How I Built A $1.3M/Year Coaching Business With Instagram [Fitness Industry]

Published: May 29th, 2023
Personal Trainers...
from Las Vegas, NV, USA
started May 2020
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

I’m Zakk Colburn. In 2020 I started The Personal Trainers Business Incubator to help fitness coaches make money online during the pandemic. I did $250k in sales the first year by myself and since then have grown a team of 15 employees and finished 2022 at $1.3 million in sales.


What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I started the personal trainers business incubator because I saw an opportunity to help an industry I am passionate about making more money.

I didn't get a 4-year degree from college. Instead, I pursued fitness as a career.

Back then there weren't many opportunities to make money as a fitness coach outside of the gym. And even in the gym, you're living paycheck to paycheck.

I started my own online fitness coaching business in 2018 and was able to make 6 figures working for myself, but unlocked the freedom of working my schedule and being able to travel anywhere around the world.

I knew trainers needed to experience this reality so I made it my purpose to help them achieve it.

Since 2020 we’ve worked with almost 600 fitness coaches to help them start and scale their online businesses.

If you make a short-term sacrifice and put your business first, you will be able to grow and reach new levels that will help you reach your personal goals faster.

Take us through the process of building the first version of your product.

The first version of the business was a simple 5 module course.

I thought about the necessary information a personal trainer would need to start an online business and I recorded videos of me providing that information in my apartment in San Diego during COVID lockdowns.

The videos were PowerPoint lessons covering essential topics for personal trainers to start their businesses. These topics ranged from exercises to break through and overcome limiting beliefs, how to market yourself on social media, how to close clients over the phone, and full breakdowns on how to organize your business on the backend.

During that time I had no idea what the world was going to turn into, so my thought process was I could either use that time to build a product and have it pay off, or if the world ended none of it would matter anyway so might as well try.

Once the course was complete I made my first sale for $500.

I released the course on Teachable and Instagram has been the driving force behind our marketing.

Then I made another sale.

Then I made another sale.

In my first month, we did 15k in sales.

The content I posted was mostly showing my lifestyle as an online coach and the results my clients were seeing

From there I added mentorship/coaching to the offer and sold 3 months of coaching for $1500.

I had found the first customers through my network of trainers that I knew needed help. I would reach out to them directly and then expand from there.

I kept selling coaching until I had 30 private 1-1 clients and was working around the clock.

At this point, I knew I needed help.

I put more time and energy into the core product to alleviate some of the coaching I was doing 1-1. I create a group for our students to connect. I started offering group coaching calls to answer questions at scale. Then I hired an assistant to take the 1-1 coaching calls.

I hire fast. I first gauge to see if they have the skillset for the position was looking for. I gauge to see their short-term and long-term plan to see if PTBI fits with them long-term. Then I determine if they are a cultural fit. If they check all 3 boxes I hire them!

At this point, I was selling our product for $5k.

The next two years were a process of re-iterating our product and material based on market trends and client results. We take student success seriously so we are making sure to always update our material.

Now we have a team of 5 success coaches assisting our students with a course module laying out the steps on how to start an online coaching business.

Describe the process of launching the business.

The launch was simple, I teased the course as I was building it and did a lot of market research on my social media profiles.

My audience knew the product was coming before it was released so there was already a good amount of people interested in starting.

I launched with a simple social media post on May 15, 2020, and from there had messages from audience members asking for more info.

I marketed the hype and brought more and more attention until I was able to start marketing client results.

Once I was able to market good client results it was easy to maintain a flow of leads for the business.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

We keep it simple and focus on client success. The business is nothing without client success.

Every week we meet with our success coaches to get an update on how each student is doing and what the biggest challenges our students are facing throughout the program

We use this information to follow up with our students and help them create a plan for success, and make improvements to the course to increase the success rate and speed.

From there we use our students to create marketing material around our results. Getting good results brings in new customers and keeps old students happy.

Our strategy on Instagram is to create generalized content in our niche for our feed posts to grow organically (don't want to be too niche or specific or else you won't reach the audience size you need). From there we market our offer hard on our stories showcasing client success and making calls to action daily.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

The future is looking bright for our company and our students.

Right now we are averaging 200k/mo with 50% profit margins.

Most of our revenue is re-invested in more paid media and team members.

We have seen a 100% growth rate year over year and are looking to take our business to 10 million/year within the next 3-5 years.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I have learned a lot about leadership.

When it comes to building a business and building a team to reach 7 figures, you will be faced with many challenges that will force you to question what is important.

There will be months when might have to put your desires/needs aside to put the business first.

That's a really tough thing to do for some people and is what I believe is the reason most business owners cant scale.

They put their own needs before the business and keep themselves stuck.

When in reality if you make a short-term sacrifice and put your business first, you will be able to grow and reach new levels that will help you reach your personal goals faster.

There will be moments when you will feel a pit in your stomach from the stress, how you respond and what you choose as important will determine how you grow or shrink in that challenge.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

The biggest tools we use are slack, monday, and gohighlevel. Communication for our team is important. There are tons of conversations being had daily in our company so allowing our team to have specific channels and information on our prospects is imperative.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

The most influential books this year for building our team have been “the hard things about hard things” and “High Output Management”

These books have given me a roadmap on how to be a good team leader and keep productivity high across our company.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

My best advice is to use social media to its fullest.

Create content every day around your product and client success

Invest in good-quality content

Invest in paid media to drive traffic to your page.

You can make millions right now using apps like Instagram, TikTok, and youtube, and the best part is it's free.

Where can we go to learn more?