Pandemic Tempting You to Cut Owner Pay? Listen to This First!

Ashley Coffey and title text.

Mike (00:02):

Ever felt like there’s no money left for you at the end of the month? If you’ve ever missed a paycheck or given yourself a pay cut, this episode of Two-Brain Radio is for you.

Chris (00:10):

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Mike (00:46):

It’s Mike Warkentin and this is Two-Brain Radio. I’m here with Ashley Coffey of Get Fit in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. We’re going to trade horror stories about what happened when we didn’t pay ourselves as gym owners. And then Ashley will tell you what happened when she started making sure she got a check every month. Ashley, welcome to the show today. Are you ready to hear my horror story of not paying myself first?

Ashley (01:07):

I am.

Mike (01:07):

So I’m going to pull up a document here. This is actually a business model that I made, I believe, in 2009. And so this is the staffing section. So at least I had the foresight to at least set up like a business plan of sorts, but I made so many huge errors. So I’ll read you the staffing part. In its infancy, CrossFit 204 will not require staffing. The directors will cover all classes and should the need arise,

Mike (01:34):

will retain competent certified trainers will teach classes in exchange for free or reduced membership costs. Whoa. And did that cost us some struggles over the years. And so I made this mistake where I set this thing up and what I set up was a hobby because I actually had another job, but I set up a hobby. And my goal at the time was just to like have a place where people could do CrossFit and to break even. And I accomplished both of those things. People got a place to CrossFit and we broke even. And then sometimes we didn’t because I didn’t know how to run the thing and we couldn’t afford to pay people because guess what? I hadn’t paid myself first. Do you happen to have any horror stories like that? Do you have any examples of, you know, how you operated when you didn’t pay yourself first? Like what was it like for you?

Ashley (02:22):

So we are newer. We are almost three years old. And I had opened a gym previous to this, but it was more of a small personal training studio where I just rented a small amount of space. It was just me. So it was low risk. So, I had gone up to New Hampshire to finish my masters and then came back to Massachusetts sort of without a plan, except that I wanted to open this gym. And so I had a friend who was a silent partner and investor. And so he invested all of his time and energy and money into helping me start this gym that sounded so great. And it is my baby. And it is so amazing today to compare it to what it was when it started. But day one that we opened was sort of him wiping his hands clean and it was all on me.

Ashley (03:13):

And I had just moved back from New Hampshire, like not having a good foothold on what my next step was, other than running this business. It was really hard to, you know, to have staff. I had two other coaches that were teaching yoga and boot camp. And we had this like business model at the beginning that was great in theory, you know, we’ll pay you based on how many people are in class. Like that’s all well and good when you have an established clientele, but we had like 15 members. And so it just, it wasn’t working. Like my mindset was like several years out and like several steps ahead and just nothing was together. So paying my coaches alone and we only had two other coaches, paying them was like the biggest struggle for me, much less paying myself, like paying myself was, you know, businesses aren’t profitable for the first couple of years.

Ashley (04:07):

And that’s just sort of how I ran my mentality. And then six, eight months into owning this business and running it full time. You know, the hours that you put into opening a new business. I mean, they were all 14-hour days, every one of them. And so to not be paying myself for this endless amount of time that I’m putting in, it’s just hard, you know, the drive to run this business, doesn’t go away, the love for what I do doesn’t go away, but it just makes it really, really hard to find the sustainability in it. And so, I mean, like my bank account and the gym bank account were like one in the same and, you know, just the terrible habits of just opening a business and not separating those, you know, financial reasons for using a bank account in the first place. Like there were just, it was terrible. It was tragic. I’m pretty sure the IRS cringed when they looked at my taxes that year, like it was horrible. So yeah, we’re totally in a different place than we were when we opened. And I’m so thankful for that, but to constantly think back of like, where was I even just a year and a half ago, it makes a big difference.

