Fitness entrepreneur, business coach, and author Phil Graham joins us to discuss the three mindsets that separate successful fitness entrepreneurs from the rest. He also talks about how to make an impact and achieve freedom in life and in business.
Kevin: How’s it going everyone? Welcome to The Fitness Founders Podcast. I’m Kevin Mannion, VP Marketing here at Glofox. This week we talk to Phil Graham, an author, mentor, and fitness business coach. In this episode, Phil talks about three mindsets that separates successful fitness entrepreneurs from the rest and how to make an impact and achieve freedom in life and business. Let’s get started.
Hey, Phil Graham, thanks for coming on the show.
Phil: My absolute pleasure. Looking forward to share some knowledge and value unto you guys.
Kevin: Yeah, well, thank you for coming along. Let’s kick off and just tell us about a little bit about your business.
Phil: Right. Well, long story short, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when I was 16 years of age. That’s the whole thing that got me into the whole fitness/nutrition paradigm, right. I remember when I was just newly diagnosed. The doctor had said to me, “Look, there is only a number of things that you can do here – nutrition, lifestyle, exercise, training, mindset.” And those were the very things that I went mastered, went to study them at the university. Wanted to be a dietician, took off bodybuilding, fell in love with the whole fitness thing, and lo and behold the I had people asking me to train them. People are asking me to do them training programs, built a robust personal training business off of that, so having the diabetes through me into personal training career. Built that, refined it over the years, worked with various different members of the public, leveled that up into local celebrities, and leveled that up into professional sports and athletes particularly in the bodybuilding field and also rugby, and also at gymnastics as well because I was studying nutrition. I studied it in Queen’s University in Belfast, so I had a little sports science, I had the biochemistry, I had all that kind of stuff, and I was…
While there was educated trainers that were very vocal about what I was talking about, and long story short, built up a great client base and over time I was like grew my education because I was so obsessed with learning about all these stuff because of my diabetes. A lot of coaches and trainers clock on, and I was like grew my profile. I was asked to speak at events. I was writing for a number of local newspapers, national newspapers, and all sort of stuffs and I built a pretty, pretty solid reputation for being an educated trainer. I had a lot of trainers that eventually came to me that were looking to look how to build a bigger business, looking how to coach better, looking how to make more money, and to be honest I was giving them all the stuff, all my wisdom, all my mistakes to do that. At the same time, I thought, right, why don’t we create something for trainers, for coaches; started doing it and without the shadow of a doubt it grew, and grew, and grew, snowballed and I am where I am now today.
Besides that, I’ve done other stuff in the field of diabetes. I’ve written the world’s bestselling book on the diabetes and muscle building, built a massive community for people with diabetes that want to build muscle and lose fat. So that’s been a big, big mission of mine is help in the world of diabetes, but my focus right now is helping fitness business owner scale and not just from the marketing side of things, the sales side of things which everybody seems to think is the answer to be a great business, but building a really robust solid foundation with systems fulfillment so making sure that they can actually then use the marketing and sales to see the thing that gets great result. We work with coaches, trainers, personal trainers, gym owners from all around the world with various different challenges and issues and that could be anything from not knowing how to market, not having systems, how to pour fulfillment, mindset, right the hallway through to being the world’s best kept secret not being able to attract clients, money issues and the whole go of things. So we’ve been doing that for quite a while now, and, that’s my life purpose, my life work and I actually love it.
Kevin: Cool. Now, you are obviously still on a mission to help people through diet and through strength especially with diabetes. What made you realized that you’re also in a mission for helping people transform their businesses.
Phil: I supposed it was really that… What really made me want to go all in with this was I was seeing so many personal trainers that were spending so much time learning about the education, the technical aspects of being a coach but being never able to express that into the world and monetized it. When you’re a best kept secret and you know all this information, and somebody with a little bit more confidence knows how to market but doesn’t necessarily knew how to fulfill and deliver great experience, it is quite a painful thing to experience, right? And most fitness business owners are great coaches but terrible business man. And the reality is they can never ever, ever be able to express their skillset, their love, their passion and help humanity, right. And the reality is, let’s face it, personal trainers, gym owners play a massive role on public health. For me having my health taken away from me, to know that these guys are actually having a huge contributing factor rather than just writing a prescription or writing a plan, or doing surgery is a big, big thing to me. So I will make sure that fitness professionals are having their actual in show in the world, they are able to help humanity, and they’ve got the systems, they’ve got the business, they’ve got the entrepreneurial knowledge and the confidence to express their brilliance and bring their service to the world and get constantly paid for it and systematize it in a way that it allows them to get a result, allows them to scale, and basically just improve public health, and also build that real life for themselves as well because it’s what they are interested in. Does that makes sense?
