As a veteran trainer, I’ve found both technical and business development are necessary to survive, but they are not necessarily exclusive. By educating yourself then broadcasting your accomplishments and certifications to your base you enhance your qualifications on paper. New education which showcases your ability to work with particular populations (obese, seniors, youth, etc.) instigates connections for referral in your existing clientele.
There is certainly a lot to be said for working “on your business” as well as if not as much as “in your business”, but you needn’t separate the two concepts all the time. While certain marketing techniques are very direct and attract numerous but wary leads, creative marketing and referral will attract more solid leads.
This does not have to be either/or, and Austin has already made some excellent points.
Some learning goes hand in hand. I remember that I saw an answer from you stating that for some clients you need to spend more time researching medical conditions or other circumstances. That is an example of two-for-one learning.
There is also upfront learning about the true business side of things. Incorporating your business and understanding all the regulations that you need to adhere to such as having liability insurance. I believe that it is important that you carry your business of fitness as professionally as you passion of fitness. But this is usually a one-time effort, and afterwards you only need to make sure that you stay current with changes to regulations.
I totally agree with Austin that a balance between the two is what I strive for. After over 18-years in the business, I have certainly developed certain business policies and procedures that I am happy with, and the basis of those business practices tend to be set and not change very much (certainly not as much as some of my technical practice may). I find that in our business, with new pieces of equipment (some good, some bad), new training techniques (some effective, some not), with new methods of training, and with new research and findings practically everyday, keeping up with the technical aspects of training may be a more daunting task (and one that I absolutely love).
So, while many of our business practices can run on “automatic pilot” once we have established good business practices, many of those practices definitely need to be re-visited from time to time. However, on the technical side, as a trainer if we’re not spending a good deal of time “keeping up” we can find ourselves out of touch with the current trends and findings that make us effective trainers.
Great question! Thanks for asking.
I dedicate time each week to both. And like others have said, I don’t believe them to be exclusive of the other. Sometimes a question that a client asks and I don’t readily have an answer to, prompts me to further develop my understanding in that particular area. I’m benefiting from professional development which will help me with future clients, but I’m also helping my current client, letting them know that I’m interested in their particular needs and helping them reach their individual goal (ie, they’re not all treated alike). As a result, 90% of any new clients I get come from referrals. That’s hard to do living in a military community with clients moving, including myself as a military spouse, every 2-3 years!
I find that clients appreciate the time I spend maintaining and enhancing my own professional knowledge. They benefit from having a trainer who’s up-to-date on the latest training techniques, modalities and exercise studies. At the same time, I wouldn’t be a successful business owner if I let the business side of things go. So I put aside time each week to deal with the day to day business stuff which sometimes includes updating marketing practices, new software, etc.
Its all a balancing act, with the clients always feeling like they come first!
I hit all my weak areas first, then realized that now I know how train the ZERO clients that I had..lol. Business is as important for the independent trainer as knowing how to train. If you are a gym trainer then focus on the technical stuff first, if you are trying to survive on your own then learn how to market yourself.