How to Deal with Haters and Negative Thinkers When You’re Starting a Fitness Business

It’s inevitable…..when you’re starting a fitness business, you’re going to have at least one person you know, maybe even more who will hate on you and your goals, bash your business ideas or your business model, criticize your training methods or just doubt that you’ll be a success.

Some of these people (mainly family members or friends) will mean well and believe that they’re just trying to keep you from making a mistake. Others will just be haters who can’t stand for anyone to succeed where they haven’t. Others will be competitors or the clients of competitors or even social media trolls with nothing better to do.

Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 12.15.44 AMNo matter who your haters or negative thinkers are you need to work past, through and above them if you’re going to succeed. You’re going to need some tough skin.

There are enough challenges with starting a fitness business. There’s hard work, a million details to take care of and a mental and financial transition to be made. You need to keep your focus on the things that matter and keep moving forward. This can be hard to do if you’re letting negativity get in your head, divert your time and zap your energy.

It’s essential that you not only keep your attitude and mindset positive, but also keep your time protected. Dealing with negative people can suck up a lot more time than you might think, and this means you’re losing time you need for tasks that move you toward your goals. You have to focus on the things that shout, not the things that whisper and even though the haters might be loud, they’re not important.

Dealing with friends and family who don’t support you is different from dealing with strangers and the two have very different effects on you that you need to avoid.

First, let’s talk about dealing with people you know. One of the most important assets you have as a new fitness business owner is people who believe in you and your goals. You need to surround yourself with those people and let their support push you forward when things get tough. But these same people can also be those negative thinkers. In this case, limit your contact or establish some boundaries.

The danger with these negative thinkers is that these are people you know, love and trust. When one of them doesn’t believe in you or doesn’t have much confidence in your business decisions, it’s easy to let that chip away at your success. You can’t afford that.

With the well-meaning people, it’s best to first explain to them how their negative attitude makes you feel and how it can have a negative impact on your morale. Explain they have a right to their opinion and you know they want what’s best for you, but you need them to keep any negativity to themselves. With the majority of people, this will do the trick. If it doesn’t, avoid spending much time with them and when you do, make the topic of your business off-limits.

Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 12.26.57 AMWith the people you know who are just being thoughtless, jealous or mean, it’s best to cut your losses and distance yourself. These people are like crabs in a bucket. Have you ever watched a bucket of live crabs? One of them will climb over the rest and get a grip on the edge to pull himself out and the other crabs will actually pull him back in. It’s the weirdest thing. If there are people in your life like that, you need to cut and run.

Now, dealing with haters and negative thinkers that you don’t know is another issue. Whether they’re clients of competitors, competitors themselves or just social media trolls, negative people are going to make an appearance when you’re starting a fitness business. Friends of friends on Facebook will make negative comments about your methods or results. Clients of competitors and competitors themselves will criticize your training. Trolls will just be trolls, period!

Here’s the thing. You can get all wound up about being publicly attacked like this and let one of two things happen. You can either waste too much time, energy and positive attitude on them or you can actually shoot yourself in the foot by responding to them in the wrong way.

First of all, these people aren’t worth your time and their attacks aren’t relevant enough to let them erode your attitude and confidence. They’re jealous of your success, afraid of your competition or just mean-spirited people looking for someone to pick on.

Secondly, while you might want to address their comments publicly, you want to do it the right way. Trolls and critics who do their thing on social media live for the opportunity to make you look bad and ….even better….trick you into making yourself look bad.

So if you decide to respond to a public comment, do it in a way that puts you in the best light. Acknowledge that they have free speech and the right to their opinion but that you believe in your business and what it does for others. And then don’t respond again. Don’t get drawn into a debate that will probably go into a spin very quickly.

Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 12.36.45 AMNow, if once in a while someone actually apologizes after you respond, then tell them no harm done and invite them down to see what your boot camp is all about and why it gets such great results. You may or may not get (or want) them for a client, but all of the people following the conversation are potential clients who are going to see you in the best light.

But the best piece of advice I can give you about dealing with haters when you’re starting a fitness business is something I actually heard Joel Osteen say. He talked about how the American Eagle’s worst enemy is the lowly crow, believe it or not. Crows will fly after eagles and peck at them in flight. The eagle’s defense is to fly higher, beyond the altitude that crows are comfortable with.

That’s how you deal with haters – you soar above them until they can’t peck at you.

Committed to Your Success,

Bedros