It’s a growing trend among fitness professionals—embarking on the entrepreneurial path. If you’re considering becoming your own boss, you owe it to yourself to do the groundwork that will ultimately be the foundation for your success. In our last installment, we discussed three essential skill categories:
- interpersonal skills
- business knowledge
While each subskill is important, you may find you’re naturally talented in some areas and not so much in others. Hopefully, you’ve had a chance to reflect on the questions in Part One and identified your pros and cons (review the list here). Now, it’s time to prioritize your gaps and uncover options to address them.
Determine Your Baseline
It can feel overwhelming to prioritize your skill gaps, but this is a crucial step toward the self-awareness that will strengthen your ability to be a business leader. Let’s review what you’ve learned about your entrepreneurial readiness. The table below lists the “critical” categories, as well as the subskills that make up the broader category. Provide a score (see below) for each one:
1 = Lacking proficiency: You have not yet explored this skill or had much exposure to it; you may have no resources to become proficient at this time, and you may or may not have an interest in learning more.
2 = Approaching proficiency: You understand this skill but lack confidence in your abilities. Your resources are minimal, and your interest in diving deeper may be lacking.
3 = Proficient: You are capable and somewhat confident in this skill. You have access to resources and are interested in growing in this area.
4 = Extremely proficient: You have mastered this skill and have a high degree of confidence. You possess an advanced level of knowledge, have access to plenty of resources and are passionate about this skill.
Let’s take a closer look at how to map your scores.
Begin by looking at your average scores by category and find the one with the lowest average rating. You’re going to create a plan to become at least knowledgeable in each of the skills you rated “1” within this first category. Repeat for the other two categories in order of average scores. For example, let’s say you scored low on interpersonal skills. You know that you have a deficit when it comes to communicating effectively, and you’re aware that you could use some help in monitoring your emotional reactions so that they don’t sabotage your business goals. Great! You’ve taken the first step, and now it’s time to take additional action.
You have two paths to gaining knowledge: resources and other people. Resources include books, journals, magazines, websites and periodicals. Podcasts and short courses may also come in handy for gaining knowledge in a new category, and there are numerous free resources available in all the categories. One of my favorite knowledge shortcuts is the app Blinkist, which is dedicated to distilling the best nonfiction books. Many business, mindset and personal development books have been curated for this app, allowing you to gain a high-level overview of their content in a short amount of time.
It can also be beneficial to reach out to people who are skilled in the areas in which you are not. You can learn from afar by following experts on social media or tap into your network to find experts in the skill you want to learn. Using our example of interpersonal skills, you’d reach out to a life coach, an NLP practitioner or perhaps a licensed therapist. Gaining more insight by sitting down for coffee or a quick chat may be all you need to get the creative juices flowing. Be respectful of the expert’s time and be prepared with targeted questions. Find out what resources he or she recommends for you to gain a deeper understanding.
After some time has passed, re-rate the categories with your new knowledge base. Let’s assume that every skill now scores at least a “2.” Place an asterisk next to any subskills you’re excited about and that you believe you could become proficient in quickly, with a little time and effort. Conversely, place an X next to any skills that don’t excite you or that you don’t feel you can master quickly. The latter are the skills you’ll likely consider outsourcing. Begin with the business knowledge category, followed by interpersonal skills, and finally, mindset.
Your options for outsourcing include business partners, employees, contractors, freelance services or similar entities. Consult an attorney, especially if you’re thinking about partnering with someone or hiring employees or contractors. The order and speed with which you outsource will depend on your budget, your timeline for going to market, and your bandwidth for managing others. Even though you won’t be performing the work, it will still require oversight.
Finally, consider your starred skills. While it’s not essential to achieve a “4” rating in all skills before launching your business, you’ll want to get to “3” as quickly as possible. How many starred skills do you have, and how long do you estimate it will take you to move them from “2” to “3”? If you have too many, if your business plan timeline is too aggressive, or if you worry about how long it might take to get them to “3,” you may want to outsource a few more projects.
As discussed in the second step, you’ll need to concentrate your efforts on upskilling in the business knowledge category, followed by interpersonal skills and, finally, mindset. Consider upgrading your knowledge base by reviewing resources and seeking experts to continue your learning. Look for advisers, mentors, mastermind groups and trade associations to fast-track your knowledge and focus your efforts.
Enter Entrepreneurship the Right Way
Being an entrepreneur involves more than simply working for yourself. Success hinges on doing a skills inventory to get honest about the areas where you need to brush up on critical competencies. While becoming an entrepreneur can enhance your earning potential, it also offers you an opportunity to chart your own course and increase your impact in the community. Becoming an entrepreneur requires different skills from being an employee. You will need to find your strengths and weaknesses and learn how to trust other people to help you grow. While it may take time to get there, if you make the effort and create a plan using the steps above, you will stay on track and reach your goal.
For the first part in this series, see “Top Entrepreneurial Skills for Success, Part One.”