Three Questions to Answer Before Opening a Gym

TAGS: new business owner, community involvement, financial goals, business plan, opening a gym, personal goals, training facility, NBS Fitness

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If you’re like me (AKA a “meathead”) at some point you have considered opening up your own gym. Truthfully, what could be better than going and hanging out at the gym all day and getting paid for it? Or maybe you’re a trainer and you are thinking the next step in your career is to open up your own training facility. I had both of these thoughts about five years ago when I first opened NBS Fitness. We’ve seen great growth in those five years and have recently expanded into a bigger and better facility. Much of our success can be attributed to insanely hard work, lots of sacrifice, and a good bit of luck. And now with some perspective, here are three questions I think anyone considering opening a gym, or any business for that matter, should seek to answer.

What are your personal goals?

This question will help determine what it is you want out of life. Do you want to be able to have a lot of free time to spend with your kids while they are growing up? Do you want to be able to retire early and relax on a ranch? Do you want to be able to pursue your sports goals without the hindrance of a 9-5 job? Do you want to be rich? All of these are viable options and you will need to spend some time trying to determine what it is you truly want.


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Some areas to consider are financial, personal, family, and community. Do you want to make lots of money or are you someone who prefers to live comfortably without a lot of stress? Do you have personal sports goals that require a lot of your time and your family’s support or would you prefer to spend your time watching your kids at sports practice? Are you someone who likes being involved in the community? If so how do you prefer to get involved: donations, organizing, volunteering? Determining your personal goals will help you better determine your business goals.

Why a gym?

As you finish working through what your personal goals are, you will begin to get a better framework to form your business goals in. It is important that personal and business goals go hand in hand. Otherwise you may find yourself stuck in an unpleasant situation down the road in which you find yourself in a business that isn’t helping you get to where you want to go in life. Why do you want to open a gym? Do you want a place for you and a small group of friends to train, away from the commercial gym? Do you want to revolutionize the fitness industry? Is it strictly financial? Do you believe you’ll make more money training out of your own facility than out of someone else’s? There are many reasons to open a training facility but few people take the time to ensure they match their personal goals. Taking the time to think through and match them up will help give you a clearer path to follow in how to run the business and ensure that you are getting what you want out of it.

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What are you willing to sacrifice? 

The final and most important question you’ll need to answer is what are you willing to sacrifice. Opening a business takes a lot of sacrifice but it doesn’t stop when you first open it. You will have to continue to pour into it to mold it into whatever your vision for it is. Of course this will require a good bit of financial sacrifice. One thing many people do not realize is that gross profits do not equal owner's pay.

Much of that money will need to be reinvested back into the company for it to continue to develop and grow. It can take several years for a company to make it out of the survival stage and likewise several more before it reaches a point of maturity. There will also be significant sacrifices of your time. Many business owners are putting in 60+ hours of work a week trying to get their businesses where they want to go. I personally worked 86 hours a week (the total hours we were open a week originally) the first three months before I found someone to relieve me of some of that time commitment. There will also be a sacrifice of mental and emotional stress. As a new business owner, there will be a lot of fires that you come across that you don’t know how to put out. There are many lessons learned the hard way and many new skills that you will have to learn quickly. This can wear on you fast but if you have the correct passion and tenacity required, you will be able to push through these periods and on to greener grass. However, you have to have a line in the sand in which you aren’t willing to cross. You have know what you are and aren’t willing to sacrifice.

The saying goes that if you fail to plan then you plan to fail. This is very true for any business venture. These can be hard questions to answer but taking the time on the front end to really work them out in your head can be the difference in closing up your doors after a year or building something great. Put some pen on paper and start writing out your thoughts. Discuss them with close friends and family members. The success rate for new businesses isn’t great but if you take the time to answer these questions, you will set yourself up for a greater chance of success.

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