The startup world has never been more competitive. New businesses open every single day, and you either stand out or get lost.

If you know what to focus on and what to avoid, you’ll already have a leg up on the rest of your competition. While others follow the “idea fairy” or refuse to market offline, you can swoop in and easily win leads and prospects for your business.

To give you a head start on success, then, I want to share some of the lessons I’ve learned with all of you newer entrepreneurs out there. Here are 10 things you can learn from Fit Body Boot Camp that I wish I knew when I was starting out.

1. Know Your Niche

Your niche is the specific section of the population your product/service appeals to most. That’s whom you should always be marketing to—the people who will benefit most from your products and, thus, are more likely to purchase them.

Fit Body Boot Camp’s niche is super specific. Most of the people that work out at our boot camps are women ages 25-55. Our short 30-minute workouts cater to the woman with a busy lifestyle—the stay-at-home mom, the woman in med school, the woman on the 9-5 grind.

It doesn’t stop there. We don’t do deadlifts and bench presses at our boot camps, nor are our workouts performance-based. Instead, we use equipment that makes more sense for someone trying to lose fat, such as kettlebells, bosu balls, and sliders.

What about marketing? Of course, our marketing team uses language and images that resonate with our target demographic. We also gather success stories of people in our target demo, which shows leads that someone just like them is getting results from our training.

The entire experience is tailored to our clientele. They love it, they rave about it to their friends (who are usually in our target demo), and we win more clients. You should be equally specific in your product/service/experience design—as well as your marketing—so that you can cut through the noise.

2. Experiment ONLY When You’ve Mastered Your Niche

So many startups follow what I like to call the “idea fairy.”

The idea fairy is the voice that tells gym owners to start Zumba classes in between their boot camp sessions. It’s what tempts people to focus on the design of their logo more than their actual business.

Look, you might be amazingly creative. I get it. That’s awesome. But being creative alone doesn’t equal money. Being the go-to solution to a problem? That makes you money.

We run a boot camp program called “Fit Body Forever” (FBF) at some of our locations. We realized that our boot camps attracted interest from a lot of older people (seniors 55+), but many had trouble getting through our workouts. That’s when it clicked: We could offer a boot camp program that they could keep up with and benefit from.

Our FBF clients don’t care about losing fat or getting a six pack. They just want the functional strength to move around better and live longer. Again, a completely different market from our regular demographic: women 25-55.

That program is a hit in our boot camps that run it, but that’s only because we introduced it after we established our normal model. Had we tried to do both when we were just starting, we wouldn’t have gotten either off the ground. But since we rolled it out after we established our successful programs, we just used our proven model—with some tweaks—to cater to seniors. It worked.

You can use that same technique in your business. Once your core business model is dialed in, look around to see if it can help people in a different demographic with just a few small tweaks, then go for it.

First things first, though: Focus on the one thing you can do better than anyone else. Sell it, make money, and then see whether there’s potential to start another stream of revenue elsewhere.

3. Funnel Clients to Your Services

Everyone’s got problems. Your job is to convince your prospects that they need what you’re selling.

So how’s that done? By funneling your clients to specific programs.

If a client reaches out, ask them questions. Try to understand where they’re at in life and what their needs are. If they don’t reach out, you can always write an interactive Facebook post (something like, “What are your weight loss goals?”) and get people to write comments that you can reply to.

Our Fit Body Boot Camp HQ team answers inquiries and comments every day. We start real conversations with people and get to know who they are. You should do the same thing, even if you’re just a “solopreneur.” As you build out a team, you can delegate this to them.

Once you determine prospects’ needs, pair them with the products or services that will benefit them most. You aren’t just selling them—you’re trying to improve their lives.

4. Build on Recurring Services

Fit Body Boot Camp sells 12-month boot camp memberships, which you can either pay for in full or on a monthly basis.

Our owners pay us royalties for all the marketing, copywriting, and coaching we provide, and these royalties are paid on a monthly basis. We sign our owners to multi-year contracts, which becomes another stable source of revenue for us.  

The lesson? Offer programs and services that commit clients to long-term payment plans.

This does two things. One, you don’t have to sell them over and over again—they’re committed to you. Two, you have a better chance of upselling them on your higher-priced products/services because they’re already paying you money.

5. Track Your KPIs

Your KPIs are your “key performance indicators.” They track how well your business is doing on a daily basis. Basically, all of your KPIs will come back around to revenue, profits, or costs. For example, almost all businesses have a sales quota as a KPI, because that translates directly into revenue.

But not every business’s KPIs will be the same—including yours. That’s because every member of your team will have a different method for contributing to your profits, revenue, and costs, so giving them all a blanket statement like “we need more profits” doesn’t easily translate into daily marching orders.

Let me use Fit Body Boot Camp as an example. Every month, we track the number of franchises we sell, our online marketing revenue, website traffic analytics, and more. These metrics tell me what works in my business and what I need to change because they all tie in directly to our revenue, profits, and costs.

What are your KPIs for success?

6. Build Email Lists

Stay in front of your leads’ and prospects’ minds at all times.

One easy way to do this is to build an email list. You can do that in bulk by creating a funnel on Facebook, wherein people give you their email address in exchange for something free and practical, like a 7-day cookbook or a free ebook download. For Fit Body Boot Camp franchising, we give people a free copy of our “Six-Figure Fitness Business Blueprint.”

