“There’s always more opportunity in a crisis than in a good economy,” says Stan Peake, a Calgary-based business coach and speaker. Peake was a featured speaker at a recent Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC) National Coalition meeting.
According to Peake, a robust economy with a clear and easy way to make money breeds lazy entrepreneurs.
He uses the co-working space phenomenon as an example: When the economy was booming and office space was at a premium, he says, it was a great business. But eventually there were too many players. When the economy faltered, many of them shut down. Alternatively, a company like Airbnb has been able to reinvent itself five times, most recently during the pandemic.
Does Airbnb have a secret strategy? Definitely not, says Peake.
“Many of the most successful businesses have extremely unsexy success formulas,” he says. “They’ve just outlasted everyone else and didn’t quit.”
All businesses can learn from this approach, says Peake. “Be more committed, and work harder than the next person. Learn faster, adopt a mindset that different is possible. Be flexible. Be married to your vision but dating your strategy.”
If you’re not yet sold on this approach, think about how you manage a client who tells you she hates lunges, he says. “I’m sure you say something like, ‘No problem, you can do squats or deadlifts instead.’ When you think creatively, there are always multiple ways to meet the same goal.”
Get out of a negative mindset
Don’t be afraid to grieve your loss, says Peake. “Acknowledge what you’ve lost and honour your loss, but then move ahead. It’s a terrible strategy to hope that things will go back to normal.”
Your value proposition remains the same
Pandemic or not, your customers still have goals, pain points, problems, and hopes and dreams, says Peake. “Your value proposition is about taking your audience from where they are presently to a better place, from pain to joy–it doesn’t need to change. It’s just that your customers have a new set of problems.”
While Peake recognizes that cashflow is currently a rollercoaster situation for many fitness entrepreneurs and is creating huge stress, “Your value could go through the roof if you could adapt and become more relevant to your customers,” he says.
3 Tips for Discovering New Opportunities
- Take a hike or bike. It is no surprise to fitness professionals that physical activity stimulates creative thinking. Take time to get out into nature, and revisit why you initially entered the fitness business. “Einstein took a two-hour walk each day,” says Peake, referencing one of the most creative minds in history.
- Go to a favourite place. To think more creatively, get away from your desk responsibilities where administrative work, webinars and Zoom calls require you to be in task or academic mode.
- Connect with those in unrelated businesses. Time spent with a Mastermind group, a business group or a mentor may stimulate creative solutions you can apply to your fitness business.
- Carve out space. Schedule time to work on your business. For example, brainstorm five ways to improve or restructure your revenue streams on your next hike or bike ride.
“When you win, a lot of people win,” says Peake, noting that his clients (operating non-fitness businesses) often consider their club workouts and exercise coaches a critical part of their business success. “The world needs you and the fitness industry.”