by Michael Keeler

We recently surveyed all of you — our list of Business for Unicorns subscribers — and nearly 100 of you replied. Thank you so much! Y’all are the friggin’ best!

Overwhelmingly this was the #1 questioned asked:

How do I create systems to help my business grow and run more effectively?

Mark and I have decided to tackle this question head-on in 2017 to help all of your kick some serious ass. In fact, we are currently working on a digital platform that will give you access to many of MFF’s done-for-you systems. WHAT!? That’s crazy.

Yup, we’re going to be spilling all the beans by giving you the exact systems we use at MFF for sales, marketing, customer service, training, and more! Pretty exciting, right? Keep your eyes peeled for more details about that product launch shortly.

Today, I want to dive right into this topic by giving you the tools you need to start creating your own highly effective business systems.

It makes perfect sense that so many of you asked about this topic. Building robust, reliable, and effective systems to run your business is f*cking crucial to your success. Whether you are a team of one or have many employees, the quality of your services directly correlates to the quality of the systems that drive them.

Creating systems is a keystone skill-set for every business owner to develop.

First things first, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about what a “business system” is and what it is not. Here’s my definition: A business system is a process or combination of processes that work together to achieve efficient, consistent, and measurable outcomes.

It’s not a sexy definition, but that’s what it is.

Notice that a business system isn’t a single task, policy, or procedure. A business system is often composed of multiple tasks, policies, and procedures. A car engine is a great great example of a system. It is comprised of multiple processes that are dedicated to specific functions. The best engines in the world are those that are efficient, work consistently, and produce measurable results. (Did I just use a car metaphor?! Mark this day on your calendar friends. It’s likely to never happen again.)

Debbie Downer alert! Before we continue I have to share a quick, crappy disclaimer.

Building effective systems for your business requires time-consuming, sometimes complicated, imperfect action. It’s hard. It’s messy. You’re not always going to get it right, and it requires constant innovation.

That’s the bad news about building business systems. Don’t stress my friend. There is good news too.

Building quality business systems can also save you time, build team unity, increase your profit, and so much more. When you really nail it, a robust system has the ability to grow your business like nothing else can. A good system “automates” essential business activities so you can focus your energy on high-impact priorities that bring you the best results.

So, how do you do it?

How do you turn the most frustrating and complex areas of your business into an effective system?

I’ve outlined six key stages of the method we use at MFF for building systems.

These stages can happen quickly, but more often than not they require weeks and months, not days, to do well. So be patient. Complex issues don’t get ironed out over night. As the famous restaurant mogul Danny Meyer would say, this kind of change requires leaders to give constant, gentle pressure.

Along the way I will also share a real life example of how we created a powerful system at MFF using this method. At each stage, I’ll reveal the relevant portion of the story so you can see how this process has played out for us step by step.

Let’s dive in.


Stage 1: Define your current reality.

Like most journeys, the first step is to define where you currently are on the map.

Take a moment with your team to fully diagnose one area of your business that is currently not working for you. Brainstorm (in writing) all the ways your current way of functioning in this area is working for you and all the ways it sucks. Don’t think about solutions yet, just brain dump all the information you have about what is currently happening in this area of the business.

Sometimes this phase can go very quickly because you don’t have a current system. If that’s the case, then what you are diagnosing is your current need. How are you managing without a system for this business function and what’s the cost of not having one?

Other times you are trying to pivot from an existing system that isn’t working for you. You might need to ask other team members for input about the current way of doing things, or survey your clients, or do some extra observations. The goal is to lay it all out on the table. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Honestly, this can be a cathartic experience. Vent. Share all your frustrations. Not only will you feel better, but it will help you and your team start to rally and unite around fixing the issue.

Our Story

I promised to give you a real-life example, so here is how Mark and I defined a very challenging problem and how it turned into a powerful, game-changing system.

It was the end of 2015. Mark and I would often find ourselves spending the bulk of our days trying to manage a never-ending avalanche of feedback and ideas from both Ninjas (clients) and our team. Any given day could be filled with dozens of feedback points, both positive and negative: a Ninja was upset about a change that was made to the schedule, a team member was late showing up for work, a Ninja told someone that hey just had the best training session of their life, a team member was frustrated that sound system wasn’t working properly… the list could go on and on.

So we sat down and tried to do Stage 1, further defining our reality. We realized that not only were we getting a huge variety of different types of feedback throughout the day, but each piece of feedback was delivered in a different way. One thing I would learn about by email, the next item someone would tell me casually in the hallway, the other I’d read about on a Facebook post. Jiminy crickets!! How the heck is a person suppose to keep up with all of this?!

It was tough enough to keep track of the information, let alone digest it in a way that would lead to taking meaningful steps to celebrate the good stuff and fix the broken stuff. We were wasting tons of time and not effectively leveraging the feedback to improve.

Which brought us to Stage 2…


Stage 2: Identify all the possible solutions.

