Are You Stuck Trying To Do It All?

business fitness mba Apr 22, 2019


I like to provide a quick summary at the top of each lesson. That way, you can decide whether you want to invest 15 minutes of your time into fully comprehending it. If you don't, I can only hope that the 15 minutes is spent doing something life-changing because this is some life-changing advice. 

  • The most successful entrepreneurs will not be those who do it alone (DIY), but who do it with others (DIWO).
  • Until you break out of the mindset that you have to do everything yourself, your business won’t grow to anywhere near it’s potential.
  • Good leverage has a predictable ROI, bad leverage relies on hoping. Don’t take action blindly; choose leverage that offers a predictable ROI.
  • When DIWO, solve their needs first.
  • Don’t go into a proposal half-cocked; do your research first.
  • Optimise your existing systems first, then innovate later.
  • There are too many benefits to DIWO than I can list in short-form. At the bottom are 7 rapid-fire reasons to DIWO.



Are You Stuck Doing It Yourself (DIY)?

If you were to ask yourself whether your superannuation fund was a good return on investment, you’d probably say yes. If you asked yourself whether that would also apply to a house purchase, your answer would probably still be yes. Index Funds? Yes. Blue-chip stocks and bonds? Yes!

You would probably think that a generous return of 10% would be fantastic – 15% would just be out of this world.

My response to that is this: A 10-15% return pales in comparison to what you could return with the right joint ventures, partnerships or hires for your business. When you understand and leverage the talents of others, the return will crush any more ‘passive’ investments by orders of magnitude.

When we take a big picture approach to entrepreneurship, we’ll find that at its heart is the ability to leverage other people, assets, capital and the aggregate of efforts from yourself and others. Ultimately, the most successful entrepreneurs facilitate a give and take relationship where you help others get what they want, and they help you get what you want.

In this day and age, it’s a foolish mindset to believe you can do it all yourself. In an age where information is at our fingertips, where our collective knowledge doubles every six months, and where technology is rapidly evolving how we do business, the most successful entrepreneurs will not be those who try and do it all, but those who creatively and courageously collaborate and leverage the skills of others. When you try and do it all, you’ll end up achieving very little.

In this essay-style blog, we will do a deep dive on the dysfunctional mental model of being the ‘control-freak’ of your business who resists the help of others and insists on being the linchpin. Over the course of the lesson, we’ll crush the attitude that no one else can ‘do your job as well as you do’, or, can’t be trusted to ‘do the job right’.

By maintaining this attitude, you will seal your fate – and it won’t be a good one. By insisting on being a one-man band, you’ll condemn your business efforts to a best-case scenario of just-making-do, and a worst-case scenario of failure.

This begs the question – if trying to do it all has inevitable and dramatic costs, why do so many business owners try and do it all? The answer is in the distinction between good and bad leverage. Unfortunately, most inexperienced business owners can’t tell the difference, until it’s too late.

Good leverage is the result of investing in the right people – whether that’s as an employee or as a consultant. It’s about investing in the right equipment, or the right facility which produces a predictable and calculated ROI.

Bad leverage, on the other hand, occurs when you hire people, purchase equipment, or make strategic business decisions that you can only hope will produce a positive ROI – and in most cases – won’t. Instead of being a strategic and profitable business decision, it has now become a liability that costs you time, money and resources.

The right type of leverage – the good leverage that creates a predictable and measurable ROI, helps generate new leads for your business, convert more leads to customers, increases customer lifetime value and retention, optimises existing systems, innovates for change, improves the financial position, and creates new opportunities for you.

Unfortunately, for the majority of fitness business owners, you end up choosing bad leverage. This lesson will make sure that doesn’t happen to you.



When To Hire… And When Not To: Optimisation vs Innovation


If you’re scratching your head and wondering how you’re going to afford to hire a marketing consultant, sales consultant and operations manager to fill in the blanks in your business, rest assured, that’s not the advice I’m going to give.

The solution to not trying to do it all isn’t to go out and hire everyone you need to run your business optimally – that would simply put you out of business within a couple of weeks. Instead, the first step is to optimise your existing system – which for most of you – will be you.

