4 Things to Maximize Your Chances of Success in Your Business

By | Blog, Business Help, Financial Help, How To, Julie Weldon, Leadership, Marketing, Starting a Gym | No Comments

We’ve all heard the sobering statistics from the SBA that only 50% make it to the five-year mark and just one-third get to celebrate their 10-year anniversary.

If you’re reading this and you’ve made it to your 2 year mark, your 5 year mark, or maybe even your 10 year mark… huge congratulations!  We all know getting to any of these milestones is no small feat.

Because, let’s be honest… the road of an entrepreneur is never an easy one.

It often feels like going on a hike… barefoot, through a densely wooded mountainous forest, at night, with no flashlight, no food or water, and certainly no cell phone reception.

Even for the ones who seem like they have it all together.

What about the road for those who don’t make it to the 5 year mark? Or, maybe even a better question… for those that do? Starting a business and staying open 5 years is a monumental undertaking.

We’ve spoken with countless gym owners who are tired. We’ve spoken to ones who look like they’ve built a huge business because of the number of members they have, but they’re not profitable. For those people, business isn’t fun, it’s stressful. These owners got into the business because they loved helping others, and now it’s turned into the exhausting business of well, running a business.

So how can you make sure that you’re in the small percentage of folks who actually succeed and don’t get burnt out along the way?

Here are a few of the key things based on our experience:

1. Pay Attention to Your Cash Flow. This is the number one sinker for small businesses. Most people who start a business aren’t a “numbers person”, so they don’t ever really have control over or understanding of their numbers. Huge mistake. As a result, they don’t pay themselves, and are constantly focused on not having enough.

Suggestion: If this is you, stop putting this off. Commit now to focusing on getting comfortable with and knowing your numbers. First things first, order a copy of Profit First today, and set up your business using this financial system. It will get you in control of your numbers, have you paying yourself right away, and radically change your cash flow challenges. But, be prepared to work the system. There are no magic bullets!

2. Have a Marketing Strategy in Place. You would never (or very rarely) start a vacation or a building project without a plan. So, why do so many small businesses open their doors without a plan for how they are going to grow? Many owners we talk with are years in and haven’t created a marketing plan. Working without a plan will only get you so far. With so much competition rising up, those who have a plan that they’re executing on will be the ones who get out in front of the pack.

Suggestion: Join Hub. For the month of May in Hub, we’re focused on helping all Hub subscribers develop and execute on their Marketing Plan. We provide the how to, templates, courses, resources, and the expertise needed to ensure Hubsters are focused on the right thing.

3. Surround Yourself with Other Like-Minded Owners. A strong, supportive group offers you the ability to positively change. To see what others are doing, and use their experience to make changes in your own business, can be a game changer for your business. It gives you the accountability to actually make the changes. And then it provides encouragement and high fives when those changes happen.

Suggestion: Again, join Hub. Our Hub subscribers have come together to form one of the most powerful communities of gym owners that exists in the industry. They are quick to say that our private Facebook group has been one of the biggest benefits of being a Hub subscriber. It’s a safe place of question asking, idea sharing, and high fiving. Just being a part of this group is worth the price of admission. To take it a step farther, you can apply to join a M3 (Momentum MasterMind) group. These are small groups of 6-8 like-minded gym owners who meet weekly. They are led by a 321Go Business Coach and are all in similar places in their business.

4. Admit What You Don’t Know and Get Help. Another big reason businesses fail is because of the incompetence of the leader. This is not meant to be a derogatory statement at all, it’s just that many gym owners aren’t equipped to run a business. They just don’t know what they don’t know. And none of us know everything. But, the ones who admit what they don’t know and are willing to invest the time and money into really learning and applying what they learn are the business owners who will be around for the long haul.

Suggestion: Find a business mentor, join an accountability group, listen to podcasts, read blogs, and become a part of a motivating and inspiring FB group. The resources are there, you just need to tap into them. Invest your time and money in ways that will grow your knowledge, and ultimately your business.

Your business is your baby. Your creation. It’s everything to you. It can become everything you dream it to be, you just have to choose the best ways to invest in it. And then, execute on what you learn.

