Have you ever gone to networking events and been completely turned off? Does being handed a business card by someone without even so much as an introduction feel like being spammed? When that happens all I want to do is Delete, Delete, Delete!
Are you frustrated when going to networking events doesn’t bring results? Networking should be called relationship building. During a recent Vancouver Entrepreneurs meet up we were challenged to introduce ourselves as our name and our profession then not to talk about businesses at all! Then ask a unrelated question of whom we met.
Hi I’m Alfred, I am a Kinesiologist. What do you enjoy doing when you are not working on your business?
The purpose of this was for us to connectwith our peers on a deeper and more spiritual level. We were also tasked to ask “how can I be of service? What is your greatest challenge?” If we could make a connection or provide someone with assistance we needed to do it right there an then.
That evening I felt more connected to the people at my table than those I would normally meet a networking event. It is important to build relationships with as many people as you can. Perhaps those we meet might not be able take advantage of our services or products, but they might know of others who may. Alternatively maybe, just maybe there is a way that you can connect them with others who can help. Think about creating long term meaningful relationships.
Salmon are an important resource in British Columbia; for the last thirty five years there has been a 14 km (9 mile) Coho Run that starts at Kitsilano Beach then follows the edge of Stanley Park, heads north over the Lion’s Gate Bridge and finishes at Ambleside Park where the annual Coho Festival is.
This year it coincided with the Grouse Grind Mountain Run which I have participated in several times. Since, my long-term goal is a 3:30 – 3:55 marathon I decided to enter the Coho Run for a new challenge. It was also an opportunity to gauge my training.
Finally a running event that starts at a reasonable time – 9:00 am on a Sunday! The sun was shinning when I arrived at the start area over looking the North Vancouver mountains with forty-five minutes to go to the washroom, warm-up and drop my bag at the bag drop.
Coho Salmon – Shutter Stock
10 Km Time Trial
To keep my running tempo at or near threshold (172 bpm) pace my heart rate monitor was set beep at anything below 167 bpm. The race strategy was to push for the first ten kilometers The first little bit looped West around a narrow paved trail and past the pool. It was difficult to pass.
We traveled along the seawall to the south end of the Burrard Street bridge which was my nemesis a few months ago. This wasn’t so this time around. Quick legs paced me over in 07:49 min/mi. After the bridge the course took a sharp left back down to the trail along Sunset Beach, to around the Stanley Park seawall.
It culminated in Merileese’s Trail, a mile long hill up to the Lion’s Gate Bridge which slowed me down to 10:15 min/mile. A bit of mental fortitude drove my legs forward to the start of the bridge and the end of the first 10 Km in 50:49 min.
4 Km to Home
Left rib cage fatigue prevented a full breath and slowed the pace over the Lion’s Gate Bridge. With each passing participant I valiantly made thirty-second sprints to challenge my slowing pace.
Recent research is showing that the brain regulates our ability to push our physical boundaries. Our attitude and self-talk can either be hindering or beneficial. Mantras like:
Steady Legs. Run Your Own Race. One Foot In Front of the Other.
kept my efforts high and me moving forward with a smile on my face. There was one other person tailing me on my right side to the finish, not to be out done the jets were fired in the last 100 meters; he finished three seconds behind.
By finishing within a predicted time of 1:05 to 1:15 hr and 26th in my age group this run result was one that I am happy with. It also wasn’t an A racewhich means I wasn’t fresh nor did I taper for it.
The is the only event I know of that has a pancake breakfast at the end of it! Perfect for refueling post-run. During the last few years of climbing the Grouse Grind I have made several friends who have also expanded their endurance activities to longer runs. A few of them also participated. We all met up at the end to catch-up and have breakfast.
During the awards ceremony the organizers handed out draw prizes, not by bib number but by enthusiasm. The announcer had to see your bib number to for you to receive a prize. The goodies included gift certificates to the Scandinavian Spa in Whistler (highly recommended) and a dual water bottle carrier for those loooonnnnggg runs.
