The following is a guest post by John Burch of The Biz:


In part one of The 5½ Biggest Fixes Every Small Gym Must Make we were discussing the little things no one ever really talks about when running a small business. In this article we will continue to dispel myths and disrupt conventional wisdom of what you need to do to RECLAIM YOUR BIZ!


FIX #4: Know your (small) BIZ.



You’ve been part of other groups, like us all, that are mostly much larger than any BIZ any of us will own. Think of it for a second. The job you left to run your business probably had a bunch more employees than your BIZ. How about the people with military experience? Or college? Nearly EVERYTHING we’ve ever known has been bigger than your one- or two-man show. And we small BIZ owners have no idea how drastically different BIZ changes with size.


Here’s one specific example: try establishing “departments” in your small BIZ. Fail. Everyone needs to be able to row in the right direction on cue. The only BIG business I know that does this small-BIZ-style is Apple. At the executive level they all contribute to any aspect of a product’s development. Even though they have specialties, a designer could say he doesn’t like the marketing and the marketing department would have to listen to his input.



Look no further than your small city or town for OTHER small BIZs (non-franchise) that run like clockwork. Next, buy the owner a lunch or just visit a lot to gather as much information as possible. I would also have a healthy diet of books, blogs and videos to learn from.


Pay attention not to what you know they should do, but what they do differently than conventional wisdom. All small BIZ’s should (and do) run by different rules and dynamics than BIG businesses. If you’re currently trying to run your small BIZ like a big one, start looking at the small, but successful, BIZ’s around you for clues to the right path.


FIX #5: Create a team that is better than you.



This is going to be confronting for MANY people. You might feel a twinge of your ego trying to defend itself or think, “That’s just pure craziness. Every one of my clients loves me most because I’m the best.” This is reality check time. Some, not MOST people reading this, had that thought or a similar one. If your BIZ is soooo wrapped up in your persona, relies on your charm, drive, and face time your days are numbered. Especially if you ARE, indeed, the best person there.


Here’s a question to ask yourself if you are currently in this situation: Why? Why are you the best? Why does everyone only want to deal with you? Why have you made a business that CANNOT succeed without you? A business where you are the star attraction, main bread winner, and source for all knowledge isn’t a business - it’s a prison sentence. You’re trapped behind bars, you just don’t know it. You’re the highest-paid slave.



Be able to spot talent. In my opinion it’s far more important to have someone who is a 9+ with people skills, who could learn to take his 6+ technical skills up a few notches. You want this person on your team. There has been more business lost through bad customer care than actual technical problems.


Next, you’re gonna want to share the spotlight with your clients. At the martial arts schools I ran, and at CrossFit LA, we held major events to reward a person’s hard work with public recognition. Now, this isn’t “employee of the week” type stuff, this is really after a person went through hell. The hell of comprehensively understanding the entire BIZ and affecting the bottom line.


They started with investing something I coined called “sweat equity”, kinda like an intern, then progressed to more low-level, non-critical, tasks. Once they succeeded at that they made their way up to things that were business drivers and the impact was noticeable on the bottom line. And then they got to share in the spoils of the growth of the BIZ and THEN they got the public recognition. Once they’re at this point, you have an amazing contributor because they know your BIZ so well. So make sure you let them contribute, produce and grow. All the while keep an eye on them and adjust as needed.


The biggest reason people have problems with this is not in the execution. Now, I’m not saying it’s easy to create an amazing team. But nothing amazing is ever easy. The biggest problem with this is the small BIZ owner has security issues. They’re always thinking someone is trying to “rip them off” or steal, or cheat, or whatever. I believe if you think and feel this way, with insecurity, then it will manifest in reality. And so will the opposite. And if they’re really good, they help expand your business before they open their own shop.


FIX #5½: Ignore Everybody.



Everyone has an opinion and this is the problem. Your closest friends, family members and maybe even your spouse will feel they know you and it’s their right, no their duty, to tell you how you should build/run/work your BIZ. And it’s going to be mostly unsolicited opinions. You just have to mention you’re doing something  they kinda might have heard about and then just wait for the flood of free advice to hit you like an avalanche (Lord, protect those BIZ owners who actually ASK those people for their opinion).


Let’s step back a moment and say you were building a space shuttle. Would those same people speak up? When you said you were figuring out a new propulsion system, would they even make a sound? Most likely not unless it’s that ONE uncle who had too much to drink at your barbecue. Now, if your drunk uncle is the creator of, say, Angry Birds, or maybe something in your line of work, you should probably listen.


Nearly all of your friends do an okay job at working in someone else’s BIZ, but none have experience running a BIZ of their own. And if they do have a BIZ, chances are it’s not as successful as it could be and potentially failing. This phenomenon is due partially to being overly familiar with you. Some still see you having trouble matching up your socks, so YOU NEED their opinion, they think. Another reason is many people (and some current BIZ owners) vastly underestimate the complexities of starting with nothing that will eventually provide something.



Be rude. Okay, don’t spit on them for offering unsolicited advice, but you have to protect the ideas that pop into your head. There’s a war happening on that critical landscape between your ears when you’re just starting out. It’s your job - no - it’s your duty to be as selective as possible during this phase. The best thing you could do is stalk a person who did EXACTLY what you want to do.  If you’re already open, look at who you confide in, or accept information to insure it’s worthy of taking up mental bandwidth and make necessary changes as needed. And you could always check out resources online that tell you how it is, not how you wish it was.


Now, to be fair, what I wrote above isn’t the ONLY way you could be successful. What I propose (from working with over 500 businesses) is integral to being successful, while limiting your risk, and requires the least amount of cash up front. And it’s not ALL the information that you’ll need however the crafty BIZ owners will take these ideas and run with them.


If you missed out, make sure you read Part 1 of The 5½ Biggest Fixes Every Small Gym Must Make.


For more information and tools for running a gym visit:

The Biz: Raise Your Game