We very much want you to succeed. So much so that everything we create and offer here at 321GoProject is geared towards that. Want to jump on a call with us? Click here to schedule one. We’d love to chat!

The act of taking the first step is what separates the winners from everyone else.  – Brian Tracy

They Deserve More.

By | Blog, Business Help, Financial Help, Julie Weldon, Leadership | 2 Comments

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Every one of us has a large number of people who come and go in our lives.

Of the 7.125 billion people in this world, your commitment to just a small few runs deep. Think about that… so many people in this world and you’ve got “your people”. Maybe it’s your spouse, or your partner, or your kids, or a grandparent, or a best friend, or your mom or dad, or a furry friend. Whomever they are, you can name them right off the bat because they’ve captured a place in your life and heart that very few others have access to.

At some point, you looked into their eyes and said – whether out loud or in your deepest soul – “we’re in this together.”  And you meant it.

So, I’m going to get raw and real with you for a few minutes. I need to start by asking you a question…

How are you making them a priority?

The hard truth is we spend time on those things that are a priority. It’ll serve us well to read that last sentence again.

We spend time on those things that are a priority.

We just published an article last week written by affiliate owner and 321Go business coach, Don Moss, entitled “Help, I’m An Overworked Owner!” and it got a ton of downloads. This is both great, and alarming. What this tells me is that many of you feel overwhelmed as you are drowning in your sea of building a business.

I spoke with a business owner this past week and his comment was “I just don’t know that I can take much more.” The pure overwhelm in his voice was deafening. 70-80 hour work weeks are causing serious burnout. His end of rope seems way too close in his mind… and his fear was palpable.

Like a mountain range, business owners will always experience high peak moments and moments so low they think they’ll never reach the top. There will most certainly be times when they’ll need to put in an excess of hours. But, if they – if you – find yourself in a constant state of perpetual low, something’s gotta change.

I say this first and foremost because it most likely means the relationships that matter the most to you in this world are suffering. Your people – the ones you love more than anything – aren’t feeling connected to you.

You’ve heard the quote about how rarely on someone’s death bed do they regret not spending more time at the office. Same is true for affiliate owners – I doubt any will wish they spent more time cleaning the floors.

So what do you do? How do you create space for those who matter the most in your world?

Begin by evaluating yourself on these things below. Where are you allowing your life (business) to run you, as opposed to you taking charge and running it by filling it with more of those you love?

Determine who are your priorities.

Get out a piece of paper and write their names down. Seeing their name on a piece of paper somehow makes it a little more real. The names of those who you committed to – either out loud before a watching crowd or in your heart of hearts. The ones who are “your people”.

Create boundaries.

If you let yourself, you can keep saying “just one more email”, “just one more class”, “just one more process to build”, and then give them the leftover crumbs from your time. The work will always be never ending. You’re a business owner, for crying out loud… that’s part of what being an entrepreneur IS. So, push away from the computer. Walk away from the gym. Put the To Do list down. And schedule in time for those who really matter. You schedule time for classes; schedule “date nights” for your people. And then guard and honor those times with your life.

Be in the moment.

When you do spend time with your special ones, be present. Put your phone down. Look in their eyes. Ask questions. Get to know them. Even after 50+ years of marriage, my Mom and Dad are still learning things about each other and they will tell you they are more in love today than they ever have been. Because they were serious when they committed to each other way back when.

Be grateful for at least one thing every day.

When you first were getting to know this person/these people, you would do absolutely anything for them. You noticed things that mattered. You told them often how thankful you were for them. You went out of your way to make their lives better. Get back to this. Remind yourself why you committed to them in the first place and begin reinvigorating your thankful spirit. It’s easy to focus on the negative. Don’t do it. Choose to see their beauty. And tell them out loud how thankful you are for them, and why.

And this last one is interesting. If there’s one thing that causes more angst in relationships than most anything else, it’s money. So, as a business owner…

office-620822_1920Get your finances in order.

