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Recipes for Success in Growing a Business: Part II
By Todd Durkin
It is said that you either “grow or die.” I absolutely love to study how we as individuals, organizations, and businesses continue to grow. I am as much into facilitating personal growth as I am business growth. Growth to me is something that as we continue to evolve and attempt to improve the quality of our lives, will inevitably allow us to achieve our life’s mission. Along the way, there are many lessons to be discovered and experiences awaiting. By Todd Durkin
This article stems from a meeting I had with my Fitness Quest 10 staff last month. Our company has recently opened our new additional 5,000 sq foot facility and there have been many people instrumental in allowing this venture to occur. I have come up with 8 topics to explore when growing a company. This is Part II of the article I have written for recipes for success in growing a business. I share the last 4 topics in this month's article; to read the first 4 tips from last month,  read "Recipes for Success in Growing a Business, Part I" .

It is said that you either “grow or die.” I absolutely love to study how we as individuals, organizations, and businesses continue to grow. I am as much into facilitating personal growth as I am business growth. Growth to me is something that as we continue to evolve and attempt to improve the quality of our lives, will inevitably allow us to achieve our life’s mission. Along the way, there are many lessons to be discovered and experiences awaiting.

Recently I had the opportunity to stop and think about the “growth” that my company, Fitness Quest 10, is going through and the positive transformation that is happening to our business and the many people involved in helping to create its success. Fitness Quest 10 has grown quite a bit since its inception as a one-man 2,000 sq foot personal training and massage therapy studio in 2000.

Our new facility is now open; a state of the art 5,000 sq. foot training facility with many services and amenities. Not only will our additional facility allow us to continue offering all the services we currently offer, it is going to allow us to offer even more services to better serve our customers. In addition to personal training, massage and bodywork, Pilates, yoga, and nutrition, our new facility will allow us to touch people in the following new ways:
  • Teleseminars
  • Annual Mind, Body, Health, Retreats
  • Life Success Coaching
  • Executive Roundtable Mastermind Groups
  • Metabolic Testing
  • Limited Memberships to include using the facility on people’s own time
  • Executive locker room with infrared saunas, country club lockers, and full shower facilities

June 1 is when we officially opened. This process has been just an awesome experience. I have learned many things and am proud of the many people that have contributed to our growth. I would like to share a few of the items I have found to be extremely valuable in creating a successful venture. In doing so, maybe you can apply some of the same lessons I learned to your life or business as well.

Negotiate your Deal
If your growth involves purchasing a building, negotiating a lease, or another party, it will probably require negotiation. For me, my most recent transaction required me to go through a lengthy 6 month negotiation to get the deal that I was comfortable settling with. The negotiation could involve tenant improvement dollars, length of lease, rental or purchase price, triple net (NNN) fees or common area fees, and many other intricacies that definitely should be reviewed by a real estate attorney. Being sure my lease had addendums for things like:
  • Moisture level higher than a 5 rating would require landlord to completely seal the concrete with a company that I chose
  • Fixing the rent with specific increases at select years increases instead of tying it to an arbitrary, non-related CPI (Consumer Price Index) that is “customary”
  • Rent abatement for select period of time
  • Option years with their terms so you can predict your future expenses

These are just a few of the dozens of things that will end up saving me a lot of money over the course of my terms. Remember, that it is a business and both sides need to “win”. Both sides need to make money. I just wanted to make sure that we got the best deal possible as we work to hard to “recover” money that was left on the negotiation table. My landlord ended up saying that he had been through hundreds of negotiations before and never has he gone through one like the one he did with me. Now while there were times that it didn’t look good that we were going to get the deal, I was ultimately fighting for the best deal so that I could see if I could take the next step in becoming “successful.”

Believe in Yourself and your Teammates
I recently read of a parable of a man named Philippe in Martin Rooney’s book, “Train to Win.”  Philippe wanted to be the best tight-rope walker to ever live so he decided to make an impression; he was going to push his wheelbarrow across Niagara Falls with 100 kg in it. With a huge audience that consisted of his family, friends, interested bystanders, and international press present, Philippe amazingly pushed his wheelbarrow across Niagara Falls. When he finished, he told the reporters that he BELIEVED he was the best tight rope walker and that he was willing to do what it took to get there:  hard work, perseverance, focus, sacrifice, perfect practice, and all the little things it took to be great. By walking across the Falls, he proved he was the best.

When Philippe was done only one reporter remained and Philippe asked the reporter this time, “If I had to do it all over again one more time, with no one looking on but you, do you think I could it all over again.”  The reporter said “Of course I think you can”. Philippe replied, “You think I can or you believe I will.” The reporter said, “I believe you could do it.” Philippe picked up his wheelbarrow, walked it over to the line and set it up for the feat to be repeated. He than took out the 100 kg weight and said to the reporter, “OK, hop in the wheelbarrow, let’s go!”

Ahhh, now that’s faith. Do you believe in yourself? Do you believe in your teammates or colleagues?  The story of Philippe is one that says it all, “Believe in yourself and your teammates.” Would you let me push you in a wheelbarrow? Would you let your teammate push you?  As Yoga Berra said, “Ya gotta believe, baby.”

Develop a System & Train the System

Regardless of your occupation, it is imperative to have a system to success. A system is a blueprint on how to create success in your operation. The system is the “how to do” aspect of business. Some examples would be:
  • How do you create great customer service?
  • How do you answer the phones in your business?
  • How do you hire and fire someone?

I can’t believe how many people still just “wing” their business, hoping it works. It’s like they’ll throw it against a wall and see if it sticks. Systemization will help produce success!

Regardless of your business, every aspect of your business should have a written system that is developed into an operations manual. This allows your employees to understand how to get things done so that you can create what I call “Fabled Service”. The system needs to be trained to all new employees and the system needs to be monitored and measured for all employees.

If you are an entrepreneur, business owner, or developing your own product, write down the “proven 3 step formula” to help develop your system
  • What am I doing?
  • Where am I going?
  • How do I get there?

If you are not a good writer, hire a company or invest in software to help you with this process. “Do what you do best and hire the rest” is a motto I have learned along my growth path. You can not afford to not systemize your business. As my good friend and mentor, Wayne Cotton told me 7 years ago, “Build your business like you are going to build 500 of them.  If you build only 1 or 2 of them, that’s O.K. Your business will be so much more efficient, organized and profitable.” Thanks Wayne, you are right.

Enjoy the “Process”
If you don’t love what you’re doing, it may be time to examine what you’re doing. That is not to say that life or business is always going to be easy or great, because it’s not. As a matter of fact, it will be full of obstacles, challenges, and decisions that can often be stressful. One thing that even I realize in my recent growth process is to stop and enjoy the process of growing. Nurture the process, enjoy the process, and watch the fruits of your labor grow.

I have two young boys, ages 4 and 2. My two boys are growing like weeds. While they do drink special “Daddy” shakes and eat nothing but clean food like fruits, vegetables, chicken, whole grain pasta (yeah right!), it seems like they are growing up before my very eyes. Those of you with kids can understand. Whenever I travel, which has been a lot lately, I will typically be gone for 3-4 days at a time. It seems like every time I come home, they have grown some more.

I don’t want to miss out on the process of “growing” if I’m too consumed on the end product.  In business, your business today will probably look a lot different today than it will 6 months from now. Enjoy the process of growth. Take a deep breath, it’s OK if things do get done tomorrow and not today and keep your eyes wide open to all the neat things happening all around you.
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