Do you have a back story to how your business started? Do your employees know the why and what-for of the enterprise they work for? Employees need a story that they can focus on and a reason to identify with your small gym business. If that story is something that new employees can buy into, they will become a more effective part of your team more quickly.
Meaning is a higher human need that will override many failings. It help’s people understand what you’re trying to achieve and work harder to get you there. It frames the challenges and purpose that you’re pursuing. It’ll help your team understand the business.
Stories Build Teams
Now remember, you’re telling your company and business story for a reason. There are three things that you need to build in, to make it compelling. There has to be a reason or justification for starting the business. There has to be a struggle or threat to the existence of the business that you fought against or are determined to overcome. The third part is to explain how business answers the call and provides a result or solution to the problem.
I’m not going to repeat my story here; you can link to it and read it in full. But I’d like to use it to illustrate my point very briefly.
The Reason – I was asked to build a system to run 24-hour unattended fitness centers. It got off to a great start and showed lots of promise. That was the reason for Insight.
The Struggle – Putting it into practice, making it work and launching it as a business proved to be an epic struggle. For a while, it could have gone either way. There really was a danger because that’s what happens with a startup; you work all hours of the day and hang on while no one seems to appreciate the great value-proposition you offer.
The Result – With a lot of hard work we persevered and Insight is now working for more than a thousand customers. That number is increasing every day. It took the faith, conviction and passion of everybody involved but we pulled it off! Now we have an exciting and fun business that is winning friends and satisfied customers across the United States, Canada, Indonesia, and most recently, Ecuador.
What you know about a lot of organizations comes from the stories that have been told about them in the media. What you know about successful companies often comes from biographies of their founders. The best ones are where the founder tells their own story. For example, the way that Joe DeSena tells his story in his book SpartanUp!
Adopt A Story To Adapt A Culture
If you don’t do the telling, then your employees and members will tell each other a story that you don’t control. There’s always going to be chatter at the water cooler if you have more than two employees. The hazard of not having an official story of how the company started is that one will grow up by rumor and gossip.
Telling your story proactively will help you prevent the spread of rumors and help boost morale. The following three examples show how having a clearly articulated company back-story will make a significant difference and put you in better control:
• You’ve just taken over a facility that already has a team and culture in place and you need to take control.
• You’re starting a new business from scratch and you want to build the best culture from the start.
• You’ve just hired a new employee and you want to indoctrinate them into your culture.
It also helps to have a story that you can use for publicity, in your dealings with the media and any interested parties outside the gym. You certainly don’t want them making things up and sourcing your story from hearsay or third-party gossip. It also helps to have a story that you can include in press releases that announce new activities and events at your gym.
Telling my story has been a very effective way to connect with my team and my clients. When you put a human face on a business it helps people to align with your purpose, because it helps them know what that purpose is in the first place.
Over to you…
What’s your story? How did you get involved in the fitness industry? How did your fitness business get started?