The 9 BIGGEST Challenges You’ll Face Growing Your Fitness Business from Zero to £50k/Month – and How to Quickly Resolve Each of Them

As your business grows, so do the type of challenges you’ll face. I define 3 stages of growth from zero to your first £50k/month in a bootcamp, studio or even online coaching. 

Here’s a breakdown for you of the 9 biggest challenges & how I resolved each one (and you can too): 

==== Stage 1: Launch ====

The first stage is where you start from nothing and intend to make your first pound in the fitness industry! 

>> CHALLENGE #1: You Have NO Clients & NO Reputation 

Solution: Your first priority when starting as self-employed are the 3Cs – clients, cashflow and confidence! 

I had NO money to start out with, no facility and no before / after pics.  

So I found a small patch of land to start training people. 

Then I knew I would have to DEMONSTRATE my value to my market – 

– I knocked on doors, talked to anyone I met, and eventually asked over a 100 women if they’d like to be trained for 30 days for FREE at my new bootcamp… in return for referring paying clients to me. 

I got this method from the legend Chris McCombsand it was a major turning point in my life, to which I’ll always be grateful.

I partnered with hair salons, nutrition stores and schools – anywhere that also served my market (of mums). 

This technique alone got me a dozen paying clients within 5 weeks.

>> CHALLENGE #2: Finding a “Proper” Location 

I couldn’t keep using the outdoor area (as it wasn’t really legal to do so)… and I wanted somewhere indoors to look more professional. 

I still didn’t have money to lease a studio or facility, so instead I rented an aerobics class space from a commercial gym – for about £15 an hour. 

I still ran my morning sessions in the outdoor area. But I added an evening group at this new aerobics studio on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays. 

Total cost was £45/week for the space… but it allowed me space to grow by another 20 clients. 

>> CHALLENGE #3: Needing to Scale my Marketing 

The “hustle” was necessary… but still slow, and unpredictable. 

I was studying marketing and realized I had to get into direct-response advertising & paid traffic. 

It was time to get serious – if I believed in my service I should have no issue paying to get clients. 

Facebook ads still weren’t a ‘thing’ back then, so instead Invested in a half-page colour advert in a local community paper. 

On the ad, I offered a 2-week free trial to bootcamp. 

The ad cost me £350. It got me around 50 phone calls over the next 3 weeks. 

26 of those came in for the trial. 

16 became recurring clients at my (then) price of only £67/month. 

This was when I ‘got on my feet’. I’d covered the Launch phase, got a core base of clients, and finally had some income to pay my bills. 

But there was no time to rest… because I was now into:

=== Stage 2: Systemize ====

The second stage requires making one of the biggest decisions of your life: 

– Do you want to remain in a job working for yourself (self-employed)… or, do you want to own a business that works for you? (business owner)

This phase brings its own set of challenges, starting with: 

>> CHALLENGE #4: Getting my first Stand-Alone Studio 

I stayed in the aerobics class hall for another month to build up revenue. Then I wanted my own place. 

Revenue was still tight (and I didn’t make ANY profit after paying myself a basic income) so I had to be frugal. 

I found a small unfurnished 1-bedroom studio, and converted it into a small-group studio. 

Fortunately, I could still runs larger groups in the car park area outside (it was quiet and my car was the only one there). 

I got rent cheap because the landlord who purchased the apartment block was struggling to rent them.

The main room was large enough to train 5 people. 

There was a built in bathroom 😀 

And the bedroom became my ‘office’ where I held consults and did paperwork.

Starting out, you do NOT need a major functional training facility that costs thousands. 

My total set up costs were £300/month for the apartment, and £200 for some kettlebells, bands and foam rollers.

Don’t get yourself into DEBT or leases you can’t afford BEFORE you’ve grown a solid client base and proven you can get results with or without the ‘fancy equipment’.

This was going well… until it began going TOO well…

>> CHALLENGE #5: Realize You are NOT ‘The Business” 

At this point work was a destructive obsession. 

My dream frugal studio became my biggest nightmare. 

I worked from 6am til 9pm every night… and had tossed & turned all night thinking about the studio in between. 

This was because I was getting lots of referrals and also leveraging Daily Deal websites (like Groupon) which at the time were popular.

I would run a new Daily Deal for a front end offer each month, usually getting an average of 20-50 new trial clients each time.

Before long I was fully booked. And had NO life.

Then disaster struck – my mother was diagnosed with a brain tumour and required immediate surgery. I had to travel back to the UK (from Cyprus where I’d done all of this). 

I left Cyprus indefinitely, and the “business” was reduced to nothing overnight.

That’s when I realized that I had a job, not a business. I worked for it, it never worked for me. 

In the months that followed I learned everything I could about building REAL businesses, systems, leverage, operations and infrastructure. 

My mother recovered, about a year later I returned to Cyprus to start over. With a new mindset. 

I was no longer a personal trainer who ran a business. 

I would now be the owner of a business that delivered fitness. 

