Starting From Scratch: Defining Your Work Schedule & Financial Needs
Assess financial needs, determine your desired work schedule and create a solid plan for a successful in-home business.
In the previous issue of IDEA Trainer Success, we took the time to define your business identity, mission statement, pricing plan and equipment needs to create a successful in-home personal training business. In this issue, we are going to address your financial wants and needs as well as outline your desired work schedule. So get your pen and paper ready and let’s do some more foundation work.
Determine Your Financial Wants & Needs
I hope you enjoy math or are at least competent at it because it is time to get out the calculator. This is what I refer to as “working backward”—identify what your end goal is and work backward to see what that entails. This is a great strategy to help you reach an important goal and figure out the necessary steps to get you there by the date you want to accomplish that goal.
- Based on Your Desired or Current Lifestyle, Decide on the Gross Income You Need per Year. Be realistic here and start with an annual income that is doable and earnable for your new business. Ask yourself, “What do I absolutely have to make to survive?” My very first 12 months of business, my goal was to replace my teaching salary. I did that plus some! For example, if you need to bring home $4,000 per month, that is $48,000 per year. For the sake of this exercise, let’s say that means you need to earn $65,000 to pay taxes and still bring home $4,000 per month. So, your end goal is $65,000 per year, which equals $5,417 per month. Keep in mind that you will have some business expenses as an in-home personal training business owner, so you may have to up your financial needs by that much. My rule of thumb has been to keep my expenses to only 10%–12% of my gross income. So if I earned $5,417 per month, I would plan $540 for my business budget (or as much as $650 per month if I absolutely needed it).
- Based on the Fees You Are Planning to Charge per Hour, Identify How Many Hours You Need to Work per Month. Let’s say you have decided to charge an average of $75 per hour for in-home training. $5,417 divided by $75 equals almost 73 hours. If you plan on a 4-week month (which would give you 4 weeks off per year), that would be 73 hours divided by 4 weeks, which equals 18.25 hours you need to work per week. Does that work with your goals? Based on your success, you may want to increase your goal annual income if you want to work more hours. Just keep in mind that the 18.25 hours reflects actual client hours, not all the extra time it will take to get back and forth from client appointments. In general, if you are delivering your services to clients’ homes (versus having clients come to you), I think 25 client hours is a maximum limit if you want to have any life of your own. I know this from experience! I almost burned out from taking on too many clients and too many work hours. As my desired hours filled, I raised my fees when a waiting list became a necessity.
- Jot Down Your Financial Needs/Wants Summary. Based on our example above: “I want to earn $65,000 per year, which would leave me with approximately $4,000 per month after taxes. If I take 4 weeks for vacation, I need to earn an average of $5,417 per month. At $75 per hour for my services, my goal is a minimum of 18.25 client hours per week.”
Create Your Ideal Work Schedule
When I started training clients in-home in 1992, I worked 6 days per week from very early to late if I had to. As the years went by and I was more and more successful, I realized that if I was going to be happy and survive, I had to start changing things. My advice to you is to try and create your perfect workweek from the very beginning if at all possible. I understand that it doesn’t always work out that easily, because starting out, you may not have enough people to train when you really want to work. So, keep that in mind when choosing your target market. If you want to target working professionals, you may be stuck with early-morning clients and/or the after 5:00 pm group.
- What Days of the Week Do You Want to Work? For me, I refuse to work weekends, so all my clients must fit in Monday through Friday. My advice is to pick a maximum of 5 days with at least 2 days off. You can work even fewer days if you can make your hours and income needs fit that mold.
- What Hours Are Ideal for You to Work? Outline each workday. If you have young children, you can completely create your work schedule around them. Put some thought into when you are really at your best. For example, you might say: Mondays 9:00 am–12:00 noon and 1:00-4:00 pm, Tuesdays 2:00-6:00 pm, etc.
- Include Time for You During Each Workday. Don’t skip out on lunches and your own workouts.
- Don’t Forget to Schedule Time in Your Workweek to Work on Your Business. This includes writing programs, reading research, billing clients, and doing business planning and goal-setting.
- Summarize on Paper Your Ideal Workweek Based on What You Outlined Above.
Outline Your 1-, 3- and 6-Month Goals
Now that you have done the necessary work to determine how many hours you need to work to earn your goal income and the specifics of your work schedule, put some thought into where you want your new business to be 1-, 3- and 6-months after opening day. It takes time and serious devotion to build a brand-new business. As long as you haven’t been ridiculous in your financial needs goal, you should be able to reach it in 12 months time as long as you are in an area that can support your training business (which hopefully you already figured out in the beginning!). To reach that goal, again, let’s work backward:
- Create Your 6-Month Goal. For example, “I need to be at $32,500 at the completion of month 6. And I need to have worked at least 438 client hours (18.25 hours per week x 24 weeks—allows for 2 weeks off).
- Create Your 3-Month Goal. “I will need to be at $16,250 gross income at the completion of month 3. And I need to have worked 219 client hours.”
- Create Your First Month’s Goal. “I want to start 5–10 new clients during my first month and create a huge interest in my services.” We will talk about the specifics of marketing yourself in one of our future articles.
Do the Math
Many personal trainers starting a new business from scratch don’t make it through their first year because they failed to take the time to do all the math in the first place. By initially taking a serious look at your geographical location and the people in that area who would be supporting you, you will know what the likelihood is that your financial needs and wants can be supported by in-home personal training. Then, when you take the time to craft a detailed plan and work schedule, you are one step closer to making your dream of owning your own business a reality.