When PJ Menagh decided he wanted to open CrossFit Tigard P.A.W. in Tigard, Oregon, he still had three years left in the Air Force. He was stationed in Florida when he decided to start interning at a local Box, Militia Fitness, owned by Jordan Bowen. He worked for free with the agreement Bowen would offer him tips on how to run a successful gym, ultimately becoming a lifelong resource and mentor for Menagh.
“He gave me a lot and showed me a lot of things you might not show a typical Coach,” said Menagh. “He didn’t care to do this because he knew I wanted to open in Oregon, so I wouldn’t be close competition. When I moved home and started looking for spaces, I had a lot of phone conversations with him just on how things were going.”
As Menagh found out as a business owner, it’s exciting to go at it alone. You are in charge of your fate, you make the decisions. However, the reality is you might not know all the answers when a problem occurs.
Jay Williams, the owner of CrossFit Hale in Richmond, California, explained when complications arise and you don’t know the answers, it’s good to have a mentor to rely on and turn to, as they may have been through something similar and can relate to your situation.
“It is just way too easy to get lost in your own world,” said Williams. “If you aren’t careful, you can get caught up in doing the same things everyone around you is doing. If you do that, you’ll never be more than 5 to 10 percent better than the business down the road. If you really want to make change and open yourself up to something, you need someone from the outside who can look in and tell you what’s missing. You don’t know what you don’t know, and a mentor can help you see that.”
According to Williams, mentorship can be found in the least likely of people. While it is great to rely on Affiliates who have been through similar experiences as you, you can learn from successful people in other fields as well. There are bits and pieces of everyone’s experiences you can take from, in or outside the CrossFit industry.
“Have a parent who is retired? Find out how they saved enough to do it,” said Williams. “Do you have a friend who bought a house before everyone else? Ask them how they did it. If there’s a business in your town that seems to be crushing it, take the owner out for lunch. Ask the tough questions of the people around you to see what little things they’re doing differently and start doing those things.”
Menagh began to seek out more advice the longer he stayed a business owner. He found help through 321GoProject’s mentoring program. He quickly realized the Mastermind conference call — a monthly phone call with five to six Affiliates designed as a way to bounce ideas off one another — was one of the best things he could do to benefit his own growth as a business leader. Essentially, over time the group became mentors to one another.
“Ninety percent of the problems we are dealing with as Affiliates overlap,” said Menagh. “Everyone has a few unique things, but 80 or 90 percent of problems Affiliate owners have are things other Affiliates are working through or have already been through. Instead of trying to figure out how to increase rates on your own, there are hundreds of Boxes that have done it successfully and probably hundreds that have done it poorly and can tell you those stories to learn from as well.”
Williams explained he is always asking himself how he can improve himself. In his mind, if he isn’t learning then he isn’t growing, and a mentor, or someone who is willing to offer advice, is a great place to start.
“Get a mentor, now,” said Williams. “There is a game going on around you that you have no idea about, and you need to see how it’s played.”