We’ve had many conversations with gym owners recently, it seems, where they are seriously considering closing up shop. This is always a tough topic because it’s so emotionally charged, but it’s one that needs to be discussed.
Every small business owner struggles. It’s normal. It’s what you signed up for, whether you know it or not, when you opened the doors of your gym. And if anyone tells you differently, they’re lying – or they’ve never run a business.
What’s important to understand at the outset of this article if you are one of the ones contemplating your exit, though is that exiting your business does not equal failure.
I need to say that again because I know many of you won’t believe that: Exiting your business does not equal failure.
The majority of people have an idea. They want to step out and try it, but they are bound way too tight by fear. So they do nothing.
You are not the majority. You stepped out into the ring and started swinging. You may be getting beat up, but at least you are in the ring.
Let me actually tell you what equals failure more: Staying in something you know is not a right fit.
Things end. They change. They evolve. And the smart business person knows when it’s time for a change.
But knowing when to call it quits can save you a lot of further heartache and money.
You’ve lost your passion. You’re finding yourself annoyed by things that didn’t use to bother you, you’re tired of telling people what to do, you’re spending most of your time doing things you don’t like and/or you dread coming into the gym.
You’re seeing little revenue (and even less profit). You’re not paying yourself, you’re putting too many things on credit cards, you’re having trouble just making ends meet and you don’t foresee an end to the above. If you’re out of cash, think long and hard before accumulating more debt to keep the ship afloat.
Your health continues to decline. You’re not eating good like you used to, your workouts have become few and far between, stress never feels very far from you, and you constantly find yourself up in the middle of the night with your thoughts out of control.
You are frustrated you have to work so much. Running your own business is hard, especially in the beginning because you have to wear a ton of hats, meaning you don’t get much downtime (at all). But, when you get increasingly annoyed and angry you have to work so much, without having a plan to begin bringing on new people, you are on a quick path to burnout.
Your relationships are increasingly tense. You find yourself snapping at your spouse/partner more than usual, you’re finding too many reasons to not see your kids and you’re friends don’t even feel like they know you anymore.
You’re not meeting your goals after two to three years. Typically, it takes three to seven years to become a well-established business with roots that can withstand the storms. But if you’re two to three years in and still spinning your wheels, it might be time to rethink your plan.
You feel like you’ve “tried everything.” You’ve tried a host of new programs, new pricing and new marketing tactics. You’ve tried doing what others are doing, and yet everything seems to lead to a dead end road where you’re not nearly getting the traction you need.
You’re entertaining a 9 to 5 job more than usual. All of us daydream about that full-time, salaried position every now and then when things are tough. But, if you constantly find yourself being drawn to just collecting a paycheck, you might need to begin pursuing that other option.
Internally, I believe we all know when we need to call it quits. There’s an innate, almost sixth sense, we experience when we’ve given all we have and the tank is running on fumes. But it’s hard to do, because we’ve invested so much of our lives trying to make a go of it. And, it’s really tough on the pride.
Please, let that pride go. Life is too short to live every day at the end of your rope. Begin having conversations that will free your soul. There’s no shame in that game.