In 2011, I went into business with another personal trainer. Our goal was to build a website that would create personalized workouts for people based on their fitness level and equipment they had access to.
We had no marketing or sales experience and our technology skills were limited. We were only armed with the technical knowledge we had acquired as personal trainers.
Upon further research, I learned that we would have to hire a videographer to produce over 100 videos for us, a graphic design firm to create our website, a software company to write custom software for us, an accountant, purchase fitness equipment and there were a few other odds and ends.
We easily exceeded $100,000 in expenses and were closer to $200,000.
We pitched our idea to family and friends in the hopes of raising enough capitol to pay for this endeavor. We managed to do that and ultimately raised $185,000 with the understanding we were going to pay everyone back during an agreed upon time.
Well, we made all of the videos and had a custom website built and now we just had to wait for the clients to start rolling in…..
We made 2 sales! About $100. And those clients didn’t even stick around.
We were drowning in debt, I was frustrated with my business partner, my own personal training company wasn’t doing well and I had very little savings left.
In 2013 I made the tough decision to leave this business and separate from my business partner.
At this point I was on the hook for $60,000 that I had to repay investors and another $7,000 in credit card debt, so $67,000 in the hole.
Not only was I in massive debt, but I had to shut down my personal training company and go work for another fitness owner. Talk about eating humble pie. This was 2015.
For a long time I blamed my former business partner for this colossal failure and I had valid reasons for doing so. There were red flags there that I ignored. Ultimately, it was my decision to go into business with this person and go down this path.
Once I took responsibility for where I was I was able to start to right the ship and get my life back on track.
Going to work for another personal training company allowed me to significantly cut my expenses and get a steady pay check going. Those expenses I was no longer paying went directly to repaying my debt.
In 2016, I got a girlfriend who’s now my wife. She works with numbers all day and helped me get on structured plan to repay my debt starting with the highest interest debts first.
Every single month I focused on working my tail off to meet my debt payoff goal. Month after month I just kept chipping away and following my plan.
While working for another personal training company I was able to organically start to grow my own business without spending a dime.
I began following other fitness professionals who specialized in sales and marketing and I strengthened my weak points.
In September of 2019, I made my last debt payment! For the first time in 8 years I was debt free. What a relief…
The biggest lessons I learned from this experience:
– Listen to your gut and talk to your inner circle before making huge changes or taking on huge projects
– Take personal responsibility for where you are in life
– Run your business lean and mean
– Know your weaknesses and then work hard to strengthen them
– Reach out for help and don’t be embarrassed when you do so
– Follow a plan
– Focus on the process not the end result
So, how can my lessons from the school of hard knocks help you get into better shape???
1. Take personal responsibility for your health. No one is forcing you to eat fast food and drink soda all day and no one is preventing you from working out.
2. Get support. Find a group on Facebook, talk to friends or family who have had success with weight loss or find a coach. Just surround yourself with positive people who’ve got your back.
3. Follow a plan. Winging it rarely works. Find a plan that has already produced results for others and work the plan.
4. Focus on the process not the end result. If you take your fitness day-by-day and just do something small yet positive for yourself, then overtime your efforts will add up. It took me 6 years to pay off my debt. It may take you 1 year to lose 20lbs., so just take it one day at a time.
5. Run lean and mean and cut out the junk. This could mean junk food and people who sabotage your efforts. Hack away the unessential.
If this resonates with you, I would love to hear your story. Please don’t be afraid to share. We’ve all made mistakes. It’s what you do NOW that matters.