Once you have fully diagnosed the current reality, it’s time to start thinking about possible solutions. My biggest tip here is to brainstorm solutions without judgement. All too often I see “brainstorming” sessions where the leader/boss will shoot down every idea that gets tossed out. Yuck. Don’t be that person.

Allow everyone involved to brainstorm without judgement. Welcome every idea — the good, bad, and yes the really, really dumb ones too.

At this stage, it may also be helpful to do a little research. Ask yourself — What solutions already exist for this issue? What are other companies doing to solve this same problem? Who do I know that might be grappling with this challenge?

Simply collect all of the possible solutions you can find. Don’t judge them, just collect.

Our Story

Over a series of discussions, Mark and I did our best to brainstorm solutions to our challenge of feedback and idea overload. We started our brainstorm by examining all of the different channels and methods through which ideas and feedback were being sent our way, as well as conducted conversations with team members about their experience.

We also turned to books we had read, ideas we had heard from peers in the industry, and reflected on systems we had used in past jobs. Remember, Stage 2 isn’t about finding a solution, it’s about finding all the possible solutions.


Stage 3: Systemize your solution.

Now that you have a great big pile of possible solutions, it’s time for the real magic.

This is the part that requires some creativity and patience. It’s hard to give specific instructions for how to do this, because often this process is iterative. It takes several attempts to get it right.

At this phase, your job is to turn one (or more) of your solutions into a clear, repeatable system. The first decision you have to make is to narrow down your pool of solutions. Here are some key questions to help you do this:

What solution (or combination of solutions) will create the best results?

What solution (or combination of solutions) is the easiest to explain to others?

What solution (or combination of solutions) can be executed in a repeatable way?

Once you have selected the most effective solution, your next task is to systemize it. Usually this involves documenting this solution with a series of procedures and policies. Depending on the area of your business you are working on, there are countless ways to build your system.

A good business system is always:

Simple and Clear
Are there clear procedures that are well documented?
Does everyone responsible for the system know what’s expected of them?

Does the system account for any gaps or anomalies?
Is the system resilient to forces that will try to derail it?

Is the system easily maintained by those who run it?
Does the system include ongoing evaluation or improvement?

If you can answer all of those questions in the affirmative, you’re doing great. Well done! Have a quick celebratory cocktail, and move on to Stage 4.

Our Story

The solution we landed on to help us wrangle our never-ending feedback parade was inspired by a system I had used in a past job. It was a system that I knew was repeatable and reliable, and with just a few tweaks could work for our purposes.

The system we created (that will actually be part of the product we’re launching soon — I’m such a tease!) is called Glows & Grows. It’s a system that allows us to capture great feedback (Glows) and constructive feedback (Grows) digitally all in one place. It’s like black magic!

Each time a team member sees or hears of something wonderful happening at MFF, it gets recorded digitally as a Glow and every time they see or hear of a situation where expectations were not met it is recorded as a Grow. We see all of this information in one database that we can track over time, discuss in meetings, and use strategically to improve all areas of our business.

This system checked all of the boxes for us. It’s simple, clear, impenetrable (mostly), and pretty darn self-regulating. This biggest hurdle in creating this system was actually Stage 4.


Stage 4: Test your system to get feedback and buy-in.

This part is so crucial, and to be perfectly transparent we actually don’t do this as much as we should at MFF. We’re always so driven to roll out a new program or product that we don’t take time to test it and get feedback. We should — it’s really important.

Think about it. What if a car manufacturer didn’t fully test their vehicles with crash dummies before selling it to consumers?! That’d be nuts. How reckless would it be for us all to be driving around in cars that might not have working brakes, or that don’t have a fully functioning speedometer? That’s what you’re asking your team to do every time you launch a system or procedure that isn’t fully tested and refined. It’s risky and dangerous.

(Okay. Maybe it’s not life or death, but you get the point.)

So, how do you test your new business system? There are so many ways to do this, but here are two methods that I have always found useful:

Role play with your team before doing it for real. Let’s say you have a new system for tracking prospects that walk through your doors. You can role play that interaction with your team during a team meeting to see how it goes and get their feedback before trying it on real life clients.

Try a partial roll-out before full implementation. Let’s say you have a new system for handling clients who want to terminate their membership. This can be a sensitive conversation, so it’s important to get it right. You could ask one or two staff members to try it for a week before implementing it with everyone. Let them be the guinea pigs before thrusting a new process onto your entire team.

In both cases, testing your system and getting feedback can lead to further refinement before you implement it fully. This also gives your team time to get used to the new idea and creates buy-in.

It’s always better to take your time building a great system than to launch a crappy one quickly.

Our Story:

Before we launched our Glows & Grows system we actually had a one week trial. We asked the team to track all of the times we exceed expectations (Glows) and missed expectations (Grows) for one week using the new system. We wanted to see if the technology worked, but also to have everyone try on the behavior.

We learned quickly in this trial week that recording the Glows & Grows using the online form was easy. The hard part was agreeing on the definition of each and building the skill of recognizing it when it happens in the moment. In order for us all to be on the same page about recognizing when we missed or exceeded the expectations of our Ninjas (clients) and each other, we had to first be on the same page about the expectations themselves.

