Business is hard, it’s in no short order a virtual cornucopia of distraction. In any single moment, there are no less than a handful of things vying for attention. What’s worse, is the more successful you get, the list does not get smaller, it gets louder. This is the key focus of what we do as a company. It’s not about advice and information, we believe you already have what you need. Our focus is about quiet, and clarity, we quiet the distractions and clarify the vision.
This on its own, without us has proven to be quite difficult. In that, everyone seems to suffer from it. In almost 100% if not truly 100% of new client consults, when it’s time to speak of problems, they spew forth like a waterfall, followed by the politics of their significance. What’s interesting though, and has also proven to be true, almost none of these first string-surface level problems are a problem at all, they are however a huge distraction that you are likely investing immense energy into. Simply for the sake of doing.
Getting a client, or you to clarity comes as a product of questioning. Through questions, we can create resolution. If we just started telling you what to do? We would quadruple your distractions, and the opposite of traction is distraction. Not a good idea for us if we are trying to improve your traction.
So we put together 6 Foundational questions for you to ask yourself, which we ask each client. These questions provoke exploration, critical thinking, and creativity. Curiosity alone is often enough to spur a solution.
- Why are you in Business?
- What’s your cost of doing business?
- If you were hit by a bus, how long would it last?
- What’s your critical number?
- What’s your staff development system?
- What’s your exit strategy?
Some of these questions are a bit obtuse, and I’ll explain each in a bit more detail. These are simply foundational, prevocational questions that should be answered and revisited often. They naturally will give way to a litany of additional questions. However, it’s our opinion that as long as you are solving for these 6 at any time? You will find yourself greatly successful, by any measurable you seek.
The measure of success we seek for each client is freedom. While many people espouse freedom as the result of their knowledge. Few if any can define what freedom is to any prospective client. We, however, have not only defined it, we can quantify it, and there are actually four freedoms. Time, Money, Purpose, and Relationship, Your measure of success in all things life is directly proportional to your increase in these areas only. Adversely, chasing other metrics and assuming it will improve these areas, has never seemed to work. These 6 questions will lead you closer to this salvation of freedom though.
Why are you in Business? This question is pretty self-explanatory. It is exactly what it asks. Answering it, however, is not so simple. At first glance or pass, it’s likely pretty straightforward. But upon further review, and consideration most people uncover their why is much deeper than a surface-level answer like make money or similar. Which, to be fair, is the purpose of every business, to make money. That is not why you exist. Why does your business need to exist, for you, for clients, and for the world, why?
What’s your cost of doing business? Remarkable that so few can answer this, and the ones who do, often are wrong. This is not a master class in accounting or projections. So if you are like me, and do not like math and numbers, fear not we are on the same team. Hate as you might though, the numbers matter. Just as they do in fitness. The sooner you know your costs, the sooner you can expand your profits. Which is the lifeblood of business. Without knowing your cost of doing business, freedom of money will stay out of reach. The metric we like to track? Your cost per class. As this is the most common service offering you have, knowing what it costs you, what you break even at, and how to improve it is the most important.
If you were hit by a bus? This is a thought exercise. Its answer is not likely a quick consideration. The reality is often quite stark though. If you were bedridden, and nonresponsive, as morbid as that may be, your business would likely fail, and quickly. The truth is anything less than a month is not acceptable. When you decided to go into business, at that moment it became bigger than you. People rely on it, for service, for work, and for the future. You leaving it in a perilous condition is not acceptable. It’s also the reason you are enslaved to it. You haven’t figured out how to get out, and instead, you stay stuck. This question is a process in operational efficiency. Where does the business need you, and seek to eliminate that? Create a system, delegate, elevate.
Critical Number? This question is a bit proprietary to us, and your ability to answer it without being a client is almost impossible, so I’ll explain how to understand it. With our clients, we crystalize the future. We help them envision a future state, and clarify that vision. With this clarification, we can quantify and objectify the future. Quite literally, your future has a price tag. What will your dream cost? How much revenue does the business need to contribute to this dream? 30-60-80k a month? How doesn’t matter, why does. We must start here. Why, and let that create the number. We will get into how later. Once you know the number, divide it by your current average client value, what you are left with is a number of clients. The question is not about this number, but rather how long to get there. Once you have your target # you must calculate your attrition rate, aka how many people leave a month. Then, your growth rate, how many join a month. Both of these are expressed as a %. Naturally, your attrition rate subtracts from your growth rate, leaving you the difference between the two. Example: attrition is 9%, growth is 11% your net growth rate is 2%. With this number you know not only the number of clients you need, but also how long it will take to get there. Confused? Book a call we will help.
What’s your staff development process? Or, is there even a process? In most cases this is the reality, in that almost all new clients come in without one. They have no repeatable and measurable system in place, and as such any employees that do come in, come in completely randomly. Most are just grateful to have help. Help is a constant, you will always need it, and likely more of it than you have. Having a system, or a lever you can pull on when needed is a huge weak point in most businesses, not just gyms. Seeking to standardize and systematize the process from application to termination is a notable goal. One which rarely is thought of until needed. How do you entice applicants? How do you review and interview them? How do you hire them? How do you train them? How do you deploy and advance them? How do you reward them? And yes, how do you terminate them? These are no small questions, investing time in answering them is very helpful.
What’s your exit strategy? This is the biggest of the 6. What’s the end game? Naturally, you can imagine most do not consider this, yourself included, our clients as well. Few get into business thinking of how to get out. You all are just trying to get up to speed not exit. An exit strategy can be a lot of different things for a lot of different people. You can sell, transfer, keep, close, etc. The list goes on, and it’s yours to consider. What I want you to consider is what success looks like. How will you know you were a success? Business will continue to take and take, and it is a treadmill. Unless you have a clear point in which you will deem success, you will always go for more and more. Nothing wrong with more, but you need to know where you are going if you are to ever get there. Few businesses have a clear end game. It’s no surprise that most teams are in disarray, if you don’t know the goal, they can’t either, and if that’s the case no one is working together.
These are the foundational six of the AOS-Alternate operating solutions course we built. Over 6 weeks we look into these 6 and solve for them. Not by telling you what to do, but by expanding on the question and with it, clarity. It’s also what we do with each client in 1:1 coaching over the course of the relationship, in whatever business they are after. You can do this as well. You can just come to us and go to the source, or you can ask yourself these questions regularly, and extrapolate on them. The further and clearer you push each of these, the faster you will move.
These aren’t complex questions, they just have complex answers. The answers are only complex right now because you do not yet fully understand these areas of your business. Can you answer these questions to an 8-year-old is the defining metric. The clearer you become in your ability to see and understand these 6 questions, the sooner you can relay this vision to other people, your team included.