The name of the game in business is to, well, make more money.
Sure, owning a fitness business can give you financial freedom, and flexibility, and satisfy a deeper longing to make an impact on the world around you. But if you don’t have money coming in, you don’t have a business, you have a hobby.
But surprisingly, too much money can be a bad thing, like Biggie Smalls once said. But that’s only if you don’t have the right foundation in place to sustain that growth.
At each new level of your business, there’s a new challenge to work through. And the further along you get, the bigger your team grows and the more you offer, the more important having a sound infrastructure becomes.
It’s kind of like living in an apartment.
You’re not going to be in a studio forever. You find a partner, and then get a dog, and eventually outgrow it. Then you move to a one or two-bedroom apartment, have a kid, and outgrow that. You want to grow your family, so you buy a house with a backyard to fit everyone comfortably.
As you grow, you outgrow the container you live in — meaning the same strategies that got you here won’t take you to the next level.
Today, we’re going to be looking at all the challenges, and opportunities, that come with each level of business — ideation, infancy, adolescence, and maturity — so that no matter where you find yourself today, you can start bringing some structure to your foundation and prepare it for the next level.
The first stage is always ideation. This is where you begin thinking about starting a business or start experimenting with it as a side hustle. You’re probably working for someone else full time, teaching yoga or Pilates classes in your spare time, but you haven’t yet started your own thing.
Here your idea wheels are turning and you start thinking about how you could be doing it better, or how doing your own thing would give you more freedom and flexibility. You start seeing opportunities and think about how you can grab hold of them.
This is the start-up phase. You’re doing all the work yourself. You don’t have employees or contractors helping you run things behind the scenes. Everything from the admin work to teaching classes falls on you.
In this phase, you willingly devote everything to your business regardless of the toll it takes on you personally. And while that hustle can get you far, it can’t get you that far.
Your approach in this stage has to change — your personal identity is different than your business identity, and you need to keep them separate if you want your business to grow. When your business starts to grow, you’ll realize it isn't sustainable to do it all on your own, and that’s okay. It doesn’t make you any less of a person. It means you’re human.
What ushers in the next phase are realizing it’s time to hire some help and stop trading your time for money.
Here’s where you really start to grow. However, that growth can easily become overwhelming. Maybe your business is growing too fast for you to stay grounded, or maybe you didn’t start a firm foundation, to begin with.
This is why people say, “More money, more problems” or “New levels, new devils.” Just because you’re starting to see more money coming in doesn't mean it’s smooth sailing.
At this phase, you hire employees to take over some of the tasks that overwhelm you. But if you fall into the two categories I mentioned above, you soon find that things aren't getting done the way you want them to be done.
Maybe your employees lack the motivation and drive that you put into the business. Maybe you aren’t sure what kind of help you need so you just hire another instructor, but realize it’s not where you can get the biggest level of help.
At this point, many business owners will push employees out of the way and insert themselves right back into the workflow believing that no one will do the job as well as they can.
This is where most business owners get stuck. They are in purgatory, what we call “pushing beyond the comfort zone.”
At this stage, limits are being pushed, and you have to go beyond your comfort zone. You either need to make the business small again or move on to the next phase, where you become an actual CEO/leader instead of a doer.
Maybe this sparks up some feeling of nervousness, excitement, or both — but the thing you need to remember if you are at this stage in your business is that until you decide to go small or become CEO, you’ll be stuck at this point of chaos.
At this stage, the business owner has what we refer to as, "the entrepreneurial perspective."
You’ve decided they want to act as the CEO, not the doer, and approach your business with a clearly defined vision. You lead with accountability standards and direction that drive the business to new levels of success.
You’ve experienced enough to have some solid business wisdom in your back pocket, allowing you to view the business as an entity separate from yourself — one that is fully functional and built to last.
If you’ve reached this stage, your challenge is to grow your business into the future, not just for yourself but for the people you’ve now employed.
Did any of these resonate with you? Most of us are still in the adolescence stage, and not everyone will make it to the maturity stage. Why? Not all entrepreneurs want to become mature businesses. And that's okay!
But reflecting on these stages and considering your place along the path can help you understand where your business is going and the challenges you’ll face along the way.
If you want some extra help doing that, you’ve got several options in my Beyond the Movement programs to suit exactly where you are right now as a business owner.
This is a 12-month mentorship program that’ll coach you through each stage, provide resources, and give expert advice and support to get you to where you want to be. If trying to gauge where you are — and where you want to go — has been a challenge, then this is the thing for you!