If you’re the coach, administrator, customer support team, financial officer, secretary, marketer, content creator and salesman, the first best thing you can do is to make what you have, work a lot better for you. Here is an example:

Let’s say you identified that your sales process was inefficient. Prospects were hesitant to work with you and a lot left your presentation saying they’ll think about it, except they never get back to you. You’re currently converting at 30% and know you could be converting over 60%.

Instead of hiring a great salesman who will not only expect a solid base wage but a substantial commission, improve your sales process by investing in someone who can teach you how to sell more effectively so you convert more prospects into clients. Think of this as a performance enhancement. It’s like adding a turbo to your current 4-cylinder car – it won’t compete with an F1, but it will certainly leave its stock comparison for dead. This is an example where optimisation is more important than innovation – the lowest hanging fruit will always exist in optimising your current system, with more long-term, out of reach goals requiring innovation. 

The same goes for marketing. Instead of bashing your head up against a brick wall trying to succeed with the marketing tools at your disposal like Facebook Ads, the SEO of your website and direct outreach strategies, pay for someone to hand you over their proven system. You don’t need to hire a marketing department, you can first optimise your marketing strategy by getting proven, highly leveraged advice that guarantees a positive ROI. By enlisting a consultant or mentor for your marketing strategy, it will save you not only in the costs that would be incurred by trying (and failing) by yourself, but it will make you money. From my experience, simple but effective marketing strategies that are implemented properly in the fitness businesses we mentor and consult to exceed a 10x ROI. For every $1 that is put into investing in the right strategy, $10 is withdrawn. If you compare that to your current Superannuation (in the US it’s called a 401k) return, that’s about 990% better.

Taking this approach first actually serves the ‘control-freak’ nature of most business owners. In this way, you can leverage other people’s expertise but still feel like you’re pulling all the strings – you still get to call the shots, add your original and unique flair, and, ultimately be in control. Even though drawing on expertise begins with a cost – you end up being the real winner.

As part of this optimisation strategy in my own business, I paid for a FB marketing consultant to teach me how to run successful Facebook™ ad campaigns. For this, I paid him $10,000 US.

Even still, that’s a sizeable investment.

After learning from him, I began leveraging his ideas and implementing them into my marketing. The results at first were modest. But over time, my ads became more and more effective. These days, I can now acquire a new, hyper-targeted prospect into my business for less than $10 for our athlete development program. One in 7 of these become a client, with a minimum value of $5000. For a $70 investment, I make a $5000 return.

Do you want to know how many new athletes have joined my program since investing in this expertise? As I write this, 67 have come directly from Facebook™ ads. You do the math.

Knowing what I know now, the $10,000 US I spent to get some of the best Facebook™ training was singlehandedly one of the best investments I ever made. Back then, it was a huge leap of faith, but, I was convinced I could measure the return with the degree of proof he could provide. I couldn’t have imagined that the return would be over 25x… in the first 6 months.

 Most entrepreneurs never give themselves the opportunity to optimise their own systems by making strategic decisions that yield a positive ROI. Even though most know it’s the only option they have to step away from the brink, they don’t do it. They’d prefer to beat their heads against a wall, try and do it all without leveraging other people’s talents, advice and expertise, and, would prefer to operate sub-optimally getting lost in tasks and low-revenue generating activities. This approach is akin to madness – yet most business owners consider them lucid.

Before you hire, level-up your existing systems. Optimise, that first before expanding into more employees, more equipment, or a larger facility. There is so much growth potential in the optimisation of processes that are left completely untapped by stubbornness and the insistence to suffer and figure it all out yourself. Trust me, you don’t have that kind of time.


Shifting Mindsets – Going From DIY to DIWO.


You may have heard the age-old saying that if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go with others.

In business, getting through the start-up phase might be something you’re capable of yourself, but after that, is near impossible to maintain – the needs of the system simply can’t be met by one man or woman who has 24 hours a day.

If you want to create incredible opportunities for yourself and your business, you need to break out of the solo mindset (DIY – do it yourself) and embrace others (DIWO – do it with others). When you do, you’ll realise that there is always someone who can provide exactly what you need in the given moment – when everything seems unclear, you’ll be able to find someone who can help you clarity on the right strategy moving forward; when everything seems overwhelming, you’ll be able to find someone who can manage the operations so you can do what you’re best at; and when everything seems like it’s on the brink of failure, you’ll find someone who knows how to create quick capital so you have the breathing room to plug the holes and inefficiencies in your business model.

