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Entrepreneurship has never been such a great challenge!

Feb 8, 2021

There has been a moment when you, as an entrepreneur, decided: 'I am going to do it all by myself. From tomorrow onwards, I will decide what step to take next and I will be fully responsible for my career and my results! Who could have imagined then that the world would look completely different today? Your results have suddenly become largely dependent on the choices made by our government, at a time of abnormal and unprecedented crisis. One thing is certain: you learn a lot about yourself in a period when you have to deal with one blow after another.

There is nothing you can do about all the negative news that comes at you every day. However, you can decide how to deal with it.
The above is a bit of tile wisdom that can be plucked from numerous websites with management quotes and one-liners. However, this sentence is fully in line with the last sentence of my introduction. You do get to know yourself under the present exceptional circumstances. How do you react to the constant knocks you receive? Have you been knocked out at the first punch or do you keep getting back up? Are you combative or do you tend to despair? Do you blame the circumstances or are you constantly looking for what you can do? Have you opted for intensive contact with your members and are you proactive or do you tend to play hide-and-seek? Whichever way you look at it, the present time is also extremely instructive when it comes to self-knowledge!

Business coaches are not needed these days, you have to discover it for yourself!
It may be just me, but I have seen remarkably few quotes from business coaches on social media in recent weeks. Yes, this is a personal sneer at the - in my opinion - overrepresented branch of business coaches. Coaches who, due to a lack of results in their own business, have started to flood the internet with the aforementioned one-liners. Don't get me wrong: there are bound to be good coaches. However, there is no handbook for the circumstances we are dealing with now. A coach can certainly give you a push in the right direction, especially if you just need that extra push. At this moment, however, the situation is abnormal. The situation requires expertise in your field. My advice is to look for connections with colleagues in the sector. How are they dealing with this setback? What have they come up with to remain visible to affiliated members? What do their compensation schemes look like and what are they creating at this time? Look at what is possible and find the inspiration! You have to do it together with real professional specialists.

This is real business!
It probably never came to you. The situation now is even diametrically opposed to that concept. Almost everything, and I mean everything, is against you. Now the utmost is being asked of you. You did not ask for it, but you have to deal with it. Of course, you didn't start your entrepreneurship in order to defy yourself to the maximum, you wanted to take up the challenge. It is not easy now, but try to see it as an opportunity. You are challenged to the max today to do what you were born to do. For you, entrepreneurship is a jacket that fits like a glove. You are braving the storm at a time when the waves are unprecedentedly high.

I don't dare say it, the word 'fun' probably sounds inappropriate. But I actually think it is a very fun and inspiring time. Of course, I also have questions about the outcome of this crisis. How many clubs will perish as a result of the crisis? What do we do when it comes to compensation? How do we deal with clubs that cannot or do not want to pay anymore? How keen are we on non-payment? Are there any cancellations and what is the impact of the crisis in the short and long term? These are all very difficult questions to answer, especially now that many matters lie outside your span of control. The impact of the crisis means that a plan may be binned just one day after its launch.

For me personally, the lowest point was Mark Rutte's press conference on Wednesday 6 May. We had just recorded a video for our supporters with everything we planned to do when the clubs reopened. During the recording of this video, the first reports came in that clubs might have to remain closed until 1 September. That was the moment when, for the first time in this crisis, my spirits sank. I was like a boxer hanging on to the ropes, searching for breath and energy to stand on my feet again. The video could be binned even during production! That same evening, I really needed to talk to myself. I saw the glass half empty for the first time during this crisis.

The next day, we sat down with our team and took new plans into the weekend. Once again, we set to work to deal with the reality that had just been presented. The amount of creativity and flexibility that came from the team did us good. We had to deal with setbacks several times, but each time we mustered the courage to carry on and come up with new ideas.

The best ideas come from pressure
For our companies, the crisis has already brought many great moments and highlights. FitSnacks.TV has been a safety net for more than 650 clubs. We immediately started LIVE work-outs, every weekday evening. We started launching several new classes every day and have become very relevant with more than 80,000 viewers following an average of four(!) work-outs per week.

Start2Move was prepared and transformed within two weeks to offer fully online and on-demand education. And at ClubJoy, we offered members - in addition to a compensation plan - the option of having their members do all their workouts online. In addition, a best of release was launched and we will be introducing an all-new programme line in the coming weeks. We also came up with two -if I may say so myself- great ideas to give our members an extra push to get through the crisis. Long story short: more initiatives have been born in the last eight to nine weeks than in the previous six months!

Everything will work out for the best
By nature, I am rather positive, I have opportunistic tendencies. It's there, it doesn't come out easily. I must confess that I have not had any major setbacks in my life. Perhaps that will change my tone one day. I am convinced that together, we will come through this crisis stronger, more creative, more coherent and full of ingenuity. It is more than just biting the bullet, the core is almost gone. Clubs will fall, lives will be destroyed. I hope this will not happen to you. If it does happen to you, it will have been preceded by disproportionate circumstances. I assume that there are many who, through their entrepreneurial ability, sharpness, decisiveness and perseverance, will come through this strongly. Just because you can and because luck will come your way sooner or later!


Author: Marc Neijland

MARC NEIJLAND is director and co-owner of ClubJoy, Virtual Training Concepts, Start2Move and FitSnacks.TV. These companies serve over 1500 fitness clubs in the Benelux, Germany and Switzerland. Do you have any questions or comments about this article? Please send an e-mail to ClubJoy.

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