Kevin: Yeah, it does. It’s really what I want to focus in on today. I was reading a piece that you wrote around, “The Three Mindsets You Need to Make Money in the Fitness Industry”. It really resonated with me and I wanted to maybe dig in on a couple of those things that you spoke about there. And the first one is around getting the balance right between a narcissist and an altruist. In other words, getting the balance right between I supposed making money for yourself and doing good in the world. So maybe talk a little bit about how you get that balance right and how you stay authentic as you do that.
Phil: Couple of things just to put this into context, so I live in Ireland, so do you. A lot of the customers live in Ireland, in the UK, as well as Australians will know how sometimes awkward it can be to talk about money or to visibly be running a successful business, and for other people to criticize and ridicule us based on our success. Sometimes it can almost be when you try to grow a business that there is somebody out there that’s going to take you out or somebody is going to work behind you and talk you in the back and go, “I’m where you’re at. You’re going out of business.” And subconsciously we can find it very, very hard to grow a business, hard to market ourselves, hard to ask for money because of how you feel that we’re just going to get criticized for all these stuff any man, it doesn’t glue well of us. There is potential things with culture, religion, all these things in growing up money doesn’t grow on trees, etcetera. These are real fear mindsets around making money and like don’t get too big, don’t get to cocky, etcetera.
In America, I tend to see a complete opposite. Here we are sort of looking for a loser. In America we are sort of looking for a winner, right. I’ve seen that cultural shift so many times. But what I basically mean by that is when you’re a balance of a narcissist and a balance of an altruist. A narcissist is somebody who is involved in taking, or me, me, me. An altruist is somebody who give, give, give.
What I see in the fitness industry is two polarities. Somebody who is overly narcissistic that just wants your money, just wants to get you in, and get you out. They are not really concern with the service. The altruist on the other side is somebody who goes two time on all the education, all the knowledge, builds it up and wants to give, give, give, but doesn’t feel comfortable asking for money and ultimately burns out, ends up overworked, now remodels the business, and always wondrous why they can’t have the freedom. So in essence, if you want to be a balance between a narcissist and an altruist you have to be comfortable asking for money, knowing your worth, and knowing that you need money to fuel your business. Think of it like petro, it allows you to add more things. It allows you to add more resources, more labor, more marketing, etcetera. If you are not doing that you’re going to burn out. If you’re an altruist and you’re doing too much of it, you are going to burn out and kill yourself. You’re not going to enjoy it. So you have to have that balance of both. You have to be able to ask for the money and you have to fulfill the service and you have to have the system where all of that ethos is incorporated into. And you must not hold back from asking for money whenever you’re going to provide a service but the service must match up, and be fair exchange for what you are providing in relation to what you are charging. And not just on your own perception of what you feel your service is for.
Kevin: And what would be an example of, tactical example from people that you worked with of whether getting this wrong? What are they doing too much of and how do they change their mindset?
Phil: Yeah, well, most people are way undercharging and you ask them very simple question, “Do you know a trainer or a gym that is charging more than you but you believe that your service is better?” The answer will always be yes. Secondly, you look at their offer. Their offer is too cluttered, too complicated and the reality is they just try to fit the customer and not giving the customer what they need. And they need to be selling the customer transformation not sessions. And they end up like selling the gym package, “Do you want to come like three times a week, two times a week, once a week? What about 30 minutes a week?” And they say this is really complicated like… the cluster thought of like services that really is just hard to sell, hard to manage. And the reality is they are not telling the customer what they need to hear, and then the customer comes in, picks the package that’s the lowest or the cheapest. Those who don’t get the results leaves. Then the gym owners are like, “Oh, do we need to make people more packages?” The system mindset thing, right.
Kevin: Yeah. And would you say that’s one of the biggest things in terms of selling transformation versus sessions or memberships that that’s the starting point on that journey?
Phil: It’s not necessarily the biggest. It’s a combining factor. You’ve also got the aspect of that there’s plenty of shit coaches out there that actually don’t know how to get results. They don’t care about results. And two, you got to look at the businesses that are currently there. They can’t handle the fulfillment side of it so the equipment isn’t good, the onboarding isn’t good, the system isn’t good, the check-ins isn’t good, the advice isn’t good. On top of that, mindset issues around money, being worried about being perceived greedy, underpricing yourself. There’s many factors there.
Kevin: Yeah. And on the other side then in terms of helping people. What can you do outside of, is there just more than just the outcomes and the transformation is, do you think businesses need to be very mission led, and have other things going on in the community? How do you think about that?