Mike (05:18):

It’s such a trap that you get into when you open a business without thinking enough about it or knowing enough, like for me, I really wanted the business to, you know, to break even, or to show a small profit or whatever. But I made it happen by absorbing so many costs. And when I think about just like you, the hours that I put in back in the day when I had a full-time job working more than 40 hours a week, and then I did the gym stuff on top of that. And I think of the hours that I put in, you know, doing social media, website, blogging, you know, processing all the payments, the database, coaching tons of classes. I remember those nights where you’d coach the final class, end at nine o’clock you do the cleaning, go to sleep, come in at 5:00 AM the next morning, open and teach the class.

Mike (05:59):

And all this was unpaid. And what that started to do was like, you obviously love your business, but it wears you down and you just can’t do it forever. And then you start to get bitter, right? Because you start thinking, I’m not seeing any reward from this. And I actually started doing some math and, you know, at Chris Cooper’s suggestion and figuring out that if I had paid myself and got a job at McDonald’s working those hours over the last, you know, whatever it was seven or eight years before I talked to Chris, I would have made, you know, X dollars. And it would’ve been a lot as opposed to zero. Did you ever do that math for yourself where you’re like, I worked 14 hours for $50.

Ashley (06:33):

So no, thankfully, because I probably would’ve cringed, but my mentor Peter is a total numbers guy and he has a lovely way of pointing those things out at me constantly like, well, have you done the math on this? And so the more he and I chat, the more I start doing those numbers of, you know, of like the, what ifs and what would have beens. And it’s crazy to look at. And those numbers both motivate me going forward and make me cringe to think backward.

Mike (07:03):

So, let me ask you this. Now, when did you discover the concept of paying yourself first and why did you decide to implement it?

Ashley (07:10):

So I started working with Two-Brain in June of last year in the smack dab middle of the pandemic, which was just by far the most amazing decision that I had made for our business.

Mike (07:22):

Can I interrupt and ask you a question about that? This is important. Why did you, in the midst of like what might’ve been like Death Valley for a lot of businesses, why did you spend the money on mentorship at that time?

Ashley (07:32):

Sink or swim. I was not willing to lose every thing that I had put together. And to me that wasn’t an option, like losing my business wasn’t an option. So I needed to figure out a way to keep it going. So one of—I love reading Chris’s emails every morning and sort of, you know, starting my business mindset off on the right foot every morning. And one of the emails that he had sent was it is your responsibility as a gym owner to be able to provide health and wellness to the community around you. I mean, what happens when you close? Whose responsibility is that, looking out for those people? And that stuck with me really big. And so, that’s definitely one of the reasons looking back why I had committed to working with Two-Brain, but it was definitely about, you know, there are so many other people that are doing so much better than I am that have been in positions

Ashley (08:28):

I am, you know, before me, and like, let’s not float through this pandemic hoping, you know. We transitioned, before I started working with Two-Brain, we actually transitioned to all online and our members were staying strong, but I’m like, this is going to get old, quick. I hate working out at home and I sure don’t want to be staring at a computer screen while I’m doing it. So finding Two-Brain and working with Two-Brain and working with Peter through the midst of a major part of the pandemic was just like a godsend. It was the most comforting thing for me to have this giant network of people that are like, Hey, we’re all in the same boat and this is how we’re going to get through it.

Mike (09:06):

Good. I wanted to know, because I know some people out there are going through similar stuff and they’re scared to ask for help. So I kind of wanted to interrupt and ask for your story there, but also circle back, paying yourself first. When and why, how did you figure that one out?

Ashley (09:19):

So again, when we first opened, I was like, my mindset was like, we’re not going to be profitable for a couple years and until I can pay my staff what they deserve and until I can pay bills and, you know, check all the other boxes, like, then I’ll come last. Like I do what I do because I love it. I’m not a money driven person. And for a long time that worried me, like I’m not going to be able to start a business, not being money-driven like, how does that work out? And so, Peter had introduced me to the profit first book by Mike Michalowicz, and the resources that came with it. And it was like, it was just so simple. It breaks it down into manageable chunks, you know, making sure that you’re allocating just a little bit of every profit to running the business and to yourself and to paying taxes and other expenses that come up. So that way, you know, those little pots grow big over time. That was really the first time that I had blatantly stared that approach in the eye and said like, I need to do this and I need to start now.

