Today’s pick from the mailbag: “Please discuss your ‘experience’ opening and running a successful business.” Which is funny because even though Sam and I have been branding our business for 2 years, our studio is scarcely 6 months old. And I have no idea, really, if we’re successful. It depends on how you define success, I suppose. On the one hand, we lost a business partner, have alienated several of the gyms where we used to work, have angered our neighbor who (rightfully so) struggles to deal with our noise, and most months only kind of barely scrape by.
But, on the other hand, we have incredibly happy members who are committed to us and who are patient during the growing pains because what happens in that room every day is really special, and they think it’s awesome that in our first year of business we are actually able to scrape by.
It’s all about perspective, really.
So, when people ask me questions about opening a business,
first I ask them if they are interested in a trio franchise opportunity, there are a few lessons I typically share.
1. Know your ‘why’. If you want to make your business a success, you should know exactly why you need to open. You need to have the elevator version, the cocktail party version, the ‘sitting down with potential partners or investors’ version, and the ‘reminding your spouse when times are tough’ version all well learned and rehearsed, because people will come at you from every angle with a critique or a reason WHY this won’t work, and you need to be able to meet these critiques with positivity and preparedness.
And I am not here to criticize your ‘why’. But I am here to point out that owning the whole shebang is a lot different than performing the service that made you interested in this in the first place. Like, loving to eat ice cream? May not be enough of a reason to open an ice cream shop. Because owning the shop has very little to do with eating the product. You can eat the product at home on your lazyboy. Owning the store means sanitation codes and ordering and inventory and waste and hiring and training and firing and marketing and advertising and selling and cleaning and repairing and paying the bills and paying taxes and …
Well, you get my point, right?
2. Get a prenup. Whether you are a sole proprietor or a partnership, whether you have investors or are using your nest egg, consult an attorney who knows how to create corporations and decide right away not only how the company is going to form and to run, but also how it will be dissolved in the event that a partner or investor wants out. I know none of us can even fathom a divorce when we are planning the wedding, but shit happens. Even to the best of relationships. And Sam and I are living proof that no matter how strong the bond in the beginning, you cannot rely on a person’s moral compass to make them do the right thing in the event of a breakup. A signature on a lease or a loan is not enough to make a partner honor their financial commitment to you or your company once they decide they want to leave. Without an operating agreement that outlines the terms of the working partnership as well as its dissolution, there will be conflict at some point about how to utilize the profit or how to divide the debt, and the person who ends up being screwed will probably be you.
3. Have some swagger. I cannot figure out a way to make a success of a business if you don’t have the confidence to tell somebody why they need you, why you’re the best at what you do, or why you deserve the business versus the guy down the street. It may make you a jackass to say “the guy who owns the ice cream shop down the street picks his nose while he’s driving,” but it does NOT make you a jackass to say “my ice cream is handmade, all organic and non GMO, and you aren’t going to get that in the shop down the street.” So if you or your partners are squeamish about being able to do this, you may end up losing your shirt to the guy with his finger in his nose.
I could go on and on, but this is my elevator version. Aside from my children, business is probably my favorite topic to discuss. And I would of course be remiss if I didn’t say – if your business is fitness, can I interest you in a franchise opportunity? Because that’s what is coming down the pike. Because I love what I do, I know why I need to do it, and I have swagger. And because I just honest to goodness can’t see myself doing something else.