Phil: Well, it really depends on the business but generally speaking if you are getting great results and your clients will walk on top of business cards everybody is going to know that you are the main go to guy, right, or the main go to woman. On top of that as well if you’ve got a vision, if you’ve got a mission, you will be willing to put yourself through challenges. If you don’t you’ll be just looking for instantly gratifying results all the time or a constant increase in income all the time, and not understanding the true volatilities of business and setting yourself up to the fantasy that everything is going to go great, you’re not going to have challenges, you’re not going to have any hurdles, you’re not going to have any staff, or maybe you’re not going to have any clients, maybe it’s just futile. So having a really strong mission of who you really want to serve, why you want to serve, and being committed to that, and understanding that there’s going to be challenges along the way is an integral part of your identity. And if that identity is rock solid and robust, you are willing to walk through challenges in order to get what you want rather than just expecting everybody to play in your terms.
Kevin: Yeah, that makes sense. And then maybe last question on this one. How do you know if you are charging to much? How do you know if you’ve maybe gone on this journey and gone too far?
Phil: Well, you’ll know if you are charging too much if you are constantly anxious of like the sales process and you feel like you are shoplifting someone. We all know that. We all know that you just risk it, right. When you are just risking it and you’re just going for the call the reality is you’ll feel unsettled and uneasy in yourself because you know that what you are selling isn’t going to be a predictable sale. And you’ll that there is a lot of manipulation, persuasion and it boils down to lack of confidence and product, right? Like when we take clients on, we are really expensive to work with, and that depends on your perception. But expensive can be, right, that’s going to cost me money but when the reality is we were turning our client’s hands hundreds of thousands of ROI and profit. When you look back and reflect like it’s not even a cost. So, you know, what is actually costing your client in terms of time, money, energy, happiness, vitality, family time not achieving their goal. What have they tried before? How enormous it take for them to get there? What have they invested before? How is their investment and your service compare? So when you make comparisons, you know, one of the things that we typically see in the fitness industry have spent thousands upon thousands on boot camps, thousands upon thousands on detox drinks, diet pills, steroids. I don’t know what it may be. I’m still not in shape. Okay, well, look here’s how our package works. You’re going to get a plan, you’re going to get training, you’re going to get accountability, you’re going to get community and you’ve seen the results that we have so it’s all going to interconnect with ecosystem, right? That just pulls people in. I think that the best thing that you can do from a marketing perspective is have a business or a mission that pulls people in. It doesn’t need to be force selling. That’s something that we rely on a lot is the fact that we get great results. We know our clients are going to refer like crazy and we just have undying confidence in our service and product. And that requires evaluation all the time of going through what’s working, what’s not working, asking for feedback. You know, how many business owners listen to this right now have actually gone to their clients and gone to their business to get a bird’s eye view and gone right. Where is the bottleneck, what do we need to fix, what are the action steps, cost over journey is paramount? So knowing that and making sure that your team know that from the minute that somebody show, what happens?
Kevin: And did you always know this? Like in your own mentoring business or was there a phase where you weren’t charging enough for what you’re doing yourself?
Phil: Oh yeah like when we first started, we’re like charging like you know 5K for six months or something like that. And then we were having guys… I was noticing guys at the end of six months that were making like an extra 150K in a year, and I was like, what the hell is going on here. So I had to re-evaluate, right? But you know, you have to start somewhere and you know experimentation, right? And the results is those clients they are still with us. They refer like crazy.
You know, when I first started personal training I was undercharging and then I became that like probably the most expensive personal trainer in Ireland at one point. Might as well do that now but it was for sure one of those thing.
Kevin: Yeah that’s great. Tell us a little bit about just a small base about wealth building and how entrepreneurship thinks about that.
Phil: Yeah. Well I think you can look at your fitness business as a vehicle for creating wealth, creating finance that you can put into assets that then paid passive money that ultimately then protects you against things like tax or certain cost to do with living, etcetera. Having a constant stress to having to work all the time for money is quite intimidating right? So, you know I think that something that we’re all scared of is like, you know, we’re going to be working until we’re seventy until we’re eighty. Why would you not want to create assets that pay you passively that allow you to take off the feet off the gas if you want them to. And I think depending on where your vision is lined up will be open to change in five years, ten years, whether you have kids, whether you have relationship challenges or whatever it may be or you want to relocate. So having assets that pays is a very important thing. Financial clarity is very, very important. Most personal trainers, most gym owners don’t have a clue about their finances. This is scary.
Kevin: Yeah, I was going to ask the people you work with are they thinking about the long term of the future or…?
