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The Tipping Point: From Solo Entrepreneur To Full Fledged Enterprise

There’s a tipping point in our businesses.

On one side is the life of the solo entrepreneur, who’s a jack of all trades…capable of designing marketing materials, while answering sales calls, training clients and running a household {I’m told this person exists, but I still question whether or not she does this with sanity}.

And, on the other side is the golden possibility—a business complete with a strong team, the ability to make money through your team’s work as a whole {so you’re not seeing clients from 5 AM to midnight} and the chance for you really live the life of a business owner {as in days off, vacation and the ability to trust your team will care for your business if you need time}.

The struggle comes in where we land when we start to wobble on this tipping point. And, rest assured, you will land somewhere and it will be based entirely on what you prioritize and what you let go of.

In the early stages of your business it’s completely acceptable to be the end all and be all. Let’s face it…this is the fine art of bootstrapping our way to success and it has been practiced by more than a few billionaires in their dorm rooms and parent’s garages.

But to get the golden land, your mentality {and your workload needs to take a serious shift}.

And, you can do this if you start with the money.

Your job as a business owner is simple. You need to bring in revenue…serious real revenue that grows and sustains your business. Here’s my top two priorities to make this happen.

1. The Sales {and Retention} Quotient:

After teaching thousands of clients, I can honestly say the mind body and coaching world has a serious sales problem. We’re lost between the world of online sign ups and old school hard lined sales and we’re missing the middle ground where we can actually reach our client’s and teach them how to hit their goals.

Your priority here is simple. You need to be in front of your clients {and not just when you’re in front of a classroom}. This can be meeting with new clients and taking the time to set them up on a program that will generate success or keeping in contact with existing clients, ensuring your team is holding the high standards you have. The key is ensuring your client’s are on the right path and they have the motivation to stay there.

2. The Training Investment:

“My clients want me…they’re not satisfied with anyone else…they know I have something special.” I hear this a lot. And, while I’ll be the first person to invest in technology that could clone me, I’m not thinking that’s coming anytime soon.

So we’ve got to make sure our team is teaching a harmonious style and class type. This all comes down to training. If I teach five hours, I want to spend five making sure my staff is giving the most awesome experience our clients have ever had.

So what does this look like:

The willingness to pour continuing education into your instructors on a daily basis {one of the most powerful examples of this is my favorite studio here in Charlottesville…when they introduce a new tool you’ll see it across all of their classes regardless of the instructor or type of class}

Real Customer Communication and Customer Service Systems and the follow-up to make sure they’re being used {this can be as simple as your instructor calling to introduce themselves before their first session or as complex as customer touch points your instructor must fulfill}

Followup with each and every inactive client to see what your sessions really look like from the inside. These are client who will poor information into you, because they want to be transparent.

Three Steps You Must Take When It All Goes Wrong

Tuesday was not my day.

That’s an understatement.

I can blame a chunk of the misfortune on recovery from Thanksgiving and a two day in a row failure to set an alarm clock {miracles happen and Remy made it to school on time each day}.

I can blame a bigger chunk on being completely off of my daily rituals. Whenever I have a day that doesn’t start with them, nothing every goes smoothly.

But, I can blame the majority on technical failure.   It was like the technology fairy had gotten a devilish streak and my website was her favorite playground.

The emails had come in before I had woken up, but the Facebook messages and posts were what I saw first.   Items were missing, video wasn’t working, and it was clear the site we’d worked so hard on wasn’t functioning right. On a normal day this could have been okay. But, on a day when our developer had just arrived back in town from three weeks out of country, Ari {our techie guru} had just had a baby, and I had a full plate of clients through 8 PM that night.

In other words, life {and technology} had just gotten in the way of my business.

We all respond to mishaps in our business differently, but I’ve learned that for most of my clients and myself, the knee jerk reaction is to throw up our hand and bury our heads. Call it overwhelm, call it avoidance…whatever it’s name is, I call it reality.

The problem is a problem left to fester becomes something far more serious…it breeds mistrust on the part of your client. And, there are three steps you can take, whether your sharing why your clients favorite instructor is leaving or why your website is suddenly not enabling them to schedule their sessions.

