6 Quick Hits on Growing A Business

6 Quick Hits on Growing A Business

A few days ago I tweeted this. It’s hard to believe I incorporated AHP six years ago. It’s so cliche, but where does the time go? I figured I’d expand a little on each of the six points.

  1. Be obsessed.

Kobe Bryant once said, “If you aren’t obsessed with what you do, we don’t speak the same language.”

Starting a business isn’t for everyone. You need to plan on investing at least five years before you’ll be able to scale back your role. That’s without a global pandemic that forced your gym to be closed for 6 of 12 months in the midst of your third year of operating.

It took me three years before I had a full-time employee other than myself. I didn’t have to answer to anyone but myself, but if I wanted an evening off or a few days, that meant the gym was closed and no money was coming in.

Don’t get me wrong. I have loved nearly every minute of it. I have always loved building things: creating a vision and working backwards to to make it into a reality.

But it’s not for everyone. You have to be obsessed. You’re going to have to work a lot. But I’ve always liked ‘work’. My ‘work’ is training athletes, something I’m extremely passionated about. Hell, I’m writing this blog post on a Sunday evening… It’s what I enjoy doing, so I do it.

“Life is not about plodding along at some kind of mediocre standard. It’s about working like hell to achieve a standard that is extraordinarily high, and then getting the satisfaction that comes along with that kind of super achievement.” – Ray Dalio

2. Money can’t be the goal. It’s a byproduct of excellence.

I recently read Atomic Habits, by James Clear, and in the first chapter he makes a very important declaration: Winners and losers have the same goals!

So with that in mind, it comes down to your systems, not your goals. If you create excellent systems, and execute within them, you can succeed.

In my particular place of work, the key is to excel in servant leadership. Success for me, quite simply, boils down to helping others reach their goals.

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar

3. You CAN mix family and business.

I employ two of my best friends, including my younger brother. They were my first two hires. Both started part-time and their roles eventually grew into full-time salaried positions.

I had so many people caution me against this. But, I’m a big believer in challenging a lot of the ways people have traditionally thought about the dynamics of work and career. Undoubtedly, running AHP isn’t all fun. It’s still work. However, I’m still in the building phase.

When it comes to working with Connor and Ethan, the positives blow away any negatives. I get to work with two of my best friends. We have a ton of fun on a daily basis every single day.

The challenge lies in the fact that I’m their employer and boss. We’ve done a good job of delineating the two relationships (employer/employee and brother/friend). There’s been a couple hiccups but the fact that we are so close actually makes them easier to manage.

Really though, the reason they’re easy to manage is because they’re great people who care about me and put themselves in my shoes and empathize with my position – if I’m ever not happy with them.

I guess the lesson is this: make sure you have extremely high quality, integrity-rich friends if you’re going to employ them.

4. Get the right people on the bus.

This really builds off my last point. Eventually, the business is not just you. You’ve got to bring in the right people who are motivated, open-minded, skilled, passionate, and conscientious. The growth of AHP the past two years is far more a testament to our staff than myself, at this point. We are growing at a rapid rate still, and there are some athletes that I don’t see all that often.

5. Create a vision and work like hell.

I’m a huge believer in creating a future vision state, working backwards to boil it down to what I need to do today to get closer to that vision. Arnold said it best, “My vision answers why.” He either had to do 200 sit ups, or he GOT to do 200 sit ups because he knew that was going to get him closer to Mr. Olympia.

Check out this video of Jim Carrey on Oprah to really bring home this message.

If you’re interested in the law of attraction, you should read The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho.

6. Leadership is lonely.

This one has certainly has become something I’ve learned more as the business has grown. I have to make a lot of big decisions with no counsel. Sometimes the consequences have a lot of 0s on the end.

We just expanded from 3,000 square feet to 16,000, increasing our overhead by five times. It can be extremely daunting and lonely at times. You get a complaint from a customer? It’s up to you to decide the best course of action. An uncomfortable conversation with an employee needs to be had? You have to the be the one.

I don’t know much, but I know this: Trust your judgment. Bet on yourself. And double down. But these strategies only work if you’re holding yourself to a high standard, aren’t afraid to pivot and course correct, continue to learn and grow, and most importantly are constantly re-evaluating your processes and systems.