In his book, the E-myth, Michael Gerber differentiates between different types of personalities which should determine your place in the business world, as either Entrepreneurs, Managers or Technicians. The Manager focuses on achieving results through others, and his/ her role is to plan, implement and organize systems, and produce an outcome desirous to the entrepreneur’s vision e.g. The Fitness manager who organizes and manages group fitness classes run every evening at a health club. The Technician is more hands on and concerned with the fulfilment of a specific task/ skill e.g. a Personal trainer may provide fitness sessions and is seen as a Technician.
It is difficult to be all 3 at one time. Although we may have to fulfil different roles whilst running a business, one needs to decide which one of the 3 fits your personality and is your primary role in order to be effective.
The Entrepreneur can be defined in Merriam Webster’s dictionary as ”the person who organizes, manages, and assumes risks of a business or enterprise.”
Another definition by the Harvard business school defines entrepreneurship as “the process of creating or seizing an opportunity and pursuing it regardless of the resources currently controlled” (Timmons, 1994: 7).
Often there is a misconception that entrepreneurs are ”ideas” people”, but in reality, many entrepreneurs are not successful due to new ideas, but rather the ability to identify opportunities, strategize, and provide solutions to problems, which are most effective in the workplace.
Characteristics of entrepreneurs
There have been many books written about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, and each will prescribe ”the characteristics of an entrepreneur.” There is also much debate as to what personality traits make a good entrepreneur, as there are examples of entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson who exudes charisma and is highly innovative, whilst others who are seen as boring and methodical in their approach. The truth however is that it is not simply a case of entrepreneurs having a God given gift, it also involves one making a choice as to whether a) you want to be an entrepreneur, b) have the skill set, and c) are willing to take the risks and make the sacrifices.
Below are some characteristics/ success factors, seen to be necessary to succeed as an entrepreneur:
• The ability to identify problems, produce ideas in order to solve the problems, and pursue this idea/ dream.
• Entrepreneurs are willing to take calculated risks in pursuit of a dream.
• Sacrifices-entrepreneurs may need to be willing to make sacrifices in terms of time, finances and relationships.
• Entrepreneurs don’t give up easily and see the long term, big picture. They have a realistic outlook in business and are honest and straight forward.
• Be able to sell! Although not everyone enjoys sales, this is a vital part of any business.
• Good entrepreneurs have an understanding of the market place, customers and needs.
• Self-Confidence-Entrepreneurs like to be in control of their goals which involves a degree of skill mastery and self-confidence, and will be relentless in pursuit of these goals.
• Interestingly enough, Entrepreneurs are driven by achievement, not necessarily by material wealth.
• Conceptual Ability-Entrepreneurs have superior conceptual abilities. This helps entrepreneurs identify relationships in complex situations. Chaos does not bother them because they can conceptualize order. Problems are quickly identified and solutions offered. The drawback is that this may not translate well to interpersonal problems.
• Entrepreneurs are problem solvers, and as such are sometimes seen as have an objective approach to relationships i.e. they are more concerned with accomplishment than with personal feelings.
Resources needed by entrepreneurs
• Commitment-Personal commitment to the business is vital to the success of the business. Unless you are 100% committed to the business, it is unlikely succeed. It has been said that most new businesses take at least 2 years to be financially stable, so plan for the long road if you do start you won business.
• Start-up Capital-Is one of the most common factors preventing Personal trainers from starting their own businesses. Gym equipment can be very expensive, so it is important to choose very carefully. The best route in this instance is to approach either the bank or a private investor. In both instances, one will need to provide a thorough business plan before there is any form of investment. If you have the patience, save up until you can afford to achieve your ultimate goals!
• Financial Support-Once you have started the business, it is important to ensure that cash flow is consistent. It is advisable to apply for an overdraft facility when starting a business, in the event that you do not have much money saved for worst case scenarios.
• Knowledge and Skills: the training which you have done will equip you in the fitness industry. The more skills that one has, the more options for the Fitness professional e.g. someone who has not done a course in group fitness cannot earn money taking group classes. Courses such as the Corrective Exercise Specialist up skill the Personal Trainer, and provide the opportunity to attract a market that he/ she did not have before doing such a course.
• Equipment and Facilities-this is particularly relevant to the fitness industry. As a Personal Trainer for example you may want to eventually set up your own gym. If this is not financially viable one may need to look at working out for a gym which provides the facilities which you need. The facilities needed in the fitness industry can be very specific i.e. some gyms may have pools, whilst other don’t. Some gyms for example don’t allow athletic training/ oleic weightlifting, which would be a problem if you aimed to train athletes. Once you have decided on your market, ensure that a facility that you work out of is relevant to what you would like to achieve as a fitness professional
• Access to Clients: this is one of the most important aspects of gym gym/ fitness industry. The benefit of working with large corporate facilities is that there is a steady flow of feet through the door. These feet through the door are potential clients and a resource in itself!
• Support-whether in the form of family support or mentorship, it is wise to have someone to discuss issues surrounding your business
Factors determining the success of a fitness business
The strategy which one employs will depend on the size and type of facility. The following are some guidelines as to factors which will determine the success of your business:
• Education and training-The success of the business will be determined by the entrepreneur’s ability to implement all aspects pertaining to administering a fitness business. The entrepreneur will therefore need to possess skills such as financial, management and human resource administration as an example.
• Experience-As they say, ”there is no substitute for experience”. Academic qualifications provide the building blocks for a successful career, but it is necessary to have a practical understanding of the industry before embarking on a new venture.
• Research-know your market and the market trends and needs. Most large-scale operators will go to great expense to investigate population demographics, and product need/ competition in the area.
• Business plan-A business plan will determine operations at all levels i.e. marketing, operations, sales strategy etc.
• Ability to sell-A good sales and marketing team can determine the success of a health club facility.
• Location-Once you have done the research, ensure that the location which you choose matches your marketing strategy/ target market.
• Economic-The economy within a country affects the expendable income of an individual and therefore dictates the affordability of services such as personal training/ luxury facilities. The financial standing of an individual can sometimes be a limiting factor in gaining new venture capital.
• Cultural influences-in some cultures it is for example not deemed appropriate for a woman to run a business, as her role is seen to be one which focuses on caring for family needs.
• Start-up capital-setting up a health club facility can be very expensive. Make sure that you plan carefully, and know exactly what it will cost to implement the venture. Banks will require a solid business plan to secure a loan.
• Recruitment-The people who work with you are a key ingredient in the success of your business. The business plan should detail human resource and recruitment strategies. Most fitness businesses will have departments which include:
• Operations-a team of employees who look after day to day running of the facility
• Finances-including accountants and bookkeepers
• Sales-this is often one of the largest departments in a fitness business
• Customer relations-so as to ensure member retention
• Administration-e.g. front reception staff
• Fitness team-including PT’s and gym instructors
• Management-Each section of a fitness business will have a management structure
If you are a new business, you may not have the luxury of employing so many people. It is however essential that you are linked to professionals in fields such as accounting and marketing/ professionals whose services you will need in order to run a professional business.
One of the best tools in assessing the needs of a business is to perform a needs analysis i.e. what functions will the business be performing, and what are the needs in terms of resources.
A SWOT analysis as part of a business plan, will ensure that you have an accurate idea of what resources your business will need.
Once you have determined needs, investigate how you can address the resource needs. In some instances, where you cannot satisfy the resource needs, you may need to re-adjust your business plan e.g. if you cannot afford a full-time accountant, you may hire a part time bookkeeper who has the skill set which you require.