Mike (10:20):

The simple idea is that like you, I did the same thing. Business owners tend to put their business and their staff and everything else ahead of them. So often what happens is you spend all the money in the business on like, you know, paying your trainers more, giving them a raise or buying some new equipment or renovating or putting in showers. And then at the end of the month, when it comes time to pay yourself, there’s nothing left. And I was so guilty of that. You are guilty of that. So many of us have done that. The profit first concept of paying yourself first is the opposite where you allocate yourself some money and you make sure that you get paid and then you figure the rest out. And now for me, that was a bit of a mind game, like where I couldn’t get my head around it for the longest time, because I kept thinking like, where does the money come from?

Mike (11:03):

Like, have you ever seen Arrested Development where Joe Bluth is like, where did the lighter fluid come from? Right. Like, that’s how I felt like, where does the money come from after I pay myself? But the idea is that you’re a driven entrepreneur, you’re going to figure it out. And you are going to pursue smart business practices that will generate it. And the reality is that if you don’t pay yourself first, you’re not going to be around to figure it out. You’re going to fail and die. So how did you, like, what were the steps that you took to implement that plan and, you know, did it work, or did you start smaller? Did you start with like, I’m paying myself a big salary for a month, or how did you start with this?

Ashley (11:34):

So I started small and I started incremental because still the thought of this to me was super scary. Like, this is just, Oh, pay myself first. Like, no problem, much like you, I was like, cool. Where does the rest come from? But I am so—I’m driven, like, owning a business. I am not money driven. Like I could never be a sleazy salesman. It’s not in my blood, but I was like every month when rent came up at the beginning, it was like, well, I have to at least make this much because I have to pay my rent on time or this doesn’t exist. And so I always had like that baseline and like, I’d work so hard to get to, you know, whatever that number was in my head. And then, you know, as months went on, there were more expenses. There were more things we wanted to accomplish, you know, that number in your head, like I have to reach this number, increases.

Ashley (12:22):

And so, you know, it was like in my head, well, anything past this is profit and it’s good. And so when I first started the profit first, like Mike Michalowicz talks about starting small and then, you know, maybe quarterly changing those percentages that you allocate those different bank accounts to, to fit the model and what fits your business model. And so I started small, you know, making sure we allocated money to our tax account and to a profit account, and to a savings. And at first I was like, Oh wow, this is nice. And then I was like, teetering on that, like making it work, making it not, that old mindset and that new mindset. And so I was doing it like every other week, every third week. And I’m like, this just defeats the purpose. Like, after about a month of kind of, you know, cheating myself, I really committed to it and made sure like, no matter what, I’m not being greedy, I’m not being selfish, like I am securing my future as a business owner to support the people that I care about to run this businesses successfully.

Ashley (13:24):

And I can’t do it otherwise. And I think that the more I realized that the easier it became to put myself first to make sure that I was building a sustainable foundation for a business.

Mike (13:35):

So essentially, and if you remember, were you at the Two-Brain summit in 2019, the last one that was live by any chance?

Ashley (13:40):

I was not, I saw quite a few videos, but I was not there.

Mike (13:44):

You’ve probably heard the eat the sandwich concept. Did you hear that one that Chris has talked about? And that’s the idea of, you know, a plane, there’s no food and it’s flying and there’s one sandwich and everyone’s hungry, who gets the sandwich? And Chris had a really great way of explaining that the captain, the pilot, gets the sandwich because he or she needs to take care of everyone else. And if that person falls asleep or, you know, goes down with hunger pains, the plane crashes, and that’s the concept. So you put yourself first to enable yourself to care for everyone. And that’s a difficult thing for some gym owners to do, because we are so invested in our clients and our staff members, we often can’t put ourselves first, but if we don’t, happens like what happened to me, you burn out, right. And I really love that you started with that and started small and then put the pressure on yourself to figure it out. So let me ask you this. As you did this and you allocated more profit to yourself, did you have to then start taking some significant steps to generate revenue and to make a better plan to grow the business?