You can even take a look at how we structure our funnel here.

Once you have an email list of leads, send them free content, advice, and more. In other words, be constantly offering value. People buy from sources they trust—it’s why name brand products do so well. When you go to pitch them on your product or service, they’ll already trust you as an expert, making the sale that much easier for you.

7. Set Expectations for Your Team Members

I used to be the guy that was obsessed with having my team like me—to the point where I couldn’t give them critical feedback because I didn’t want to sound like a jerk. I would buy my team Starbucks and invite them over for barbecues all the time because I wanted to be their friend.

I still do team-building fun stuff, but in the early days of FBBC, I didn’t know how to be a real leader. My team members took advantage of this and didn’t put in their best work. Why? Because I rewarded them before they put in the work.

Ultimately, I decided to make a change: I would set the tone for my team. Step one was to raise my own personal standards; I stopped staying up late and coming to the office groggy and stressed out. I stopped emotionally reacting to bad news and trained myself to respond with a plan of action. I also trained myself to become a better communicator.

Once I became an example my team could follow, I earned their trust and the right to raise my standards for them, too. Today, I expect world-class service. I expect my team members to give me more than I ask for. And I expect each one of them to be a grade A team player.

When they hit the “grade A” mark, I reward them with raises, unrivaled retirement benefits, and healthy bonuses. With each of these perks, I explain to each team member specifically what they’ve done to add value to the business and why they deserve theirs rewards. I also show them a path to the next step in their advancement. Once they know that I reward hard work, they give me their best 24/7.

You should develop this same approach with your team, even if it’s just you and one other person. It’s the only way to attract and groom the best talent in your industry, which gives you the ultimate competitive advantage.

8. Don’t Be Afraid of Offline Marketing

A lot of people say that offline marketing is dead. It’s not. In fact, with more people crowding the online marketing space, there’s a lot of opportunity offline to set your business apart and get people’s attention.

I teach our franchisees to network with local businesses, especially the ones their potential clients go to. Again, you’ve got to be at the front of their minds all the time.

Here are a few offline strategies our owners use (with massive success):

  • Invite the employees of a local business in for a free 21 days of boot camp
  • Set up lead boxes (boxes that encourage interested leads to send you their info) inside local businesses
  • Get a press release written and blast it out through your town’s media outlets

As you might imagine, online marketing will still be your go-to lead generation source. But offline marketing is a great way to target the right leads in your area.

9. You Might Start Slow, But Stick With It…

Most people overestimate what they can do in 1 year and underestimate what they can do in 5.

That’s what happened for me with Fit Body Boot Camp. We became a franchise in 2012 and steadily grew. This was back when I had yet to be the leader my team needed me to be, and was making a lot of the franchise sales calls myself.

Around 2014, I was tempted to quit. I had a business partner who was dragging down team morale by giving terrible instructions and hurting our relationship with franchisees. I even had employees actively sabotaging the business. That’s when I made the decision to man up and become a real leader. Make no mistake: It was a long and difficult process.

Then 2015 came. We started doubling and tripling our sales numbers. Last year was our fifth year as a franchise, and we now boast 650 locations across multiple countries with highly qualified franchisees running each location and a full HQ team to service every franchisee.

It’s no surprise that this success came at the same time my team began to step up their game. I found my footing as a leader and set out clear expectations for my team members.

What’s the secret to sticking it out? Two things: Know your mission and build your emotional resilience.

When your mission is big enough, nothing—not even the crap life throws at you—can stop you from accomplishing it. And when you’re in control of your emotions, you make better decisions that improve your quality of life.

10. Give Back

This past year, our team decided to raise money for Toys for Tots. We ran a promotion across all our boot camps where you could pay $77 for 21 days of boot camp. We gave 100% of that revenue to Toys for Tots. It would have been really easy to shave a little off the top for ourselves, but that’s not the go-giver’s approach. We just wanted to give, no strings attached.

The result? Our franchisees bought into our vision, and we raised $250,000 by Christmas. They also got a bunch of leads from this promotion, many of which became long-term paying clients.

The universe has a way of giving back to those who give.

It all stems from gratitude. Gratitude makes you want to pay it forward. You become what I like to call a “go-giver.”

The go-giver sends his clients gift cards simply because he appreciates them.

The go-giver donates to charity—on an ongoing basis.

The go-giver networks with others by asking the question, “What can I do for you?”

All that giving earns the trust and respect of others. Clients become fiercely loyal to you. News networks want to feature you for your charitable donations. Other entrepreneurs want to work with you because you don’t exude selfishness.

Give without expectations. You will be surprised at what comes your way in return.

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What startup success techniques have you used? Share them in the comments below! And be sure to see what Bedros Keuilian and his amazing team are doing at Fit Body Boot Camp by visiting them online.

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Bedros Keuilian

Bedros Keuilian is the embodiment of the American Dream. Arriving in the United States from the communist Soviet Union back in 1980, his family went from being broke to eventually adding value to their new community. Today, Bedros helps over 45,000 fitness experts grow their businesses. Bedros knows the American Dream is NOT dead, because he is living it right now.