Phil: Yeah, one hundred percent. I mean one of our main ethos inside of the network, that’s me and my mastermind is that the purpose of being here is to create a vehicle that generates wealth that you can utilize whatever way you want to grow your passive income.
Kevin: Yup. Yeah. Okay, now another big element that you talk about when it comes to making money and generating wealth is investing in your growth and paying to play, so tell us a little bit about the mindsets some people might have before they need you and how you, why you save them.
Phil: Well, we got for example a trainer that will come on that’s maybe in four to six or ten months and wants to bring up to 15K, 20K a month and is afraid to invest in themselves, right? So how on earth are you going to get an extra 100+K revenue by currently doing what you’re doing. Just like the thinking that sometimes goes into these stuffs is super strange. You know, like I always say to them, look I don’t know anything about your business, I don’t know anything about you, but we predictably done this time and time and time again. It’s nothing to do with us, it’s to do and your ability to believe in yourself and to implement what you’re told. It already got a result. So you know, making sure that the client can see a clear connection to where they want to go to, that they’ve got to this level, and they’ve got a mechanism to get them there is very, very important. But that they also have the belief that you’re going to be behind them and you’re going to give them the support to get to where they want to go to, right? So it’s about connecting the dots with all that, but the reality is, if you look at all those successful people in the world, they’ve all invested in themselves. They’ve all taken time, they all have coaches. All great athletes have coaches. If you’re going to ignore the advice of the wise people of the world and try to do it yourself. You can’t build an inspiring life without asking for help, like delegating, right, and you’re technically delegating mistakes. You’re delegating you know, the map. Strategic client where massive strategic client making sure our clients know out of a bird’s eye view out of a business. Look at where the volatilities are and then focus on the key important areas that they need to work on. And if you’re not going to do that, then you’re going to be making mistakes faster. You’re on your own, you’ve got blank thoughts. It’s just simply not going to work.
Kevin: Yeah. And what is the playbook? Say, if I’m sitting at around 3K or 5K a month, and I want to get to 15K, where do you start on that?
Phil: Well, first thing you look at it is like okay in respect to personal development will always come first. So what is your vision, what are your beliefs about money. So if you already have 3K-5K, or whatever K a month. Why you’re not at 10K or 15K is because your vision of where you want to be isn’t clear, right? You know it’s not important enough to you that you would have prioritize that. So we got to get you clear on your vision, we got to get you clear on your identity, we got to get you clear on your values of where you want to go, then we got to look at some of the business aspects in terms of like what’s currently going on right now, what kind of clients you’re working with, what’s your offer like, what’s your target market like, and then extracting from that and looking at the weak points, like where is the weakness. Is it with lead generation, is it with client delivery, is it with sales, is it fulfilment, is it with retention and looking at those areas. I mean, that’s a very open ended question. Look at those core areas and making sure what’s good, what’s not good and fix it as we go.
Kevin: And if you have somebody that’s capable of generating 3K a month, can a 100% of those people get to the next level?
Kevin: No. What’s differentiates who can and who can’t?
Phil: Well, it’s like a personal trainer taking on clients right? They are all not going to implement. You get people that have an idea in their head where they want to go to but they are fucking lazy. You also have people that have environmental factors that come into play that you can’t control – potential death, divorce and lead attachment. There’s ton of issues right? But you know, it’s like, I always use this analogy, how many people here want to lose weight? Everybody puts their hands up. Then why aren’t you cheat? You know what I mean?
Phil: A lot of people of why they’ve chosen resources that are at their disposal but they don’t implement it and use it, and that’s why we’re really careful of who we take on. We don’t take on everyone. We battle our clients. And we’re not interested in getting clients, we’re interested in success stories. It’s a win-win relationship. You know if we take you on as a client, you don’t get a result, that doesn’t look really good on us so we’re obsess about making sure that we’ve got the right fits, people are going to take action, people that want to do it, all of these kind of stuff.
Kevin: Yeah, and maybe give me an example of somebody. You don’t need to share their name but somebody you’ve worked with who maybe didn’t believe in themselves but you saw they had the ingredients to be successful.
Phil: We’ve seen that quite a lot. Like for example we’ve had a guy from Cork in Ireland who came to me in debt, came to me like 2.5K, 3K in debt. Saw a lot of potential in him. He’s now doing 25K a month with his online fitness business, legit, every single month between 20-25. Save his house, has more free time and he know what to do with. Conference through, actually he spoke at one of our last events on how he scaled from 0 to 25K and shared up with rest of the group sort of a broken home background, has two kids, in a marriage and absolutely killed it.
