Interview with Pat Beith
Pat is the founder and owner of Athletes Acceleration, a publishing and education company that helps coaches better serve their athletes. It has been kind of the parent company to the most popular speed products, courses and certifications within the entire fitness and sports performance industry. Pat does a whole lot of things beyond that, from helping other people run their businesses, run their launches, to really being an influencer in the industry. He co-moderates or co-mentors a mastermind group for fitness entrepreneurs with Pat Rigsby.
How it Began
I started out with U Mass as a sprinter. I was in the school of management and once we started getting more specific with our courses—I took a general class in exercise science and found out that I loved exercise science. I saw how it could help me, as an athlete. I couldn’t see myself working in a cubicle all day so I made the transition. I still didn’t know what I wanted to do because I didn’t want to go the research route and working with the general population never really excited me.
I went to a conference to get credit for a class. I saw Mark Verstegen speak and that changed everything. I talked to him afterwards. It was amazing to see him present. I know he does a lot less now, but he was amazing. I figured out exactly what I wanted to do. He gave me his card, number, and we exchanged emails. He said, since you’re in Massachusetts you really need to check out this guy named Mike Boyle. I didn’t know anything about Mike at the time so when I graduated I started working as a personal trainer in Boston. I got into conditioning and then, as I started my own business, I had to stop working for Mike because I could only last so long working as an intern.
I worked with more clients and ran a lot of camps and still coached track and field. It got to the point where I couldn’t see any more clients because I was just too full. I was running a lot of camps which were going great and as a track coach I became known as the speed guy in the area so even more people were coming to us, coaches and athletes. My friend, and partner at the time, and I decided to just film someplace and put together our system on what we’re doing to make our athletes faster because there was a demand for it in the area. It was more because we couldn’t work with more people so we gave them our product. We gave it away for free just to the coaches that we knew and that was the goal.
It wasn’t until we went to a conference on business and marketing that opened our eyes to what you can do online. There was a seventeen year old guy that was making, I think, over a hundred thousand dollars a year selling how to play the piano by ear. You may remember Jermaine Griggs who is huge in the marketing space now. He was seventeen then and presenting at this conference how he was marketing online. We figured that together we’re going to sell thousands because what we’re doing works. We’re getting great results and people in our area already wanted more information from us.
We finished assembling the products probably September 2004. We created this product Complete Speed Training, Volume 1. The problem was, we did everything ourselves, we filmed it, learned how to edit it, how to do voice overs, created the manual print out and figured out how to set up a website. It took a long time. We were hoping to be done right after we filmed it, so we’d launch that in September and we’d sell thousands of those copies by Christmas.
It didn’t really happen that way so we launched January 1st, 2005. It took us that long to figure everything out. I set everything up and we were ready to go. At that time, since I knew we were going to be so successful, I pretty much quit everything else I was doing. Full time Athletes Acceleration, my business, and throwing camps and coaching. I coached track still because I loved it. I was a personal training manager in Boston at the time and decided to leave that along with other things we were doing and just focus 100% on online work and still run camps and coach a little bit.
I figured we’re just going to launch it in January and just crush it. We sold six copies in January. I was all in. I didn’t really plan not to make money so I didn’t have a nest egg. I had nothing really to help me through. It took me a while to figure some things out to a point where next month I think we sold 80. Then it picked up a little bit, but we still had production costs and all that fun stuff. It took about six months. In June 2005 we had our first $20,000 month where we sold that many products. We started figuring things out and grew from there. That’s how we got into the online marketing space.
I was at a conference where I spoke a little bit on how to get affiliates and that sort of thing. Connecting and networking with a lot of people. I was talking to a coach that I knew and he had launched his product earlier which didn’t do well and he had a new one coming out. I asked if he wanted to partner on this and see how it does? Really he just wanted to coach and didn’t want to worry about the online aspect of marketing and business. It was a little scary at the time because what I did worked for us many times. Now my main bit is on the line because I didn’t want to fail this co-op, I wanted to do well. I didn’t share the system with anyone or really show people what I was doing so I didn’t know if it was going to work for someone else’s product.
We finally launched it and in the first 24 hours we did $100,000 so we did 100K in a day and then we end up doing 500K for launch in two weeks which was awesome. The money was great and everything, but it made me realize that the system that I created works for other people. Now I can scale it. Now I can open it up to other things. After that is when I got into other things where I grew our product line, helped other people with launches and grew from there.
That’s a long winded origin story on how I got started. It was conditioning and online marketing.
I feel like just in the past two or three years my business has changed pretty drastically. Every six months I’m changing what I do. I think that’s why I say don’t be afraid to change and admit it and go a different direction. A lot of what I do now, what my company does, is publish a lot of other coaches. We have coaches like Lee Taft, Wil Fleming, Dave Gleason just came up with some products, Bobby Smith, and Chris Moore. We have a lot of big hard line sports and other niches.
