4 honest truths about starting a business

Aug 27, 2022 | by Network

Many fitness professionals are also business entrepreneurs. It’s not an easy path, but where there’s greater risk, there also lies greater reward. Business coach Alan Manly looks at the challenges.

In business, as in life, there are a few home truths that would have been great to know at the time, but which only become apparent with hindsight. From how others view entrepreneurs to their approach to risk-taking, starting a business isn’t always what it seems. These are five truths about starting a business that many an entrepreneur has learnt throughout their journey.

1. Crazy is good

‘Crazy like a fox’ is a saying attributed to some of the world’s great entrepreneurs. Dictionary.com defines the phrase as ‘seemingly foolish but actually very shrewd and cunning’.

The risk-taking entrepreneur is equally as crazy, yet backed up by their cunning. It takes real vision to start a business, scope out opportunities and know when to strike.

So being labelled crazy isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, sometimes the ‘crazier’ most people consider your idea, the more successful it will be should you pull it off. In 1997 Apple ran a famous campaign based around a quote attributed to Rob Siltanen: “Here’s to the crazy ones… Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” Apple is doing OK for itself.

2. The odds are stacked against you

It’s a tough but all-too-true reality: if you look at the odds of success for starting a new business, you have to be crazy to proceed.

Statistics suggest that a third of all new small businesses won’t survive past their first year. And that’s the good news. Half of all new businesses will fail within their first two years, while three in four won’t make it to their fifth birthday.

Yet, while these odds may seem daunting, millions of Australians are Lotto devotees. The odds of winning the jackpot on Oz Lotto are estimated at one in 45 million. A one in four chance of success suddenly looks pretty good!

3. Money isn’t everything

It’s not just the possibility of making money, but the thrill of the chase that spurs on most business founders. There is even scholarly research supporting this idea. For fitness professionals there’s also the element of their passion for the purpose of their business, because you’d be hard put to find a PT or studio operator that doesn’t have a personal attachment to the life enhancing benefits of their trade. The prospect of turning this passion into a profitable enterprise is very alluring.

“Some entrepreneurs are sensation-seekers who get pleasure from their engagement of entrepreneurial activities,” write Simmons, Carr and Hsu in a 2020 paper titled Sensation-seeking and workaholism: implications for serial entrepreneurship.

“Other entrepreneurs are workaholics who are motivated to finish what they start, but have low work enjoyment. Recent studies theorise that both groups may engage in excessive or compulsive entrepreneurial activities, irrespective of their prior performance or the success or failure feedback.”

In other words, some people will relentlessly pursue entrepreneurial business ventures, irrespective of whether they are successful, in terms of either financial reward or personal satisfaction. If you have the financial means to sustain a string of unsuccessful businesses, but you are sufficiently rewarded by the thrill of the chase, that’s your choice. For most people, however, while ‘failure’ need not signal the end of the entrepreneurial dream, it should always be used as a learning experience (see below).

4. Embrace failure

Rarely is someone successful first time around in business. Even the most revered entrepreneurs will happily tell you of their first failed attempts, which provided the basis for their ultimately successful ventures.

Failure often teaches us more than success ever could. It helps us to improve and grow. It makes us hungrier. And it instils a good dose of humility too.

Going into business isn’t for the faint hearted – but if you enter with a business plan, a strategy and your eyes wide open, you’ll have an edge over the competition and increase your chances of success.


Network offers a range of business-focused courses developed for fitness professionals, each of them designed to give you the competitive advantage in your fitness business.

From delivering online training, to legal essentials, and sales and marketing skills, our courses can help you grow a better business.

Click here to check out the courses, all of which are FREE for Network ELITE subscribers.

Alan Manly OAM
Alan is the CEO of Universal Business School Sydney (UBSS) and author of The Unlikely Entrepreneur. To find out more, visit ubss.edu.au.

Network is an education subscription service that offers a broad range of upskilling courses for fitness and wellness professionals. Established in 1987, Network has played a pivotal role in the continual evolution of the fitness industry.

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Disclaimer: Where Certificate III in Fitness, Cert III/Cert 3, or Fitness Coach is mentioned, it refers to SIS30321 Certificate III in Fitness. Where Certificate IV in Fitness, Cert IV/Cert 4, or Personal Trainer is mentioned, it refers to SIS40221 Certificate IV in Fitness. Where Master Trainer Program™ is mentioned, it refers to Fitness Essentials and SIS40221 Certificate IV in Fitness. Where Master Trainer Plus+ Program™ is mentioned, it refers to SIS30321 Certificate III in Fitness and SIS40221 Certificate IV in Fitness. Where Certificate IV in Massage or Cert IV/Cert 4 is mentioned, it refers to HLT42021 Certificate IV in Massage Therapy. Where Diploma of Remedial Massage is mentioned, it refers to HLT52021 Diploma of Remedial Massage.