Have you ever heard the saying, “Greatness is by design not by chance”? Think about the organizations and people you admire. Is their success derived from chance, or did they spend time intricately creating what they believed greatness to be? Most likely, the latter is true.

Throughout my career as a fitness professional, I’ve noticed common traits among businesses and people I describe as world-class. In this article I will share five cornerstones of greatness that these businesses and individuals share. You will learn why these cornerstones are important and how to integrate them into your own business.

1. Develop an Environment of Courage

How many times have you had people share their special plans with you–but then fail to make them happen? To become a successful business owner, you need to have the courage to make difficult decisions, follow your gut and push through when others say you can’t.

When I was 27, I wrote and published my first book. It was interesting how many people told me they also wanted to write. Some would say, “I’ve always wanted to write a book.” Others would say, “I think I have such a great story to tell.” After listening to them, I’d ask, “Why haven’t you?” Most of the responses were laden with excuses for not following through. What a great lesson in courage.

Nothing great was ever accomplished without challenge or adversity. In fact, the challenges we face usually provide us with our greatest lessons. Make the decision to become comfortable with the uncomfortable and you’ll be well on your way to living courageously.

2. Focus on the Details

I like to visit as many fitness facilities as possible because it gives me a better idea of what makes a fitness facility or personal training studio great. Throughout my visits, I’ve been surprised at how many owners simply rent space, put equipment inside, open the doors and expect success. These people don’t pay much attention to the details that distinguish a business from the competition. A truly great business begins to separate itself from its rivals through the crafting of details.

Cleanliness. One example of being detail oriented is cleanliness. Many potential customers will make their purchasing decision based on a studio’s cleanliness. Aim to present the cleanest facility in town, and develop a staff that takes pride in its cleanliness.

Amenities. Providing amenities proves to your customers that you appreciate their business. Nothing bothers me more than getting “nickeled and dimed” by a company. Charging $3 for towel service and $2 for locker rentals doesn’t send a positive message to your customers. It would be better simply to increase session prices or membership fees to cover the cost of these amenities.

Appearance. Your facility’s appearance is important! Incorporate bright, fresh colors that are energetic and inspirational. Make sure that everything has its place so you can stay organized and avoid clutter. Also, place motivational quotes throughout your facility.

3. Empower Your Team

Creating a successful personal training business has been one of my greatest victories in life so far. Success derived from developing a strong team and a culture that encouraged each individual to take ownership of the business. I always attempted to let my team members have an equal share in reaching decisions and generating ideas. It was “our” business rather than “mine.” We all felt we were on a journey together. This approach created a group of trainers who would go to battle for one another, stand tall for our mission and values, and support each other through challenges.

Tremendous things can be accomplished when you surround yourself with people who have great minds and impeccable character. Once you have the right team in place, it’s important to let go of some control and empower your staff to succeed in their own right. Sharing control with your team members will encourage them to take ownership and pride in developing a business that stands for greatness.

More solutions can be found when owners spend more time training staff and less time trying to “close” new prospects. Your current customers are always your greatest assets.

4. Practice Patience

Early in my business career I was in a rush to succeed. I never wanted to miss an opportunity and found it hard to say no. One of the many problems with an approach like this is that nothing ever seems to be enough. I was always looking for the next mountain to climb or the next goal to achieve. Eventually I learned that this mentality lacked gratitude. It can lead to a road with no end, no reward, amounting to an arduous journey.

When faced with a challenge or approached with an opportunity, take the time to think it through carefully. Make sure it is part of your dream or vision for the future. Ask yourself whether this is right or wrong for you at this time. Does accepting the challenge get you closer to your long-term goals, or could it become a distraction, causing you to take two steps backward?

It’s also helpful to seek the counsel of others whose opinions you value. It can often be difficult to see the big picture yourself, whereas a mentor or trustworthy individual can take an impartial stance and help you decide if an opportunity is worth your time.

5. Get Plenty of Rest

No one seems to talk about the importance of taking time off or resting. However, lack of rest can lead to burnout, which is one of the largest causes of business failure. As a new business owner, you’re high on motivation and intent on creating something special. And motivation does wonders for the first few years. You’re doing tons of training sessions, picking up spots in the group workout schedule and teaching boot camps–all while fulfilling your duties as the accountant, janitor, manager and marketing director.

Eventually, your tank starts to run low. You can no longer stand to do the things you used to love, and you find yourself in desperate need of a solution. I know this because I’ve lived it.

To avoid burnout, plan your vacations at the beginning of the year. Sit down with family or friends and map out your plans. Commit to visiting the places that energize you the most. Vacations create many of our greatest memories. Make them a vital part of your life’s work.

Go for Greatness

There are so many facets of a world-class business. But those things mean nothing unless they help you build a world-class life. Creating or owning a business isn’t anything to be proud of if it is simply a black hole of time and energy, or if it leads you away from your priorities. Take your steps towards greatness with a patient yet bold approach. Empower your team. Always pay attention to the details. And remember to find the right balance between work and rest.

Troy Fontana

Troy Fontana is a 13-year veteran of the Fitness Industry. He is CEO of Freedom Fitness Unlimited and founder of Business for Fitness Professionals, an organization designed to educate, inspire and serve the fitness community. Troy is the author of A Climb to the Top and Time Freedom ÔÇô Money Freedom. In 2010, Troy was recognized as a Top 3 "finalist" for IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year Award.

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