The start of 2018 has marked my sixth year of running my online fitness business.
Some days, five years feels quite a landmark, while other days it doesn’t feel long at all.
But if you’re familiar with the 10,000-hour rule, Gladwell explains that by reaching the 10,000-Hour Rule, which he considers the key to success in any field, is merely a matter of practicing a specific task that can be accomplished with 40 hours of work a week for five years.
I’ve certainly clocked my 10,000 hours!
Plus, my business has been profitable every year, it continues to grow month by month, and I love the work I do daily, all while doing less than ever before.
With this in mind, I wanted to share with you in this article a rundown of my five most significant lessons learned from running an online fitness business over the last five years.
1. You’ve got to test
Pretty much everything online is a test.
Testing is especially true for the very first time you create a product or service, or you put together a lead magnet, or you create a Facebook advert.
You can follow people’s advice, heck you can even copy something in its entirety, but for you, it’s still a test.
This is the mindset that I like to have about online business – it will prepare you for the failures along the way. If you go into every project and see it as an experiment, a test, then this means you are open to learning from it.
It’s all a test.
This mindset means you will complete tasks without delay, as the sooner you start testing, the quicker you can start tweaking to get better results. With this in mind, I also encourage my students not to spend months creating a product or service if no one has actually said yes to buying it.
Ultimately, it means you won’t give up at the first hurdle or failure, which is something you will have to get used to as an online trainer.
2. Create a subscription product
I was super lucky at the start of my online career to start a long-term subscription payment plan for my online coaching clients. My minimum term was 12 months of coaching, but for a low monthly fee.
What I didn’t know at the time, is that I was building my recurring income.
You likely hear a lot about making ‘6-figures this’ and ‘7-figures that’, but I don’t believe that should be your monetary focus.
Instead, you should be focusing on creating subscription-based products or services, and keeping your clients for as long as possible online.
Therefore I always encourage my students of the Masterclass to think beyond selling one-time products or creating the typical 6 or 8-week body transformation program.
What could you create for your ideal customer so that they will want to pay you forever?
It means that every month, you don’t start over from zero. You have some monthly subscriptions that providing you are providing value to your customers; they will be happy to pay you for.
This means less hustle, less stress, stable income, improved investment opportunities and much more.
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3. Always innovate
With the previous point in mind, the subscription model is not easy unless you are continually innovating your products and services. This means you are regularly providing value to your customers by making improvements or additions.
However, even if you are selling one-time products, innovation is still hugely important.
For me, innovating is the process of making a decision in the business, taking action and reviewing. It’s a constant cycle and is closely linked to my first point about testing.
There are of course lots of things to focus on in your business, but I believe the vast majority of the innovation should be happening in your product or service.
For example, my Coaching Program Collection – these are my own tried and tested nutrition & lifestyle coaching programs – after we first released these for trainers and coaches to use in their businesses, we focused the next 12 months on gathering reviews and feedback.
We then spent months updating them based on this feedback and later published version 2.0 the following year.
The Exceed Masterclass is now in version 3.0 and is very different to the original version.
This is all based on constantly innovating the products and services that we provide – by placing our customers first – and listening to the feedback - I believe we have products that are superior to anything else that is out there.
As a result, we still have members who have been there from the start.
4. Prioritise your health
This one should be easy for us as health and fitness coaches. In fact, for some people, I actually see their obsession with training and exercising holding them back from improving their businesses and lives. It is taking up too much of their energy.
However, for the majority of trainers, focusing on our health can sometimes feel like less of a priority. We don’t exercise as frequently as we would like, our nutrition is not optimal, and we sleep less and less.
Over the last five years, I’ve seen significant peaks and troughs in my healthy living routines. Look, it happens, that’s life.
But when you also add in the additional stress of growing an online business, then it’s going to get even tougher. You’ll find that vast amounts of your daily energy will be spent learning new things, implementing those things and of course dealing with all the other multiple things you need to do to run a business smoothly.
You may even find that you have to juggle all of this with a day job, family and other commitments.
If there is one thing that I never compromise on, that’s my sleep. One bad night of sleep and my productive rhythm is off – I just cannot do the things I need to do at the level I want.
For me, 8-9 hours is a must, every single night without fail.
As a business owner, your energy is your most valuable asset. Don’t forget that.
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5. Don’t believe the hype
While I don’t want to end this article on a negative tone, it wouldn’t be right of me not to highlight the amount of bullshit and nonsense that you will encounter online as you dive into the internet marketing world.
And you thought the fitness industry was terrible!
Everyone claims to have a 6-figure or 7-figure online business and that they will help you do the same. They post adverts of themselves sitting on a beach with a laptop, pretending that they actually work from there. Or they have profile pictures of themselves in flash cars.
I’ve been online long enough to learn that if someone’s marketing is ALL about making money, then it’s actually them who is obsessed with money – so they’re going to take a lot off you as a result.
So I encourage you not to believe the hype.
Look, I know what it feels like to be struggling, I’ve been there – I’ve even been at the end of those sales calls when the guru asks you to PayPal them over thousands of your last remaining cash for them to help you.
Instead, I encourage you to seek out more affordable methods of coaching and education. It’s a big reason why I offer so much inside my Masterclass for a fraction of what others are charging for less.
I’ve created a product that delivers on what it promises, without the overhyped claims and stupid price tag. It’s what I wished I had 3,4, or 5 years ago when growing my online fitness business.
Keep your head down, work hard and continuously seek ways to bring value to your clients. With time you’ll be rewarded in ways that you didn’t think were possible.
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If you're a health and fitness pro who would like to learn more about creating a successful, meaningful online fitness business, check out The Exceed Masterclass.
The Exceed Masterclass is your essential resource for the training, advice and support you need on how to become an online personal trainer.
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