For those of us who have chosen to navigate our own career path instead of following someone else’s, money can be one of the biggest stressors in any close relationship. At 321Go, we’ve recently (re)discovered an exceptional book called Profit First by Mike Michalowicz. The concepts in this book are transforming many of our clients businesses (you can check out our recent podcast, talking about Profit First here). Far too many of our clients who begin to work with us haven’t paid themselves since they opened their doors. If this is you, you are just ushering in copious amounts of stress into your life and relationships. We all need money to live. Our businesses, while wonderful that we started them with the vision to help others, need to also be consistently generating a profit. Stop making excuses. If you’re not a “money person”, make the sacrifice and hire a business coach. If you hire a good coach, the guarantee is that it will pay you back in dividends. Give your coach permission to ask you the hard questions. (And, as a side note, make sure your accountant isn’t just giving you reports; hold them accountable to educate you.)  There are exceptional business coaches out there and then there are many who aren’t worth your time or money – they are only doing it for what’s in it for them and don’t genuinely care about your business or success. If you don’t know where to find a good coach, reach out to me (email below) and I’ll set you up on a free discovery call with one of our top-notch business coaches.

I recently listened to an interview with Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn. At the end of the interview, he was asked, “What are you most proud of?” His answer was something that’s stuck with me…

“I’m most proud of the fact that I look forward to going to work every day, and I look forward to coming home every night.”

What a statement to be proud of!! And you could tell by how he said it that it was real talk.  Can you say this?  If he can say this as busy as he must be, so can we.

I can’t stop thinking that life is short. If you are still reading this article and you end up finding yourself at the end of your life with regrets, the hard truth is that it’s no ones fault but your own.

Deeply embrace and invest in your chosen few while you have the time. And do whatever it takes to love them like they deserve.

Need help with this? Check out our MOMENTUM packages or shoot me an email at julie@321goproject.com. We’d absolutely love to chat with you…. You’re not just running a business, you’re running a life. 

The 9 Financial Numbers You Should Know

By | Blog, Business Help, Financial Help, Matt Scanlon | No Comments

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When it comes to business and marketing, there are countless metrics you could track.

For the purpose of this article, we’re going to focus on the crucial basics. Chances are – once you get the hang of these – correlations will begin to emerge. For example: How does event attendance influence Customer Lifespan?

Remember: these are the basics. Yes, there are plenty of other really important Performance Indicators. This is your baseline.


Eventbrite - Free Webinar: 9 Financial Numbers To Know - May 5, 10am CST

1. Profit Margin

What is it? 
Your profit margin is what’s left over after every bill, staff member, lease, licensing, etc. are paid. This is how you pay investors, purchase equipment, expand, or buy back your time.

Why it’s important:
Quite simply, this is where you create the life you want. Chances are that you started a business to self-actualize as an entrepreneur. Monthly break-even will not buy you a lifestyle, allow you to scale, or build a better coaching staff. Profits aren’t evil nor should they be avoided. Profits allow you to hire the best staff, send them to whatever certifications they want, and allow you to have some time back.

Mistakes:
The goal of any new business is break-even. That’s the first benchmark you shoot for out of the gate. But most new businesses start there. Early budgets rarely factor in full-staffing or scalability. You must think “profit first” if you ever want to move past hobby and into business. There are lots of businesses out there just breaking even. Consistently breaking even means the majority of the staffing and roles fall on the owner. Next comes burnout…

2. Average Client Revenue

What is it?
Total income divided by every person that uses your space. This includes trade-for-coaching arrangements, free use for Competitive Athletes, swaps for cleaning, discounts, freebies, etc.

Why it’s important:
This gives you a guide for increasing revenues. If you advertise $200/month, but you’re bringing in $160/client something’s broken. Adding more members to a broken revenue system will compound the effect of declining revenues. You’ll never catch up. You need to close the gap between what’s coming in and what’s budgeted before adding members.

Mistakes:
Armed with your profit margin, you’ll be able to clearly see how discounts and trades affect your bottom line. You may realize that you’re swapping $200 in memberships for $100 in cleaning services. This is a hard number to face, but one that business owners must become very comfortable evaluating.

3. Average Client Lifespan

What is it?
The length of time – on average – that a client stays with your business. You factor this by tracking entrance and exit months of all past clients and dividing the total months of engagement by the number of clients entered and exited. New gyms won’t have this data BUT you should begin tracking ASAP.

