or... How and Why a "Fitness Guy" started teaching other fitness and allied health service businesses how to make and keep more of their hard earned money.
Since I am not much to look at, I always like to include my family in photos when I can. I purposely used this photo of one of our trips to Disney, because I can honestly say at one point in my life it just wasn't possible to make those things happen.
Entrepreneurial blood runs in my family. My fathers father had an Arnold bread route for many years. My mom's father got out of the Navy after WWII, opened a bait shop and starting running boats on Lake Candlewood in New Milford, CT. I worked with him a few summers, and he worked hard! Seven days a week, from before the crack of dawn until dark. When he was running boats or out on a bait trip, grandma ran the store.
I thought they were loaded! I asked him what he had for sales one day, and he told me a hundred dollars. To a 13 year old kid, that was a lot of money. I had absolutely no concept of cost of goods sold, overhead, or operating expenses.
What hit me hardest was after all those years of hard work, after about 50 years in business, he just closed up shop and walked away. He had made a living, but he had built nothing of lasting value. I don't blame him at all, lots of small businesses do the same thing. But that stuck with me.
After I got out of the Army and started working in the "real world", I found myself restless. I was also susceptible to "get rich quick" types of "opportunities", and wasted a lot of time and money on various MLM and the like. But I also gave a shot at opening my own "real" businesses up. I had worked in a sign shop and for an engraver, and had a pretty good eye for design, even if I couldn't draw a lick. "Carlson Custom Engravers" and "Synergy Sign and Design" were just two of my (failed) endeavors. My wife Nancy was basically supporting the family as I chased another hare-brained scheme.
When my good friend Scott offered me a job working as a Computer Aided Designer, I jumped at chance and spent the next 10 years putting my dreams of owning a business on hold while helping other people fulfill their dreams. I got to draw some pretty amazing buildings, as our specialty was equine facilities. Horse people have some serious bucks!
The company I worked for treated me well, and I eventually worked my way up to running the department. But I knew deep down i didn't want to do it for the rest of my life. My co-workers knew it too. I was pretty miserable to be around at times, thinking life was passing me by. But due to the grace of God through some challenging circumstances, I got another chance.
Get Fit NH is Born
Long story short (too late, right), Nancy and I lost our third son, Derek, to SIDS. This was a huge wake up call for me. My formerly athletic body, kept in shape through high school and one year in college by athletics, and while I was in the Army by being, well, in the Army, was now 280 pounds. I realized at age 37 I needed to do something about it. Nancy was expecting number four, and I was NEVER going to be able to keep up. So I got to work. Pretty soon I had lost about 70 pounds, and people were asking me how I did it. I figured "this is America, I am going to teach you how I did it and charge you". And so Get Fit NH was born. I got my personal training and nutrition coaching credentials, and in May 2008 ran my first class in my backyard, with one paying client, nine crazy friends, and my unbelievably patient wife.
Our Mission? To coach our clients to get healthier, because when they got healthier it made them happier, and the world sure could use some more happy!
Fast forward 10 years. What started with those humble beginnings turned into multiple locations serving thousands of clients. Multiple awards for both our team and the facilities. Recognition as High Performance Business Owners of the Year in 2016. We developed a world class coaching team, and were able to provide them salaried positions, health care and retirement plans - very unusual in this business.
The best part? We made money, a very good living, with the ability to travel (like to Disney) and do things I never dreamed possible. And unlike Grandpa, when I decided to sell one of our locations it was a valuable asset, earning me hundreds of thousands of dollars in the sale, and the new owner a legacy of excellence.
I say all that to say this; I am not a genius. But I am smart enough to surround myself with the right people. I got business coaching almost right from the beginning, and put into place the systems that helped create a winning business. For that I am very grateful.
With the success we were achieving came some challenges - good ones, but still challenges. One of the things that eluded me for the first few years of owning the company, and also eluded the pros that I hired including my coaches, attorneys, and accountant, was the cash management of the business as we scaled up. "Make sure you have enough money to pay your taxes" is great advice, but can you be a little more specific when you define "enough", please? I thought to myself "There has GOT to be a better way!" I wanted to put enough aside for taxes and expenses, but not so much I didn't have money to reinvest in the growth of the business. I also wanted to know what was reasonable and sustainable as far as paying myself as the owner (turns out to be a lot more than I thought), and I wanted to make sure that our expenses were in line with what a healthy business of our size should have. And so the search continued. Business books, podcasts, seminars. All in search of what I knew had to be out there.
And then the heavens opened. I stumbled on a book by the name of "The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur" by Mike Michalowicz. I had to find out what that was all about, so I downloaded the audiobook. It was phenomenal. Mike reads the book himself, and his enthusiasm, humor, and ability to simplify is contagious (and a little outrageous). After that I listened to another of his books "The Pumpkin Plan". Again, solid gold.
It was in one of those two books (I can't recall which one) that he does a high level overview of the concepts of Profit First. Now THAT, I thought to myself as I listened, is something I have to check out. Another quick visit to Amazon, and a hard cover copy was on it's way. I figured since there was a little math involved it would be good to see it on paper. (I did eventually buy the audio book too - it's just good entertainment).
Since We Started Profit First
Why "Fit For Profit"?
The similarities between getting in shape and managing your money always amazes me. There really is no magic to achieving either one, but you also can't just wing it and hope for the best results.
Success is all but assured when you have:
Follow these key points, and you can and will achieve Fiscal Fitness, and build a company that truly is "Fit For Profit".
I read the book "Profit First" in one sitting. The next day I was opening my accounts. After one year of implementing Profit First in our business, our sales in Concord (the location I sold in 2018) had increased by 23.7% - cool. But even better, the benefit to owner had increased a whopping 119% - to just shy of $250,000. Yeah, I think we might be on to something here.
And in much the same way Get Fit NH was born, Fit For Profit was born. I was compelled to get this system into struggling business owner's hands. I introduced the Profit First system to other entrepreneurs in my Mastermind group, and started working with some of them even as I was earning my Profit First Coaching credential. Some of them will tell you they were really struggling, and implementing Profit First into their businesses has resulted in not only business growth, but peace of mind. No more sleepless nights wondering if the bills are going to get paid, and confident that their business is on a solid foundation. When you have mouths to feed, that is Job #1!
And so here we are. Helping other hardworking entrepreneurs do what they do best; serve their communities, grow their businesses, take care of their employees and families, and achieve the genuine satisfaction that comes from knowing they are making a difference.
The really cool thing is that by helping other businesses in the field become more successful and make more impact, it helps fulfill the original mission of Get Fit NH to create more happy through health and fitness, in an even bigger way.
How much greater of an impact will your business make when it's "Fit For Profit"?