Ashley (14:38):

I did. And I think that finding the profit first mentality was one of the best things for it. Because like I said, I am happy when I am helping other people. That is what drives me, not money. So when I found that base minimum number that I needed to pay the trainers and pay the rent, pay the bills, like then I was fine with making that. And I didn’t care if I was making this huge amount of money. Like everyone else was happy and taken care of. Like, that’s what mattered to me. So when I started really giving more thought to this and paying myself more, it became this, this race of like, well, now you need to make up for it. You need to provide more, you need to work harder. And it forced me to align everything else that I had been telling myself.

Ashley (15:20):

So writing SOPs so that way I can train my staff to better deliver no sweat intros, to better deliver programming, to, you know, all of these things that help run a business, all of these things that help generate more revenue, all of these things that would grow our affinity marketing, forced me to really be good about building that foundation. And so for every dollar that I paid myself, it was like, great. Now you need to earn it. You need to build a stronger foundation and you need to just keep regenerating that energy and effort. And it’s like a snowball. Once you start seeing the effects like, wow, this really is working, paying myself more like everything works in sync with one another. It was really neat to start seeing that all come together.

Mike (16:06):

So let me ask you this. Did you use the Two-Brain concept of climbing the value ladder?

Ashley (16:10):

I did. I still do.

Mike (16:10):

So this is good. And I’ll give the listeners a very quick rundown. Then I want you to tell people what you did. The idea is that every job in your business from cleaner up until CEO has a value attached to it. And in the beginning you probably do everything. So we have this fantastic system and Chris walks you through it in our training where you just, you keep track of what you do and you assign a dollar value to it. And you multiply the time spent by the dollar value. So I spent 10 hours cleaning at, you know, $15, $150. Then eventually you do a time audit. You replace yourself in the lowest value roles. And these are not unimportant roles. They’re critical to the business, but we can all agree that a cleaner does less growth work than a CEO.

Mike (16:53):

So you replace yourself in a lower value role and you move up. And the thing that you have to do is when you move up the ladder, you have to make the money back plus more that you are spending in the replacement. So if we replace that cleaner for $150, you have to get into a role that makes 300 or something like that. And you got to track this, and then you keep doing this, moving up, moving up, moving up and grow the business. So tell me, Ashley, what did you do in the value ladder? Where did you replace yourself first and what happened?

Ashley (17:19):

Well first, I added it all up and added up all the hours that I spent and I was like, Oh man, we gotta do something about this because I am wearing every hat in this business.

Mike (17:32):

Do you remember the total number?

Ashley (17:32):

I think my brain shut that out on purpose, but it was a lot, it was a lot. It really was. And again, it’s all been such an amazing building process for me as a leader and as a business owner. And, it’s so great because I do what I do because I love coaching. I love helping other people. To run a team of seven or eight people successfully and to feel like I’m leading them in a direction they want to go, like, that was the struggle for me at the beginning for a while. And so to delegate out tasks was hard for me because I was like, man, I’ll just do it better and quicker myself.

Mike (18:10):

It’s such a trap, and I fell into it, too.

Ashley (18:13):

It’s so hard. So I started with the little tasks, like social media and cleaning the gym. And I passed those off to two of our coaches who were so super enthusiastic to just take more hours and do more things around the gym. And it’s branched out from there and I’m getting better and better every day at building those foundations and, you know, writing those SOPs and mapping the way so when I do pass off those tasks, there is no miscommunication and there is no question. Everything is built out perfectly. So handing off task by task gets easier and easier. And I think that’ll always be something that I’m working out because as I expand my business, as I build myself as an entrepreneur, there’s always going to be more tasks that I could be doing that is growing the greater good of our business. And I’m going to need more help doing those other tasks that I may enjoy doing, but I don’t need to be doing every week.

