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Building a Lead Right from the Beginning

We’re about to kick off a new year, and can you believe it? It’s already almost 2019! I have always enjoyed the start of a new year. Last year’s in the rear-view mirror and only goals and opportunities lie ahead.


If you haven’t yet taken the time to decide what’s going to make 2019 worthwhile from a martial arts, teaching and business perspective, now is the time to do it before it’s too late. Get yourself and your team ready to avoid making this just a continuation of what has been done in the past. Instead, use it as a chance to do it the right way by clarifying your purpose and bringing your “A” game!


I remember back when I was competing in sport karate. The best scenario was to jump out front with a lead against your opponent. When I was able to start with the lead, I was able to “game-plan” the match on my terms. That means I wasn’t being forced by a time limit into being behind, which would require me to take risks. Though comebacks are fun, domination from the beginning is better.


Anything can happen in a match, much like anything can happen in a business year. You may walk into an unexpected punch or kick. A judge may make a bad call or become overly influenced by a cheering crowd. Despite your preparation, you may just be unable to find your flow and do what you have practiced.


A plan is what you have before the center referee says, “Fight!” Reality is what happens after that.


In a calendar year, what are some of the equivalents?

Consider these:

  • A downturn in the economy.
  • A number of families within your school unexpectedly relocate.
  • A staff member you were counting on to fill an important role decides to pursue a position in his family business.
  • One of your top marketing feeders of new students stops generating leads.
  • A change in school-day dismissal times makes it difficult for students to get to your school.


Get the idea? No matter how good you are, things will happen this year that aren’t going to go in your favor. To think that won’t happen is useless. So, reality for you starts on January 2nd.


I don’t think bringing these potential, unforeseen problems to light is negative; in fact, it may be the very best way to think about the coming year. With a feeling of the unexpected looming, use it to motivate yourself to immediately go to work on what you can control, things like student progress, student communication, and student retention.


I don’t like to lose a student any more that anyone else, but it drives me crazy if I lose a student because of something I, or one of my team members, could have controlled. Like you, I want to ensure that once they come into our school, a predictable, repeatable series of experiences occur that keep them returning.


Personal touch points, using in-person, written and automated communication, happens with the same regularity as it would if you were checking into a fine hotel. Make it easy and friction-free and the right choice for them to be training at your school.


Right now, the annual momentum of New Year’s resolutions are in your favor and new students are armed with their commitment to make this their best year. So, make sure you’re doing all the work up front to ensure they come in and stay.


Being casual with this task is dangerous. In the words of the great business philosopher Jim Rohn, “Casualness leads to casualty.” For you,this takes the form of students leaving your school.


We all have only one chance to start by building a lead. Let’s take it seriously and make it happen so we can all be successful together!


Chris Rappold can be reached for questions or comments at [email protected]


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