The First Three Years Of Business

The First Three Years Of Business

When I first hit publish to go live with RNT 3 years ago today, I never thought I’d be writing on the same website 3 years later.

I never thought I’d be celebrating the three years with a published book on Amazon. I never thought we’d have transformed over 2000 people in over 20 countries. I never thought I’d have an incredible team of high performers around me on a collective mission together.

That being said, I never thought getting here would require me to give everything, and more. I never thought starting a business would push me to collapsing, burnout, lost friendships, dealing with lawyers, and more stress than I thought I was capable of withstanding.

As I type this on the morning of our three-year anniversary, would I change anything? Not a chance.

The first three years of RNT have been exhilarating, unpredictable and completely transformative. I’ve met some amazing people, learnt new skills and been able to collectively create an environment that’s facilitated more life-changing impact than I ever thought was possible.

It’s a blessing and honour to be part of a team that’s so hell bent on unleashing the physical as the vehicle in regular, busy people all around the world. Whether it’s from our content, coaching or community, pulling this vehicle out of people to change their way of living, thinking and being to do the impossible is a feeling that’s hard to describe.

Let’s take it back a few summers ago. I was spit balling with my old business partner in a rooftop bar over the state of the online personal training world. Specifically, the poor client support, cookie cutter programming and the lack of any real results. As we went back and forth, I could sense a shift inside.

For years I’d been dabbling in various entrepreneurial pursuits. None of them really took off because I wasn’t interested in the concept or the core product (clothing, dessert lounges and educational centres, to name but a few!), I just had a business idea and thought I’d test it.

Right from the age of 17 when I decided to stop my pursuit of being a lawyer to enter the health and fitness industry, the idea of loving and believing in what I do has been paramount and core to my decisions.

That’s why when we started speaking about the problems in the online personal training industry, I knew it was time. I was burning out on the gym floor as a personal trainer, and I believed my ability to transform others went further than this. I saw colleagues around me struggling to see their families while working as a personal trainer, and knew I didn’t want the same. I’d seen the trend of fast-growing companies in multiple industries whereby with massive growth comes a drastic change in culture and client experience, both which I didn’t subscribe to.

So RNT was set up, all with the intention of creating a remarkable platform that serves and creates impact with the highest quality experience. I wanted to design a place where people and community matter. A place where everyone involved is on an individual and collective journey of self-mastery. I didn’t want to create a cog or a conveyor belt. I wanted to build a business that allows the team to have a lifestyle with family and friends while providing financial security and freedom for everyone involved.

These reasons are why the core values of RNT are what they are: impact, service, self-mastery, community and lifestyle. I formalised these at the end of 2018 as I reflected on the first 18 months of the journey, why RNT was formed, and what’s remained important throughout. Mission and values have been increasingly important as I’ve transitioned out of the early start-up days. Without them, I lose my strategic filter. They’ve become a guide and constant in the turbulent nature of entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship is a team sport

I’ve never been alone in the RNT journey. For the first 7 months, it was myself and my business partner. In January 2018, we hired our first two coaches – Nathan and Ben, and by March 2018, we were a team of five after Kunal came on board. Yet it wasn’t until I split with my business partner in September 2018 that I understood the power of a team. The team will make or break you. At RNT, it’s the entirety of the team that allows us to fulfil our mission.

What’s been interesting is how the culture has developed over the three years. It started with a small group of 3-4 ‘band of brothers’ with the start-up mentality of working all hours around the clock while living and breathing the business. I remember days with Kunal we’d be in my living room bouncing between sales calls, enquiry emails, packaging products, client check-ins, video filming, strategy and whatever else we could get our hands-on. I remember days I’d be up till 1am with my old web developer discussing a new layout, before being up again at 4.30am to go to a networking meeting. I remember going out with friends and going outside to check my phone every hour to manually send back an application form for any new clients, just so they weren’t left waiting till I got back. It was relentless. The energy was electric and I now scratch my head as to how I wasn’t ever tired. We were all living on adrenaline.

This ‘band of brothers’ mentality continued up till around May 2019, when I realised what we were doing wasn’t sustainable. We needed to instil the 3Ss into the business – structure, strategy and systems. I hired our first team member who wasn’t a coach, Puja, who’s role developed from ‘part time admin’ to full-time Business Manager. I hired a systems expert, Suraj, to come in and transform the way we ran our business behind the scenes. Both were RNT clients, so both knew the mission we were on, and what we wanted to bring to the table.