When he asked who “REALLY REALLY Likes the long runs?” I jumped up and down with great abandon while waving my bib that was still attached to my shirt. I knew that my single bottle carrier was getting ratty and wouldn’t carry me much past 13 miles. Relieved to be selected I ran up to the stage to retrieve my prize. Earlier one of my friends received one of the gift spa gift certificates, while a second spa gift certificate was given at the end via a kissing contest for those who had their partners in attendance.
Running the for Long Run
At 80 years old, the inspirational Senior’s level runner Betty Jean McHugh, who has set numerous records for age group, is the author of My Road to Rome and is a North Shore resident finished in a blistering 1:41:43. Can I be that fast in 40 years? Will I still be running at 80?
In 2002 I decide it was time to train for a half marathon to prove to myself that my knees were strong and I had recovered from a decade of persistent knee pain. Thankfully the pain didn’t prevent from cross country skiing or competing in biathlon while in university.
The Vancouver Half was what I chose as my destination and as my greatest endurance challenge post retiring from competitive biathlon. Rain started to fall just after crossing the finish line in 1:50 at the Plaza of Nations. A year later after training for the half and unable to register due it being sold out I signed up for the full marathon. My stubbornness dictated that I couldn’t run/walk despite my better judgement. The goal of finishing under 4 hours slipped away gradually. Instead my body stumbled through the last 10 km to completed the full in just under 4:09.
A sub four hour marathon and a sub 1:45 hr half marathon are still eluding me.
Regaining Fitness After 10 Years
Several years later in 2012 it was time to challenge myself again on a new course for the Vancouver Half. Kudos to whomever designed the BMO Vancouver Half marathon course because it showcases our beautiful city very nicely. Knowing that my fitness wasn’t great I still wanted to see if I was at least as fit as I was in 2002.
This half marathon was grueling. and after finishing in 1:55 I cramped up so much that I had a difficulty walking for the next week. While happy to finish in under two hours the sub 1:45 was still out there for me to grab!
Finishing a Half Marathon with Grace
The Scotia Half Marathon has been on my list of events since 2006! Since it was week after Seek the Peak which I had started to train for in February all I wanted to was finish in a decent time while being able to walk reasonably well the next day.
A last week registration was necessary because I wasn’t certain how my energy and legs would recover from Seek the Peak. We often hear of or see people finishing endurance events with nothing left in the tank and being proud of the post run hobble. This was not going be me this year.
As a non-elite runner who also has zero chance of being an age group medalist it wasn’t necessary to run myself into the ground.
The Scotia Half was an opportunity to execute a race plan that would test my current limits and keep me walking the next day. The first 10km was a steady 5:00 min/km. Many people passed me, I kept repeating the mantra
Run Your Own Race
, a mantra that led me to three gold and one silver at the BC Winter Games for biathlon.
It was more humid than warm. I made sure to take sips of my drink electrolyte/carb drink every 15 min and one GU gel at 45 min.
The water stations couldn’t come soon enough. Splashing water on my head and arms was the only way to stop from becoming dizzy. The pace held up to about 14 km which is the furthest I ran in training.
From there it was a matter of holding on and preserving energy for the last 8km. Each kilometer was clearly marked with big red signs. Eventhough 13 miles and 22 kilometers are almost the same distance there’s a big pyschological difference with the smaller number!
While the course is a net downhill climbing the Burrard Street bridge was a bit tedious and longer than anticipated. The earlier pace was not to be kept. I was unable to keep a pace where my heart rate was at my threshold of 172 bpm and it dropped to 160-165 bpm. A hard left at the end of the bridge brought us onto Beach Avenue and the finishing kick.
At this point it was a matter of adding a little more push to each stride to boost the pace. When the finish line was in sight I kicked into high gear to drop a few precious seconds and come in 1:52:39.
This race was finished in a respectable time that I am happy with. It was an opportunity to learn where some of my fitness limiters are. Walking was a bit of problem after but resolved a few days later.
Fitness limiters are components of fitness that are limiting or preventing a goal from being achieved. During my training the focus was too much on a high aerobic fitness. Discovering fitness limiters helps runners fine tune their training.