Here’s an example:

In November of 2016, I had been running Athletes Authority for the better part of 10 months. After investing $120,000 in that time, I had almost nothing to show for it. That reality would be fine in isolation – most business owners don’t turn an ROI on their business in the first few years. What was killing me was something else – I was almost dead broke.

Even though I’d spent the past 9 months sleeping on a 4 inch foam mattress on my storeroom floor; even though I was living off baked beans and toast (seriously, I was vegan at the time so it was regularly on rotation);  I was down to my final $2000.

To get me to that point, I had been trying to do it all – I was the coach, the content creator, the administrator, the cleaner, the marketer, the salesman and the strategic thinker. While I had a business coach, I had failed to see a return on the investment, so I thought it must have just been me – perhaps I wasn’t cut out for business? With only $2000 left in my account and the rent overdue, I took my ultimate risk (as in, the last risk I could take), by hiring my now best mate, Scott. At the time, he was working morning’s as Personal Trainer at Fitness First – just up the road from my gym. In the afternoons, he’d ride his bike down to the gym and coach my clients for me for $45 per hour for extra cash.

I was able to free myself up from my largest commitment – my own coaching – and go out and make a last ditched attempt at marketing and making sales. Because I was yet to be effective at direct-response online advertising – I went old-school and canvassed my existing networks – which included a rugby team – and joined 40 new members in one month, ten of whom became Personal Training clients..

On reflection, hiring Scott saved my business – and it was the most counter-intuitive decision at the time to make, and what most coaches never would give away.


This mental shift away from wanting to be a control freak and recognising my natural strengths – getting in front of people, building relationships, and making sales – helped me realise there was a supply of great people who could fill my voids for me. Once I verbalised the need and asked for help – help arrived in the best possible shape and form.

Understanding how to best reimburse those who you leverage in business can take place in multiple forms – you’re certainly not limited to ‘employing them’. In fact, for businesses who lack capital, employment is probably the last place I’d start. Here are just some of the options available to you that don’t involve employing staff and taking on what could be a significant liability.


 1. Pay for a result.


This is the obvious one and is more commonly known as commission. If you’re leveraging someone who is a coach, it would look like a payment per session completed – anywhere between 40-60% of the revenue generated. These roles are commonly called sub-contractors within the fitness industry. If you’re leveraging a marketing or sales professional – it would be on a commission for leads (marketing) or sales (salesperson) generated.


2. Pay once to learn their system.


As I mentioned earlier, the second way you can pay to leverage someone’s expertise is to pay them to teach you their (proven) system. If an expert has a proven model that can be applied to your business, then paying them to teach you how to apply will save you an immeasurable amount of money in the long run.


When I work with my mentees, most are taking a leap of faith and trusting me that they will get a 10x + ROI within a few weeks or months of the initial investment. These types of ROI’s are unheard of in traditional investment domains, so it’s completely understandable that it sounds suspect. However, paying for a system that’s proven has the potential to change your life if it’s applied first, adapted second, and optimised third.


3. Subsidise overheads to attract your A-team


Building a great team that can work toward a common strategic objective is tough – it’s at least in part, part of the reason you’re probably trying to do much yourself. If you can’t afford to hire great staff and remunerate them what they’re worth, you might be able to provide a different incentive that makes it all worthwhile – subsidising their overheads that they’d incur if they did it alone. If you have space to facilitate a great joint venture – say a world-class allied health professional – why don’t you provide it free of charge in exchange for a subsidy to your clients? Or, you could think of it in the opposite direction? Does another business owner have space that you could capitalise on, that would reduce your cost of operating? In exchange, could you provide them with your expertise or service in a way that makes it worthwhile?


Using this strategy allowed us to completely disrupt the physiotherapy industry here in Sydney. Up until early 2019, attracting world-class physiotherapy was costly, prohibitive and incurred lengthy wait times. By inviting one of Australia’s most respected athletic physiotherapists who had spent the last 6 years working in professional sport to use our facility free of charge, we were effectively able to mitigate all the risks and costs that go into running a business. By doing this, we were able to drastically reduce the cost of treatment and facilitate better outcomes for our athletes. This made our program highly leveraged – not only could we offer world-class strength and conditioning services, we were able to provide heavily subsidised physiotherapy services, too.


