I started my FIT4MOM® business in August 2001, when my son was just 3 months old. I was a “solopreneur,” which meant that I did everything. I taught classes; did all the marketing; handled the website, emails and bookkeeping—and the list goes on. The business took off, but it almost took me out. I kept up this pace for a long time, and it took its toll on me and my family. As successful as the business was, in retrospect I believe I actually held it back from its true potential.

I was working in my business instead of on it.

That was then, this is now—and I have learned a lot. I now have a CEO and a full team who run the day-to-day operations. I went from no staff at all, to one employee, to five, and now I have a team of nearly 100. I am free to do what I love best, but it didn’t happen overnight. It started with just one hire and snowballed. While you might not need a CEO yet, chances are you could use help. This article offers you a map to more freedom and success.

Find the Right Support

If you’re like most people who decide to get into the fitness business, you want to change people’s lives. You’re probably very motivated by your “why.” How much of your time do you spend working on that part, the passion? And how much time do you spend “in the weeds” dealing with things that—frustratingly—aren’t in your skill set?

The Pareto principle states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your work. What if you could increase that 20% and work on the things that matter most to you? My first hire was a bookkeeper. I knew that accounting wasn’t my skill set and that my efforts weren’t growing my business. At the time, I couldn’t afford $400 a month for a bookkeeper, so I knew that if I hired one, I would need to bring in at least $400 in revenue with the time I freed up for myself. It’s easy to hire a salesperson who you know will bring in money. It’s harder to hire support that seems like only a cost. However, if this move frees you up so that you can make more money while doing what you love, then it’s a very worthwhile investment.

The average fitness entrepreneur gets stuck working in the trenches. Sure, you can stay on your current path, wearing all the hats in your business, but do you want to? Even if you want to keep your business small, you’ll still benefit from getting help.

Sit down and make a list, using the following questions as prompts:

  • What work-related activity do you love to do?
  • What are you good at?
  • What don’t you love to do?
  • What are you not good at?

Some items will be the same in multiple categories; for example, you may love to train and you may also be good at it.

After completing this list, circle all of the things that you love to do and are good at. Next, in a different color pen, circle what you don’t love and are not good at. Imagine if you could spend your life doing only what you love and what you’re good at! We all have different gifts and strengths. You’ll have the most success when you’re working in your “gifted zone,” and so will your staff.

Free Up Your Time

Perhaps your reason for not hiring someone is not financial, but rather because you feel like only you know how to do it right. Stop kidding yourself. Are you really good at accounting? Is your degree in marketing? Who considers you a social media maven? In fact, you’re probably micromanaging your business and holding it back from its true potential. Surely you can train another smart person who will love that job and has the requisite skills. I stopped doing the mundane jobs that did not excite me and the important jobs that were not in my skill set, and I hired people who excelled at them.

Some entrepreneurs worry that they will make themselves nonessential to the business. This just isn’t true. As the leader, you are the visionary. You also troubleshoot big problems, create company culture and—yes—delegate the work. This is true even in small companies. It’s your choice whether or not you continue to train or teach, if that’s what you want to do. But as the leader, your most important job is to protect your time so that you have the bandwidth to be creative and to handle issues as they come up.

Do this: Keep a daily log and then ask yourself if the items on that list represent the highest and best use of your time. Could someone else be doing some of them? For example, I once found myself spending a ton of time trying to create a graphic for a social media post. It doesn’t bother me to do it, but I’m not a graphic designer and it’s not the best use of my time, so I outsourced it to my assistant, which freed me to focus on my passion. See the sidebar “Delegate and Hire with Ease” for more about this topic.

Set the Stage for Success

When you’re ready to hire someone, be very clear about what you want and how you want it done. It’s a good idea to create screen captures and manuals now, while you’re still doing the job, to document your processes. At FIT4MOM, we’ve systematized everything so it’s turnkey for our franchisees. Create your own system, and make it repeatable.

Hiring the right people is critical. Make sure your team members are passionate about your business and aligned with your vision. Take your time to get to know them, learn their dreams and understand how those dreams fit your mission statement.

Your job as the fitness business owner is to have a handle on the big picture and to keep the vision thriving. If you want to get out of the grind and do what you love, then you need to get out of the weeds and work on your business, not in it.

Delegate and Hire With Ease

It’s easier than ever to delegate and hire people. If you’re not ready to go all in, hire for small projects or get a full-time virtual assistant. (Virtual employees are real people who work for you remotely, either on your payroll or on a freelance basis.) UpWork (upwork.com) is an example of a service that enables you to hire virtual assistants, web developers, designers and more. After you post a job, your needs are analyzed and you get a list of freelancers, whom you can pay by the hour or by the project.

Fiverr (fiverr.com) enables you to get things done at prices that start at just $5, hence the name. You can outsource small projects from design to research (be sure to read reviews and vet work samples).

Even though I have a lot of support from team members, I still have a virtual assistant who can work from anywhere. We connect via phone and internet—we’ve actually never met in real life! My virtual assistant helps me with

  • email management,
  • booking appointments,
  • client follow-up,
  • receptionist duties,
  • calendar management,
  • online file management,
  • research,
  • travel booking,
  • social media support, and
  • blog management.

Two sites I recommend to connect with a virtual assistant are Virtual Staff Finder and PriorityVA. Both of these companies specialize in virtual assistants for online entrepreneurs. If this topic interests you, check out Virtual Freedom: How to Work with Virtual Staff to Buy More Time, Become More Productive, and Build Your Dream Business, by Chris Ducker (BenBella Books 2014).

Lisa Druxman, MA

Lisa Druxman, MA, is the owner and founder of Stroller StridesÔäó. She holds a masterÔÇÖs degree in exercise science and is a recognized presenter, writer and instructor. Certification: ACE

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