Areas of Focus
Build aerobic endurance up to 22 km or 14 miles
Complete more supra threshold runs that are also longer than with longer intervals
Train for longer uphills of 2-3 minutes
Train foot and ankle
Strategy – figure out a new pacing strategy
Review the course elevations and break the down into pace sections before
Retirement from biathlon left me feeling as though there was more potential left in me as an endurance athlete. In two years I will officially be Masters (40 years old +) level athlete. This is a category that I want be in the top 25% of at the very least; to do so leaves me with five intermediary goals yet to accomplish
The 11th annual Seek the Peak trail running race took place on June 15, 2014. There were nearly 500 solo participants and another 300 relay or team participants. This was the fourth time that I decided to throw my body into this event. Last year I skipped it because I felt I wasn’t ready for its physical demands, which some believe are grueling: sixteen kilometers with a 4100 foot climb from Ambleside Park in North Vancouver to the top of Grouse Mountain.
Alfred finishing Seek the Peak 2014 – photo Caroline S.
Armed with 2010’s 2:24 hr time and the top times in age group of around 1:35hr I have been motivated to at least achieve a sub two hour time. Ever since I stopped competing in Biathlon I have felt that I have more potential and a talent for endurance events. With proper training I could achieve some top 10 finishes in my age group.
When looking for improvement it is important to take a deeper look at each event, even when goals are achieved. Some say success leaves foot prints! While I missed the sub two hour goal this race was still a big success.
Stage 1 is a very gradual uphill which gives participants the opportunity to go fast to bank a little time, but risk using up all their glycogen stores. My goal was to push the pace a little bit and finish under 15 minutes, a time I met in 14:43.
Stage 2 keeps going uphill, but also has some good turns and fun downhills. Although, I quickly found out though that my training runs were not quite on the same trails my feet were still quick and I was sure footed. This stage takes racers further along the Capilano River past the fish hatchery to emerge in the park near the damn by climbing up a long set of stairs. Taking a slightly more conservative approach I reached Nancy Green Way while passing several people on those stairs.
Nancy Green Way is 1.6 kilometers of boring pavement pounding which ends at the start of the Grouse Grind. This section takes more mental energy than physical. The aim was to complete the road section in under 10 minutes, which I came very close to doing.
Stage 3 is the Grouse Grind which I predicted a time of 48 minutes. The strategy for this stage is just to keep the legs moving while repeating “one step at a time.” It was grueling and at times I wasn’t sure if my legs would take me to the top. The left ankle strain of last year did not rear its ugly head either which was a big concern. Final time for the Grouse Grind was 47:36.
If you haven’t been training hills stage 4 will fill you with dread! It did my first year and it started with a severe left calf spasm which left me hobbling. This time around my strategy was 30 speedy steps followed by 30 fast walking steps. With a grade nearly 16% to the chairlift there was glory in reaching the final turnaround which also meant it was all downhill from there.
The gravel road down is bumpy and slippery when wet. Zigzagging down racers need to be careful to not run into anyone coming up on their left. This year I felt the most sure on my feet I have in the several years during that section.
Finally the last few meters are almost flat but slightly downhill and the finish line was in sight! Time to turn on the jets. Well as best as I could! Out of breathed I cross the line in 2:01:10, 8% off my goal time and a personal course record. Looking up as I neared the finish line I saw 2:01:10. This good enough for a top 100 overall and 21/80 in the male 30-39 year old group, which I have two years left in.
Overall the race plan was executed very well. The call of a 1:55 is still out there for me to achieve and it isn’t that far away. It requires a fitness improvement of 13% in one year. Challenging? Yes. Do able? Yes.
What are the take home lessons?
Keep fit from September to February – maintain the capacity to run 16 km
Start the main plan February 1st instead of February 28th
Increase leg strength and leg power – start training for power earlier
Incorporate more Pace Zone 4 (tempo) and Pace Zone 6 (threshold) into the training plan with longer intervals
While competing in biathlon and cross country skiing I found a distinct advantage of being able to preview the course a few days before and event. This built confidence and enabled us to develop a strategy for each section of it. Luckily the trail running route for Seek the Peak is in my backyard (well close to it) so I can run it as often as I like. It has nearly been two years since I ran the trails from Ambleside Park to Grouse Mountain in West Vancouver so the details are a little hazy.