Why it’s important:
You need to know how long people are sticking around! This will allow you to make long-term budgets and make sound marketing decisions.

Mistakes:
Quite simply – not taking the time to track. This is a really important number to know. Run the report monthly.

4. Total Client Value

What is it?
Average Client Revenue X Average Client Lifespan.

Why it’s important:
This will allow you to budget for retention and marketing with the data necessary to make a sound decision. Don’t forget profit margin here – it’s important. Knowing your profit margin will allow you to further dissect the data to Total Profit Per Client.

Mistakes:
Not using this!!! There is an endless debate over discounts, deal sites, and online “coupons”. The effectiveness of these tools is only conjecture if you don’t use the math. Let’s do an exercise:

Gym XYZ is rocking some very healthy profit margins at 33% (this is a great goal for service-based businesses). Their monthly membership (AND average client revenue) is $200 for unlimited group classes ($66 profit). They know that their members stick around for 11 months with their current structure. They know that each new member will yield a $726 profit over their lifetime, on average.  You now have a clear idea on how to budget for new member acquisition.

5. Average Attendance

What is it?
How often do people attend a class with your various packages?

Why it’s important:
This allows you to set your prices, packages, and schedule.

Mistakes:
Again, not looking at this. Most gyms with 2x, 3x, 4x, Unlimited, etc. packages are probably leaving revenues on the table. For example, let’s say you offer a 3x/week option but members on an unlimited option attend 13 classes/month. You’re leaving money on the table by not differentiating the options based on client behavior. I recently asked a gym owner how often athletes use an unlimited membership. The response was: “probably 19-20 times per month.” After running the numbers it was 12. This gym owner was leaving money on the table by having a complex structure based on a “gut” feeling rather than actual member behavior.

6. Cost Per Service Hour

What is it?
Fixed costs + labor/classes on the schedule. Do this for Personal Training and Specialty Class services as well. We’ll differentiate the revenue streams below.

Why it’s important:
Funny enough, I just got off the phone with a personal trainer looking to rent space. I knew the exact dollar figure to quote her. My cost + my profit margin. This will also allow you to set your schedule intelligently. We’ll get to the other reasons below.

Mistakes
Thinking that just because you’ve already purchased the equipment that you DON’T HAVE COSTS. You absolutely have costs associated with providing a class/personal training hour/specialty. You need to recoup these costs + profit (see: #1). Mistake #2: not factoring in FULLY STAFFED budgets into this number. When the owner of a business is supporting the operations through sweat equity, that business is not profitable. Profitability comes when you fire yourself.

7. Revenue Per Service Hour

What is it?
Average Client Revenue/Average Attendance per month. Here’s where we’ll want to stratify our revenue streams in the calculations. Your unlimited membership options will be a good first crack.

Why it’s important:
Quite simply, this will allow you to set your schedule. Find that classes that are losing you money and take them off the schedule. Or offer personal training. Or put in a barbell club. Something that will not lose you money.

Mistakes:
Not calculating the value of your services and making sound business decisions. Let’s say that 3 people come to your 10:00AM class. Your cost per service hour is $39. Your revenue per client per service hour is $9. You’re losing $12 per hour per day. But, what if those members leave when you cancel 10:00AM? You’ll be more profitable. Use the hour to grow your business. It’ll be a greater use of your time.

8. Retention/New Sign-Up Through Behavior Type

What is it? 
Behavior tracking is making business decisions based upon how people interact with your business. Also known as “voting with your wallet.” Identify which inputs yield favorable outcomes.

Why it’s important:
Your gut can be wrong – believe it or not. I recently took a hard look at this and made an entire shift in my revenue model as a result. I found that, if a client receives a 1-on-1 service or participates in a specialty class where the monthly expenditure is over $300 in a given month, their lifespan increased 210%.

Mistakes:
Not trusting the data. My “gut” tells me that people would be resistant to spend $300 in services in a given month. It says that I should reduce rates to make things more affordable. But the data screamed something different. The data screamed that I should increase expenditures from Month 1 to increase lifespan from months 2+.

9. BONUS METRIC: Your hourly rate. 

I think you should make at least 6 figures. You’re changing peoples lives, improving your country’s health metrics, and positively impacting your community. I want you to have the freedom to do so well into the future and with a greater footprint.

