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A Fitness Business Plan: How to Plan Your Work & Work Your Plan

By Sean Greeley

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Too many fitness professionals and business owners get stuck in growing their business.

They stay on the same “hamster wheel” month after month, with little results to show for their efforts in business growth activity.

Be sure to give those a read if you haven’t done so yet.

I’m going to assume you’ve already got a powerful dream that both inspires and motivates you, you’ve already set clear goals with deadlines, and you’ve defined the appropriate priorities to move your business (and life) forward quickly.

If you’ve missed any of those, this article won’t be useful to you.

BUT when you’ve got those things in place, it’s time to get down to business!

And that means organizing the work to be done and then taking action.

So, let’s begin…

1. Break down all tasks.

Most projects begin with random fits and starts of energy. While I don’t want to discourage anyone from taking action, you’ll save yourself a whole lot of frustration by first breaking down all the big projects you want to accomplish into smaller tasks.

What must be done first?

What must be done second?

What about third?

A project is defined as a grouping of two or more tasks.

In large companies, there are many full-time roles and certifications ALL about how to properly plan and manage projects.

But for the small business owner, there is little to no education on this subject matter whatsoever.

But without strong systems in place here, you’ll continue spinning your wheels.

All projects begin with lists of tasks to be completed.

And lists grow once you begin to write them.

That’s why I’m not a fan of using old school pen and paper (or the legal pad).

Pencil and paper is great (my Dad in fact LIVES off lists everywhere around the house, office, in his car, etc.), until you end up having to rewrite your list 20 times over and over again because of all the changes, notes, and additions that will inevitably crop up once you begin working on something.

Try to find a web-based project management software.

I encourage you to invest some time on this because there is a LOT of leverage to be gained by organizing your work, your meetings, even your staff reports into a system like.

2. Organize tasks into sections.

As you create a project and start creating lists, you’ll find that you’ll do better by organizing your work into sections.

This allows you to think better about each “section” of a project you’re working on, and all the things that may need to be done in that section so you don’t forget anything.

Essentially, you’re “chunking” the planning process… which, in turn, delivers better thinking.

This is a great strategy for getting better results from your work, with less effort.

For example, let’s say you’re going to launch a new promotional marketing campaign.

You might create a section and then tasks within that section like this:

  • Section 1: Campaign Strategy
    • Choose target market (WHO they are, WHERE they live, WHY they buy)
    • Brainstorm offers
    • Select offer and terms including deadline, limited number, etc.
  • Section 2: Creative
    • Write 25 sample headlines and define core messaging
    • Write landing page copy
    • Write lead generation emails and social media copy
    • Write follow up campaign for leads that register
    • Design landing page layout and images
    • Code landing page

And so on.

Now, if I just created a big monster list of 50+ tasks, it’s a whole lot harder to organize everything and ensure nothing has been forgotten.

But when you create the sections, you chunk it, you cover more ground, you don’t miss things, and the work becomes more motivating to begin and engage.

This is important because no one who runs a marathon starts out thinking about the finish line.

You have to mentally break down the race into small pieces and just focus on doing your best to run to the end of the next section.

It’s the same when working on big stuff to grow your business.

Break the marathon down into small sprints.

Each one you complete allows you to build your confidence and gain momentum.

3. Understand dependencies.

Ok, this is where a lot of people make mistakes in their plan.

Then they get stuck and can’t more forward.

And then they miss deadlines they’ve committed to.

And this leads to anger, frustration, and disappointment.

But this isn’t life or death.

Growing your business is supposed to be fun. So stick with me and have some fun here.

Dependencies are tasks that depend on other tasks to be completed before they can begin.

For instance, let’s review that sample promotional marketing campaign project.

  • Section 1: Campaign Strategy
    • Choose target market (WHO they are, WHERE they live, WHY they buy)
    • Brainstorm offers
    • Select offer and terms including deadline, limited number, etc.
  • Section 2: Creative
    • Write headlines and core messaging
    • Create landing page
    • Write lead generation emails and social media copy
    • Write follow up campaign for leads that register

You can’t start working on the landing page… until you’ve clearly defined all tasks in the strategy section.

Makes sense, right?

You can’t start writing headline and creating a page when you don’t know who your target is or what the offer is.

Yet this is one of the many mistakes that so many people make.

They just dive in to start creating a landing page.

Listen, the landing page is EASY.

The strategy takes work and must be given your full attention to be completed before you start writing copy. Got it? Good.

4. Assess work required.

Ok, so the next step in organizing your work is to assess the amount of time that will be required to complete each task.

Give it your best guess.

We generally plan project tasks in 15 min increments.