Getting the Pace and Distance Training Device to Work
After two years of letting my Garmin Forerunner 305 sit idle in a drawer because I thought it wouldn’t synchronize with my computer anymore I decided to try again. When the original error occurred even technical support personnel suggested I send it in and might be repaired or even better buy a new one. I was elated that after a few software downloads and installations it synchronized!
Being able to now use a training device with GPS (navigation), heart rate and pace makes the data geek in me grin cheek to cheek! More data to pour over.
Finding Stage 1 of Seek the Peak
Although it was a little chilly and looked like it was going to rain it was time to get running. Sunday’s goal was to navigate through the first two stages of Seek the Peak and test the pace. Stage one begins at Field F in Ambleside Park then travels around Park Royal mall, along the Capilano River to finish under Highway 1. Easy to find. After setting Field F as the first navigation point my feet started with a slow run.
The bridge was reached an a quick 18 minutes while l still felt fresh. This was the end of stage one and the start of stage two.At each landmark or change of direction I set running navigation points for future reference.
Getting Slightly Lost A Few Times
Stage 2 is not quite as straight forward. The first section is fairly fast with a gradual uphill. There is a sharp right turn where the trail goes downhill past the Capilano Suspension Bridge, but close by you can also go straight or up to the left uphill. This bit is a lot of fun and the feet can move fast. Be quick and light footed around the roots.
Keep following the Capilano Pacific Trail through a series of ups and downs and bridges that are slippery when wet. The right on the Shinglebolt trail was a little confusing. While trail directions are clear the names of the trails were not always obvious.
There is signage for an observation deck with a short trail that merges with the main one. Stay left and the observation place will be on the right. Eventually Shinglebolt transitions to Coho Loop. The trail gets a bit gnarly. Look out for a metal bridge crossing directly over a big blue pipe. Cross over it to wind up towards a series of stairs, yes stairs. My confidence started to falter after the stairs. I couldn’t really remember where to go next.
Instead of keeping left along Pacific Palisades I went right instead which brought me into a big parking lot. Crossing the parking lot I met up with the trail I should have been on. This then continued to climb up to an opening into Cleveland Park.
Grinding Out the Last Mile on Nancy Greene Way
The last mile made me nearly stop in 2010. It is a lot less exciting than the previous sections or even the next – Grouse Grind! Sing “the ants go marching one by one…” to stay motivated and keep plodding along. I kept looking down at my watch trying to keep the pace under 10:00 min/mile instead it averaged 13:27 min/mile at 172 bpm.
Finishing Stages 1 and 2
Maintaining a consistent pace is more challenging when you don’t know where you are going. The lack of confidence slows you down. The data has some blank spots where the timer was stopped while I entered navigation points. It looks like it took around 1:08 hour for 5.28 miles. Next time I run this path I will be able move more quickly and more easily monitor my energy output.
Legs felt fresh, energized and even and a spring in their step for the first 30-45 minutes. A good sign since the previous longest run was for the just over an hour on flat treadmill! However, the last 20 minutes my thighs started to burn and they lacked power to push off up Nancy Greene. Time to do longer tempo intervals and more hills.
Running route before a running race increases confidence and pace on race day. It will be easier to find your way with hundreds if not thousands of people as well as course markers on event day. You will run faster and know how much to push your speed to finish with nothing left in the tank.
The first time my feet hit the pavement to go running on the road is always tenuous. Perhaps it is the memory of having knee pain for nearly ten years while running but not while cross country skiing. I proved to myself long ago by running one marathon and several half marathons that I can run easily without knee pain.
Each season begins with six to eight weeks building up to a confident 60 min treadmill run as well as two to three days of lower body strength training to build durability. The concept of using the treadmill to run on first is that if something does go sideways it easier to stop instead of being stuck somewhere on the road and needing to hobble back.
On Friday the sun was shinning with clear skies that gave way to a good view of the Vancouver mountains. It was time for the rubber to hit the road. The Stanley Park Seawall is a fairly flat run with a beautiful of view of the city for all runners and walkers. There were many dogs and owners traveling the same route as I (some dogs were running their owners).
