You’ve probably heard the saying about “before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water – after enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”

That’s what I do in my business. I chop wood, I carry water.

Today, I’d like to tell you the story of how that came about and why it’s become such a valuable business building tool for me.

It all started back during my time as a music student in college.

Year one was inspiring. I was a talented musician who ended up studying in the studio of one of the best organists in the world. During that entire first year, I was drinking from the firehose.

From the weekly four hour performance classes, to the academic work, to all of the hours in the practice room—it was all work, all the time. (Side note: I also had a full-time “second job” while all of this learning was going on. I had to get on the radar of my future wife. At the time, she had no idea that I existed, and I was clueless about how to fix that.)

Year two was different. Things started to fall apart. All of the “new stuff” I had learned now had to be assimilated and worked through. This created a huge amount of stress, angst and all around discomfort.

I got through with lots of coffee and lots of wine (red please).

Near the end of year two, things started to come together. I won a national music competition (my teacher had only ever placed 2nd ? and my “voice,” my unique value, started to become clear to me and those around me.

During year three, the momentum picked up. I started to pull free from doing what I was told to do and started to think and make music on my own terms.

During year four, I won a job (paying a whopping $31,500!) that included other applicants way older with advanced degrees. Me, the little punk, got the job.

So why am I telling you this?

Through struggle we grow. In fact, it is through struggle that we grow most.

No matter what you’re going through right now, you are prepaying for the future.

Everyone has to pay. You either pay now or you pay later.

What’s the currency?

Work.

My recommendation is to do that work, not to “get” somewhere, because the destination will most always disappoint.

Do the work because it’s worth doing.

Because not much will change at your destination. Even after you become “successful.” Whatever that word means to you.

I don’t think I’ve ever worked harder in my life than over the past few months.

And yet, when I wake up each day, I’m more energized than ever.

But I’m energized by the quality of my work more than by what the work is “getting me.”    I guess it’s the artist thing coming out.

What’s weird is that what I thought I wanted most (success) suddenly takes a back seat to something I value even more.

I thought I would value the results. It’s clear now that the work is what is most valuable.

It reminds me of the expression, “before enlightenment chop wood carry water, after enlightenment, chop wood carry water.”

I’m a wee bit shy of enlightenment, mind you, but I’m happier now to chop the wood and carry the water than I’ve ever been.

I realize now that the goal isn’t to finish chopping or to finish carrying. The goal is to deepen the value I get and give in that action.

How Chopping Wood and Carrying Water Can Attract Clients

The best part is, “chopping wood and carrying water” can actually become an excellent way to attract clients and business.

Back in my music days, I wasn’t exactly the world’s most disciplined when it came to practice.

We were supposed to practice four hours a day. Luckily I had talent, which apparently got me through. I just imagine what I would have done if I had really put in the time.

But I was too busy wanting to “get” somewhere to just sit in one place for too long and focus my attention on doing something truly great.

I only learned later in life that my apparent inability to just chill out and sit there for four hours was the sign of a person who, on the inside, was completely overwhelmed. Too much nervous energy and no idea about how to focus it.

It made slowing down a challenge I wasn’t prepared to overcome at the time.

I’m getting better at it. But only because I practice it. Every day, actually.

My process for “getting clients,” “getting customers,” “attracting opportunity” is probably the slowest method in the world. If there was an award for it, I’d probably win first prize.

There are no fireworks, no loud bangs, no amazing displays of dazzling achievement.

Instead, I attract through demonstration. I chop the wood and carry the water out in the open. People see it. Things happen.

It takes time. But when it works, the level of trust on which that relationship is built is a very beautiful thing.

Every so often I meet upon a stranger who says something like, “Hey, I heard you are great at ‘chopping wood and carrying water,’ could you help me?”

If you think about it, I get paid to practice what I love to do. It’s magic.

What’s your “chop wood, carry water” work? How do you demonstrate who you are and what you do on a consistent basis? What are you doing to develop that attractive force towards you? Let us know. We’d like to hear from you.