So if a task will take 1 hour and 30 minutes, we put it in brackets and a decimal point to show the increments in hours, like this [1.5].

There’s a great “hack” in some softwares which allows you to select multiple tasks and the program will automatically add up all the numbers in brackets to give you an estimated number of hours.

Or if you’re going old school and using pencil and paper or a spreadsheet, then simply add it up as you will.

This is very helpful in creating a good plan (that many miss) because when you know how many hours it will take to complete a project, you can then review the number of hours you’ve got available to personally work on the project… and make some decisions about what you are willing to hand off or what existing commitments you must renegotiate.

Which leads us into the next step of…

5. Assigning owners to all tasks.

Alright, if you’ve been doing it right… you’ve now got tasks, you’ve got sections, you’ve checked things over for dependencies, and you’ve assessed the work required (in terms of hours) to complete tasks.

Now that you have a clear picture of everything to be done… it’s time to assign some ownership and accountability.

WHO will you assign to own WHAT?

The biggest mistake most business owners make here is in the DOING.

They try to DO too much.

When they don’t have to.

I should know.

I’ve made this mistake many a time.

The only way you learn how to overcome this (like most things) is by lots and lots of practice.

And by growing and developing a strong team you can rely on.

That team may include employees.

It may include part-time contractors.

It may even be someone you hire on Elance for a small job.

There is an art and science to delegating.

And even when you outsource…. that takes time too.

You have to find the right people to outsource to. Then you have to give them the work along with some direction.

And you have to review and check their work.

And so on.

If that seems like a lot, it’s because it certainly can be.

THIS is why so many business owners just give up and say, “The heck with it all, it’s easier if I JUST DO IT ALL BY MYSELF.”

Sometimes that’s true.

And many times it’s not.

You don’t need to have a big team or income to work smarter here.

In fact, some of the biggest gains in productivity we see often come from full-time fitness professionals who begin to hand over just a few hours of administrative work each week to someone else and cover it all with the income from just one additional training session on their schedule.

So get smart.

And start learning how to let go.

Delegate and outsource as many of the “little things” as you can.

Then over time grow and build up a team you can delegate the “big things” to also.

6. Once you’ve got your list of tasks you’ll own, connect tasks with blocked calendar time.

The next pitfall so many fall into is having a great project planned and not connecting their tasks with a calendar.

Good planning involves not just planning your work correctly, but committing blocked time to make it happen.

Of course, this will force you to review the other commitments and constraints on your calendar.

Which will force you to review your priorities, ensure you’re adjusting your schedule to be in-line with them (sometimes a complete overhaul of your calendar and commitments will be required), and having to make some tough calls about where you SPEND your time.

Unlike money, when we spend time we don’t get it back.

It’s the one finite resource in the universe we all have to manage very, very carefully.

Frankly, this is some of the most important work to be done in personal growth and development, business, and life.

How we choose to spend our time shapes everything around us.

It shapes our health, our wealth, our relationships, and more.

But shifting back to your calendar and this project you’ve now planned… you’ve got to plug your assigned tasks into the space you’ve got open to work on projects.

When you’re charging hard, it’s all too easy to bite off more than you can chew here.

In most cases, that’s required admission to get off the ground and grow to the next level.

BUT defining some of your own limits and “unbreakable rules” for work/life balance are also important.

Where’s the line? Where’s your balance?

That’s something only you can answer.

And this post is NOT about that topic.

It’s about cranking through your project to move your business forward.

So, let’s save that one for another time and continue onto…

7. Staying disciplined with execution.


At the end of the day, when all is said and done, execution is what moves your business (and life) to the next level.

We grow by taking action.

By getting things done.

And that takes hard-nosed, pig-headed discipline.

Don’t let yourself get distracted by other “stuff” going on.

Ignore the bright shiny objects.

You’ve got to focus and press on through the finish line!

That journey challenges us all mentally, emotionally, spiritually and more.

But as you win the internal battles that go on, the business battles become easy to win (over and over again).

Here’s some truth: “The results you have today are a direct reflection of the choices you’ve made and the actions you’ve taken.”

If you want a better business (and life), everything boils down to making better choices, and taking better action. When you do THAT, you get to enjoy better results.

Then do it over, and over, and over again.

And keep going!

P.S. Enjoyed this article? I weaved in 16 mistakes fitness business owners make that stop them from moving forward with major projects that will grow their business in this article. Can you find them in here?

I challenge you to re-read and post the ones you can find to comments… I’ll run a drawing and send out one of my favorite books next week to all successful entries. See how many you can find! HINT: The real benefit to you is identifying the mistakes so you can avoid making them yourself!

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