Have you ever ridden a spin bike? If you have, you know that it’s pretty hard to get the wheel (flywheel) going due to its weight – usually between 30-45 lbs. However, once that sucker is moving, it’s damn near impossible to stop! While I could posit on this topic as it relates to why riding a spin bike isn’t always the best training methodology, alas… this isn’t the point of this post 😉 What is the point is that that a coaching business flywheel works in the same way as a spin bike flywheel. So without further ado…
Getting Started Is Hard!
Perhaps the most common question we get at UESCA is, “How long will it take me to get athletes?”
This is usually answered in some form of “I have no idea!”
The fact of the matter is that like starting any new business, starting a coaching business is hard! Getting individuals to sign on as athletes is hard. Figuring out logistics such as liability insurance and marketing is hard. Finding time juggling your new coaching business with your full-time job and family obligations is hard. While I truly don’t think anyone goes into starting a new business thinking it will be easy, a lot of individuals underestimate the work that starting a business entails.
… Back to the Flywheel
The definition of the purpose of a flywheel differ based on the application, but below are two definitions (Wikipedia and Britannica, respectively):
- Delivering energy at rates beyond the ability of an energy source. This is achieved by collecting energy in a flywheel over time and then releasing it quickly, at rates that exceed the abilities of the energy source.
- The energy stored in a flywheel depends on both the weight distribution and the rotary speed; if the speed is doubled, the kinetic energy is quadrupled.
These two definitions essentially say the same thing in that when the flywheel speed increases, the resultant energy is greater than the source of the energy. So how exactly does this apply to business?
As stated above, getting a business (e.g., flywheel) moving is hard at the beginning because you are starting from scratch where there is no motion at all. However, the flywheel effect starts the minute you get your first athlete, as you now have created some form of momentum. Below is an example to illustrate the flywheel effect as it relates to coaching.
- You sitting on the couch dreaming about starting a coaching business (no flywheel movement)
- Get certified, acquire liability insurance, create and market your coaching business and get your first athlete!! (flywheel starts to turn)
- Your first athlete refers two other athletes to you (flywheel picking up speed)
- Local running shop hears about you through athlete #2 and invites you to come give a talk at the local running club and encourages you to put your business card at the store’s front desk. You get three new athletes from your presentation and on average, one new athlete per month from your business cards in the store (flywheel continues to pick up speed)
- Due to your influence in the local running community, many of the runners that you coach mention you to other professionals such as massage and physical therapists, personal trainers and nutritionists. They reach out to you for your contact information so that they can refer patients/athletes to you (flywheel is unstoppable!).
As you can see, the flywheel effect happens when ‘small’ wins for your business build on each other over time and grow to the point where enough momentum is gained that growth almost seems to happen by itself.
Therefore, any injection of effort into one or more of the areas noted above will only serve to further increase the speed and influence of the flywheel effect.
As mentioned in the Britannica flywheel definition, if the speed is doubled, the energy is quadrupled. Put into business terms, this means that for ever dollar or hour you spend on your business, you will get a large return. While you should not rest on your laurels as your business flywheel speeds up, the proportion of time/money spent to acquire athletes will likely decrease.
What Breaks a Flywheel?
Quite a few things, actually. As noted in the example noted above, the main constant of an effective flywheel is a solid network of referrals and references. However, people typically only refer others if they have personally received a great experience and want others to experience the same level of satisfaction. Therefore, if the professionalism and/or quality of your coaching decreases, the flywheel will start to slow down until the point where it stops moving (i.e., you’re out of business).
As such, staying on the top of your game in terms of professionalism, being results-driven, looking and acting on opportunities, being friendly and providing as much value as possible – you’ll likely keep your flywheel turning faster and faster!
When I started to create UESCA in 2014, it was just me pouring over peer-reviewed study after peer-reviewed study and making notes/creating content. After I got my first rudimentary website built and hit the launch button… nothing happened! If I recall correctly, several weeks went by until I got my first sale (I still remember that person’s name to this day!). A week or so later I got another sale. While UESCA’s first year sales were pretty lean (i.e., barely made enough to keep paying for website hosting!), I did see progress and increased sales so I figured that I should keep it rolling. Fast forward to 2022 and things are much healthier from a business point of view and when I dig into the analytics of the business, I can see how each and every initiative/product has affected the flywheel effect, for better or worse.
Getting your business (flywheel) started is not easy. It wasn’t for me and it won’t be for you either – this is just a fact. However, if you’re professional, don’t quit and look for and leverage opportunities in ways that are beneficial for all parties, and are able to do this on a consistent basis, trust me… soon enough your business flywheel will be spinning like you doing a HIIT workout on a spin bike!
Learn more about UESCA Endurance Sports Coaching certifications!
Check out UESCA Triathlon Coach Certification
Check out UESCA Running Coach Certification
Check out UESCA Ultrarunning Coach Certification
Check out UESCA Cycling Coach Certification
Check out Endurance Sports Nutrition Certification