4. Increase sales via cross-promotion in a joint venture


Within any niche, there are non-competitive businesses servicing the same clients who you could provide value for, or cross-promote, that ultimately leads to more sales for you in your business, at a great ROI. If we were to take the athlete development niche, here are a few examples: sports retailers, clothing retailers, physiotherapists, surgeons, podiatrists, chiropractors, sports nutritionists, sporting clubs, talent academies etcetera. Creating joint ventures with non-competing businesses can in the aggregate, boost sales margins by 20-100%.


A mentee I worked with was the only strength and conditioning provider in a regional community. I recommended seeking out the local sports clubs, sports retailers, physiotherapists, chiropractors and other allied health professionals that athletes might visit and offer an attractive referral offer to them. In this case, we offered a $250 gym membership to my mentee’s facility as long as they spent $250 with the joint venture business.

This was a great value add for the joint venture business – the sports retailers could increase their checkout margins (they may have bought two pairs of shoes, instead of one), and the practitioners were able to encourage repeat business. In the end, the mentee benefited the most – he had another referral stream that cost him absolutely nothing and, most ended up loving the facility and joining after their gifted time expired.


A lot of business owners fear of leverage effectively stems on not knowing who to partner with or, feeling like they will be rejected. Both outcomes are understandable. The easy way to navigate this dilemma is to identify yours, and their, actual needs. While it’s true that approaching the top of your industry will likely result in a closed door, attracting joint ventures that are at a similar stage in their business journey can often be more fruitful. This ultimately comes down to the fact that both of you can service a need of the other. If you can determine what the joint venture is lacking and how you can solve that problem while simultaneously solving your own, you’re on a winning wicket. While this isn’t an easy task, it will produce immeasurable results for your business. It makes me think of an interesting example that occurred in our business.


When we moved into our larger facility in Artarmon, another business had just recently taken ownership of the property next door. After bumping into the owners out the front, we found out they were operating a brothel. It was a family business with a strong reputation (sorry, I couldn’t help myself), and they attracted some high-profile clientele. This clientele needed anonymity, but a significant lack of street parking meant that they were often driving away in fear of being noticed.

We ran our programs predominantly during the mornings and evenings and didn’t need our undercover car park during the day. Instead of leaving it empty for the odd midday training session, we hired it out to next door at a premium – equal to $44,000 per year. Their customers were happy because they were receiving the anonymity they needed, my next-door neighbours were happy because they weren’t losing business, and we had effectively paid off one third of our weekly rental obligation in one successful joint venture.


All the examples above represent collaborative ways to create a relationship and a win-win scenario for both stakeholders. I’ve had many mentees who prior to working with me, were having at it alone. It wasn’t long after working with me that they realised doing it alone was the most self-limiting path to take. Instead of letting them suffer down this dangerous path, I encouraged them to look at their networks and opportunities with fresh eyes so they could look to plug the holes of their business where they were deficient. The results were, and are, always remarkable.


How DIWO Can Change Your Life


By now you’re probably sold on the benefits and opportunities of building your empire with others and not trying to do it all yourself. Attracting others into your business and servicing their needs while simultaneously servicing your own is the foundation of a successful business, and will allow you to achieve scale, scope and velocity of growth simply not possible if you do it yourself. When you build your empire with others, you can take advantage of other people’s reach and brand; tap into someone’s intellectual property, enhance the competitiveness of your value proposition, improve your product/service delivery and increase your inbound marketing channels.


In December of 2016, a few days after my best friend and first ‘hire’ Scott had his accident (and losing his ability to move from the neck down), I received a facebook message from an old mentor of mine. The message offered condolences and support to Scott, and, he offered to pop in to the gym, have a yarn, and say g’day to take my mind off it all.

I took him up on the offer knowing he was a great person to stay in contact with his ties in professional sport and his position within the strength and conditioning industry. We had a sweaty gym session together (we didn’t have aircon at the time), and, had a good chat about how I was going.

A few days later, I received another message from him, this time, a little more serious.

“Hey mate, hope you’re well. Just a quick question... What would you be looking for in a business partner, if you were to have one?”