It all came from the coaches not wanting to have to learn the marketing side of things. It’s finding great coaches that have great content and pretty much plugging them into the system. Once you learn how to market you can market anything as long as you believe in the product and it’s a good product that people like. You’re adding value to the marketplace. We’re bringing in more great coaches to create content for us and this year we launched our first certification, a speed and agility certification with Coach Taft, which did a lot better than I expected.
It really all came from how well Complete Speed Training has done over the years. To the point where people are having clinics and using our name, Athletes Acceleration. They’re taking our logos and everything and throwing it on there. It’s a little bit illegal and they shouldn’t be doing it, but it just shows you that people want the information and are using us as leverage to show their area the kind of information they know. I took it as we have great content and we can go deeper. So we did. You get more people, have more content and show a lot more why’s behind certain things and how they progress and regress. Then add a certification to it so that we know they’re going through it, we know the information that they’ve learned because they had to pass a test and then they can use that as their branded information.
“Be great at what you do and I really think the rest is easy.”
It’s beyond credentials. People want to show other coaches and athletes in their area the kind of content they know they’re good at, what they want to do and what they’re going to help those local athletes with. That changed our business on how well that was seen. You never know when you come up with something like that how it’s going to be to seen. We got a lot of great feedback from it where professional organizations, college strength and conditioning programs, gyms and performance facilities were getting their whole staff certified. It’s taken off. That’s a big change we haven’t done in the past that has done really well.
Reaching a Bigger Audience
Be great at what you do above and beyond anything else. People in our area came to us and we were great so they wanted more information. We were getting great results plus the content was good and that’s why we grew. Start there and see how you’re different in the market place. Ask yourself, how are we going to be different than everyone else out there?
Then you have to work. You have to go after it. It’s always funny to me, when you talk to people that want to start a training product, that at first they don’t share what product they want to create. I’ll never understand that if you’re not great at what you do in a particular area then how can you create a product? There’s no different option, if you’re not sure what product you want to create then you have to really find out what you’re great at. If you’re not great at something, that’s fine, get great at it and then create a product later. You’re in no rush. Once you put a product out with your name attached to it, if it sucks, people are going to realize it sucks and it’s going to take you more time to overcome that. Be great at what you do and I really think the rest is easy.
The Next Step
What else are you good at? Are you good at video? Are you good at podcast audio? Are you a good writer? Can you show just exercise videos? Can you stay engaged? Choose your platform and go from there. What are you great at first within a particular area and then you can go from there.
The problem is that there’s so many ways to market and can get bogged down by just doing a little bit of each. What I was great at first I think was getting affiliates, getting them involved in launches and promoting products. Once you’ve got good products then you can create a good relationship with them after. They’ll promote your product later if it did well. I was always great at that and then I moved on to, at the time, it was Google ads. I dialed that in and I was Facebooking. As things change or if you’re doing well on one then you can move on from there. Some people are great at social media and getting people engaged on Instagram or Facebook. Get great at one area and then you can expand it a little bit here and there. For example, if you’re a great writer, ask yourself, how can I monetize that?
People are always searching for content. I know for my website I contact coaches a lot to see what content I can get from other people because I want to provide value to my customers, my list, and people that follow us. It’s easy to submit to other people and have them publish your content. It’s easy to drive ads to content so that people get to know who you are, your information, and if they can trust you. You can always figure out what you’re best at, stay there and not go anywhere else because you’re doing so well. Eventually maybe you’ll move a little bit and use different things to bring in money, bring in people, bring in leads and customers but you really just have to get good at one thing.
Try to not spread yourself too thin and see what the next latest and greatest thing is that everyone is talking about, such as SnapChat. Now what’s the next thing? Is SnapChat dying because of Facebook Live and Instagram ads? Don’t worry about that. Just get good at one thing and go from there.
Getting Past Obstacles
First, you have to consider how much money you have to deal with. You can hire people to do everything you need done but where I started we did a progression. We were burning our own DVDs, that’s five DVDs for each set so it took a while. Then we got to a point where we bought a five DVD burner so that we could do it a little bit faster. Then we would bring it to UPS, so every time we had a sale we were going to UPS.
Then we made a deal with UPS where we would email them the orders and they would burn it. They gave us a better price because we were doing more volume so they were burning it and then sending it out. Then we got to the point where we couldn’t do that anymore and found another service and used them for a bit until we found a warehouse that would do it for us. Now the order emails go right to them and they ship it out. We kind of progressed from there.
For website stuff, I used a thing called Google to learn how to build a website. If that is the part that slows you down, you’re not that serious. If you’re not willing to go for it and figure things out, I don’t think you’re that serious to be successful. If you have more money, then you can hire someone to create your website and put certain things up. Another thing we talk a lot about to our coaches and people that want to create products is when they don’t get a particular thing done because things come up. Things come up in everyone’s life, some more serious than others, but if that’s your excuse—sleep for a couple of hours less and get more work done. Film before your gym opens. Work on your website after you kids go to bed or after your last client leaves. There’s really no excuse.
