One of the great things about running a gym with a partner is that you get to see how widely varying personality traits play out.
You get to see what happens when a gym owner is too something or not enough of something. Too forgiving, not forgiving enough. Too analytical, not analytical enough.
One thing we are constantly learning and getting immediate feedback on, as gym owners, is how adept we are at solving problems.
Why is that?
Because, as gym owners and business owners, we are in the business of solving problems.
Some problems are to be expected as they deal with our bread and butter (how to gain strength, how to lose fat, etc.), but some of the problems we deal with are much less routine and can be fraught with challenges (how do we communicate better to our staff, how do we lower attrition, etc.).
As a gym owner, how do you go about solving the inevitable problems that come up in running your gym?
There are two ways to solve problems as gym owners. One is exemplified by the hard-worker and the other is demonstrated by the lazy person (when she even shows up to work).
1. How Hard Working People Solve Problems
Hard workers solve problems as quickly and directly as possible. They see a problem, and without much fuss, they tend to it immediately.
Hard workers subscribe to the thought that it’s easier to do something or fix a problem themselves rather than wait for someone else to do it.
Consciously or subconsciously, they also believe this is the best way of handling problems and that if someone else were to do it, they wouldn’t do it nearly as well as they could.
2. How Lazy People Solve Problems (If They Ever Get Around To It, That Is…)
When lazy people confront a problem, they experience a mixture of dread and boredom. Just like the hard worker, they understand that something needs to be done about it, but it’s going to take them a second before they do something about it.
Well, because they’re lazy.
However, when lazy people finally get around to fixing a problem, they are going to make sure that whatever solution they come up with won’t just fix the problem today but will fix the problem FOREVER.
How dreadful and boring it is to even deal with tedious issues like this once… let alone again and again.
So lazy people, when they eventually get around to it, are thoughtful about the solution they’re going to implement. They don’t want to spend too much time finding a solution, but they will spend just enough time to come up with an adequate one that will resolve issues like this indefinitely.
Here are a few mantras of lazy people:
“Set it and forget it.”
“Work hard now so you don’t have to do it later.”
It’s not that lazy people refuse to do any work at all. They are just really choosy about the work, time, and energy they have to put toward any endeavor that isn’t strictly enjoying the fruits of life.
That said, I am 100% advocating that you be lazy in your problem-solving.
The best way for lazy business owners to fix problems in their business is by creating systems.
What are systems?
A quick Google search (remember, lazy) offers this definition. A system is “a set of principles or procedures according to which something is done; an organized scheme or method.”
In context of your business, systems are procedures, policies, or staff you implement to solve persistent issues.
Here are a few examples of ways you can implement systems to solve problems and improve your quality of life:
- Don’t like scrubbing toilets every day? Find someone who can do it better and more happily than you can.
- Finding the gym lights still on when you open up in the morning? Create and implement a “closing checklist” for your coaches.
- Spending an hour every day trying to find a cute photo and witty caption to post on your gym’s social media, only to find yourself feeling “too old for this sh*t”? Hire someone to run your social media.
On the other hand, if you were hoping to burn out as a gym owner, the best way to solve these problems would be to continue scrubbing toilets, only to show up for your next class resentful about it; pay double on your power bill; and spend half a day researching social media marketing online only to be really overwhelmed with acronyms like DM, FOMO, ICYMI, and hashtag anything.
I have explained in detail how to figure out what you’re unhappy with (in business or life) and how to go about resolving it.
The first step is figuring out what frustrates you.
However, many of us know it’s not that easy.
When we’re stuck in the day to day, we don’t exactly have all this time on our hands to reflect on our “feelings” and find ways to cope with our frustration. It’s easier to bury our heads back in the sand and put a smile on our faces as the class files in for the next hour.
Working On the Business (Not In)
To even be in a position where you can solve problems long-term and not merely in the moment, you have to commit to extricating yourself from being in the business.
If you’re what keeps the day to day business alive and well, and you’re frustrated because you can’t fix looming issues such as how to create and implement a continuing education curriculum for your coaches: Don’t be!
You can’t be the hard worker and the lazy person simultaneously. You can only perform one role well.
I suggest doing everything in your power to be the lazy person, because ultimately, that’s what is expected of us as business owners, if we (and our clients) hope to see growth in our gym.
You want to solve problems with systems, but in order to be in a mental and physical space where you can do that, you have to take a step back from your gym to gain the right perspective.
You cannot stay stuck in the daily operations. If you remain as an operator of your business, you will always fix issues for today, two inches from your face, not with the long-term in mind.
From your vantage point, it is impossible to consider the bigger picture implications of a seemingly tiny issue (i.e. if someone fails to follow your simple direction as to where to put away the barbells, how do you think they’re going to act when you tell them how to run the gym in your absence?).
The question is not how you can be effective today. It’s how you’re going to be effective for years to come.
You owe it to yourself and your business.
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