I spent New Year’s Eve with a friend named Matt. Matt’s a farmer.
We sat at his handmade kitchen table drinking Mad Jack, both of us stifling yawns: I’d been up since 4am. Matt had been up all night, fixing power lines in -30 weather for his “real job”. Matt works for the power company, but he’s still a farmer.
Our wives were talking about a mutual friend who’d won the lottery in 2017. Half a million isn’t enough to retire on, but it pays a lot of bills, and I asked Matt what he’d do with it.
“I’d farm until it was gone,” he said.
Most farms lose money. If you calculated the value of a farmer’s time, each hour worked would be worth pennies or less. And yet Matt wears a shirt with a tractor on it. His kids’ toys are all tractors. Look out any window in his two-story house, and you’ll see farm.
Matt doesn’t farm to make money. Matt makes money so he can be a farmer.
I know a lot of coaches like Matt: if they won the lottery today, they’d still show up to coach the 6am class tomorrow. In fact, it’s one of the questions on our Gym Checkup, and almost everyone gives the same answer.
All of us receive something greater than money from coaching. And many of us take “day jobs” to support our coaching habit. But that’s where the similarities end.
We NEED our businesses to thrive. Our clients depend on our ability to make the business work. Our coaches deserve success. Our kids deserve to see us at bedtime.
We need to balance our “right brain” (emotion and care) with our “left brain” (systems and processes) to provide the best gym. Being excellent doesn’t mean “just caring more”–it means being excellent at business, and providing an excellent service. It means wearing CrossFit t-shirts to your New Year’s party, but it also means buying the wine.
We have the unique entrepreneurial opportunity to start with almost nothing and scratch out a business that changes the lives of our clients. It’s our responsibility to be successful, and then help the next guy do the same. Do you think the world will have another shot at this? If all the microgyms go, will they ever be replaced?
If you own a box, you understand the plight of the farmer. Small gyms–like small farms–are constantly battling high-volume corporate brands. We’re outgunned and outfinanced, but quality keeps us in the game. Many of us would spend our lottery winnings to prop up a failing gym, if it came to it. Passion is not the problem. Profit is. We have to be profitable now.
Matt looks exhausted until we talk about chickens. He hates chickens. But he’s a farmer, so he’d rather talk about chickens than about his “day job”. I get it. I used to hate “the business side” of my business–but it was my business, so I got excited about it when someone asked. Now that it’s very profitable, I get excited about it all the time.
Matt might never get the chance to go all-in on farming. You and I have that chance. It’s now or never. 2018 is the year: succeed or fail. But if you’re counting on passion for coaching to make your business a success, you might as well buy lottery tickets.