How to Complete a Distance Running Race with Confidence and Speed

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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.

Click to see the full training session.

Run with Confidence and Speed

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.

Repairing the Boat to Keep More Treasure: Cash

Kids Bailing Water from a DinglyJune 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!

Sleeping on a log

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.

Using Coaches as Guides To Achieve Greater Success

3 Hikers In SnowHave you ever found yourself stuck and not sure how to improve your business? Have you thought about getting help from a business coach?  Coaches are guides who’s outside perspectives help those they assist reach their goals and improve their skills. In essence they are facilitators. Coaches have been an important part of my life in athletics, business and life.  The first coaches I can remember were the parents, including my dad of Jackrabbits. Jackrabbits is a cross-country skiing program for kids aged 3 – 12 years old.

For those unfamiliar with Jackrabbits it is a program similar to scouts and girl guides, but on skis that takes place in the winter.  We even had badges for accomplishing different skills and milestones; mine are still tucked in a box for safe keeping.   Since then I have had many coaches for different purposes and at various stages of athletic and business development.

A fire lit inside of me in 2007 that was so strong that I knew it was time to make the transition from employee to business owner. Unsure of where to start I enlisted the help of two coaches.  With one we were focused on developing the business strategy and figuring out how to manage the re-branding of a sole proprietorship to a new corporation and the switch from employee to entrepreneur. The other guided me through the business plan creation and successful negotiations with the gym owners.

It was with their help that I navigated my way from working for a major private fitness gym as a Personal Trainer, to owning an independent business that operated as a strategic alliance within the same gym in less than five months.

Coaches provide a non-partisan sounding board for ideas,  help elucidate resolutions to problems, celebrate successes and keep you on track.  There is no doubt in my mind the start of Lifemoves was accelerated because the coaches provided the pilot light with their of years of business knowledge that perhaps, without coaching I would have found on my own but over a much longer period of time.

While competing in biathlon the importance  of having a diverse number of coaches became very important.  When I attended a Junior Canadian national biathlon summer camp the coaches there were able to pick-up things I needed to work on that my local coaches didn’t see. This was because they had their unique perspectives and knowledge base.

Over the years I have had a few more business coaches all with different areas of specialty, such as financial management or purpose and vision.  Each coach was sought to help find a solution to a major stumbling block in my business.

If private coaching seems difficult to afford try starting with group coaching or think of coaching as an investment for greater future earnings. Next week I will be attending a business coaching group for the first time with many other entrepreneurs.  This excites me because I will be with a group of like minded individuals all interested in accelerating their business and learning from each other as well as the coach.

What are your thoughts on business coaching? How have they helped you?

How to Rewire Your Brain from Being Angry to Celebrating Success

Rewiring the Brain

Flickr www3Billard

In June 2013 I was suddenly faced with moving my business.  Being asked to leave our previous location unexpectedly was shocking,disruptive and nearly devastating. The move meant a significant loss of revenue,  loss of my employee and a loss of marketing inertia.

There were parts of me that were extremely angry and stunned while other parts of me went into immediate action mode. Although it only took a couple of weeks to find a new location my anger towards this situation and the person who initiated the move stayed with me until last week.

While I knew this anger was not healthy or useful I wasn’t certain of how to switch my thoughts. Initially I explored counseling, but thought I would try to research techniques on rewiring my brain to achieve more resiliency and less anger.

For my birthday last month I received a gift card to a bookstore. That same day I found, purchased and read “Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being” by Linda Graham.

Bouncing Back CoverThe detailed neuroscience with practical meditation mantras was what I needed. Our brains are plastic. We can switch the negative rewiring by replacing those thoughts by positive ones. When I feel anger towards this situation I send a positive out to the universe and acknowledge the pattern that makes me angry. It has taken a few weeks for this to stop feeling forced, but now those wishes are more natural and genuine.

Last weekend helped me discover that I don’t celebrate enough. My current clinical space came about because Lifemoves needed a new home.  Now every time I unlock the door I celebrate and welcome myself home. Celebrating each small success by replacing negative thoughts with positive reframes has drastically reduced my anxiety while improving my happiness. I am also very grateful for the opportunity such a previously negative situation presented.

How are you going change your thoughts? How are you going to express gratitude and celebrate your successes today?

How to Achieve Business Goals Like an Olympian

Throughout the London 2012 Olympics, which are heading into their second week we have witnessed feats of extreme dedication and human drive. These athletes have not become overnight successes, many toil  for a decade or more in their sports before finishing on the podium. What they do have in common is the intense desire to achieve success and the knowledge that this is their time to shine, to lay it all on the line.