Setting the Running Goal
This run was primarily about seeing how my legs felt running along pavement instead of rubber under my feet. There was a nice breeze to start from just in front of the Vancouver Convention Center. The 4.0 miles (6.4 km) tempo run set to be a series of four intervals at 5 minutes at a 7:30 min/mile pace with 2 minute rest periods at a 10:00 min/mile pace with a 5 minute warm-up and cool-down on either side.
Getting the Feeling of Running Faster
With fresh legs I started the first interval right on pace before I heard someone gradually catching up with me. Time push the pace! Legs turnover more quickly and breathing rate kept pace. Beep, beep, beep ended the interval. Looking down at the watch face the pace was 6:30 min/mile. Just a little faster than planned. As my legs slowed down she passed me wearing a “Ran Van” long sleeve shirt; she is probably training for the Vancouver Marathon in a few weeks.
The turnaround at mile two happened to be Deadman’s Island. A nice landmark for future runs. Paces for subsequent intervals gradually slowed down indicating fatigue. The positive side is that the recovery pace was around 9:00 – 10:00 min/mile, which was a goal set in February.
Run Analysis – Training Plan Adaptations
First outing on the road went very well. There was no knee pain and my energy stayed fairly high for the rest of the day. Although a race pace of 7:30 min/mile is just at my anaerobic threshold heart rate of 170 bpm and not sustainable, it is comfortable. Training is on track but, the next tempo runs need to have longer intervals and/or be longer runs.
Now that spring is here have you started to run on the road more frequently?
A couple of weeks ago I was at the Canada Marketing Summit where I met some of this blog’s followers. They mentioned that they enjoyed the posts about training for the Grouse Grind, so I thought it was time to provide more thoughts on the subject.
Last year was almost write off for participating in the Grind. Seek the Peak and the Grouse Grind Mountain Run were out of the picture instead finding and preparing a new space for my business took all my energy and time. Now settled, I am able to direct more attention towards staying physically fit.
Preparing for Seek the Peak 2014
For those unfamiliar with this race it rises 4100 feet and transverses 16 kilometers from Ambleside Park in West Vancouver to the top of Grouse Mountain and back down to the chalet. This event is a fundraiser for ReThink Breast Cancer; it can be completed solo or as a relay. It is a fun spring challenge which I completed three times from 2010 to 2012. An uncompleted goal is to finish in under two hours. Each year the course was slightly different due to trail construction or snow at the top.
Three completions gives me some trends to work from. Previous training data on Training Peaks shows me what training I was doing and how fit I was to accomplish these times. My memory enables me to replay how I was feeling on each part of the terrain.
The first stage is fairly flat and is a quick 3.5km jog behind Park Royal, along the Capilano River to just under the bridge. 2011 was my fastest year while in 2012 I wasn’t confident in my fitness so I started out too slowly.
Goal: 0:16:00 min at 4:34 min/km – start further up to the front and go out faster.
This 6 km stage undulates through the forest, often with downhills, stairs and flat sections. There are places to pass or be passed. It is an opportunity to have a little fun and move more quickly. Two years it opened up into a the Capilano River Regional park before heading up Nancy Green Way the other year it went over the dam itself. In 2010 the road heading up to the Grind was literally a grind! In 2011 I made sure run on that road often so that my body and brain was very familiar with it. The fastest year, 2012 I made sure to set a specific pace on my GPS and heart rate monitor.
Goal: 0:29:00 min at 4:50 min/km – keep a fast past in the forest and be steady on the road.
Ah, the Grouse Grind! It will probably be about 20% slower than the best Grind time for the year. The challenge is getting an appropriate number of ascents in due to the fact that it opens in late May or even one year it was June 12th! Opening day depends on how clear the trail is from the previous winter. Five climbs seem to be the right number for me. In 2010 my left calf cramped about three quarters they way up which seriously hampered stage 4.
Goal: 47:00 min, season opening Grind time of 40 minutes. Be light and quick on my feet.
