Do you have a great business idea, one that would allow you to become the entrepreneur you’ve always wanted to be, but something is holding you back?
I started my business as a Pilates instructor in 2008 during the Great Recession. When economic times are tough, gym memberships can often be one of the “nice to have” things that people ditch first. But within 90 days of me becoming certified to teach my classes were completely booked. Why were people choosing to spend a portion of their limited disposable income on classes with me?
My studio manager at the time asked me to document what I was doing that was working so well—so that I could train the rest of her instructors to do likewise. Entrepreneurs are always at work perfecting and evolving their business model and offerings, but the strategies I employed successfully back then are the same ones I use today:
7 Lessons for Finding Success
- Be authentic, direct, and passionate about your vision in every conversation. Everyone rolls their eyes (literally or figuratively) when they hear the saccharine sound of some smooth-talking salesperson. Your authenticity and passion translate loud and clear when you can speak directly to questions about who are and what you are doing. Create that big vision/purpose, then create an action plan for implementation, and work that plan from the time you wake up until the time you fall asleep. There is an infinite number of people with whom to speak.
- Ask for the sale. When I started training Pilates instructors on how to be more entrepreneurial, I realized that some of the very best teachers had the worst business acumen. Many of them would say, “I just want to teach!” to which I would always reply, “You cannot teach anything if you don’t have clients.” They lacked the ability to get people into the studio and to keep them coming back. We all could learn a lot from medical professionals. They explain the procedure and its benefits to the patients, and when it’s completed, they schedule your follow-up appointment. They don’t wait for their patients to decide when to come back and see them.
- Evaluate and course correct. Don’t just write your action plan and then stop reading and using it. Evaluate in real-time what is working and what is not to make the necessary corrections. Consider rewriting the whole plan if corrections don’t fix what’s wrong. Nothing is set in stone. Everything is subject to change. Be flexible as well as confident that change is necessary.
- Don’t quit. Encountering obstacles is inevitable as you get started, but if you can tough it out and problem solve your way through the roadblocks, you can achieve pretty much anything. Why? Quite simply, you will be one of the few people to persevere. Got grit? If so, go for it.
- Don’t flush precious marketing dollars down the toilet. What are you selling? Why are you selling it? Who are you selling to/for? Why do they need it? How/When do you offer it? Take the time to research where and how your potential customers receive their news and information—and direct your marketing budget there. Every dollar you set aside for marketing your business services should be targeted toward reaching the customers you want to attract and retain.
- You’re the expert, so start acting like it. Don’t waste time trying to convince potential customers to buy something they are not looking to purchase. Convince them instead why they should choose your product, your program, or your service over any other similar service provider in their area.
- Never stop thinking like an entrepreneur. I’m always thinking about I can build up/out my business. Force yourself to get off the hamster wheel of just doing the “walk of shame”. Avoid complacency. I went from becoming a Pilates instructor to managing an entire studio of instructors to writing a book/becoming a Pilates business and goals coach. By always thinking about what comes next my vision/goals become more specific and more clearly defined.
I’m hard-wired to be an entrepreneur. Early on in my professional life, I knew that I was not cut out to just be another cog in someone else’s machine. I have to be my own boss. If this describes you, don’t let perceived or real obstacles distract you from becoming an entrepreneur.
I didn’t let the Great Recession stop me from becoming a successful entrepreneur. I powered through the obstacles so that I could succeed where others failed. I started making stuff happen for myself. Then I realized that I wanted to help make it happen for others. I wanted to empower more people to take the same leap of faith as I.
If you need someone to tell you that “you can do hard things,” to encourage you to become an entrepreneur, I’m just a quick email away.
Be the one to succeed where all others fail. And when you succeed, extend a hand to the person behind you and empower them to take the same leap of faith.