How can we harness the same dedication, perseverance and patience to achieve our own entrepreneurial goals?

Start with a Long-Term Plan – Finish with Today’s Plan

I remember starting my business with plan which had the next 3-5 years outlined with specific steps and performance measures. This is very similar to the way high performance athletes train. Each Olympic cycle is called a quadrennial, which is broken down into smaller and smaller segments until the details for each training day are specified. Do the same with your business. How often are you taking the time to sit-down, review, adjust and plan?

Find the Internal Flame

Find an intrinsic reason to reach your goal. This will light the fire within that will burn no matter what others say or which obstacles you come across because it can’t be put out! It took Brent Hayden three Olympics to stand on the podium, that is 12 years. Since he was young double leg amputee Oscar Pistorius has had an intense desire to run in the Olympics; Friday he did and reached the semi-finals of the 400m in Track and Field! Having a meaningful reason for reaching your business goals keeps you motivated.

Set Performance Goals

Athletes set performance based goals, not results based.  To reach the Olympics athletes must meet specific performance criteria to qualify in events preceding. In a business goals of $X income or $Y profit (which are results) need to be broken down into what needs to be done on a daily basis to achieve them. For example how many widgets do need to sold or how many clients need to booked or called?

Be in it for the Long Haul – Celebrate Everyday Wins

Olympians don’t step onto the field of play without years of dedication to their sport. Entrepreneurs need be in it for the long haul. Starting and growing a business is not for the faint of heart, but it has been the most enjoyable part of my working life.

Sure, some businesses launch and have tremendous success early on, then they burn and crash like those rockets we made as kids. Instead ride a the wind like a kite. Keep your hands on the string, but as the winds change learn to change strategies with it so that you can soar for as long as possible.  Each day has at least one success; smile and celebrate it! Be patient, long-term success is much more rewarding.

Do Just Enough with Appropriate Volume and Intensity

Olympians do put a lot of effort into their training, however there is always a balance between stressing the body enough through training for it to both physically and mental adapt and incorporating appropriate recovery strategies. Entrepreneurs need to do the same to avoid mentally breaking down; they are notorious for neglecting vacation time.

There will be times in business when you have to do more work to get a project completed or launch new producted but, with appropriate planning you can add periods of recovery after these intense and volume laden times. Pushing too hard each day in training often leads to over training or injury which sets athletes back weeks or even months. The art is to do just do enough to keep the momentum rolling so that the joy remains.

 

Keep it Simple

Business growth always adds complexity. Greater complexity adds to the mental strain so, keep examining your business to create more simplicity.

Thriving in Competitive Rehabilitation and Fitness Market

Moving from the confines of a large gym,with lots of foot traffic to  a smaller independent training studio has presented many challenges. A recent article in the Vancouver Sun “Vancouver’s Sweat Equity:  Facilities vie for their share of city’s multi-million dollar fitness industry” has reignited the entrepreneurial fire within while helping me become aware of  the opportunities for and threats against my business.   Much of the $2-Billion Canadian fitness and recreational sports centers industry is in B.C. which has grown 30% from 2006 to 2010 (Statistics Canada). 
 There have been some major changes since 2000 when I joined this industry in 2000 when I volunteered at a local community center to provide Personal Training for a client with a cervical spine injury.  Changes include a few new big name players, GoodLife Fitness and Club 16 as well, the 50 year old local chain Fitness World which sold to a U.S. based company in 2009 hoping to cash in Fitness World’s longevity and the celebrity name of Steve Nash.   There have been some smaller studios which have flourished while others have come and gone within a couple of years.
Personal Training has become a career that many people are pursuing, so smaller boutique studios and independent training studios (where trainers pay drop-in fees per client) are popping up across the lower-mainland.  Some trainers are even moving out the big box gyms to pursue independent opportunities. It takes a lot of effort, risk and over $100,000 open your own facility, so many trainers choose the shared competitive space of an independent training studio.  If Industry Canada stats show that 30% of business don’t make their 5thanniversary and the competition becomes fiercer, how can we thrive?
Kinesiologists are stuck in the middle between the rehabilitation and fitness industries. Physiotherapists are doing a great job of marketing their profession and businesses, they are also stepping further into the realms of providing more exercise therapy which includes active rehab.  As Lifemoves reaches its 5thanniversary what perplexes me is how do we maintain our differentiation and gain a bigger market share of this large industry?  Vancouverites have a lot of choices and the number is only growing, so how do we get them to choose us? 
Another question I have is how can this business be structured and operated in ways that we are able to provide uncommon service that is for the greater good, but is also profitable? There are several societal benefits to growing a business that exclude more profit.  These include being able to provide more people with employment as well assist more people in their pursuit to return to work and improve their health and quality of life.
The basic answers to these questions is first to relentlessly pursue excellence for the greater good while making the right decisions in the right context. Secondly, it is really know what your business is about and what solutions you really provide. Thirdly, it is to find creative ways to market our services so that the values and benefits we provide our clients remains top of mind so that they do talk about us to others.
There seems to be room for growth in the fitness and rehabilitation industry? How are you going to grow your business?