At this point, the almost strangling sensation of going at it alone had taken me to the brink, but, I had been putting on a very brace face. I told him what I’d look for – complimentary skill sets, someone who I could never train up, a different perspective, and, someone who could exponentially grow the business. That honesty seemed to strike a chord because a few weeks later, we met at an accountancy firm to incorporate a company together. That old mentor was Lachlan Wilmot, and the openness to DIWO, changed my life. What we created together, I could never have achieved alone. Lachlan brought a deep understanding and expertise to athlete development after 10 years in professional sport; he brought an attention to detail I simply didn’t have; he brought a unique, stern and empowering management style, and a work ethic that very few could match. What would take most private facilities many years to achieve, we did in two together. Exponential growth; achieved with a DIWO attitude.


7 Ways DIWO Can Exponentially Grow Your Business


1. DIWO allows you to optimise and innovate your core value proposition while expanding and harnessing the skills and expertise of others. While our gym’s core value proposition is and will always be strength and conditioning for athlete development, it has harnessed the expertise of others to make the value proposition significantly more leveraged – we provide NO GAPS athletic physiotherapy, affordable sports nutrition plans and sports psychology support at no added cost to our business. By providing a more complete solution to our athletes’, they achieve their results faster, they stay with us for longer, and they are more likely to be advocates of our brand.

2. DIWO allows you to do less managing so you can spend more time optimising and innovating. Instead of hiring a sports nutritionist, a sports physiotherapist and a sports psychologist, DIWO’s and JV’ing with them reduce the time it would take to develop the systems and manage the iteration process if you were to do it yourself. You can tap into their existing systems and IP and press play, immediately.

3. DIWO can add a marketing and sales pillar to your business. Most gym owners and strength coaches are competent in the least, and killer at best. However, most have no idea how to sell or market their services effectively. Enlisting the expertise of someone who is great at marketing and sales allows you to focus on your greatest skills while remunerating someone else (and satisfying a need they have) for them to produce results for you. This can be done through enlisting their IP or systems, through cross-promotion, or, by paying them for the results they generate.

4. DIWO enhances your credibility within the industry. Your reputation is synonymous with your ‘brand’, and your brand plays a large part in determining who your ideal clients work with. By aligning and collaborating with other experts, you can practically ‘borrow’ their credibility – the moment I partnered with Lachlan, my personal and brand reputation increased exponentially overnight.

5. DIWO reduces your risk. Let’s say you wanted to open an athletic development facility as a strength coach and the cost of operating the facility was $1000 a week (not likely but it’s an easy number to work with). Instead of footing the bill entirely yourself, attracting a great physiotherapist, sports nutritionist, sports psychologist, sports massage therapist and end-stage rehabilitation expert to use the space for $150 a week would instantly reduce your personal overhead to 25% of the original outlay. By servicing their need of a premium facility to operate out of, and they serve your need by reducing your weekly overheads and boosting your bottom line.

6. DIWO facilitates you entering alternative markets more rapidly. Now that you provide a comprehensive service, you can now enter a market that would have previously, been unreachable. This could be post-operative rehabilitation from surgeon referrals, sports clubs who need a comprehensive performance team, school’s sports departments that need consulting etcetera. By leveraging borrowed credibility and pooling expertise, you become a lot more than the sum of your parts.

7. DIWO can increase sales and profitability for you (and their), business. By increasing the number of referral streams you have in your business, you can drastically improve the performance of your sales machine and in turn, those who you collaborate with. Finding non-competing businesses that serve the same niche and creating proposals that facilitate win-win’s is well worth the time investment. You only need one of these to take off to drastically improve cross-referrals and revenue. As long as you have a good understanding of the lifetime value of a customer, you can put forth irresistible offers that make collaborating with you, a no-brainer.


Your Action Item


Don’t be crippled by the paradox of choice. List 5 low-risk, highly leveraged joint ventures or partnership opportunities right now and get to work implementing one of them. Whether you choose to enlist someone’s expertise to plug a hole and optimise an inefficient system, develop a partnership for cross-referrals; solve a need for a non-competitive expert that can add value to your existing operation, exchange a service or facility you have at your disposal for revenue, or look to sell equity for a unique skill set, DIWO is a must in today’s digital, hyper-connected world.


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