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Creating Passion for Your Business

Want to think of some new programs and other innovative ideas to shake things up, but you just can't get started?

Does it ever feel like everything around your fitness center is routine? Everyone takes it for granted that Power Yoga is at 10:15 a.m.Tuesdays and Thursdays, and group cycling is at 6 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Are your staff members bored? More important, are your members? Want to think of some new programs and other innovative ideas to shake things up, but you just can't get started? You may be unconsciously making a decision to stay with the familiar and comfortable because you can't see any reason to do otherwise. What you need is to shake things up. In his book, The Art of the Start, author/entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki lists five things an entrepreneur must accomplish to have a successful business. They make an excellent checklist for starting anything, including new fitness programs.

Create meaning

Begin by making "meaning"; that is, think not in terms of making money, but, rather, in how you can make the world a better place. I know, you're thinking, "I'm trying to run a business here," but that's just the point. The way to get passionate about your business is to recognize the enormous effect that you have on your members and in your community. When you connect seemingly mundane, everyday tasks to something as big as turning around a major public health crisis (such as obesity or diabetes), every detail becomes a reason to get excited.

Kawasaki gives the following examples of missions that will get you and your staff fired up:
* Make the world a better place.
* Increase quality of life.
* Right a terrible wrong. * Prevent the end of something good.

Can you think of a new program that can accomplish one of these objectives?

Have a mantra

It has become a business cliché in recent years to have a mission statement. Baloney. Most of them are too long and nothing more than a recitation of threadbare slogans and buzzwords ("best," "customer," "uncompromising" -- you get the idea). Instead, come up with a mantra -- a simple, bumper-sticker summary of what you are trying to do, such as "Prevent Preventable Disease"; "Curing Diabetes One Step (or Rep) at a Time"; "We Give Energy. You Decide How to Use It."

Get started

Don't wait to start your new program until you've created the perfect plan on paper. Besides, some of the information you need can be learned only by making a few mistakes in the beginning. Flesh out the outline, provide for the essentials and get started.

When you get going, keep the following in mind:

Think big. If you're going to change the world, think of something huge and unique enough to inspire passion and commitment.

Don't be afraid to polarize people. If you're looking to avoid offending anyone, you're never going to create something that some people love. Anything that can inspire love and passion will probably inspire distaste in some.

Find a few spiritual advisers. Draw inspiration from visionaries who have gone before. Urban legend has it that back in 1965, when Fred Smith submitted the business plan for what would become Federal Express to his Yale professor, he got a C. His professor thought it could never work. Smith doesn't remember if that was his actual grade, but the take-home message is still a good one: Don't give up on a good idea, even if it seems far out.

Think of Fred Smith when someone tells you that your idea is unworkable, undoable, a non-starter and just plain dumb. Now, stop reading and get going!

REFERENCES

Kawasaki, G. The Art of the Start. Portfolio Publishing: New York, N.Y, 2004.

Foust, D. Fred Smith on the birth of Fed-Ex. Business Week Online www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/04_38/b3900032_mz072.htm, Sep. 20, 2004.

Who Made America? www.pbs.org/wgbh/ theymadeamerica/whomade/fsmith_hi.html.

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