References

Vancouver Sweat Equity

Staying Consumer Debt Free for One Year

The following is an opinion and experience piece and NOT financial advice.

It took a long time to climb out of a deep canyon, but this week I celebrated one year of being free of consumer credit card debt.  The debt burden saddled me for close to a decade and prevented me from doing many of the things that I wanted to.  It is also kept dragging down my moods.
 Our financial wealth and our weight often reflect our mindsets.  Though I wasn’t overweight and I was undervaluing myself. 
It took several years of shifting my own thought patterns, disciplined debt re-payments, support from friends and famiyl and financial education to free myself from the shackles of consumer debt.  Thankfully, my interest rates weren’t too bad, however every month I  was paying the credit card companies annual interest of over 8%, instead of having this money invested and paying myself.
Have you ever watched shows like “Till Debt do Us Part”?  It is actually pretty scary how much consumer debt these participants have. This is money owed that is outside of their mortgage.  My fiancée and I have agreed that we want to start our marriage with zero debt that is not building our wealth (such as a mortgage).  We have been judiciously putting money aside on a monthly basis so that we are able to pay for a wedding that is within our means to pay by cash.  I can’t imagine paying for an extravagant party that means that we spend the next 5-10 years paying it off. What a way to start, eh? 
  I got into trouble because I was living outside of means and because the credit card company hounded me to take on a line credit of that I originally said no to.  They also continually increased my limits to beyond my ability to pay it back; lining their pockets with the interest payments. 
 My self-esteem during these years was low, so was my earning power. I found it difficult to find work as a Kinesiologist after graduating in 1999. I also started a previous business because I couldn’t find work. To increase my long-term earnings I did use my credit card to pay for various educational investments which have definitely paid off. However, now I make sure that I have the cash before paying for continuing education.
A few of my fears are being homeless (though I know there are many reasons that people end up on the street) as well as not having enough income to support a moderate lifestyle in retirement.  Much of the financial advice seems to be all very similar and all makes sense.  My goal is to reach retirement debt and mortgage free.
All I can say is live BELOWyour means so that there is always cash left at the end of the month. Money is an object, it only has what value we attach to it.  What is enough? Enough is to know that I can pay my bills on time, have a roof securely over my head, feed myself and my family and have the freedom to enjoy a moderate lifestyle.  Next steps for me are to slowly add to my retirement fund, while building a 6-month cash based emergency fund. 
Being an entrepreneur means that I will have income as long as I am able to build and run a business where others can  perform work and clients are willing to pay for our services.  Our health and wellness is not discretionary, so health care businesses will do well as long as we provide value to our clients.
There is a great piece in the Financial Post on why it is important to pay off your debt NOW.  Have compounding interest work for you instead of for the credit card companies. Another good resource for entrepreneurs who are not financial gurus is “Finance and Accounting for Non-Financial Managers,” which among other things explains how to calculate the value of money invested today. 
The above is based on the author’s experience and opinion it is NOT considered NOT financial advice.

Reducing Drag Increases Profits

Do you ever feel as though you and your profits are being dragged down by inefficient processes? I do. With a new location opening soon we have been thinking a lot about new service offerings, how to price them and how to complete them efficiently to maximize profit while maintaining quality.  There are several types of drag psychological, physical and systematic that all reduce profits, employee motivation and productivity.

Figuring out what best prices are reflects the value the services provide as well as how much time it takes to provide the service. Measuring profitability is usually done with a break-even analysis and a contribution to margin, however one way we have been thinking about it also what resources (variable expenses) including provider time each service uses.


Reducing Systematic Drag to Increase Profits

We have never priced based on time, but more on value. Our focus is to provide more value to our clients by leveraging our time effectively. It became very apparent recently  that even though our billing rate for one service is high, it still takes  an enormous amount of time that could be used to provide other services to more clients.


 I spent about four hours trying to format a report versus the one hour it should have taken to simply review it, sign-off on it and then send it. This still didn’t account for the additional time it took our staff to create the report which was much longer than it should or could have been.  Entrepreneurs are meant to be creating business rather than working soley in the business. 