That was a crucial lesson that informed the next step, Stage 5.


Stage 5: Train everyone on the new system. Then train them again.

Going back to the Danny Meyer quote from earlier, managing your team through this kind of systemic change requires constant, gentle pressure. A single one-hour training workshop is a great start, but your team will often need several dedicated hours to learning a new system (depending on the complexity).

My best tip is to train your team until the person who tends to learn the slowest is 100% confident and the person who learns the fastest hates you for wasting so much of their time. (Joking, but not really.)

Train your team on a new system until they can teach it back to you. Then train them some more.

When you consider Malcolm Gladwell’s assertion that it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field, it seems absurd that we would expect members of our team to become an incredible salesperson with a one hour, one day, or one week training program.

Many of you know this to be true when it comes to your mastery of fitness and nutrition information. I’ve met world-class trainers who have been in the game for decades and say that they still feel like they’ve just scratched the surface of true mastery.

No matter how small the business system you are creating, give your team a chance to learn it. Be patient. It might take some time.

Our Story

After having completed a one week test run, we had more information to really make sure our team was fully prepared to implement the Glows & Grows system. We spent at least three hours over several team meetings reviewing and clarifying how the system works. We also spend one-on-one time with Team members who needed some extra support learning the system.

Even during this training period, we continued to refine definitions of terms, clarify steps in the process, and revise roles of individual team members.

Which brings us to the final stage in this method.


Stage 6: Review. Refine. Repeat.

Remember when I said in the beginning that creating business systems can be a pain in the ass? Well, here is perhaps the toughest pill to swallow. Even the most skilled entrepreneur and business owner will never be able to create an iron-clad system for their business that lasts forever and ever.

Even when you flawlessly execute the five stages I’ve outlined above, there will always be a need for further review and refinement of your business systems. They are living, breathing parts of your culture. They define the actions of your team every day and, like your team, they should evolve and grow with you over time.

The systems of your business are never “done.”

That’s Stage 6. You review, refine, and repeat. Like a fine wine, your business systems should get better with age. Lean into it. This is truly the noble work of owning and growing a business.

Our Story

For us this stage lasted about six months. No joke. It took that long for our Glows & Grows process to feel like a habit for everyone on the team — for us to be truly comfortable.

And still, over one year after we launched it we’re still making adjustments. We made adjustments to the system when we opened our second location. We made adjustments to the system when some manager roles shifted around. From time to time we simply find a better way to do X, or a faster way to do Y, or we learn that we just don’t need Z anymore.

Even though it continues to evolve we now we have a consistent, reliable, repeatable process for something that used to be chaotic and time consuming. That’s the power of systems.

So, there you have it, my friends. That is my unique approach to building powerful business systems. It’s not easy, but it’s important.

When you do it right, quality business systems can save you time, build team unity, increase your profit, and so much more. A robust system has the ability to grow your business like nothing else can, “automating” essential business activities so you can focus your energy on high-impact priorities that bring you the best results.

Give it a try and let me know how it works for you. Share your thoughts and experiences below and hit me up with any questions.

I’m dedicated to helping you take action on these ideas, so use and abuse me!

Connect with us:

Read the Transcript

[00:00:00] Hello, fitness business nerds. What’s up? Welcome to another episode of the Business Phen Unicorns podcast, and today I’m super stoked to be back here again with Ben Pickard. Hello. Hello, friend. Thanks for having me. I’m so glad you’re now a regular on this podcast because I just love picking your brain and we get to work together on a regular basis, maybe more than I work with anyone else on the business Unicorn scene.

You and I get to work together, so when I get to share what we’ve been thinking about on this podcast, it feels we’re really pulling back the curtain to show behind the scenes of how we think about our work at Business pH unicorns. So anyway, thanks for being here, my friend. Before we dive into today’s topic, which is gonna be about how to use a business coach, which I’m really excited for, I wanna do a quick little, just shout out a little mini commercial because we are now in, we started enrollment for Unicorn Society.

And if you’re listening to this, when this podcast was released, we’re in the middle of our early bird enrollment for Unicorn Society, which means we have a few spots left. We have a spew few spots open to join our unicorn society. And Ben, do you wanna tell him a little bit about how early bird enrollment works?

Yeah, a hundred [00:01:00] percent. So early bird enrollment for Unicorn Society will launch on May 29th, and typically we only open enrollment twice a year, once at the end of the year for a January start, and once in the middle of the year for a July start. Because we don’t wanna, honestly, we wanna focus on serving our members, not be constantly selling.

So early Bird, you get a bit of a savings. And some perks. And then early bird will close on Sunday, June 12th, which is also my birthday. For my birthday. Join you to Unicorn Society. Oh, what a gift. What a gift. And then registration officially ends on Sunday, June 19th. Got it. So if you wanna save some money, and we’re talking about like saving literally hundreds of dollars, sign up before the end of the enroll period.