Cresting over the top of the Grind doesn’t mean the end is near, just nearer! There is a little bit of rest as the trail winds past the maintenance yard before the last ascent. Many participants walk up the wide dirt road because of how steep it is and how tired they are. As other pass going the other way it is clear that the home stretch isn’t far away.
Going downhill after this last climb safely, but fast is a challenge due the gravel. In 2010 and 2011 it ended at the chalet, but in 2012 the course was changed to end somewhere differently. My preparations were foiled because I didn’t have a clue as to how much further I needed to go so I slowed down to conserve energy.
If the ability to run the course can be incorporated into the training plan do all stages. Run the stages a single sections and as bricks of multiple sections without completing the whole thing will help you gauge and adjust your training but also help you familiarize you with the route. Grouse Mountain runs weekly training sessions on Wednesday nights.
Goal: 0:22:00 min
Total: 1:54 hr
Seek the Peak Training
Now time for a plan! I started training at the end of February. It started with building base distance and strength then eight weeks (now) out continue with resistance training two to three times per week, but transition to two sessions of power and move to more single leg exercises. The other days would remain for high aerobic or threshold runs on the course.
Strength goals are to be able to deadlift 1.5 times body weight and front squat 1 times body weight each for 5 repetitions. These targets are important so that my tendons and ligaments are able to support the running. Strength training has been proven to assist with improving running economy (so less energy is required). I am up to body weight with the deadlift and getting closer on the front squats. Long runs have progressed from easy 20-30 minutes to just over six miles with several types of intervals including high aerobic and threshold to build endurance and speed.
The distances will continue to build up in 5-10% increments to 9.5 miles. Then more emphasis will be placed on going faster for longer. Some of the runs will also be on the course (hopefully the Grouse Grind too!).
In January Henry Polessky passed away in Vancouver. Henry was a visionary and leader within the Canadian fitness industry. He will be honored this month at the International Health Racquet and Sports Club Association conference. His legacy and impact was exemplified even further during the celebration of his life last weekend which coincided with the end of the Olympics. The afternoon was capped by the city of Vancouver lighting the Olympic torch to honour his contributions.
I knew Henry founded Fitness World and grew it into thirteen fitness clubs in metro Vancouver, but his other legacies weren’t well known to me until people began to speak about their connections to him. Dr. Taunton, Chief Medical Officer of the 2010 Olympics described how they both started the Vancouver Sun Run over 20 years ago which each year has nearly 50,000 participants who run or walk 10km. Rick Hanson, Man in Motion spoke about Henry’s advocacy for spinal cord research. Wally Oppal former BC Attorney General recalled how Henry was always interested in you were doing. Others told stories of how their life’s path changed for the better because of Henry’s encouragement.
Henry built his dream team which became a fitness family. These people worked passionately beside him for over 25 years until Fitness World was sold in 2009. Henry’s impact on me began in 2000 when I joined Fitness World as a Personal Trainer.
One way that Henry showed that he cared about his staff and clubs was through his periodic visits to each club during which he would greet people by name. Two other ways were through the recognition awards held at the annual Christmas parties and his presence at company wide meetings.
In 2007, I came up with the idea of converting unused space in North Vancouver to build a rehabilitation center. Throughout the negotiations Henry supported my idea while asking some tough questions to make sure that it would thrive but also that I would be to differentiate it from the Personal Training department. After several months he and the other owners agreed to give Lifemoves a shot. It isn’t often that you can start a whole new business within one while being an employee for the previous. In September 2007 I made the transition from employee to business owner; his support and that of others is something I will be eternally grateful for.
He showed me that it is important to treat everyone fairly and like your own family. In November I was invited to a weekly brunch with the core Fitness World family. Even in his frailty and after not seeing each other for several years he still remembered my name. His actions always demonstrated how important it is to conduct yourself ethically and integrity, something that I echo even tough situations. Henry is missed and will be fondly remembered by many people including myself.
The celebration of his life left me wondering what others might end up saying about me. What legacy do I leave? Remember impressions we leave people with happen on every single interaction we have, not just when we pass away.
