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First 3 Steps to Starting a Business on a Budget

Do you have the desire to open a training facility? What’s stopping you? Do you think you don’t have enough cash to get started?

You aren’t alone. Countless personal trainers share the dream, yet not everyone has the courage to get started. But if you’re reading this, you’ve already taken the first step toward launching your vision.

Discover how to open a facility with relatively low funds—and get a blueprint to help make your dream a reality.

First Steps

Before you rush into business, set yourself up for success by thinking through the following three steps:

Step 1: Get Personal

The most overlooked step in the startup phase is assessing your personal budget. You have to account for your monthly business expenses


your responsibilities at home:

  1. total monthly cost of living (home,food, utilities, etc.)
  2. outstanding debt (student loans, credit cards, car payments, etc.)
  3. emergency fund to cover 6–12 months of living expenses (average time for a business to turn a profit)

Most entrepreneurs fail to build their personal emergency fund because they think they will be profitable from day one. Make sure you start with enough money to cover expenses at home and at work.

Also, make sure your family members are on board. They may have to sacrifice comforts to keep your dream alive. Maintain regular date nights with your partner and quality time with kids. If you have stressed relationships and financial strains at home, it wears on you as a leader, and clients will sense it.

Step 2: Know Yourself

The second most overlooked step is developing a keen sense of self-awareness. By analyzing yourself you claim the only sustainable competitive advantage you own. It’s the catalyst to reinventing yourself and learning to make wiser decisions. In the lean startup phase, this strategy can help you sleep peacefully at night because self-awareness means you can accept your weaknesses and focus on your strengths.

Wrestle with these three items to develop a better sense of self-awareness:

Mine your past for patterns.

What common lessons have you repeatedly learned throughout your life? Write them down, connect the dots, and discover your real leadership gifts.

Ask for honest feedback.

Ask your mom (or dad or guardian) to tell you—without holding back—what your strengths and weaknesses are. Choose the person who knows you better than almost anyone else does.

Pay attention to what frustrates you.

Noticing your frustrations at how people accept the status quo in life, health and nutrition can precipitate self-awareness breakthroughs.

Simon Sinek, author of

Start With Why

(Portfolio 2009), said, “People don’t buy


you do; they buy


you do it.” Most would-be business owners start with the “what”: fat loss, athletes or special populations. Others start with the “how”: metabolic classes, speed and agility, or kettlebell circuit training. Many don’t know the “why” behind their decisions and consequently opt for what’s easiest in the short term. Know your


For Steve Jobs, Apple’s


was this: “Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user-friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”

In today’s world, with its 5-second attention span,


you show up—and are driven to wake up at crazy early hours—is what will resonate with the community you serve. It’s what makes your training unique. It’s something no other facility can copy . . . ever.

Step 3: Simplify

One of the biggest challenges to starting a business is sorting through the overwhelming amount of business plan advice on the Internet. The key is to develop a basic map, tweak as you go, and not get hung up on drafting the perfect strategy.

Keep it simple and easy for people to say yes to joining your mission. You can do this by being so good at the basics (serving, greeting at the door, communicating clearly, developing trust, keeping the facility surgically clean and building community) that you’re cutting-edge. Don’t overcomplicate your business with 1-, 3-, 6- or 12-month contracts with punch cards and upgrades. Simply offer month to month. The more clients say yes, the more cash flows in. Focus on building your community rather than locking clients into long-term contracts.

Every facility operates according to its own rules, which leaves many ways to be successful. For your startup, there are no rules. You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing.

To read more about how to open a personal training facility on a shoestring-budget, please see “Business on a Budget” in the online IDEA Library or in the January 2016 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7.

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