So, what does a $100,000 salary look like hourly? Let’s say $50. How do you achieve this? By firing yourself from every role that’s below your hourly rate. The goal is to move beyond money saving and into revenue creation. This comes through a CEO working at their rate and off-loading anything below.

Below you’ll find an example of how to begin to “fire” yourself from other roles. Again – don’t get hung up on the numbers. Understand the principles of working in high-value positions.

CEOchart

Should you go into debt to justify your hourly? Of course not. BUT, the point is to recognize those first opportunities to fire yourself after reaching profitability. CEO’s exist to scale, connect, and broaden the footprint of the business. Be the CEO.

Summary:

Business is delicate balance between instinct and metrics; your gut and measurable results. Often times, we get so mired in the day-to-day that it becomes difficult to take an honest, birds-eye-view of performance and behavior. Do you find yourself saying “something’s off but I can’t quite place it”? Or, maybe you’re so incredibly busy that you’ve never given thought to some of these key performance indicators.

This is where the value of a third party mentor can really push a business forward. Someone to look at your numbers objectively and help with making sound decisions. This doesn’t need to be a full-fledged business coach/mentor, but you should – at the very least – always have an extra set of eyeballs on your numbers. It’ll be the best investment you’ve ever made in your business.


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Maximizing Operational Flexibility & Efficiency at Your Box

By | Blog, Financial Help | No Comments

Increased flexibility and efficiency of movement: two bi-products of good programming and qualities that most coaches hope to bestow upon their athletes.

But as an affiliate owner, applying these concepts to the business-side of your gym can be equally important – for you and for the experience of your members. The prudent use of financing can help you reach your goals faster while allowing you to maintain cash for unforeseen circumstances.

A Closer Look at the Advantages of Financing

As a funding solution for small businesses, financing offers a number of significant benefits to gym owners. In fact, 80% of businesses in the U.S. lease some or all of their equipment and lease financing accounts for roughly one third of new equipment purchases across all industries. At a minimum, it is a concept that every business owner should understand.

1. Conserve Working Capital for Day-to-Day Expenses – Typically, a lease offers 100% financing for the cost of the equipment (including costs related to shipping, delivery, and/or installation) with no down payment requirement. Particularly for an early stage business, the ability to conserve cash to cover operating and other business expenses is hugely valuable. Additionally, you retain the option to deploy your capital elsewhere or to take advantage of future business opportunities that may not be present today. There’s also a lot to be said for having some additional cushion in the bank account when problems arise – having cash on hand can mean the difference between weathering the storm and closing up shop for good.

2.Maintain Ownership of YOUR Business – In raising capital to undergo an expansion or start a new facility, it’s common to see gym owners give up a percentage of their ownership in the business to investors in exchange for funding. This is often viewed as a ‘cheaper’ source of money, since you are not necessarily required to pay interest on the invested capital. Of course, this doesn’t mean you aren’t paying for it elsewhere – particularly in the form of forgone future earnings of the businesses. Giving up ownership means giving up a share of the profits, and that can add up quick.

3. Improve the Quality of Your Facility and the Service You Provide – Ever-increasing competition in the marketplace may require you to invest more in the appearance of your facility, the quality of your equipment, and/or the amenities you offer (yes, showers!). We agree whole-heartedly that quality coaching and programming are the precursors for success in this industry, but someone walking into a box for the first time probably doesn’t appreciate that nuance like you and I. Don’t lose potential members over something that could be easily fixed – to demonstrate why you’re the best in the area, you have to get them in the door first.

4. Predict and Manage Cash Flow Efficiently – It can take months or years to save enough excess capital complete a significant renovation project at your facility. Instead, convert large up-front capital investments into a manageable stream of payments over time by utilizing financing. Lock-in a fixed payment schedule that allows you to get the equipment you need or complete improvements to your space now. This also allows you to use your new equipment and facilities to increase membership and generate revenue while you pay for it.