“A lot of times with a partner you start off like everything’s great because you have the same vision and as you grow and as things get hard or better or both things are going to change so you’ve got to make sure everyone’s on the same page and you have that same vision.”
I don’t want people to get nervous about putting something out there. That’s a little different. A little fear. Once your name is out there get some thick skin. Some people are going to like it and some people are not. How do you deal with all that? I get that part of it so that pressure or fear is really no reason to not be able to get your product out. It took us longer because we didn’t know what we were doing. It took us a few months to get it done because we had zero clue on how to do anything. It was an old format and I knew how to use email at the time and that’s about it. Just figuring that out took us a little bit longer but we still set it up.
We weren’t successful right away. I don’t even know how people found us. Those six people, I really don’t know how they actually found the products and ordered it. I’m still surprised. I’m sure a couple of them were friends and family but we didn’t stop there we just kept going. Learning how to get better. A lot of us have athletic backgrounds and we’re competitive so there’s really no failure. There’s no “I failed at this.” It’s more I’m going to get this done. I’m going to figure out how to do this.
I’ve had partners in different things too. A couple of the companies that I’ve sold, I got shares out of. If you’re in that kind of relationship don’t be afraid to pivot. A lot of times with a partner you start off like everything’s great because you have the same vision, but as you grow things get harder or better or both. So you’ve got to make sure everyone’s on the same page and you have that same vision. If you don’t then don’t be afraid to set out like we did in a couple of the companies. You have to be really careful getting into a partnership. You’ve got to figure out what each person can provide as far as value and where you can divide the workload. A lot of coaches get a say in the facility and get involved with someone they think can handle the business side of things which is great. It has worked out fine for Mike Boyle and Eric Cressey but it’s also worked horribly for other people.
There’s other times when people come in as coaches and they just want to train all the time and their business side is failing and no one wants to take that over. If you can figure out the division of labor in a partnership with two people, then you kind of need the winning vote, the plus one, if you guys can’t agree on something. You can have that plus one vote, it can be someone on the business operations side and it can be another person in the trending programs side. I know if you’ve got a partnership, like Bill Stark when we were starting our business, had one vision of what we wanted to get accomplished and what we wanted to do. We all evolve, we all grow. The visions either change or can stay the same and the other person’s vision can veer off and go do something else. It happens.
If you can do it without a partner great because then you have one person to rely on, one person to blame, and one person to get things done. It’s going to be you so if you can just be accountable to yourself that’s great. If you can’t, sometimes people either need a business partner or want one where they’re doing it with a husband or wife. Going into business together, just be real clear up front on what everyone is doing and make sure, as you go through, that you have the same vision. If you don’t that’s fine, you can always pivot and make changes but I think as much as you can get done up front when you sign papers, sign contracts, put it in writing. Be clear because that’s best for everyone involved. Everyone knows where it’s at in the beginning.
Steps to Going Online
First, find out what you’re great at and see how your product or skill set is different than what is out there. Either you can add on to something else or create something different than what else is on the market. How is it different? Why would people buy that over something that’s already out there and not just because your name’s attached to it? That’s one thing.
The best thing to do is network. I met most of my affiliates, all my friends at events. Going to live events changed my business. I wasn’t looking for people who could do something for me. I was hanging out with them, finding out what they like, their skill set. It’s fun to talk shop with other coaches that are like minded and those people that are at events are looking to get better so that’s the people you want to hang out with anyway. Networking is huge. You get to know that person that can help and they’re going to be willing to help and then other people come to you for help on other things.
If I want to put out products, I know who to go to. I know what affiliates can help and it will add value to what they’re doing. The more you can network and get out there the better. At the beginning I didn’t know anyone except local coaches. Going to conferences, talking to people, even being cool and responding to questions and comments. Talking to other coaches online, which is a lot easier now. Getting out there and don’t network with a preface of what people can do for you. See what guys are going to ask questions and be willing to put yourself out there even though it’s difficult sometimes at events. I’ve met a lot of great friends at boot camps where it all started for a lot of people. It was the only events at the time.
Networking is huge and I think people undervalue it because within your network you can learn other skill sets and things.
Be great at what you do, network well, and take action. I think it’s easier if you start setting goals because when it comes down to it you have no one else to blame. It’s all on you. You’re looking in the mirror at yourself, did you get the work done today or not? You can make excuses all you want but you’re not even fooling yourself.
I think that’s where people stop. Maybe they don’t want to do it. Maybe they don’t really want to learn the marketing side of things online. That’s cool. Find someone else to do it and be great at what you do or what you’re passionate about. Then you can find other people to work with, but take action on something. If you do that then I think you’re in good shape. Everything can be learned. On Youtube you can find everything you need to know about marketing online if you wanted. So now what?
You’re going to actually do something today that’s going to help grow your business.