How to Reduce Completion Time While Maintaining Quality

Systematic drag occurs when processes have extra steps, steps that take too long or steps which eat up valuable resources. Like those of the business owner.  Entrepreneurs rarely account for their time in financial terms. If my billable hours are at $80 per, then 4 hours is $320.  There goes nearly half of our profit on that service.

Another area I noticed that reports were taking too long was that our template was very slow to edit, which forces staff to first write in a basic word document then cut and paste with the final step of me going through it and editing it. This template was also not allowing us to create documents larger than three pages.  Writing reports quickly become onorous and staff become unmotivated (including myself).

As leaders of organizations it is our role to reduce the amount of drag in our business so that our employees and our profits benefit.  This weekend I decided to stop being scared of MS Word templates and make a project of creating templates for us to use which was easy do and cost effective. We are now able to write directly into these templates which also create multiple pages. This investment of a few hours is going to pay off big dividends in the future.

In my example by saving 3 hours, we increase profits by $240 on that service alone. This also frees up an additional 3 hours to focus on other revenue generating activities like meeting with referral sources.  As well, these templates make it easier for our staff to complete the activity, thus reducing the time to completion so that they can book other clients in the newly freed time.  


Simply put:

If you charge $100 per service and it takes 2 hours to complete you are billing $50 per hour.
If you pay someone $50 to complete it then they are earning $25 per hour and so is the business.
Reducing the time to completion by 1 hour means that you now earn $50 for the first hour and have capacity in the second hour to earn another $50, thus doubling both your profits and the income of the employee.


Now multiply that by the number of times you provide the service over the year. That is your net increase profits.


Resources

How to create a custom  letterhead template in word – click here.

To make it fully functional ensure that you also save a custom style with your brand colours and fonts that applies to all documents created with the template.


Can you think of any other ways to increase efficiencies?

When to End a Strategic Alliance to Grow a Business

A strategic alliance or business partnership only works when both parties are doing their parts to make it function. When one side becomes disinterested or hindering by their lack of attention or action then it is time to move on.

The company I originally made my strategic alliance was bought in late 2009.  In 2010,  the new owners by lack of action, unwillingness and new operating environment made it difficult to grow my business. We survived because I was determined to lead us into a new direction and I know the value of my business.

Sometimes we get stuck in what is safe even though we are unhappy,  and no longer progressing. It is important to turn the page to get unstuck. Having a plan helped me successfully navigate the big change of breaking Lifemoves’ strategic alliance with Steve Nash Fitness Clubs (Fitness World) to grow my business. 

Tonight I delved a little deeper into the next chapter of my working life by saying goodbye and good luck to a number of work colleagues who are now friends.  In early 2000 I joined the Fitness World Cambie club to get a job as a Personal Trainer; twelve years later I moved my independent business out of there.

End of a Strategic Alliance

There are times in life when everything comes to its rightful conclusion and we are ready for something new. For me I think I held on a little too long because I tend to see the best in situations rather than the worst. At times this means that I refuse to see the situation for what it truly is.  A strategic ally who doesn’t respond to your request to have a meeting for over a year kills any grand potential the alliance has.
In the Cold Hard Truth, Kevin O’Leary makes that point clear as well.  When one side is no longer providing the services that are required under the agreement it stalls your growth, make sure you don’t wait too long before changing your strategy because if you do it could sink your business.  In 2010, I waited patiently for all the dust to settle from a merger while I was under the impression that the new owners liked what we were doing and saw our potential (all smoke).

A nearly eighteen month stalemate nearly killed my business. It was finally in May 2011 that I was able to get a meeting to sort out what my next steps were. We mutually decided that it was in both businesses best interests for Lifemoves to move-out as soon as possible. Thankfully due to the circumstances we had until September 2012 to find the appropriate space.  

 If you own your business it is up to you to take action and pay attention to your financials so that your business thrives instead of dies.  In time like these pay very close attention to your financials, perhaps even monthly if not more often so that you can make micro adjustments to steer it straight. If you wait too long it is going to take a massive hard RIGHT or LEFT to stop you from crashing.
I am disappointed because I thought that by aligning with a larger gym which had plans to go national that I would have more influence in the design and programming of future facilities so that they would be more inclusive for clients with disabilities – this is a legacy that I wanted (and still want to) leave.  In business and life you can’t be partners with someone who doesn’t have very similar philosophies as you. However, when you truly believe in your dreams and have a vision that is ingrained in your psyche it will manifest itself because you will take subconscious and conscious steps towards it.