Mike (19:09):

For those of you who are listening, just to map out the path, Ashley looked at social media and cleaning. They’re not unimportant jobs, they’re critical jobs, but if she offloaded those jobs to someone who is good at them and interested, she could then do other stuff like create SOPs, which would allow her to offload more tasks or pursue affinity marketing, which you mentioned earlier as outreach to friends and family and coworkers of current clients. And those things will grow the business. So each task that you can then offload, including coaching classes, which is such a hard one when you’ve grown so attached to your members. But if you can offload coaching a class, that’s a free hour that you might be able to spend on retention, which is critical to long-term growth for the gym or marketing, which is also critical to growing a gym. So, you know, what is the highest value role that you do right now? Is i a marking and retention thing, or what is your top level role for growth in the gym?

Chris (20:00):

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Ashley (20:24):

I think I would have to say somewhere in between marketing and sales. So our staff is mainly coaches and personal trainers, and they are amazing and they have all evolved into their roles so incredibly over the last couple of years, and I’m so proud to have them as a part of our team. They took on roles that I never thought they’d be interested in. And it’s given them all such a great chance to expand outside of just teaching a few classes, which I think maybe was a lot of their original reason for coming to the gym. Like I like to teach, I like to coach, like, let me just throw a couple of these in as a part-time job, but they all have fallen in love with the culture of the gym and really taken on the responsibility to have a well-rounded role in the gym.

Ashley (21:06):

And so, I think that marketing and sales will probably be the last thing that I am willing to pass off to others. My background, so I went back to school to get my degree in marketing and professional sales. For the reason of the fact that I hate it. I actually hate them. I hate salesmen, I hate that feeling of like I’m being sold to, and I wanted to own a business and I wanted to run a successful business. And I wanted to feel like I was comfortable enough to satisfy those areas that I didn’t feel comfortable or familiar in. So that is the area that I think I is where my time is most well-spent. Gym Lead Machine has made such a huge help in that, you know, so Gym Lead Machine is sort of like my ninth trainer, I call him, because of the backend automation. Like those things are so awesome and they’re so helpful to me. But I think that is right now where my time is most well spent.

Mike (22:05):

  1. So that’s really interesting. And the fun part about that is like, when you get ready, if you ever are, you could certainly retain those roles. If they’re the top growth roles in the gym, you could certainly retain them forever. But if you did decide at some point that you wanted to replace yourself in those roles, again, Two-Brain has a whole formula for it. And it includes your sales replacements must close at the same rate as you or better. So you would figure that out, there is a way to do that. If you wanted to ascend into a, like, we’ll call it an absent CEO role or an owner role where you actually hire a CEO and a sales team or something like that, that can also be done, or you can choose to hold onto the roles yourself, but you have the freedom of choice, which is really the coolest part of the whole thing. So the best part about it here is that this whole thing was kind of triggered by the concept of you paying yourself first. Am I right?

Ashley (22:49):

Yes, absolutely. Yeah.

Mike (22:51):

So what you’ve mentioned a few things, but are there any major challenges to the paying yourself first concept that you ran into along the way? Like, was there any moments where like, Whoa, I’ve made a mistake and had to figure something out or was it pretty much smooth sailing?

Ashley (23:03):

It was definitely not smooth sailing. So, you know, committing to it is the hardest part, especially at the beginning. And there are months where like we have a slower month or we had more expenses than anticipated, whatever it may be and my first go-to mentally is always like, do I need to pay myself? Like, can I get away with not paying myself this week? Do I need to pay myself this much this week? That is the biggest struggle for me is every time we hit an unexpected bump, which is always to happen in a business and you just make sure, yeah. Like you just have to make sure that you’re ready for anything, but you’re not willing to sacrifice your foundation. And I think that seeing the success and progression of how simply paying myself first helped grow the gym and helped my ability to help other people.

Ashley (23:53):

Like, I always have to keep that in the front of my mind when something like that comes up. So, you know, COVID was the biggest thing. So in September of last year, our lease was up in our old space. And so in January before COVID hit my area in Massachusetts, we had just been like leisurely looking for places to rent or to build out. And we were keeping our options open and then COVID hit. And every landlord in like a 30 mile radius was like, Nope, don’t knock on my door. I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know what tenant is staying. I don’t know what tenant is going. I can’t help you. And so it became really hard to find a space. And so we finally found a space and it is so fantastic. We gutted it, we built it out.

