. SEE it and describe it. Again, in the ideal world, this is your dream, so allow yourself to dream big!
So now you may have a better idea of what you would really like to create! This is a good time to mention that if you believe it to be so, you CAN make it happen! Adjust your mindset. You no longer are THINKING about creating an incredible business, you ARE creating it! And you can see it in your mind. So start sharing your vision with others. In fact, that is your next assignment!
Exercise 1.3 - Pick no fewer than five people you know. Share the business you plan to create and what your vision is for that business. Before you begin, write down the names of those people you will tell. This will help to make it happen. Then come back to that list and make notes for what they say when you tell them. Then write down your feelings about what they just told you.
It is now time to address creating the person you have to be to make your vision happen! You have taken a huge step in writing it down and a bigger step in sharing it, but it will take more than that to turn your vision into reality. And we haven’t even made it to the planning yet! If I tossed the planning phase to you now, you would give up... probably much like the manner in which you have in the past.
Moving Into Reality
There are four steps to moving yourself into the "reality" stage. The first step is the commitment to make it happen. Your commitment must start in your heart. You have to believe something can happen before you will actually take action to make it reality. Ask yourself what kind of person you are when it comes to commitment. Are you willing to commit 100 percent and do what it takes? Starting a successful business is hard work!
The commitment must be complete in order to achieve your goal, however. Some people start working towards a goal, but when things get tough, they cut and run. Or they continue to take tentative steps, but they don't really commit. Often, this action has more to do with a person’s own confidence in what he or she can accomplish than with his/her level of commitment. If that is the case, and if a person wants it badly enough, he or she can seek help from a coach to help work through those limiting internal conversations.
When committing to something, this also means that something else must be given up. Consider what you would give up if you were to start your own business or to grow it into what you really dream of. It may be time with your family and friends, as you first develop your business and then work endless hours to get it up and running successfully. You may give up security such as insurance benefits and pay from your “day job.” And, ultimately, you may mortgage your home or take out a loan to get your business up and running, risking your personal credit and assets. It is important for everyone starting a business to realize they may have to commit finances that put them out of their comfort zone. Each person must determine how far he or she can go.
It’s not always because a person isn’t committed that leads to avoiding a dream or ending it prematurely. Sometimes, it may have more to do with self confidence and knowing you really can accomplish anything if you want it badly enough. I will often ask clients how they will feel if they do not strive for this goal, and as they ponder the alternative, they become stronger in their resolve and more confident that they can achieve their goal.
Exercise 1.4 - On a scale of 1-10, how committed are you? Write down what you are willing to risk and what you are NOT willing to risk.
The second step needed to move yourself into the reality stage requires you to know where your passion lies. This is huge! Without passion, commitment will be harder to maintain. Desire determines destiny. If your desire is strong enough, you will achieve your dreams. Passion will increase your willpower. It helps fuel your commitment. If you follow your passion, you become more dedicated to your goals, and when you allow your passion to come out when interacting with others, you will find that others pay closer attention to you. People love passion, and it can be contagious, drawing people to you. With your business, you have to identify exactly what you are passionate about and be sure that is your focus with your business.
Exercise 1.5 - Make a list of all of the things about a prospective business that incite passion within you. If you had to pick just ONE of those things, what would it be? This may be very hard to answer right now, but stop and consider all of the things you love to do and write them down. If you had to do one thing all day, every day, what would it be? Do you prefer variety? If so, what things would you like to do on a regular basis? Don’t worry if you really don’t know, just write down your initial ideas.
The third step when moving into the reality phase is to keep your eye on the goal. To be successful, you have to have an end goal in sight. This helps you to create your plan. Again, what is your vision? What do you ultimately want to create? This may sound like a simple question, but once I start pushing clients to really answer this, they find they aren’t as sure as they previously thought. I suspect this is why they never took action towards that dream! Once you are clear about what you want to accomplish, then you can create a plan to help get there. Writing down your goals, identifying the steps necessary to achieve them and creating an action plan all help you check to be sure you are still on track in achieving your goal. Again, how can you get there if you don’t know where “there” is?
Exercise 1.6 - Write down some of your top goals you would like to accomplish with your business. Consider three month, six month and one year goals for now. This exercise will get you started in thinking about these issues.
The fourth and final step you need to take when entering the reality stage is to let your courage shine through. Stepping out of your comfort zone and facing your fears can make the difference between success and failure. Everyone has fears about something. The difference between those who succeed and those who just dream is what they do with that fear. We all have a choice. We can either face the fear or run from it. The most common action is to run from it.
Some may call facing up to your fears courage. Courage begins with an inward battle. Who will win that negative inner dialogue you have with yourself? Are you willing to step up and face those fears? Courage is having the power to let go of the familiar and forge ahead into new territory. Courage is the willingness to put it all on the line for possible failure. Many of the top leaders in the world have suffered failures. But when creating your vision, imagine the feeling of success you will know when you achieve your goals. And also consider how you will feel if you allow your fears to stand in the way of your dreams, leaving you with just the memory of those dreams instead of the satisfaction of knowing they were realized.