Get Out of the Way!

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Get Out of the Way!

get out of your own way
Do you know who your competition is?  Are you sure?

Sound like easy questions right?  “Of course I know who my competition is, don’t be ridiculous!” you’re saying to yourself.  Think about this for a minute…

The competition in the youth & adult sports training industry is at an all time high.  Drive through your town and look for sports training companies that in some capacity teach others how to perform better in a particular sport or activity.  Karate studios, gymnastics centers, competitive dance studios, baseball/softball facilities, yoga studios, zumba, fencing (yes there are a ton), private and commercial gyms, wrestling academies, laser tag, paintball, and cross fit are just some of the up and coming types of businesses establishing themselves with driven entrepreneurs at the wheel.  The feeling that you’ll get as you start to look for these places is the same as when you buy a brand new car and all of a sudden you see them everywhere.  Try it, you’ll be amazed how many sports themed businesses are out there!

15, 10, or even 5 years ago you would have seen a drastically different landscape.  You would have see your standard bowling alley, driving range, roller rink and tennis center.  These were usually owned by high income professionals in town that had some extra money, pooled it together, and decided it would be fun to own a sports facility.  These inevitably are run down and in many cases have changed hands several times or closed down all together.


Today there are people that specialize in running sports based companies.  There are thousands upon thousands of graduates each year that spend 4 or 5 years studying Sports Facility Management!

What most small businesses, especially in the sports facility industry, fail to understand is markets, competition, and most importantly how to identify what their company needs to do in order to stay profitable.  They are so busy with the day to day operations that thinking in those terms is not even something that crosses their mind.

For example, let’s say there is a karate studio near you.   If they are anything like the typical small business owner they look around and only see 1 or 2 other martial arts studios in town and they think they can just provide the same old service, lack innovation and vision, use outdated technology, and they’ll be in business for the next 15 years just like the way it used to be.  What they are failing to realize is that with the influx of other types of businesses that are looking for the same demographic of clients, that they are actually losing market share to businesses that have nothing to do with their niche.  The same kids that the karate studio needs to sell packages to are also being pulled towards baseball lessons, golf lessons, or what I call “sports plex facilities” that are more all-inclusive with many activities under one roof.  It’s not that they wouldn’t like karate.  This is where most business owners take things too personally and don’t look at their company from the objective point of view of the consumer.  For logistical reasons such as their brother or sister is involved in a different activity in another part of town, they decide to spend that money more closely located to where they spend that time instead of karate lessons.  So the question is what does the karate school owner need to do in order to capture a larger share of the market?  For that particular example there could be a variety of ways to capture market share.  However they’ll never get anywhere unless they…


Please keep the following in mind as you read further….What I’m not saying is stop running your business.  I’m saying start allowing others to help you grow and continue to follow your passion.  If as a business owner you haven’t take a step back and reflected on the state of your company then the time is now.

For any company, no matter how big or small there needs to be a transition that ownership goes through.  Yes, you started the company, yes you are the one that brought the company to where it is today.  But it’s OK if you need help with taking it to the next level.  It’s OK if you need to bring in a general manager, hire a trainer, or seek a bookkeeper to help with your growing company.

The sports facilities (or any company for that matter) that can transition from owner heavy to staff heavy will inevitably be the ones that can overcome the huge influx of competition they may be faced with.  It’s the sports facilities that understand that in order to gain market share they’ll need to grow.  In order to grow you need good people to help you.  In order to keep good people you need to GET OUT OF THE WAY.  You need to start being the visionary instead of the mule.  You have to stop being the person that does everything and start being the person that helps others do what they are good at.  If you need to hire good trainers, then you need to focus on getting them more people to train and get out of their way.  If you need to hire a book keeper, you need to make sure the systems you have in place are effective and organized so they can enter the data the right way so you can get great financial reports.  If you are growing faster than you expected and need a general manager, give them every ounce of support and do everything that they shouldn’t be doing!  Your job is to create a strong culture, create vision for the company, and keep everyone focused on the goals you’ve set.  Let your GM do the rest!  Give them the ability to do their job really well (after all you hired the best candidate for the job right??).

At the end of the day, there is of course a tremendous amount of turnover when it comes to small businesses.  For the vast majority that struggle it’s because ownership has lost it’s way in terms of growing the company.  They’ve done all they can by themselves.  They need to get out of the way, take on the role of executive, and let the great people around them help grow their humble small business into something that now creates many jobs, puts money into many people’s pockets, and stays open for the long term.


Tim Ziakas is a Sports Facility Consultant who specializes in helping sports facility owners run growing, viable, and profitable companies. He is one of the only Sports Facility Consultants who has real life experience purchasing, operating, growing, and selling sports facilities. His leadership and sales training stems from real life experiences both in the financial services industry and sports facility industry.


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