And even if you’re not sure if you wanna join Unicorn Society, then just fill out the damn application, follow the link down below, fill it out, and then we’ll have a conversation. And frankly, you’ll probably have a conversation with Ben as your first tip to decide whether it’s a good fit, so you don’t have to have major mind up.

When you apply, applying does not mean we take your credit card and you’re in [00:02:00] applying means you have a conversation with us to see if you’re a good fit for us and we’re a good fit for you. It’s like a first date, and you’ve heard us, I’m sure on this podcast if you listened to any of them at all.

You’ve heard us talk at length about what Unicorn Society is, but Ben, just in a nutshell, who is Unicorn Society ideal for you? Unicorn society is ideal for training gym owners. Who offer a mixture of one-on-one small group or team slash large group training. Ideally, you’ve got a, a couple of team members in place.

You’ve got a handful of clients, radius, semi established business, and that doesn’t mean you have to be making 80 grand a month semi established. This means like it’s not your first rodeo and you’re looking to grow your business, not just I want 10,000 more leads, but you’re looking for like, how do I improve my leadership?

How do I get. Operationally efficient. How do I standardize client experience across the board? How do you like plug all the little holes that often end up on our to-do list but don’t become a huge project? So we’re really good at helping. And I say this cause I’ve done a ton of interviews now and I was a member of helping people who are like already established, have their feet under them, [00:03:00] but are really now trying to make the leap to, let’s make this a real business, so to speak.

A grown up, yeah, a grown up business. And that means like someone other than you is gonna answer. Member phone calls and emails, but you wanna have the same beautiful standard of customer service. And there’s a lot going on with, yeah, beyond just how do we grow revenue? It’s how do you get the pieces in place so that you can grow revenue more easily.

Yeah, said my friend. We’ll leave it there. So friends, click the link down below on the show notes. Visit and click the link to learn more about Unicorn Society. Apply. Have a conversation with Ben. See if it’s a good fit for you, and if not, we might have other ways we can help you. So just be in touch.

This leads us to today’s topic, which is funny. We actually planned this topic before we were going to talk about Unigram site enrollment, but it dovetails beautifully with today’s topic. So today we want to talk a little bit about. How to use a business coach, like how to actually get value from working with a coach.

Cause a lot of you out there have never worked with a coach before, and many of you out there offer fitness coaching and sometimes nutrition coaching. But [00:04:00] working with a business coach is a little different. And so I wanted to talk about what we’ve learned in terms of the clients we work with that really get a lot out of our services.

So maybe let’s just start with this. Who do you think. Business coaching is ideal for Ben, and actually it’s not that different, the question we just asked, but just maybe talking a little bit bigger picture, not just about unicorn society, but generally speaking, working with a business coach, who do you think should consider finding a business coach?

Yeah, it’s a great question. I’m heavily biased that I want to go so far as to say, like almost everybody knowing that yeah, business coaching is an extremely broad spectrum. That is an unregulated profession. So instead of my super coppo answer, I do think it’s really a good fit for people who are like open to having their ideas challenged, know they wanna get to some sort of destination, even if they haven’t perfectly clarified that, but aren’t really sure of how to get there.

And possibly even if they believe that they can get there as I like, yeah, true coaching as we, [00:05:00] me and you have to discuss, but maybe not for everybody. Like we’re not just, it’s not just saying do this and this. It’s not like on the consulting end of the spectrum, so to speak. It’s helping people get clear on their goals, helping identify obstacles and helping commit to consistent action and stay accountable.

So, Even if again, cop out answer, even if you don’t have a crystal clear goal, a really good business coach, case in Point U, that’s why I was a member of her so long. Helps you actually clarify the goals. What do you really want and how can you get there? Because there’s the obvious stuff of business coach can help give you better referral strategies or help you get more testimonials or help you get more leads and those are kinda like checkbox items to a certain degree.

But like really good coaching is getting not just one layer deeper, but I think I’ve actually worded your skills to people like you just cut right through everything I say and get right to the heart of the matter and be like, it sounds like you’re struggling with this and it’s holy shit. I didn’t even realize I was struggling this, I was operating on the assumption that once I get X, then I’ll have Y.

What I’m really looking for is, is this business a ref [00:06:00] accurate reflection of my amazing vision I have for my community? Yeah. I wanna go back and repeat something you shared, but I think is a great paradigm for our listeners to think about, which is, you mentioned fifth three things that great coaches do, and this is not just unicorn, sorry.

This is, we’re talking about coaching as a whole and the great three things that great coaches do is help people identify what they want. Whether that’s goals, a vision, a clear vision of what you want, help them identify and overcome obstacles. Notice what’s getting in the way and get it out of the fucking way as soon as possible.

And number three is to commit to consistent action. So ideally when, if you’re thinking about getting a coach, that you are someone who you think would benefit from ha being more clear about where I’m heading. Having a thought partner to help identify and overcome obstacles more quickly and hopefully more efficiently.

And I want someone to hold me accountable to taking consistent action. So number one thing we hear when working with clients at all is that they mainly want a coach to help hold them accountable because as the owner of your own business, You’re not accountable to anyone. You got no boss. You got no one to report to.

