Does Your Fitness Business Have a Mantra?
Most businesses have mission statements. These words define what businesses seek to accomplish for themselves, their customers and their employees. In his book, Art of the Start, American marketing specialist and Silicon Valley venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki suggests that many businesses would also be served by something else: a mantra. Here’s a closer look at what a business mantra is, why it matters, and how to come up with one for your fitness business.
The Mantra Mandate
Mantra translates to “tool of thought” in Sanskrit. The term refers to a sacred word, sound, or phrase that’s believed to have spiritual or psychological power. It’s often used in meditation as a focusing technique. In the business world, a mantra can have the same effect.
According to Kawasaki, the purpose of a mantra is “to help employees truly understand why the organization exists.” Compared to mission statements which are often full of buzzwords and meaningless phrases, mantras cut right to the heart of the matter. In fact, Kawasaki recommends that mantras contain no more than three or four words.
Kawasaki is far from the only advocate for mantras. In a Fast Company piece, Dream Teams author Shane Snow proposes that the best mantras “inform a company’s everyday decisions, both behind the curtain and in front of the crowd.”
In short, a mantra can help your fitness business constituents get and stay on the same page regarding not what you want to do, but what you want to be. In this sense, it’s at the core of everything you do and will do.
Creating Your Mantra
“In business, a mantra is akin to a motto, albeit more fundamental to a company’s internal purpose than simply a marketing slogan. It’s concise, repeatable, and core to a company’s existence,” continues Snow. Some examples of winning mantras include Google’s “Don’t be evil,” Facebook’s “Move fast with stable infrastructure,” and Apple's “Think different.”
This begs the question: how do you go about creating one for your fitness business? “Make it short, sweet, and swallowable,” advises Kawasaki. Experts recommend starting with a few core words that speak to your business’s overarching values. What do you stand for? What common philosophy are you promoting? Remember, good mantras don’t make vague or lofty claims. Rather, they are inherently actionable.
Snow also asserts that mantras should be “pivot-proof.” Even as the market, quotas, products, and services change, mantras hold true. “Companies often change course and pivot, but a mantra is like a torch that keeps everyone warm and close, and lights the way forward in the dark,” contends Kaltura Inc. co-founder, chairman and CEO Ron Yekutiel for Entrepreneur.com.
In fact, Yekutiel has revealed that his company chose its mantra before it even honed in on its target industry and mission statement. Since then, it’s been a continual lodestar. “Our mantra affected our technological decisions (building an open and flexible platform) and business decisions (launching an open-source project and community). It also shaped how we interact with people both inside and outside of the company. It impacted our hiring criteria, our partnership strategy, our marketing methods, and much more,” he explains.
One last thing to keep in mind about mantras? It’s never too late to devise and adopt one for your business. Concludes Yekutiel, “Thinking about starting a company? Determine a mantra first. Already have a company but no mantra? As Nike would tell you, ‘Just do it!’”
Ultimately, having a mantra can help you set forth a compelling and consistent brand and culture --both of which can help boost member recruitment and member retention.
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