Protecting your Endurance Coaching Business During COVID-19

‘Coronavirus will bankrupt more people than it kills – and that is a real global emergency.’ - Omar Hassan

We are living in uncertain times due to Coronavirus.

Uncertainty created by the virus itself but also the necessary actions taken by our governments and health organizations to contain it.

Because we've been living in a period of relative stability, convenience and easy living many of us aren't sure what to do.

We all need to protect ourselves, our loved ones, our communities but also our businesses. There is plenty of advice around about the first three but I want to offer some advice here on how to protect your endurance coaching business during these strange and challenging times.

The press as always are dramatizing and overreacting to the situation and in many cases adding to the confusion.

Regardless, this will be one of the most impactful global events that any of us will likely face in our lifetimes.

Although we can't control the virus itself, we can control how we react to the environment it has created.

Although COVID-19 in itself is a relatively benign virus the real danger will be how it will impact our health systems if it continues to spread as quickly as it has been. If our health systems are overloaded that will affect everyone who requires regular healthcare regardless of whether they've been exposed to Coronavirus. 

The travel and event restrictions governments have now implemented will help to slow the spread of the virus but will have an immediate and lasting effect on the global and local economies including our businesses. 

Many businesses won't survive through this period.

I feel comfortable that my business will be affected less than most because it is very lean, does not rely on any form of travel or transportation or any physical products or services. We are a fully remote business and have not had to make any adjustments to our day to day work. Apart from a few events I was planning to attend later in the year, it's business as normal.

Your business as an endurance coach is probably very similar.

However, the problem is we don't operate our businesses as islands. The financial environment around us has a direct impact on our revenue. For example, if our coaches businesses are effected then this will affect the demand for our software, and if our coaches clients are effected then this will affect the revenue of their business which will affect our businesses. Everything is connected.

So to minimize the impact to us as a business we need to do our best to help our coaches, and in turn, you as a coach need to do your best to help your clients through these uncertain times.

Those that are unsure what actions to take or how to behave will be looking to those around them that they trust and respect for guidance and advice on the things they should be doing to keep themselves safe and to minimize the negative impact. As a coach, your clients will be looking to you for guidance and advice particularly around their training, diet and their general health.

I'm not going to give you any advice on how to deal with the virus itself or your health as that's not my expertise or my place.

However, I do have some advice on how to keep your business safe during these times.

I'll start with some risks that I see you'll be facing as an endurance coach.

External Risks for you Endurance Coaching Business

Your Client's Financial Position

Because we live in a global economy almost every business in the world will be affected by COVID-19. For example here in NZ, we have only had 8 cases of the virus diagnosed so far. Yes, just single digits. However, our government has put in place very strict travel rules. Everyone who arrives in NZ needs to be isolated for 14 days. This has resulted (by design) in visitors cancelling their trips here entirely. New Zealand relies heavily on tourism for our economy. Our tourism industry and everyone employed by it will be severely affected. Jobs will be lost, businesses will fail and will not be able to continue to operate. 

Wherever your clients are in the world there will be a similar story. Your clients who are business owners will be under pressure financially, and some of your clients who are employees will lose their jobs and will find it difficult to find new ones.

If your clients are under pressure financially they will be reviewing all their expenses to see where they can ease the pressure.

Your coaching might be on that list of expenses to cull.

Cancelled or Postponed Endurance Events

Events are being cancelled or postponed all over the world. For example, you can see Ironman's list of cancelled or postponed events here https://www.ironman.com/updates. It will continue to grow.

If your clients no longer training for big events many of them may be considering cancelling their contracts with you as a coach. 

What can you do to Protect your Business and Minimize Risk

In times of uncertainty there are two different approaches you can take in your business. One is the negative approach, to contract, do less and look for savings. The other is a positive approach, to go on the offensive, make positive decisions and invest more time and effort into your business.

I don't operate well sitting back "waiting to see" what happens so I am going to take the positive approach and advise you to do the same.

You'll have more control of your businesses future and you can also inspire and encourage those around you to also take the positive approach.

To minimize the risks and the impact on your business here are some postive things you should do.

Write an Email or a Blog or Record a Video similar to this post for your own Clients

Keep your clients engaged and let them know you are thinking about them and that you care about their well-being. Stick to advice that you can offer as an expert and make it very specific. Advise on training, diet and physical and mental health specifically related to COVID-19.

Some topics to think about and some questions your clients are probably asking themselves.

  1. Should I remove myself from group training?
  2. Should I still train in the public pool?
  3. Should I train less or more to maintain a strong immune system?
  4. What could I add or remove from my diet to improve immunity and make me less susceptible to illness?
  5. What supplements could I use to help with immunity?
  6. If my event has not been postponed or cancelled should I still compete?
  7. If my event has been postponed or cancelled what can I do to keep motivated?

Create Options for your Clients as an Alternative to One-on-one Coaching

For the reasons I've highlighted already some of your clients will likely be thinking about cancelling their one-on-one coaching contracts with you. Do you have other products and services that are more affordable that you can offer instead of a complete cancellation and total loss of revenue? 

If you don't have lower priced, lower commitment options you might lose your clients to other coaches that do. Now is the time to be more flexible with your offerings.

I talk a lot about these types of options like online membership plans and self-service training plans. If you haven't yet implemented these in your business then now is a good time to do so.

With Training Tilt you have many options you can implement so you can keep your clients engaged as paying customers without being on a higher-priced one-on-one coaching contract.

You can read more the options in my blog about "The Subscription Economy

Also some more theory in my blog about Endurance Coaching Business Models. Note: Because you'd be creating these for existing clients you can avoid the marketing and setup costs I mention in the article and avoid the "loss" phase.

You can also read more about selling training plans in my blog "Taking the generic out of generic training plans". 

In our support docs, we have a comprehensive break down on practically creating the different options for generating more revenue from your business using e-commerce and more specifically the Training Tilt platform. 

Create Special Challenges for Your Clients that are no Longer Racing Scheduled Events

Some of your clients may already have had events cancelled or indefinitely postponed. You should keep in touch with these clients and help them through the process.

What challenges or "isolated" events can you facilitate to keep them engaged with your business and motivated to train. Maybe set up a challenge on Strava in your businesses Strava club so your clients can compete against each other remotely. Maybe even a virtual event on a given date. For example, your athletes could complete a half ironman in their training grounds away from the risks of a mass participation event on the same weekend. After the event you could compile the results and have your own mini "virtual" prize giving.

You need to think outside of the box in these extraordinary times.

Conclusion

In these uncertain times it's important to stay calm and make positive decisions. Invest time and effort into improving your business while others are confused, panicing, contracting or waiting to see what happens.

Like all global challenges we've experienced in our lifetimes, things will mostly return to normal but it is the actions that we take now that will determine whether our businesses will flourish or flounder between now and then.

Be active, get outside, be positive, kind and stay calm.

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