Ashley (24:35):

I mean, our members love it. It’s so, so much better than the space we were in and allows us to do so much more. But those transition months were challenging. And for me to say like, look, this is a big expense month, this is a big transition area. Like, are we going to keep all of our members, are we going to grow? You know, now that COVID is allowing us to open, like, is everybody else willing to come out of their comfort zone and be back out in public? And so those kind of times were really hard for me to say, like, you still need to put yourself first.

Mike (25:04):

Did you do it? Did you put yourself first?

Ashley (25:11):

I’ve been sticking to it because you know, our clientele is, I would say probably 75% moms, like moms who are just trying to get by and be good parents, get their kids through COVID like mentally and physically. And I swear to God, I say this more often than not. I always tell these women, like, you need to put yourself first. You cannot take care of your children if you’re not OK. If you’re not feeding yourself, if you’re skipping meals all day long, if you’re not working out, if you’re not mentally healthy, like how do you expect to take care of your kids? And I can hear myself in my own ear. Like, why don’t you just take your own advice?

Mike (25:54):

You did thought, an that’s great. Those are the challenges that come up and it’s, I bet it was very tempting for you to go back to your old habits and say, maybe I’ll just take a thousand dollars less this month. Did that thought cross your mind?

Ashley (26:02):

Always. It still does from time to time, but I always think back and I look at the progress that I’ve made from not taking those shortcuts and the, you know, the answer to that question is just so much more rewarding and allowing us as a business to help more people and to grow what we’re doing,

Mike (26:21):

The idea is you stick to the plan, even when the storms show up and you just weather the storms and, you know, you feel that pressure and you believe in yourself to just figure out that you can find the revenue. Like, is that the idea, like when you get to these things, you say, OK, I had a bit of a down month. I still paid myself first. Do you just recalibrate and say, OK, I need to grow to this amount and drive revenue up here and you take the steps to do it. How does that work?

Ashley (26:44):

My mentor Peter is fantastic at setting goals with me every month because he knows that that is how I operate. Like I am driven under goal setting. And, you know, if I don’t have specific hard-set goals, like, you know, there’s nothing that I’m working hard towards or chasing unless I set those numbers for myself and set those expectations of myself. So, you just, you make it work the same way that you make it work, you know, even people, gym owners who aren’t paying themselves, like you make it work by paying the rent and paying the other bills and you’re not paying yourself. Like you make it happen because that’s what you need to do to function.

Mike (27:24):

So that’s what it is. Right there. It’s the goalposts. Right?

Ashley (27:27):

Exactly. And so if you count that profit first and that paying yourself as that extra expense, that it’s tied into everything else that like there is non-negotiable you got to make it happen or your business isn’t gonna function well and healthy, like, you’ll get there. You totally will get there, but it is absolutely a change of mindset and it takes practice for sure.

Mike (27:49):

So that’s what it is. We just kind of came across it, I think we should, I’m going to spell it out here and you tell me if I’ve got it right. It is figuring out that you, as the owner are a legitimate business expense and you deserve to profit from your efforts, right? That’s the first thing. The second thing then is once you have established that you deserve money from your business, that becomes a business cost that sets up a target, and there’s not an entrepreneur out there that isn’t driven, right? Every single one is driven to succeed and will push. Otherwise you would just have a job at a desk punching a clock. So you have, at that point, you’ve got a goal set up and you’re going to hit that goal. And for most of us, of course, there is failures that happen in business. That’s, you know, can’t be avoided, but for most of us who decide to drive and then get help and do the things that need to be done, I’ve talked to other people about this. They will hit those goals. You think I’ve got that right?

Ashley (28:39):

You hit the nail on the head.

