1. Plan and act strategically. Successful businesses (and individuals) tend to know where they are, where they want to go in the future, and how they plan to get there. They have a strategic plan that provides them with a systematic basis for prioritizing the time, energy, and resources that need to be allocated to a particular goal. A well-formulated strategic plan can serve not only as a blueprint for purposeful activity but also as a viable means to help reduce the degree of uncertainty.
2. Understand the bottom line. Fitness professionals need to understand the financial aspects of business and their application to their particular undertaking’s operation. Their sense of financial awareness enhances their ability to appreciate the financial implications of their actions. Further, they need to be aware of the fact that in the long run, making a profit should not be their singular focus. Rather, profits are the result of a business operating successfully.
3. Adopt and adhere to a budget. A budget is a plan that an individual or organization uses to operate the financial side of its business. Budgets can be either operational (short-term) or strategic (long-term) in nature. Properly developed, a budget is a tool that can help fitness professionals better manage their available resources.
4. Be results-oriented. Accomplished individuals have a vision (goals and objectives) and a plan for objectively determining the degree to which their vision is being achieved. They focus on and measure the results of their actions and activities and use these measurements to make appropriate adjustments in their strategic plan.
5. See people as assets. Successful people tend to see the inherent good in others. Further, they recognize the fact that every individual may have his or her own unique set of interests and needs that should be respected and dealt with in an appropriate manner.
6. Position themselves in the market. One of the most important strategic decisions that service and activity-oriented organizations and individuals must make is how to position their product in the customer’s (i.e., client’s) mind. The positioning process involves three basic steps: selecting a target group of customers, designing a positioning strategy, and capturing that position by an effective marketing program.
7. Communicate in a skillful manner. The ability to communicate effectively is one of the most indispensable requirements for success. Skillful communication involves many dimensions (e.g., verbal, non-verbal, writing, and listening). All factors considered, the greater the degree to which individuals master each of these dimensions, the greater the likelihood of their being successful in their chosen endeavors.
8. Learn to handle change. As a rule, change is never easy, but change is inevitable in almost all aspects of life. People change. Priorities change. Expectations change. Attitudes change. Achievement-oriented people, however, have the vision, sense of self-responsibility, and courage to embrace change as an inevitable consequence of life and the ability to adapt to circumstances as they exist (as opposed to how they would like them to be).
9. See the big picture. Individuals who prosper not only are able to attend to the important details that enable an undertaking to operate smoothly, they also have the ability to think ‘‘big.’’ As such, they are conscious goal-setters who are able to achieve an appropriate balance between their short-term and long-range professional and personal aspirations.
10. Navigate the path to success. Becoming a successful person can involve a number of factors, some of which can be directly influenced by the person, while others can’t. One factor that can be controlled by individuals is to gain an understanding of relevant business principles, involving such areas as financial management, communication, marketing, and customer service, and to apply those principles to their professional efforts.
James A. Peterson, Ph.D., FACSM, is a freelance writer and consultant in sports medicine. From 1990 until 1995, Dr. Peterson was director of sports medicine with StairMaster. Until that time, he was professor of physical education at the United States Military Academy.
Copyright 2010 by the American College of Sports Medicine.