Our legacies don’t have to be world wide to make changes. Do something small today to make someone smile; they may just do the same to another. What will your legacy be?
In a recent post Soft Tissue Seth Godin made a great analogy of how businesses are similar to humans but, didn’t properly distinguish between fat and muscle which are both soft tissues. When rehabilitation and medical professionals refer to soft tissue damage we are referring to anything that is not bone, but primarily fascia, nerves, ligaments, tendons and muscles.
Humans need a certain amount of fat to function properly and be healthy; the amount varies between men and women. Too much fat poses many health risks including diabetes, cancer, stroke and cardiovascular disease and early death. To little is also detrimental.
An organization that lets itself be overwhelmed by the small but insistent demands of too much soft tissue gets happy, then it gets fat, then it dies. – Seth Godin
According to Harvard Health fat cells are metabolically active. Fat is a soft tissue that is also an excellent source of energy – ATP that well trained endurance athletes depend on to fuel themselves.
Fat Doesn’t Fly – Dr. Mike Young, Strength and Conditioning Coach Vancouver Whitecaps; NSCA BC Provincial Symposium 2013
As Godin mentioned and Dr. Young in his presentation on training power athletes so eloquently eludes to too much fat will make a person or organization slow, sluggish, unable to respond quickly to imposed demands such as market shifts and could lead to an early death (bankruptcy).
So how can we build more muscle into a business to be more responsive while trimming the fat to a level where the business can outlast its competition?
June 5th, 2013 was a dark day and stormy day because unforseen waves crashed upon our deck. We were told to vacate our current premises. This news came without a warning shot over our bow, but it struck us right in our hull and threatened to sink my business. Also, six months earlier I used all cash reserves to close a second location that just wasn’t developing as planned. It took a lot of courage, self-reflection and discussions with friends, mentors and family to discover that I really didn’t want to abandon ship.
For various reasons including my only employee leaving the initial blow was 40% of revenue! Without cash I was taking on water fast and was having a great deal of difficulty making payments to our accounts payable. My only option was to stay strong in mind and keep renegotiating with my vendors by letting them know our challenges and that I knew it would turn around.They understood and were patient because they also respected my integrity.
Thankfully, we were able to quickly find an independent fitness studio to operate out of. The studio owner also showed me a 900 square foot open clinic space in the same building which I could lease for the treatment room and business growth. After a few tense weeks I was able navigate through the murky waters of the district’s business licence rules to land my own clinic space. Finally my own island! A month of zipping upstairs to renovate between clients and weekends labouring my private oasis was open to clients on August 1st, 2013.
There were times when my faith wavered, but I knew that my business was one worth keeping and rebuilding. I also knew I had most of the necessary skills to repair the ship. The skill missing to keep more of my treasure was cash management. After reading several books on cash flow management I stumbled across Cash Flow Management Mojo by Sandra Simmons.
Most of the information I found on cash flow management didn’t really explain how to build in cash reserves for growth, taxes and emergencies while others were too complicated or did not link budgets with sales goals while Sandra’s software and book do. Tired of bailing out water with a small bucket I started to attend a bi-weekly business mindset group where we set three levels of two-week heart centred profit goals – achievable, stretch and outrageous.
Learning cash flow management is much like learning a trade. With some trepidation and optimism I signed up for the cash flow management mojo software online. Many fitness and rehabilitation entrepreneurs are excellent practitioners but like myself also lack some key business skills. It took me six years to figure out how to manage with cash.
Who knows better how to manage cash than Warren Buffet? He buys businesses with cash on hand and believes that the majority of growth should be cash-based. Warren Buffet is also keen and trimming any excess costs. I took a look at our expenses to trim so of the fat. Something to do every 3-6 months so that costs don’t get go overboard. In two weeks our vendors were current a month before my goal. Two weeks later the cash was available to invest in an iPad, a tool to enhance our services that I had been eyeing since 2010!
Each week ends with allocating cash to pay bills and for savings followed by the setting of income goals for the following week. The rest of the week my mind is solely focused on providing oustading service to our clients. Ah, now I can rest my weary head knowing that the ship is repaired and my island is safe.