And as coaches, we’re not your boss, but we get to be a [00:07:00] really powerful mirror to you to say, Hey, this is what you said mattered. This is what you said you’re gonna do about that thing that mattered. So did it happen? And if not, we’re not here to judge you. We’re to help you get curious about your own behavior, your own mindset, your own habits, right?

And get curious about how they might change if you’re not getting the outcomes you want from the way you’re working. So I just wanted to re highlight that. Those three things you shared I think are so, I. Critical, Ben, and let’s dive into a little bit. So once someone decides to work with a coach, how do you see people really extracting value from that experience?

Certainly, we’ve already listed a few, but just going a little bit further, maybe give some examples of ways that you extracted value from coaching, or you’ve seen people extract value from our coaching. So yeah, dive in a little deeper. Yeah. I think the first one that comes to mind is what you said about being a thought partner.

Because owning your own business is lonely. Yeah. It’s definitely not all that it’s cracked up to be. Don’t get me wrong. I love that I’m self-employed and there’s all sorts of perks with that. But it also comes with [00:08:00] some things that could easily be perceived as cons, and one of those cons is you don’t have someone in your office building who’s like your co-manager or whoever, corporate works where you can just be like, Hey, can I run this by you for a second?

Because you can’t always run everything by your team. And sometimes even with their best interests, even with their, even if they’re trying to give you their best interest on it, like sometimes they just don’t have all the right information for it to be valuable feedback. Sometimes the thing you wanna run by them has to do with it.

Yeah. It’s about them. Exactly. My trainers have tons of ideas on lots of things, and many of them are great and many of them are not. And oftentimes it’s when it’s like outside of their lane, then it gets a little bit. Blurry and it’s less their hearts for that, but someone at peer, at your level who you can have those deep conversations with to be like, I’m really struggling with X.

Can we talk about it? Like those are some of the best coaching calls I’ve had is when they come in with, I’m struggling with this thing and I’m open to discussion about it. And having that thought part and be like, as you said, I heard you say [00:09:00] it, you’re interested in X, but it looks like you’re doing Y.

How do we help you navigate that? And even if nothing else, just having that person to. Like sometimes all it is reinforcing that does sound like a good idea. What’s the next step? But in that case, you’re still taking something that could have been you mulling it over for three weeks before doing something on it and be like, cool, I’m gonna make sure that’s done tomorrow.

Like you just gained three weeks of progress time and that happens multiple times a year. So anyways, first one is a valuable thought partner because it’s lonely as fuck at the top, so to speak. Yeah. The second piece I’ve found really valuable for having a coach is, And this is like how to use a coach, but it’s not a great use of coaching time to be like, can you tell me about x?

Especially at Business for Unicorns when we have so many done for you resources and videos and courses already created, but using a coach in a way where you’ve absorbed information from one or a couple different places and you need to like it’s jumbled and give you through [00:10:00] it all in a bucket and it’s just a cluster fuck and you want to bring it to the meeting and be like, Hey, I’ve got this bucket of stuff I think is useful, but can we help get it organized?

Yeah. Synthesize, organize. Yeah, exactly. For some reason I have image in my head about a kid’s beach bucket full of like different toys and we need to get them in some sort of order for the benefit of the sandcastle. Not sure. Yeah, I think the thing you mentioned before, I think was a great example of the kind of thing that people bring is, I think you mentioned a few minutes ago, or maybe I just made up in my head, was referral structure, referral and strategy that I would love for, the best way to use a coach, and this is true for example, for us, is that someone comes to say, here are the last three referral programs I had.

Here’s one I just saw on the Facebook Live. You all did, or from our retreat, I got that idea, and then here’s two others I read about. How do I take all this information and decide which one do I do next? Perfect example of how to use a coach as a thought partner and to help streamline like your synthesizing of information.

We’re not there to reverse, which I think you said is not. The way to do is come to a coaching call and be like, tell me about [00:11:00] referrals. Help me understand referrals. That’s not the best way to use their time with a coach. Come with some ideas, and if you really have never done a referral program before, maybe you can start a call like that.

But if every call is about, tell me everything you know about this topic. The knowledge is not the best way to, to use a coaching call. You can Google us, listen to the podcast, read our blogs, go to Mark’s YouTube, take one of our courses, especially if you work with us. There’s so much done for you stuff, and that’s the way most coaches work these days.

Yeah. The knowledge is free. It’s the processing of that information and right sizing it for you, then that’s what a coach can do best. So I just wanted to like Yes. End your answer. So keep on. Yeah. That’s not the antithesis of how we’ve been taught in school. Like you wait for the teacher to give the lesson.

So the method of content delivery is a human telling it at you. And coaching is best served for like the. Area where the two area, the two circles of the Venn diagram, I overlap. And then figuring out how you can roll out that initiative in a way that fits [00:12:00] your business and your values. So a hundred percent.

Yeah. So I said having a a thought partner, super valuable. Having someone to synthesize information for you. And the third one, where we’re gonna get a little more deep here is putting it on just having the emotional support. I can’t say enough how valuable it is to have somebody who you know is just like in your corner.

