They took me to school on fitness and how to train and shared some of their best biz tips and strategies. Their CEO, Ryan Heuser is the real deal and this isn't his first rodeo.
He's the former co-founder of Paul Frank and has 20 years experience in the apparel industry. This 40-something father of three competes in races and trains like an animal with his 20-something crew members. The AR brand definitely has a "for us, by us" feel and is tested and approved by athletes across many disciplines like crossfit, soccer, all types of running, road cycling and MTB to name a few.
After my intense workout I saw several parallels from training to how Ryan and team run their successful business. Here are my 10 ways to run your business like a fitness bootcamp to get it in shape:
Watch the full video episode of Behind the Brand with Athletic Recon below and read on! Don't forget to leave a comment or Tweet me @BryanElliott to join the conversation.
1. Don't give up so fast.
Pull-ups aren't much fun when you're not good at doing them. And you can't fake it. You're either prepared or not. Do you give up too fast when the going gets tough? Any biz, including your start up or mature company is going to hit the wall at times. As you weigh the risks and rewards there's probably more upside to gutting it out and pushing through.
2. Learn to say no.
There's two ways to look at this. One is cutting out what's not good and the other is staying focused on what you do best. Cheat days aside, when you're in a fitness routine you've got to say no to the danger zone foods that will cause you to take 2 steps back for every step forward. The experts will tell you it's about eating and training in moderation.
Running a successful business is the same. You've got to say no to associating with potentially toxic people who can ruin your chances of success. I don't care how good and pristine that apple is, if it sits next to a rotten one in the bin long enough it will rot just the same.
You may also have to say no to potentially profitable opportunities outside of your scope of work. If you're trying to isolate and strengthen your abs, doing anything unrelated to ab work will delay or get you off track. Stay in your lane. Get great at what you do. Be the expert. Perfect the process. Rinse and repeat. Put money in the bank. Then think about growth in new, but related areas.
3. No pain, no gain.
Cliché but true. Training and eating right requires sacrifice. Any business, and anything that's truly worthwhile is the same. That goes for nurturing quality relationships or running a marathon. Come to grips that you're probably going to have difficult times and fail more than once. Decide ahead of time what you're going to do when that happens. Remember, there is no shame in failure.
The best advice I ever got was from Seth Godin who reminded me, "Yoda was wrong when he said 'Do or do not, there is no try.' There IS a TRY!! Try is the opposite of hiding." Seth went on to say that the phrase "Failure is not an option" is also inaccurate. In fact, failure is necessary to success. If you haven't failed in some capacity, you're either extremely lucky or you're a liar.
Learn from the experience and try not to repeat it. The pain and mistakes are the tuition you pay to learn and progress. And most of the time it's more about what you become in the process vs where you arrive.
4. Establish routines.
Athletic Recon taught me how training should be as routine as brushing my teeth. Is your business in need of new clients? Make Biz Dev a routine and spend 25-50% of your day on what matters most. Don't get distracted by other busy work or jumping on Facebook or Instagram to see what your friends are doing. In fact, unless you use FB for serious marketing, I suggest deleting it from your phone so you're not tempted to check it and your email every 5 minutes.
5. Be part of a community or create one.
Experts will tell you that most people who join a gym eventually quit if they go alone. When you're part of a community you're more likely to stay in the game because you're accountable to your friends and you're an important link in the chain. The crew at Athletic Recon trains together in their office at 4pm every day. They also invite their fans and the local community to join them for informative healthy eating and training workshops. Connecting people and providing value is a huge asset and powerful way to build trust.
6. Get the right gear.
We've all been here. You do a sport or activity and you're not prepared with the right gear. It's more difficult to do or worse, you get injured. Athletic Recon literally puts blood, sweat and tears into designing and developing the right gear for several types of training and active lifestyles. Get the right gear for your business as well. Invest your money where it counts and it could make all the difference. How does the fact that you MacGyver everything to save money reflect on your reputation and brand?
7. Let your actions do the talking
Ryan's dad used to take him to the gym when he was a kid. His dad didn't say much during these times but Ryan watched his example and figured out what to do. Are you spending more time on your press release than actually doing the work? How much time and money are you spending on printing t-shirts with your logo on them vs rolling up your sleeves and getting dirty?
8. Disrupt the status quo.
Ryan's tip about staying in shape was mixing up his training schedule so his body has to keep up with him and progress doesn't plateau. Maybe your business could benefit from thinking like this as well?
Do you have competitors that seem to imitate you quickly? Being unpredictable will throw them off the trail and you'll keep the first-mover advantage. Do you work in a mature industry where everyone has done it the same way for 30 years? Maybe mixing things up is just what you need to break through...
9. Run the marathon not the sprint.
I love this metaphor because it forces me to think long-term. Whether that's the small victories or set backs along the way, my perspective and strategy is focused forward. This is helpful in all aspects of running your biz, from hiring people to financial goals and everything in between.
10. Make time, not excuses.
We all have the same 24 hours in a day. "I don't have time for that" is the worst offense. If it is worth doing or must be done, make the time. No excuses. Good luck!