The following is a fairly common question/comment, so I thought I’d address it here:
I’ve been thinking about whether opening a CrossFit gym is in my best interest…I’ve run the numbers and it seems a daunting task to cover overhead and make a living.
First: The overhead required for starting a CrossFit box is likely lower than beginning any other business (I’ve never owned any other business, so I really can’t speak to that, but if you start small and buy gear and expand as you grow, as many affiliates do/have done, you can get by with very little initial capital expenditure).
Second: If you structure your program offerings properly and offer a mix of private training (I will need a whole other post on this) and group classes you will find it fairly easy to attract the numbers to not only cover your overhead, but support yourself and then some. It takes time and hard work (CrossFit’s growing popularity and knowing some key people in your town doesn’t hurt either!)
Third: I would never recommend one to open a business of any sort unless you are robust, risk tolerant, and are willing to do what most are not: sweat and take the heat…sometimes for quite awhile.
Perhaps more important than the questions of covering overhead are the following:
Do you love training other people and would you do it even if you weren’t making money?
Love of doing CrossFit yourself is not the same as loving to coach and train others. Some people make better clients than trainers. That is just a plain old fact. Do some training first, then decide if you want to make it a career and build a business.
If you do love training others and if you have the necessary personality and work ethic you will likely do great! You will make money because of your love. If you don’t love it and you see it only as a potential revenue stream then ultimately I don’t think you’ll have what it takes to make it happen. Just my opinion.
What is your risk tolerance aka how do you handle stress and unforeseen circumstances?
Not to paint an ugly picture, but as a business owner you will encounter all sorts of knuckleheads and random situations that require your attention. Not the end of the world, but definitely stress inducing at times. Being the owner of a training business is a whole other enchilada than simply being a trainer.
What type of affiliate do you plan on running and how much work are you willing to put in?
There are many folks who run affiliates out of their garage as a hobby or passion while maintaining their legitimate day jobs. They neither need their affiliate to cover all of their living expenses, nor do they ever expect it to. They love CrossFit and they love training with their friends and neighbors. This is a good option for some, possibly most, depending on one’s character and tolerance for risk.
If instead you are pursuing the more commercial model and want it to be your sole source of income you’ve got a different path to take. You will need to look at your box as a business (that is in fact what it is) and create the necessary infrastructure such that operating it brings value to your life and hopefully minimal stress.
I’m not going to gloss anything over here…being a business owner is no easy thing. I’ve said before on this blog that when Robb and I opened CrossFit NorCal in 2004 nobody (relative to today) had ever heard of CrossFit. Neither of us knew anything about running a training practice, and neither of us were from Chico! We both moved here, knowing hardly anyone and hung a shingle. The only thing we had going for us was that we were used to living at the college student level and so did not miss out on many of the amenities most people require as we began to blindly find our way.
Fast forward to today, where CrossFit is growing exponentially and there are affiliates all across the globe. Getting a training practice up and running should be light years easier. If you are good at what you do, motivated, personable, well connected and structure your program such that you attract and retain your clients you will do great. There are folks opening boxes today that are reaching membership numbers in 6-8 months that took us more than 2 years to get. It’s awesome!
Are you willing to continually invest in your professional development as a trainer and business owner so as to fine tune your skills, make a name for yourself, and run a successful operation? Are you willing to network and utilize every connection you have to let people know you exist? Or are you just going to expect that clients will find you and come knocking on your door? They will at some point search you out, but only after you first do the work and build your reputation.
Are you married? Is your spouse on board with what it’s going to take? Something to find out before you head down this path.
And finally, you might think this to be a weird question, but it’s a very important one. Do you gain energy from being around a lot of people? If you are slightly more introverted and you tend to feel depleted after long days of extensive people interaction or if you are easily annoyed by stupidity (like me) then you need to make sure you have an extroverted, kindler, gentler counterpart (that’s Robb). I’m not talking about being shy, I’m talking about gaining and losing energy. It’s important to know where you are on this spectrum.
I hope this helps. It’s critical to think in terms of numbers. It’s equally critical to evaluate yourself with regards to everything involved with owning a business and running a box.