And I’m not texting when I was a client. It’s not like I was texting you every day or something, but it was really n nice to know if I really am struggling with something that like somebody’s got my back. Because it often feels the government doesn’t really have your back as long as you pay your taxes.

They don’t really give us your tax money and shut the fuck up is basically the message that I hear. Again, you can bring some stuff. And you’re, and for the context, you’re even in Canada and think that, so in the US it’s even worse. You’re even more on your fucking own. Sorry, keep going. Yeah, that’s a good point.

But like I said, you can sometimes bring some stuff to your team, but I don’t know. There’s a boundary there, I think, with a lot of things. [00:13:00] But you can sometimes bring things to a spouse or a parent. I know I’ve talked to a few, be a few members who they’re a family member is basically like, they’re like, CFO or FI or financial officer.

But even then, yeah, I know if I bring work stuff to my wife or she brings it to me, like we’ve both got a lot of biases for each other’s behavior. So it’s not like I’ve even trained myself to some, I don’t do it as much recently, but if she brings me something, I’ll sometimes pause the conversation, be like, Are you looking at for advice or do you just need to feel hurt?

And more often than not, it’s actually the latter. Mm-hmm. So you still got emotional support in other areas. But I know I started my business when I was 24 and I’ve been self-employed since I left school. And like, and we have a son who’s now 11. I’m 33. So the reason the li, the reason this has been so beneficial for me, and I’m imagining there’s other people out there with similar, yet different.

Past of life that this will resonate with is I’m three years into a business learning everything I can, trying to scrape things together to make it work in like the [00:14:00] scrappiest fucking business ever, as many gyms are. And then the friends are in life situations where, yeah, I’m not sure, like my job, I think I’m gonna quit, but I might go on vacation.

And it’s like that peer network, at least when I started out, wasn’t to the same degree. Yeah. Like there was misalignment there and it wasn’t for better or for work. They just can’t relate. Yeah, they just can’t relate. If you have a corporate job, you work for someone else. It’s hard to relate to someone who works for themselves that, and we wake up at early as hell in the morning, so it’s like, I don’t really want to go drinking, which is when most good conver like you, it was hard to go your way.

So this is my roundabout way of bringing it to like having that emotional support from someone who you know has your best interest in mind. Whether you like the thing that just came outta their mouth or not. I know it’s. Best interest in mind and but can also see the whole picture from an unbiased point of view.

There’s like true coaching, as you’ve told me many times. There is no agenda. Obviously we want the person to get to their goals, but how we get there is not set in stone by any stretch. So having that person who’s got your back and you can bring them pretty much whatever, knowing that [00:15:00] even though to a.

An observer. These might feel like completely different buckets. Like we know that work and life don’t completely separate. Yeah. We’re not two separate people. No. Yeah. Unless we’re in the Apple TV show severance. And then you are two separate people. Have you watched severance show? No. I really like, I like Apple people.

Well, we’ll go on a tangent. I wanna start a new pod, a new podcast about severance. So listeners, if you. Haven’t watched the episode, the TV show Severance on Apple tv. Go watch it. It’s wild. It’s about this topic. Okay, so yeah, I’m gonna add one more thing to your list cause I, I think that’s a fantastic list, right?

Like emotional support, thought partnership, et cetera. Those are, I think, all fantastic reasons to, people can benefit from coaching or ways people can benefit from coaching. The other thing that I think is really important, I’ve come to this after having. Been a business coach for many years is I think the best kind of business coaching offers you, dear listeners, both coaching, which Ben described here as a non-agenda, open-ended question, motivational interview [00:16:00] approach to helping you explore yourself.

Get curious about your choices. Get curious about your mindset, get curious about your habits, get curious about what’s working and not working for you. There’s a pure coaching element that I think business coaching has to offer. Then I think also really good business coaching also offers some mentorship and consulting.

I think business coaching has to do all three, and for me, mentorship is working with people who’ve also done what you’ve done. Let’s actually have some subject matter expertise and experience running the kind of business that you’ve run. And so that’s one piece of it. And that way, as a business coach, I can not only help you explore what’s working and not working for you, but can I also, I can also say, here are three ways that I’ve tried to attack this problem and three ways I’ve seen other people try to attack these problem.

Let’s work through all these different options and find out what’s best for you. I’m bringing some mentorship. To the conversation as well. And the third piece, consulting is exactly what it sounds like is someone who’s actually has enough expertise, they can help you diagnose problems and actually offer some solutions.

[00:17:00] Right? And sometimes I offer solutions that are not things that we’ve done at Mark Fisher Fitness that are not things that I’ve seen other. Unicorn society members do. They’re things I just thought of because I’m an expert in some areas and I have a brain that works and is thinking about these things a lot, right?

And that’s just straight up consulting. I’m gonna bring all the data I have and experience I have to the table and help you diagnose a problem in your business and offer some solutions. And I think all three are really important for business coaching. These days. I don’t think it’s enough and back. I think if you would’ve asked me this six or eight years ago, I would’ve probably said that the first bucket was enough.

