About 10 months ago I moved from Ohio, where I had been living for a couple months to focus on finishing my doctoral dissertation to North Carolina to start on a new business venture. Before I could open my sport training facility there was much to be done with equipment, finding a location, waiting for lease agreements to process, etc. While doing all this I thought it would be wise to start building a client base by offering to train athletes at parks or high schools. The idea was that I would offer free training to a select couple people in an attempt to serve as an ‘on ramp’ for future clients. I was brand new to the area, didn’t have any network to speak of and I thought this might be good in helping to spread the word so I could ‘hit the ground running’ when I opened up my facility. While I did gain a couple people like this the free training idea wasn’t worth it. Of the handful of people I worked with only a couple are with me today. All of these individuals I trained for at least 2 months before opening my facility. Did they stop training with me because they didn’t like what I offered or weren’t getting results? Hell no! Everyone got much better and loved the training. What happened is that some moved on when their sport season came up and some moved on when it came time to bill them. It was as if they were shocked that the service wouldn’t be free forever. And it wasn’t as if the payment was something that got sprung on them all of a sudden and these were not people who couldn’t afford to pay. I do after all need to make a living. The problem however was mine in the making. I undervalued my services and set a precedent that became too comfortable. In retrospect, I should have provided the same services at a discounted rate and rewarded these first local clients for their early trust and continued loyalty by offering the same discounted rate as long as they kept training with me. As they say, hindsight is 20 / 20 but the circumstances were a nice lesson and provided real world support for a recent quote that made an appearance on the Athletic Lab wipeboard about a month ago:

The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get less than you settled for.