5. Limit Your Tax Liability, Legally – In the U.S., a finance lease allows the you to recognize an ownership position in the leased equipment for tax purposes – allowing you to deduct depreciation (a non-cash expense) as well as implied interest (a component of the schedule lease payment) for tax purposes. The result is that you shield more of your income from taxes and lower the amount of money you send to Uncle Sam. A finance lease also allows the lessee to take advantage of the Section 179 Deduction, in which a business can deduct the full purchase price of equipment for tax purposes and significantly lower the effective cost of the equipment. Some businesses may be surprised to find that the lease payments made the first year will actually be less than the tax benefit created through the Section 179 Deduction.

But be Careful – As with Anything, Financing is Not without Risk

Generally speaking, it is beneficial to work with someone who understands your industry and particular market, regardless of the service you are seeking. However, when that service involves providing capital for your business, selecting the right financial partner carries even greater importance. Spend time evaluating your options to find a partner that understands your vision and can offer guidance and transparency throughout the financing process. Despite the many benefits that financing can offer, reckless borrowing and/or egregious funding terms can quickly erase them.


Guest Post by Clay Ferrer | Rigquipment Finance

Clay-Bio-PicClay Ferrer is the founder of Rigquipment Finance, an independent commercial finance company dedicated to providing flexible funding solutions for affiliate gyms and boutique fitness facilities. Clay is also a member of the coaching staff at Ballston CrossFit in Arlington, Virginia, where he has witnessed the growth of an incredible community and seen countless examples of peoples’ lives changing for the better as a result of CrossFit. This experience laid the foundation for Rigquipment Finance and Clay’s desire to help strengthen and expand the CrossFit community by leveraging his professional background. Prior to making the entrepreneurial jump, Clay graduated from the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce and spent five years working at an investment bank focused on advising specialty lending businesses and middle market financial services companies.

A Reasonable Wage

By | Blog, Business Help, Financial Help | 2 Comments
If you operate your box as an S corporation, you have some different compliance hoops to jump through then if you were a sole proprietor or had created a partnership structure.

One of those “hoops” is making sure you are paying a “reasonable” wage to yourself. The IRS says, “An S corporation shareholder who performs more than minor services for the corporation will be its employee for tax purposes.”

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photo credit: 401(K) 2013 via photopin cc

This means that you wear both the hat of the shareholder, and the hat of an employee. As an employee, the IRS expects you to pay a “reasonable” wage to yourself. Luckily, or unluckily, (depending on whether you are a glass is half full or half empty type of person) the IRS does not define what is “reasonable”. There is no magic formula used to ensure the wage amount is “reasonable.” Which means there is also no magic formula to prevent an audit trigger on your S corporation tax return.

We do know that the IRS looks at everything on a case-by-case basis. Here are some factors you should be considering when deciding if the w-2 amount you pay yourself is “reasonable”. (Remember from my last post, we want the w-2 amount to be as low as possible while still being “reasonable” in order to save self-employment tax).

Considerations:

  • the duties performed by the employee
  • the volume of business handled
  • the type of work and amount of responsibility
  • the complexity of the business
  • the time and effort devoted to the business
  • the timing and manner of paying bonuses to key people
  • the cost of living in the locality
  • the ability and achievements of the individual employee performing the service
  • the pay compared with the gross and net income of the business, as well as with distributions to shareholders
If you asked 10 CPAs what your “reasonable” wage should be, you will get 10 different answers.

That is what happens when the tax code is not clear on something. I personally start my analysis with the business net income. If other people exist in the business that drive income (like other trainers) then I will take 25% of net income as a starting point for the “reasonable” test. If the business owner is the only trainer, then I start with 30% of net income. Sometimes, that’s as far as you have to go. Depending on the above factors though, adjustments are often made. Again, there is no magic solution to this. All we know is that you do need to pay yourself something.

It’s common for S Corporation owners to find themselves in trouble because they don’t pay themselves wages.

If you have an S Corporation, check with your proactive CPA to see if your wage is reasonable.


Guest post by: John D. Briggs, CPA. John is an owner and tax specialist with Incite Tax, certified public accountants experienced in all matters of accounting and taxation, IRS problem resolution, estates and trusts, business formation, financial planning and investment, real estate and business sales. John also is responsible for all of 321GoProject’s accounting and taxes.