Mike (28:40):

I didn’t actually have this totally understood until you spelled it out for me, because again, I had the whole Arrested Development thing. Where does the money come from? Right. Because it seems when you first hear this concept, unless you dig into it, you really start to wonder like, Oh, so I just pay myself and the money appears. It sounds kind of funny. Tell me, what has this policy done to your business and your life, like from last year to now, where are you at mentally in terms of happiness? Like when you eat the sandwich, do you now feel like you’re ready to pilot that ship all the way to where it needs to be?

Ashley (29:10):

Yeah. I think that it’s been fantastic to have that stability to say I’m a healthy enough business that I can pay myself and all my other expenses and I’m making a profit and I’m running a successful business that there is that feeling of is this business gonna succeed or not, like that teetering point, you know, in a new business, is gone. I feel like we’ve built a fantastic foundation. And it’s not the only healthy part of the business. There’s every aspect, you know, down to your communication skills with your team, like every little aspect is so important in the health of your business. And so we were able to take a week long trip to North Carolina last month, which was fantastic. And that wouldn’t have happened had I not built the right foundation and set myself up and done the profit first model, because it allowed me to basically take a 50 hour break from the gym and have our coaches cover it.

Ashley (30:19):

And all aspects run smoothly while we were gone. We bought some new equipment over the last couple of months for the gym, which has been great because we’ve been growing really quickly, which I’m very thankful for, especially in the middle of a pandemic. And I don’t feel limited in our growth. I feel like for a while we definitely felt limited. It was like a chicken or the egg, like, well, I need more members to make more money so I can buy new equipment. But when I have more members, like, what do I do with those members in the interim if I don’t have enough equipment or I don’t have enough space and we need a bigger space like that chicken or the egg concept was always in the back of my head. And I don’t feel like we’re at that point anymore. I feel like we can grow when we are ready, when we have that solid foundation that just keeps building itself up and up and up as we build a really strong team. And so I don’t feel limited in any capacity in our business anymore, which is a really freeing feeling as a business owner.

Mike (31:12):

So it’s almost like success breeds success, right? When you’re paying yourself, you’re like, I’m a successful business owner. I am generating a profit and I’m paying myself. I can do this. I can do more. I can find more. I can make more and create more. That becomes a whole, like almost a self-fulfilling prophecy, because I went the other way for a long time where I sat there and said, I’m not paying myself anything. I’m not a successful business owner. I don’t know how to grow. I don’t know how to do it. And that was really like a self fulfilling prophecy of a negative sort where we didn’t grow because I was, I felt bad about the whole thing. So paying yourself really is kind of a confidence injection.

Ashley (31:42):

Absolutely. Yeah. Like I said, it’s a snowball effect for sure. And having a strong foundation in all other aspects of your business is just as crucial. But, you know, paying yourself first, like I said, solidifies that backbone to say you are an integral part of this business. You are the reason it is here and in existence, like build your legacy and make sure that you are around to help those people in your community that you know is the reason you started that business in the first place.

Mike (32:12):

I’m gonna ask you to close the show what you would say to gym owners who aren’t paying themselves first? I think you just said it.

Ashley (32:18):

It is true. I mean, everybody starts a business for a different reason and everybody opens a gym for a different reason. For me, it was, I could never picture myself having a career that didn’t involve helping other people. I do what I love because I love helping other people. And if I want to continue doing that, I need to, you know, build confidence in myself and build that foundation and that legacy for myself. So, you know, for any other gym owner, that’s not paying themselves yet, it doesn’t need to be this giant leap, you know, start small, be consistent, be rigid with yourself and trust the process.

Mike (32:56):

If you’re passionate about helping people, I think you’ve just helped a whole bunch of people out there that maybe aren’t paying themselves. So if there’s one gym owner out there who listens to your advice and takes, you know, puts a salary in for himself or herself after the show, I think that’s a big win for you. Thank you, Ashley so much for sharing your story and being here today.

Ashley (33:13):

Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

Mike (33:15):

That was Ashley Coffey on Two-Brain Radio. I am your host, Mike Warkentin. If you have not done so, join the Gym Owners United group on Facebook. Chris regularly posts articles, instructional videos, and advice in there. It’s the only public group he’s in. That’s Gym Owners United on Facebook. Join today.


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