That just offering pure coaching is enough, and I think it can be depending on the kind of person you’re working with, et cetera. I can talk a lot about that, but I think for most of you, dear listeners who own gyms, the kind of thing, the kind of value you want to extract from a business coach is someone who can offer you all three, who can offer you those big picture questions and those motivational interview open-ended questions.

Someone who can offer you [00:18:00] examples from their experience and some mentorship. Yeah, someone who’s maybe 10, 15, 20 steps ahead of where you are in your business and someone who has some real subject matter expertise and can be a real consultant in helping you solve problems, gain knowledge, et cetera. So yeah, I would say I.

I guess what I’m suggesting there is that you will get more value from a business coach if they are well-rounded in all three of those areas. Does that, is that tracking? Yeah. I’m just gonna reinforce that if you didn’t clarify it, because on the pure consulting end, it can be like, Hey, we’re not converting enough of our members from a low Bay area offer to a membership.

What do we need to do? A consultant can go in, review what they’ve got and be like, this is good, this is, fuck. Just do that. And on the other end of the spectrum, a coach can be like, What makes you wanna approve your conversion? There can, obviously, that’s a bad question, but there can be some good open-ended questions.

Yeah. But the marriage is beautiful because then you can have someone who has the industry expertise to be like, yep, this is the step that’s missing it. It needs to be changed. But then they can factor in the other stuff around like, how does this fit into [00:19:00] your time? How does this fit into your capacity?

Because I’ve seen some coaching programs out there where it’s like, you just need to do A, B, and c. And so, but if you have a kid at home and you’re coaching 30 hours a week on the floor and you’ve also got a laundry list of other to-dos, it isn’t so much the question of like, everybody knows they need to try to convert people.

There isn’t a magic script for this. The obstacle is often a capacity or a limiting belief or a mindset thing, which is where that coach being able to shift gears until, let’s talk about the big picture here for a minute, is so much more valuable. We’re not just a dictionary of answers. It’s how does like life and business fit together in a way that.

At the end of the week, hopefully your bank account is bigger, but you’re also more fulfilled and not burnt out. Yeah. Yeah, I think it really well said. Cause there’s some plenty of times where, you know, both of my work with business coaches and then me in my own work as a business coach, like it’s very clear that the topic just requires some expertise.

Who has some knowledge. If someone comes into a call and I’m stressed about finances and I pay all of my coaches, 80% of the revenue they generate per hour. I don’t need to [00:20:00] ask you any open-ended fucking questions. I don’t need to explore. I don’t, I just, we need, I need to tell you that is wrong. We need to.

Fix that. This is a, this is a bad choice that was made. And we can, I can acknowledge and validate all the reasons why you may be made that choice, right? But ultimately I don’t need to explore. Whereas if someone comes to me and says, they’re just feeling really burned out, they have too many plates spinning and they don’t feel good about the.

Father that they’re showing up as in their life, then I need to have a real coaching conversation. That’s a real chance for me to switch gears and dive into what’s working and not working in this person’s life. And that’s a whole different skillset. So I, I think those are two very extreme examples of very different conversations, and I think the, you can get more value from a business coach.

If they’re able to put on those different hats, and as we both suggested, a lot of business coaching out there only offers one. And again, this is not a commercial for us. Of course, we think all of you should work with us. That’s not a hidden agenda here. But at the end of the day, if it’s not us, we wanna make sure that you’re finding people out there to work with that can put on these different hats for you.

That I would say [00:21:00] run away from the programs that tell you they have some secret formula to success. If you just follow their formula, everything in your life will be fantastic. Bullshit. I also want you to avoid the ones that are also gonna just be like, we get together every month and, and drum circle and write poetry about our business problems should also run from that as well.

I think the reality is you need, I think business coaching should be a mix of those things. I love a drum circle, I love poetry, but it doesn’t solve all of our problems. It solve a few. Yeah. Yeah. And even just to, yeah, you made it sound like those were two opposite questions, which there are, but even on the, Hey, you’re paying your coaches 80% of gross revenue or per session rate.

There’s probably a PDF out there that is, yeah, just fire everybody and pay them 33% or 40%. And coaching can then dance that line between, here’s the problem that needs to be solved, but here’s how we actually roll that in out in a way where your coaches don’t all fucking quit and it takes you three months to get new ones.

And there’s an impact of that. And yeah, the, we can’t stress enough. It’s the marriage of all the, it’s being [00:22:00] able to walk the whole spectrum. That is a strength. It’s not a is better than B, it’s, they’re all useful at different stages. Yeah. Yeah. So I think that’s it. I think people can get more. I think our whole hypothesis here, this podcast episode is people, you can get the most value from a coach when they have a big toolbox, right?

And a proven track record of helping people using more than one. Tool and the tools we think matter are straight up coaching, consulting, and some mentorship. A combination of those things that are really valuable. Maybe let’s just wrap it up with what are the kinds of results you’ve seen people get working with a business coach?

