Weight lifters understand the discipline of showing up every day, putting in the work, and then going home.
Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs have never had this experience. And that’s one reason why so many business fail. If you haven't developed the ability to execute a plan, then no plan is going to work for you.
Here are 9 lessons from weight lifting that you can apply to your business:
1. Stop looking for the perfect plan. "Program hopping" is when someone does a certain strength training program for a week or two, and then gets bored or frustrated…so they switch to the next one. It’s impossible to get traction this way. Similarly, most entrepreneurs are in search of a secret tactic that will somehow unlock crazy amounts of money. There’s no such thing. Marketing works when the right people see your message again and again until they buy - it’s rarely about using any one tactic.
2. Don't get lost in minutiae. In lifting, it's helpful to spend most of your time on "compound movements" — like squats, presses, and deadlifts — because they work the largest number of muscles at once. Similarly, you should stick with foundational marketing principles. A lot of entrepreneurs get caught up in little shit like which hashtags to use on Instagram, yet they don't know who their ideal client is, they don't put out a weekly piece of content, and they don't have a way for people to apply for consults.
3. Track your progress. Amateurs go into the weight room and their goal is to leave feeling like they worked hard. They don't write down the exercises they do, the weight they used, the reps they did, or their rest periods. They don't weigh themselves, or measure their body-fat percentage, or take pictures in the mirror. They have no idea how to tell what's working and no way to ensure that they are actually progressing. This is fine if you're just working out for an energy boost, but if you want to make meaningful progress then you need to keep a record. Same thing with marketing - be a professional and track your KPIs.
4. Don't compare yourself to others. Many people get discouraged when they start weight lifting because they're using tiny weights and they don't look like other people in the gym. This kind of comparison makes it easy to get discouraged and quit. We discount the amount of time someone else has been training or what genetic advantages they may have. Other people's progress is irrelevant - focus on what you can control.
5. Embrace discomfort. The only way to get stronger is by putting stress on your muscles. The only way to build a business is by doing things that other people aren't willing to do. Just because something feels hard or scary doesn't mean that you're doing it wrong. In fact, it probably means that you’re doing something valuable.
6. Put it on the calendar. If it's not on your calendar, it doesn't exist. This is true for training and it's true for marketing. Don't be that person who says "I know I should be doing more, but I just can't find the time." Marketing is the life blood of your business. It may not feel like the most urgent thing on your to-do list today, but if you don't do it then you won’t be around next month. So block off time for marketing each week and keep it sacred.
7. Commit for the long haul. If you go to the gym today and lift weights, your body will not look any different tomorrow. If you write a blog post today, your business won’t look different either - but that’s okay. Amateurs look for magic bullets. The pros are willing to work for months or years and let the work compound on itself. If you feel like quitting, read this.
8. Start small and work up. Just as you won't be able to bench 300 pounds on your first day in the gym, you're not going to be able to revamp your entire marketing strategy in one afternoon. It's much more important that you build the habit of working on your business. So choose one thing you know you need to be doing in order to get clients and just tackle that this week. Over time your confidence and capacity will grow.
9. Learn to love the process. Everyone wants to look good naked. But the people who stay fit for life are the ones who actually enjoy training. So make sure you are marketing yourself in a way that uses your strengths and matches your personality. Figure out what activities you enjoy (that also get you clients) and focus on those.
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