Lifemoves’ Bright Future 

In January we started to move our North Vancouver location to 1350 Pemberton Avenue. During the first week it was apparent that even though we all run our businesses out of that location we all work together to provide a professional, clean, tidy and friendly atmosphere for us and our clients.  We have pride for the space, unlike at our old location where equipment would disappear and tools would be strewn around floor well after someone was done with them. 
The final phase of the move happened today as well. With a lot of patience and elbow grease I removed the branding decals from the windows. I will miss the clients, members and Personal Trainers who I got to know during the last seven years plus years in North Vancouver and previous years with the original club owners.  
The future’s chapter began with our first monthly meeting at our Coquitlam location. We are part of a wellness clinic in which many practitioners share space.  Andrea, Hardip and I were all there to meet a few of them and get to know how all of our services can benefit our clients’ wellbeing (a common purpose).   Afterwards we had discussions with a designer, a glazier and a painter to help us put the finishing touches to the space.  I am really excited and I am looking forward to showing off our new space.
Moving on from the strategic alliance with Steve Nash Fitness Clubs is what I needed to do to grow my business and renew the passion I had for it.  Remember when one opportunity ends another starts.

Be Proactive. Take Action Early.

Being the Best: Helping the Hedgehog to the Other Side of the Dip

It always seems that a book or way of thinking is brought to my attention at just the right time when I need my thoughts redirected. Recently Dr. Susan Biali introduced me to Seth Godin’s “The Dip” which helps readers discover when they are in a Dip or a Cul-de-Sac and decide whether or not it is appropriate to quit or stick it out. The other book that is one of my favourites is “Good to Great”by Jim Collins.

The last two months have been challenging for my business and myself. Fitness World was once a place of growth, but it had become my cul-de-sac or dead-end.   After weathering the sale of our strategic partner for eighteen months we decided in June of 2011 that it was time to quit and find a new home.  Even though I had become lost and unmotivated, unclear of why I started Lifemoves others still knew what Lifemoves is about.

When I created Lifemoves I wanted to build a brand and company that stood for something, made a contribution to society and that had a unique selling position. Until recently I had forgotten how to articulate this.  It took speaking with a Physiotherapist, an outsider who believed in my business to help me reconnect to how unique and wonderful Lifemoves is, what we can be the best at and how much potential we do have. It is also clear from the enthusiasm from our clients, employees and her that the growth and changes are positive. Thankfully all of our clients have stayed with us.

The Dip is that period of time when whatever it is can be a bit of a slog, but there is greatness on the other side. During the Dip you might feel like quitting, but if you did you would be missing out. There were times over the last couple of years I thought of folding, however I knew that this was my calling and I still had a lot to contribute (I also couldn’t see myself working for someone else).

Godin explains that there are the serial entrepreneurs who love the rush of the start-up, but jump from opportunity to opportunity without building something truly great. Some companies try to be everything to everyone. I have seen this when Personal Trainers who want to cater to ALL clients with ALL goals; it just leads to mediocrity.  Godin believes there is no point in being mediocre.
Collins’ book delineates what differentiates Good Companiesfrom Great Companies and one of those things was the Hedgehog Principle (Collins, p. 90). Great companies were able to figure out the intersection between what they were best at, what they were passionate about and what could sustain a robust cash flow and profitability. The hedgehog realizes what is innately simple – being able to curl up in a ball of spikes to ward of attackers instead of being the fox that is chasing at things at multiple levels.

Clients value companies who are robust, who have been around for awhile and who deliver a clear simple message. Moving our flagship location in North Vancouver and opening a new clinic in Coquitlam created a Dip where I was lost in the transitions. Several conversations have helped clear the fog. To push us through the Dip we have to be consistent with our hedgehog message:

We are a health and rehabilitation company founded by

a Kinesiologist which is focused on getting clients with

medical conditions, disabilities and or injuries moving for life.

We are diverging into new markets, because our brand awareness is growing. I have often spoken to store owners who have heard of Lifemoves.  People and opportunities come to us because we have been around for five years and our message is clear. Everything that we do, we believe in, we breath and we deliver has to embody the above message. Now is the time to really push forward.
The Dip can be a long process or it be getting to other side can be accelerated. I decided to accelerate it now that our move is completed. Coquitlam is going to be phenomenal. We are not thinking of this as a start-up. We are a maturing organization. This is our opportunity to be GREAT
We all have it in us to be great at something (for me it isn’t being a mathematician). Are you stuck and in cul-de-sac or is this a Dip? Figure it out and make some changes.
What can you be great at? How can you simplify and stop being mediocre? What are you going to do differently right now and tomorrow?

Further Inspirational Reading

Collins, Jim “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t,” Harper Business, 2001
Godin, Seth “The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick),” Penguin Group, 2007
Rufus, Anneli “Stuck: Why We Can’t (or Won’t) Move On,” Penguin, 2008