How to survive the scaling

Scaling is exciting — but it can also come as a huge shock to a small business owner’s system. I recently moved from a personal training facility with 400 members to a new two story Genesis Health + Fitness gym in the same suburb with over 1800 members. In the first month I learned a lot, faced unexpected hurdles and experienced some pleasant surprises.

If you’re considering scaling, here’s some advice on how to survive the critical first month:

  • Be willing to experiment, don’t make assumptions. With a larger company, there’s a wider audience to target, and what you’ve made successful in your smaller company may not necessarily be a perfect fit for your larger company. For example, I wasn’t sure how the 5am to 7am lesson plan would be received locally. It would have been easy to assume that these early morning courses were going to be a flop – but instead we decided to experiment and put a number of early morning options on the board. In the end I was blown away by how many members we had in the club at that time of the morning. Don’t assume anything – try it out.
  • Have a great team in place. Hopefully, if you’re scaling in the same industry, like me, you’re lucky enough to already have a great grassroots team. They need to grow this team to support a larger company, preferably well in advance of the reopening. Your team is critical to your success as the business grows because you can’t do everything yourself.
  • Postpone all non-critical meetings and commitments. With a larger company, there are more people taking up your time—employees, suppliers, partner brands, and customers. Don’t overdo it in the first month as you really need this time to focus on the new business and also to step back and think about opening so you can make good decisions at this critical stage. By week five, you’ll be ready to take a closer look at the different parts of the business and plan the necessary meetings.
  • Expect curveballs. Statistically, with a larger company, more can go wrong and there is a high probability that it will, so you must be willing to tackle the hurdles with a positive attitude. In the first week after opening we faced terrible weather and flooding. It would have been easy to break down and yell, “That’s not fair!” but we just had to move on to fix the problem. Again, your amazing team will be invaluable.
  • Have an external soundboard for speed dialing. There’s a lot going on when you start a larger business and because it’s such a busy and intense time it’s easy to lose track. Identify a few key mentors or other people you respect and who are familiar with the industry you work in. You need to call them sometimes to support your ideas and decisions and to ask for advice. I have been fortunate to have the crew behind the Genesis franchise as my support network, along with other trusted professionals I have met through many years of working in the fitness industry. It’s a great reminder that the network you are building will be so valuable if you decide to grow it.
  • Plan your rest. You must be strict about ending the day and making sure you get both fresh air and sleep. It’s easy to go from the office straight to the laptop at home to work on things behind the scenes — but pushing yourself too far is a recipe for burnout. Set a strict cooldown and stick to it (and don’t take your phone to bed with you!). How to survive the scaling

Adam Bradshaw

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