[Ed. Note. Jason Leister is a direct response copywriter, internet entrepreneur and editor of the daily e-letter, The Client Letter, where he empowers independent professionals who work with clients. He has six kids and lives and works in the mountains of Arizona.]
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6 Most Important Considerations for Starting a Fitness Business

Starting a new business can be thrilling and challenging. It could be terrifying when you think about all the details and every resource you need to get up and running. If you’ve done your research right, it will be easier to know what you are getting into and exactly what you need to succeed.

Most people choose to start their own businesses because they are ready to share their ideas with the public. And want to do what they love in their own way.

Others want to create a work-life balance that works for them. Ultimately there can be great opportunity to make money if everything goes as planned. The risk is worth it, most of the time for people who are entrepreneurial.

According to The Guardian, consumer spending on UK gym membership soared by 44% in 2014, driven by the growth in popularity of new, budget gyms.

The demand for affordable, high quality, no-contract or flexible contracts fitness centres is continuing to grow. People are now interested in staying fit more than ever. The popularity of budget gyms, including Pure Gym, EasyGym, Anytime Fitness and DW Sports, are most likely driving the increase even further.

If you are thinking about going out on your own and starting a fitness business this year, this will help you get started.

Find your niche

1. Decide on your niche market right from the beginning 

Which market do you want to serve and why? This should be very clear to you. Do your research and find out a profitable niche that can scale. Weight loss is popular. There are other less popular ones like injury management and even endurance athletes. You could also choose powerlifting, crossfit, yoga, or whatever you prefer that works for you.

But remember, going after a popular niche means more competition. It should be a niche you are genuinely interested in. That way making it a business won’t be difficult.

The planning process

Launching a brick and mortar fitness business can be overwhelming but once you get your planning right, you will be off to a great start. Put everything on paper. It pays to keep records.

2. Cost

Consider your fix costs (business registration, legal fees, rent, premise renovations, utilities, hiring and educating trainers, wages, décor items and furniture, initial marketing) and monthly expenditures.

What will be your monthly protected costs? How will you fund the business before you attract paying customers? How many active clients will you need to break-even or generate your desired level of profit? Think of every little thing that you will need to spend money on to before your business opens and plan a contingency.

Getting started right

3. Purchase appropriate equipment

Make a list of all the equipment you’ll need to get started. JLL Fitness have a great range of commercial gym equipments you can check out. Things like dumbbell sets, bars, exercise mats, weight benches, treadmills etc. cannot be compromised. They are the most important things you need for a fitness business.

4. Make it insanely easy to register

Set up a a great and easy to use website to educate and inform prospective clients of your offering and packages. And most importantly give new users the opportunity to register and book fitness packages right at the comfort of their homes. Make it flexible. Your prices should be competitive.

Getting a website up and running is no longer a difficult or expensive. There are great DIY websites available, such as Wix and Squarespace. This is one of the first things you should do once you are ready to kickstart your fitness business.

5. On discounts and special offers

Attracting customers or users is one of the hardest part of starting a business. It’s no different for fitness businesses. Give people a reason to become members. Why should people choose you over your competitor next door?

Special deals and launch offers can be a great idea and really draw people in. You can offer a few days or even weeks for free and start charging once users establish fitness habits. When you are getting started, make it big, exciting and tempting. Set and stick to your urgent end date to get people signing up as soon as possible.

6. Focus on amazing service to leverage worth of mouth marketing.

The first few people who register for sessions at your fitness business can make or break your new startup. Give them the results they crave and make your sessions the best part of their week.

The aim is to get them talking about your fitness sessions to their friends. Word-of-mouth advertising is crucial for every service-based business, and in the case of a fitness business, it’s key.

Final words

Building a successful business takes time, focus, persistence. Starting a fitness business is probably going to end up costing more than you thought. But that’s not a reason to give up or abandon your dream career.

Do everything in your power to sustain the business once you get started. You probably won’t see profits for months. Plan for setbacks.

Focus on attracting and retaining clients and your business will grow as planned. And build a team of trainers who share your same passion and want to see your business succeed.

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