Maybe just thinking about yourself, certainly some of our insider members or just anyone else working with a business coach out even outside of us. What are the kinds of results you’ve seen people get who’ve been able to work with a business coach successfully? Yeah, the most obvious one. Is revenue cuz I haven’t yet to meet a gym owner who doesn’t want to increase the revenue.

Like we just had a testimonial recently from one of our members who through working with us, no, did he get through Covid [00:23:00] relatively unscathed. He also tripled his gross revenue. So that’s a monster win. So yeah, there’s the obvious answers of, yeah, we will help you make more money. And we have tons of case studies and testimonials of how, going back to the emotional support piece, I, I don’t wanna name names on the podcast, but.

Like a laundry list of members who, it’s like that thought partner and that support partner. Really huge. Even if all I did was validate their ideas, which is not how every coaching call goes, but sometimes it is. Having that person where it’s, yes, we’ve, I’ve got these systems in place and we held you accountable to doing that thing.

I feel more confident in my ideas. I improve my team meeting structure. We’re. Not running around like chickens with their head cut off. I don’t think anyone’s actually verbatim said that to me, but that’s my interpretation of how they were operating before. Yeah, and there’s something to be said for not just, Hey, yeah, you’ve got more money, but it’s also, yeah, you’ve got more freedom and you’re more organized and expectations are clear.

Like when A happens than we do B, than we do C. And having that in place would a gym owner can then go on vacation. Or another [00:24:00] person can do consultations or someone handled sessions while you were away. The list goes on of all the benefits for that, but it really is coming around like freeing up time, which is not just your time as the owner, because we work with your entire team.

We treat your business as the client, not you as the client. The whole team is, oh, that’s so much better. That works easier. There’s a better structure for everything goes. Yeah. Said. Yeah, I think that’s it. I don’t think I have much to add is that I think the main benefits I’ve gotten from working with business coaches, I’ve seen people get is that we are able to identify our challenges more quickly, build systems.

To help our business run more efficiently, more effectively, with a less effort over time. And because of all that, I’m more clear and strategic about how I spend my time. That is a thing I’ve seen over and over again, and that all of that has a ripple effect into my personal life and my family, to the team members I work with.

So having those systems in place that make expectations clear, makes everyone more efficient with their time. And because of that, We can have more life outside of work, [00:25:00] which is why we work to begin with for many of us. And I think that’s great. I think let’s leave it there, my friend. Again, this dovetail beautifully with enrollment for Unicorn society, even though we weren’t planning this.

So again, if you wanna work more with us and you’re a gym owner who wants a business coach? We can do all the things we talked about here and more. And so go learn more about unicorn sided. Click the link below, fill out the application, have a conversation with Ben, and let’s see if we’re a right fit for each other.

And if this podcast was valuable, leave us a five star review everywhere you listen and let us know what you want us to talk about next. Ben’s gonna be a regular on the podcast now, so email him ben business Email me mike lip Let us know what guests you want us to have, what topics you want to cover, and we’re excited to.

We’re excited to serve. Yeah, so let us serve you. Awesome. Thanks for a great conversation. Thank you, Ben. I’ll see you on the next one.



  1. Jeff Blair

    Thanks Michael-good stuff!

    I think the biggest eye-opener for me was the amount of patience needed to implement any type of customer service system improvement. It is not necessarily/purely a linear/analytical process…it takes quite a bit of “soft” and contextual skill to create and implement good systems.

    And hopefully this is not too abstract but…..Another huge awareness for me was realizing my personal growth needs may be the biggest impediment to creating good systems (see patience example above…just one of many in my case :-)).

    Realizing that I may be a big part of the problem is not an easy thing to face and overcome…but it is part of the self-actualization process of business creation.

    Thanks again

    • Michael Keeler

      Great observation Jeff! You are not alone my friend. As leaders, our ability to be affective is often limited by our own personal weaknesses. For example, I’m terrible a being patient. That’s why I often skip Stage 4. I rationalize to myself that “I don’t want to waste time testing stuff and getting other people’s opinions, they should just trust me.” Haha. Not the best impulse for leader to have.

      I’m continually working to change that mindset, and when I’m able to the rewards are tremendous. Keep working on yourself dude. You and everyone around you will benefit from your personal development efforts.

  2. Chase Schaap

    Well done, Michael. Great stuff.

    • Michael Keeler

      Thanks for being a constant supporter Chase! I appreciate you dude.

  3. Josh

    Love your epic posts oozing of personality ….

    Q: what system or software have you found it simplest to create your systems / operating prosicedures for repeatable take?

    Google drive, wix website where they can acccess all they need to do on an organized manner?

    • Michael Keeler

      Hey Josh – Great question! The answer really depends on the kind of system you’re creating. We have used all kinds of easily accessible software. Google Drive, Formstack, and Infusionsoft have been a few of our favorites.

      There is so much free (or cheap) software available today that makes creating systems more efficient. I’d suggest that you explore and try things out to find the right fit for each project.

      Here are a few more app that I love:


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