Our biggest business lessons

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This week on Barbell Business, we talk about some of the biggest lessons that we’ve learned in the past year.

I say lessons, but in all honesty these are mistakes. We’ve experienced a tremendous amount of growth this year simply because we discovered a ton of stuff that didn’t work very well, and then we stopped doing it!

You could say the ultimate Barbell Shrugged secret to business success is to fall forward quickly. You have to act quickly on your best ideas and opportunities all the time, for better or for worse, because it’s the only way you will discover what works and what doesn’t.

I wish reading and podcasts were enough, but that’s not so. Real education is in the doing, and, unfortunately, you’re likely to experience 99 failures for every success. But you need that. When you fall forward, you are forced to learn, evolve and progress.

That said, you don’t have to repeat our mistakes. Here are 6 big lessons that will save you an immense amount of time, money and stress.


Look back more often.

I know you have big dreams, that’s awesome. But never overlook or diminish your current achievements. Don’t skip forward, that’s a trap. Instead, take the time daily to consider and appreciate where you come from, what you stand for, and what you’ve earned.

With that daily calibration, you will always be heading in the right direction.


Go together.

A very common mistake that new gym and business owners make is that they think they can do everything solo.

I know you feel confident. But everyone feels that way at the start. Try thinking of your business like it was a garden. When everything is within reach you can easily plant, water, weed, harvest and sell yourself. But as the garden grows, so do the responsibilities. Work stacks up quicker and quicker. If you can’t keep up, you’ll be overrun with weeds and pests before you know it.

There is a better way. First, stick to what you love and do very well. Stay focused and you will maximize your effectiveness and happiness. For all the other stuff that you suck at, hate, or just don’t have time for, hire someone to do that for you ASAP! I know it might seem costly up front, but consider what all this work is costing you per hour. How much would you have to pay yourself to do that work? And wouldn’t it be a lot more fun to work alongside someone who actually enjoyed doing that stuff?

In time you can build a great team, which is by far your most valuable asset in business. Keep in mind that, “You can go fast by going alone. But if you want to go far, go together.”


Pace and appreciation are everything.

You have to dream big, there’s no question. If you don’t stretch the capabilities of yourself and your team, you’ll never move beyond mediocrity. But there is a risk that comes with pushing too hard, too often.

The last thing you want is to give people the impression that the current work and effort isn’t good enough. Not only will you miss all of your hard earned success by looking too far forward, but you could also undermine your entire business.

Always search for ways to work and create better. Make note and call for a solution, but you should be very careful when suggesting fixes. That is demotivating. Instead, push for discovery and progress. 

Find the next best thing to do, make the moment as perfect as you can, then move on with a smile on your face.  

@mike_bledsoe kicking off our 2nd ever #BarbellMastermind with a discussion about productivity!

A photo posted by Barbell Business (@barbellbusiness) on


Keep it positive.

From time to time, you will need to step in and fix something. In business it could be a training or management issue. As a coach, maybe your task is to correct the technique of an athlete.

In any case, you should keep in mind that people learn much better when they hear about what they’re doing right. If you only point out errors – the weaknesses that need correcting – then your primary message will always sound like criticism to the person you’re trying to help.

Start with the positive and what’s going well.


Where is your focus?

What’s the next best thing you could do? What’s the one project that would move your business forward the furthest in the next 30 days?

A lot of people squander their time trying to think up more great ideas. That’s fine, I guess, but the obvious truth is that great ideas and opportunities are incredibly abundant, to everyone! But that’s not what it takes to succeed. In fact, in time you have to say no to ideas and opportunities far more than you’d ever imagine.

You don’t have to worry about everything that you could be doing right now. Instead, try starting each and every day by refocusing on the very best thing you could be doing with your time. In just a few days you’ll notice how much the effect, I promise.


Holes scale up to create bigger holes.

Think about your mentors. Lay out their timeline. How long did it really take them to experience any true success? It’s a lot longer than you think.

When you look at stories of success you only see the equivalent of an edited highlight reel. If you could watch all of the behind the scenes footage, what you would notice is that everyone has to put in the time studying, fucking around, and failing over and over. This is how we all have to learn.

You cannot skip the work, and you cannot scale up before you are ready. If you are raw and there’s a hole in your game, so to speak, then you will probably rush right into failure.

Gym owners make a great example. If your first facility isn’t doing all that great, you might be tempted into opening up another gym to help boost your revenue and accelerate progress. But what we see all the time is that those holes in your game only double in size when you scale before your time. You only end up amplifying your headaches and workload.

Here’s a great rule of thumb that will help keep you honest early on. This whole process of growing a business is probably going to take you twice as long as you think. Also, it will likely end up costing you three times your current budget or more. But if you keep these lessons in mind, you’ll be more prepared for the inevitable mistakes.

You’ll never avoid all of the fuck ups, that’s for sure, but at least you won’t lose sight of where you’re going, and what matters most to you.

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For more great business information, visit BarbellBusiness.com and sign up for the newsletter. We’ll keep you informed about some awesome Barbell Shrugged events we’ve got planned for later this year.

You won’t want to miss it.

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