In the last two weeks, you’ve completely changed your business.
You’ve successfully led your clients through a potential tragedy—the closing of your bricks-and-mortar location. You pivoted to a brand new delivery system. You kept most clients engaged, and almost all of them are still paying you in April. You’ve even gained two new clients, and you can see the potential to scale up your online coaching service.
You went back into Founder Phase again. You ran your business all by yourself. Slowly, you became more efficient at delivering this new service, and now you find that you’re working less and making more.
The lightbulb has switched on: “What if this is actually better?”
“What if I can make the same amount of money without that giant rented millstone around my neck? What if I can help my clients even more than before? What if I can do it without having to manage people? And what if I can do it all before 9 a.m.?”
The New Landscape
During a recent private webinar with online coach Brad Overstreet, I was asked a question: “If you had to start over knowing what you know now, would you include online training right from the start?”
After thinking about it, I said: “I’d start with online training before anything else.”
In other words, I’d start a new fitness business by getting five online clients and keeping them for a month. Then I’d add nutrition or mindset coaching and try that for a month. I’d learn how to keep people by practicing retention without face-to-face coaching (it’s harder).
After three months, I’d assess whether I still wanted to open a bricks-and-mortar location.
In my case, I’m sure I would. But I wouldn’t base my business on my location and equipment—not anymore.
If you’re absolutely loving this new world of online training, you might be asking yourself, “Do I really need to go back to paying rent, managing staff and selling 150 memberships just to make the same money I’m making now?”
Here’s my advice:
First, give it a month. You’ve just gone through a traumatic period in which it looked like your livelihood would be taken away. Then you learned how to coach people online and it felt like salvation. Subconsciously, you might be looking at online training through the wrong lens. This is why people who meet on reality TV shows get married: They’ve been through a one-time traumatic event and “saved” each other. But most of those marriages don’t last.
Second, know that it will get boring. The novelty of figuring out new systems and new routines will wear off. And online training won’t mean complete freedom: You won’t be tied to a 5-a.m. class anymore, but you’ll still be tied to your phone. You’ll get texts and messages at all hours and feel compelled to respond (we teach you how to set expectations in our Online Coaching Course).
Third, go back to your “why.” If your clients don’t do well online, does that affect your decision?
Fourth, your clients might not want to be coached online forever. Your business has to revolve around what your clients want. If you move entirely online, will you keep enough clients to make the change viable? Or can you pivot to the “flex” model of in-person plus online coaching (we teach this in our Online Coaching Course).
Wild for the Web?
Now, if you do still love coaching people online, that’s OK. You have three options:
One, you can focus on the online side of your business. Build out the flex model and work with those clients yourself. Let your coaches focus on the delivery of your in-person program.
Two, you can build a niche audience online. Deliver your program to water-polo players around the world while you serve your local community in person.
Three, you can get out now. Keep as many clients as you can online. Sell off your assets and negotiate an early exit from your lease. The math might still be in your favor.
You don’t have to go back if you don’t want to. You don’t have to sell in-person training only. Online coaching can be the “fourth leg” on your coaching chair (along with group coaching, personal training and nutrition coaching). You’ll always have these tools when you need to pivot everyone back online.
The “shelter in place” mandate will probably become the go-to response of every government on Earth during future crises. That doesn’t mean it has to replace your business. But online coaching can be part of your strategy to be “anti-fragile.”
Soon, you will be back to your in-person coaching. My gym will, too. We’ll all be happy about it. But knowing what you know now, will online training become a permanent part of your business or just something you survived?