>> CHALLENGE 6: Turning my Service into a SYSTEM 

This had to be done so that other trainers could potentially carry out my service and work with my clients. 

Serving clients is working IN the business… but creating systems & leverage is working ON the business.

I started with the tasks I most often did, such as answering the phone, creating social media posts, hosting consults, delivering sessions, client follow ups etc. 

I turned each of these roles into a combination of Checklists, Templates, Scripts or Tutorial videos, so that someone else could one day follow along and carry out the task to a basic level.

This gave me my first draft of the “operations manual” – the literal textbook of “how my company works”.

Now I was relieved… I could see the potential my business had for servings hundreds more people – WITHOUT sacrificing my life and energy to do that.

I knew my system worked from all the amazing testimonials & social proof I’d gained.

Now it was time to take things to a whole new level – serve more clients, train other trainers to work for me, and create a local brand!

I thought I’d “made it”… 

The reality was, however, that the real business challenges were only just beginning… 

=== Stage 3: Growth & Profitability ==== 

At this stage, I’m generating a low 6-figure revenue… and much of the business is systemized and documented.

Little did I realize, that now the REAL work begins…

>>> CHALLENGE #7: Hiring the first person…

I get it. Business is your ‘baby’. 

You don’t want anyone else getting their grubby mitts on it.

“What if the clients don’t like them?”

“What if they steal from me?”

“What if I can’t afford to pay them and have to fire them?”

3 big fears.

And I’ve experienced them ALL.

But you have to accept this happens in ALL businesses across the board. 

There are two tips I’ll give here to finding the BEST person for the job: 

Tip #1: Hire for personality, train for skill 

Look for the person with the most alignment to your core values & philosophies. Not who has the most certs or letters after their name.

Someone who is coachable, and wants to work to LEARN, not just to earn.

Tip#2: Have your main tasks systemized and ready for the person to follow. 

This allows them the best chance of getting the job done as you want it done. 

Using these principles I was able to hire trainers, admin staff and later facility managers who made a great ROI for the company, and were a pleasure a work with.

>> CHALLENGE #8: Financial Management & Profit Optimzation

Finances are the bane of most fitpros’ existence. But you can only avoid them for so long.

The more real your dreams to become a successful entrepreneur become, the more critical it is to understand the financial element of your business. 

Like most fitness business owners I went the first couple of years posting absolutely NO profit. 

After Id taken out money I needed (my own salary) and covered my expenses (which were NOT as frugal as they should have been), there was a drip of money left.

Until I get my next tax bill.. which would wipe out any measly profit AND force me to raise even more cash.

This is a game you need to stop playing. 

From now on, begin using the Profit First system (my team can walk you through it as they are trained in profit management) – start allocating even a tiny % of all revenue that comes in towards profit, in a separate account.

Then, allocate at least 15% towards tax, so its there to pay when you need it. 

Then, you must pay your expenses on the remainder of whats left. 

If you can’t.. then its a BIG RED FLAG that your company is spending too much and not returning enough. 

If thats the case (which it will be for 95% of you), then take instant measures to be more cost efficient, and also to generate more revenue from assets you’ve already invested in (like following up those leads who didn’t pick up the phone first time!)

When you dial in your financial management you’ll feel more clarity, confidence and direction than ever before. 

And its vital if you want to continue growing. 

>> CHALLENGE #9: “Filling The Void” 

The 9th challenge I faced was an odd one. 

It was the challenge of actually having what I always wanted – lifestyle freedom and options. 

I’d worked several years – trying, failing, hustling, learning, to get to the point where my business could work for me. 

And in 2015 I got to the stage where I had a facility I’d launched and grown, hired a small team, and everything worked so well that they didn’t even need me, 

I was twiddling my fingers and looking to fix what wasn’t broken, just to give myself something to do. To feel significant. 

This will probably happen to you too at some point. 

I was now in a void space, that I used to fill with my obsession for working more and longer hours. Now, all I could do was come to face to face with the feelings I’d suppressed for so long, and hidden behind my need to “do more’. 

And those were the feelings of guilt, fear, shame and doubt. 

The biggest threats to any of our dreams. 

I had to learn that I didn’t have to work all day, or do the same hours as my team. There was no guilt in doing so. 

I learned that I could earn more money than anyone else in my family… and there was no need to attach shame to it. 

And I learned that I could ‘let go’ and trust other people to take my vision to the next level… feeling no doubt or fear that it would all collapse unless I micromanage. 

Once you address -and build a better relationship with these feelings is when – I believe – you find the real ‘freedom’ that so many marketing and business teachers talk about. 

And these were the 9 biggest challenges I faced taking a fitness business from zero into generating tens of thousands of pounds revenue each month. 


Now, over to you. 

Which challenge resonates with you the most at this time? 

Which of these challenges have you already overcome, and what did you learn? 

Let’s discuss… so much to talk about here…  

Justin Devonshire

PS. if you’re ready for business mentorship, heres how we can help…

1. Enroll in our Fitness Business Mentorship & Mastermind program

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