Kevin: And what did you see in him when you met him first that you knew that he’s going to be success.
Phil: On he’s rock bottom and he wanted to prove something to himself right. He wasn’t comfortable where he’s at. And I think a lot of trainers get comfortable doing the 40 hours a week or the gym owners get comfortable at a certain income and they are scared to grow the next level because it requires effort. It also requires one step back two steps forward and we all boil how comfortable that can be at times.
Kevin: Yep. Okay, that’s very interesting, I’m sure there’s certain people that maybe in that situation now that at least know there’s like a starting point for turning things around.
Phil: But they just can’t less to your personal business growth is going to be humiliation or extreme kind of where you at.
Kevin: Yeah. Okay so that’s being very insightful and I think you know it’s a good guide to the ups and downs of going from relative obscurity to actually making some money and building some wealth. I know we’re running out of time here as well but before we finish off Phil, I wanted to, a question we ask everybody is what’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in your career so far and what did you learn from it?
Phil: Well, I think the biggest mistake that people listening to this are going to make is thinking that heading a certain figure or heading a certain level of status with the business is going to make them happy. When I achieve X I would be happy, when I achieve Y I would be happy, that is never the case. Normally, people set up parameters like that based on comparing themselves to other people and looking at highlight reels on social media and creating a false perception of what they feel like should be like rather than looking what the current life is like and looking at what they can be grateful for, and looking at the action steps and the journey that requires to get there. It’s not about the be it which is the outcome, it’s about the process of getting to that outcome and looking at what it can teach you as an individual. How it can make you a better entrepreneur, a better leader and a better person of service. And what you actually begin to realize and see, and this is from all our successful clients, is money is not the metric. It’s freedom. It’s the ability to control time. It’s the ability to have a system or a business that makes money predictably without always being in the weeds of it, right.
Like I said, at the start of this call is you know do not be fooled into a marketing trick. Do not be fooled into paid ads, do not be fooled into sales stuff. It’s about making sure that your business is built on a strong identity, strong foundation, strong system, strong fulfilment that you can actually humble the clients, and the marketing and sales is like the sugar on top.
Kevin: Yep, I think the final take away is the good one is freedom is the ultimate goal. Freedom is the ultimate goal in all of this.
Phil: Yup, 100%. Freedom is the ultimate goal. I don’t care what anybody says. You get your first 20K-30K a month, and you haven’t got the fulfilment to productively bring that in month, on month. You’re going to be running on a hamster wheel and this next thing is well like different, you know, more growth, different problems. Everybody wants to make a million pounds but don’t realize that you are only going to get to keep about 400K of it.
Kevin: Yes. I hear you.
Phil: Like when you’re at the top, especially if you’re from Ireland or you’re from Australia or UK, you’ve got like, well everybody thinks that I’m killing it but you know you got things called like turnover and then you got profit, then you get the staff, and you’ve got like all these intricate elements of a big business that you never thought of. And sometimes you got to be careful what you wish for and that’s why you got to have the identity, that’s why you’ve got to have a vision, that’s why that stuff has to be bigger than the money, that has to be bigger than the stats. If you got that, if you’ve got the vision, if you’ve got the identity then you will leaps and bounds through any challenge to get there, right. When you are just financially focused you are going to fucking give up.
Kevin: Yeah, yeah.
Phil: You’re going to burn out. You’re just going to like dwindle away off, and you’re going to be flashing around business, pretty much like… businesses
Kevin: I think it’s like every business. It’s do you really want to do the work in the long term.
Phil: Yeah. Making money is not hard. There’s abundance of it out there. It’s about having a vision, having a mission, and a business long term
Kevin: Alright, Phil. Okay, on that note, that’s been a really great conversation. Before we finish off, just tell people and give them a reminder of what you do and tell them how they can get in touch.
Phil: Yeah so, if you’re a fitness business owner, you’re an online coach, personal trainer or gym owner and you want to build a business worth talking about, that last, that has a system and the integrity, the skill, and you want to get your mindset your behaviour optimization dialled in to really grow this business, then go to phil-graham.com. Check me on Instagram, check the Fitness Entrepreneur podcast. There’s loads of stuff out there. Got loads of free assets, resources and webinars on my website. Loads of content pretty get stuck into and that content isn’t just fluff, there is actionable stuff in it. So consider this on a lap for a while, implement it and if you need any help feel free to reach out.
Kevin: Okay Phil, thank you very much.
Phil: Thank you so much Kevin. I know how much time this podcast take to put together, so should you and your team put this together. Thanks so much brother.
Kevin: Cheers. Thank you.
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