 

1. Acknowledge the problem publicly.

It doesn’t do any good to hide away a serious problem that affects large quantities of your clients. In the end, your lack of acknowledgement is what will lead to the biggest concern on your clients part. And, yes, it’s perfectly okay to let people know you don’t have a solution…but that you are working on it.

I will typically reach out to client’s who this has immediately affected personally whether via email or phone. Following that we’ll have a larger address that may take place over email, Facebook, a phone call blast or postings within my business.

 

2. Provide a time in which you expect a resolution or to know the next step.

The most important thing in this address is simple—when will you have a resolution or the next step.

In this case, I knew I could gather my team together and fix a technical problem within a day. When it comes to an employee resigning it’s not that simple.

In this case, I immediately let clients know we will be reviewing resumes and I often ask them to please send anyone our way who would be an excellent fit…after all they know our studio best! Ironically, it’s how I’ve made some of my best hires. I give clear dates on when I expect to start interviews {which is the next step in my hiring process}, but I leave off when the new person will start {since I don’t’ have a fully functioning crystal ball}.

 

3. Keep communication flowing.

Once I’ve provided one date it’s crucial for me to continue to followup on where I am in this process. Once people have information, gossip dwindles and understanding reigns.   Set your calendar and lay out these communications in advance, literally the day you start from. It becomes a map not only for your client’s satisfaction, but for your sanity.

 

What are the mishaps that hit you hardest in your business? And, how can use these steps to change your approach to them?

Are Pilates Certifications Killing Creativity? {Is Pilatesocolypse truly upon us?}

*For those of you who aren’t in Pilates, I find that any discipline can fall into this dogma of change or lack thereof. Consider this, my rant for the day from someone who’s spent a Saturday lost in thought, but look for the areas in your life where dogma has stifled your creativity. They abound in all of us and it’s only in taking them on that we really and truly grow and live.

I remember walking into my second Pilates certification classes like it was yesterday. Eight years ago, I was newly pregnant and eager to combine so much of what was floating around in my mind—the Lotte Berk methods my mom had been teaching me since I was thirteen, the yoga that I’d been studying for seven years and the unique blend of holistic Pilates my first {and greatest} teacher had exposed me to.

I was shocked when I got my first verbal hand slap. Had I gone back to the Catholic schools my father had described from the 50’s? All I had asked to do was add a simple leg movement onto an existing Reformer exercise to let if flow into something new.

It was as if I had I had uttered the most blasphemous phrase possible.

Joe’s routines weren’t meant to be changed, added to or altered in anyway. Period.

This was simply not Pilates.

I left the class and firmly committed to “not” teaching Pilates. I would teach from the principles and exercises I had learned, practiced and loved, but I would teach what worked in my body and with my clients, whether or not it was defined by these strict guidelines.

Eight years later, New York Magazine claims we’re in a “Pilatesocolypse”.

In this article Annie Lowry says, “Interest in [Pilates] seems to have peaked last decade, dwindling just as spinning, barre, boot camp, CrossFit, pole dancing, and a million other niches started to bloom, and as yoga continued its Zen march to omnipresence. Across the country, attendance is down. Studios are struggling, and some are closing. “

I can’t help, but wonder how much of this decline has come from the rigidity we’ve imposed in Pilates certifications. “You may do this, you may not teach this, and this is not Pilates.”

These absolutes are dangerous in a world where everything is in a constant state of flux.  Joseph Pilates started a beautiful, powerful movement that he continued to evolve throughout his life. He was a remarkable creative.

Should that creativity end with him?

If so, I fear that Pilates, despite it’s remarkable benefits, will grow old to our customers. It will become too rigid, too formal, too much for customer’s inspired by hundreds of new movements they can find every day on Instagram and Periscope.

It’s my sincere wish that as we teach instructors the remarkable principles that makes Pilates so profound for the body, we also teach them that these principles can forge new paths ahead in how we use our bodies. That these principles can become building blocks for new disciplines. That these principles aren’t stagnant.

That maybe, just maybe we honor Joe the most by continuing the creative arc he began, abandoning the absolutes of what Pilates was and seeing the possibility of what it can grow to be.