This changed everything. Since then, we’ve developed into a team of 12-13 with a formalised structure, strategy and system to the business. It’s unrecognisable from the 2018 days. But what’s remained throughout is a desire to create impact, serve and facilitate self-mastery within our community, and live a life by design.

Growing teams doesn’t come without its headaches. I’ve had to learn a shed load about management, leadership and culture that I had no idea about. I often joke that I’m making it up as I go along. I probably am. Especially when it comes with dealing with teams. I’ve learnt not everyone will go all in, not everyone will play the long game, not everyone will push through the dip, not everyone will do what you do, not everyone will treat RNT as their own. But that’s okay. I’ve had to learn to manage my expectations, understand who the right people are and ensure the mission of RNT is the priority. No one is bigger than RNT, and that includes me. There’s no space for wasted seats on the bus.

The evolution of our transformation focus

When RNT first set up, it was without a genuine mission. We were focused (in our eyes) purely on aesthetics and the ‘physical’ piece of the bigger puzzle. The early discussions in that rooftop bar were all about the issues in the online personal training industry. From September 2018 this all changed. I started a simple exercise of emailing all of our clients and asking, ‘how’s it all going?’

I was amazed at the responses. Nothing was about the physical. It was everything else: the mental health, the confidence, the focus, the control. It was the fact the physical was the vehicle for the greater good in their lives. Their careers, relationships, mindsets, and more. I remember I was travelling in Krabi and Phi Phi islands in December 2018. I was journaling about the feedback when it hit me. This is why we exist. This is what we’re really doing. We’re not just transforming bodies, we’re transforming lives. We’re facilitating the ‘vehicle’ in people’s lives to do something incredible. 18 months on from that journal entry, my first book, Transform Your Body Transform Your Life, has come out, and it’s a book which brings this mission all together in one place.

The examples I could write could be a book in itself. I’ve heard of clients quitting their job to pursue their passion. Say no to mental and physical abuse. Go on a solo adventure around the world. Take their career to heights unseen before. Start multiple businesses. Reconnect with their children. Become an inspiration to their family and community. Eliminate the bloat in their lives. Feel confident in their own skin. Make bold decisions that they’ve held off for years. Finally step out of their shell. The list goes on. I’ve learnt in the past three years that what we do is more than just the physical. The physical is the vehicle.

The type of ‘vehicle’ I’ve become most fascinated in is the one that precedes high performance. Many of our clients are executives, entrepreneurs and career minded professionals who want the 1% edge to outlast and outperform their competition. In the past 6-12 months I’ve started to implement specific parts of our methodology to help this clientele use the physical as the vehicle to unleash higher levels of performance. The possibilities are exciting. If we can unleash this vehicle in high performers, the cascading domino effect on the other side has the potential to magnify everything we do far beyond the client, and far beyond RNT alone.

Are the battle scars worth it?

As I started typing this article I begin to think, has it been worth it? The highlights have been great. It’s what you see on social media: the book, the team, the client transformations, the speaking gigs, the podcasts and so on. Behind the scenes though, it’s not always the same. That’s the duality of entrepreneurship. I’ve been humbled more times than I can count. Whether it’s going through partnership break ups, or lengthy legal battles, or collapsing from burnout twice in front of my mum’s eyes, has that all been worth it? No doubt about it. Every decision, action or experience has helped strengthen my resolve, teach me important lessons and give me the tools to push forward. I’m grateful for them. Duality means they’re required to have the highs, and that’s worth it.

I’ve explored my why for doing this multiple times. I spoke about the idea of acceptance in my top 20 things learned in 2019, whereby I’ve now accepted that being a 100mph creative entrepreneur is how I’m wired. I want to push for more, create more, impact more, serve more, build more. Putting myself through the battle scars that come with entrepreneurship is what I thrive off. The three-year anniversary has brought about a lot of introspection about what gets me out of bed at 5am. Journaling has pointed me to the conclusion that RNT has the power to facilitate an amazing change in people, so why not figure out: how can we best deliver this change with the right people, the right system and right strategy? I’ve come to learn this is all a game. As we go into year 4, I want us to win this game and find out the best way to do so. What we do right now works incredibly, but is it the best it could be? How can I be a better writer, coach, leader, speaker, creator? Chasing perfection is a futile task, but the strive for excellence is always possible. With that comes something great. Maybe in all of this, that’s as simple as what it’s all for now. Create a remarkable platform that allows people to make a positive change. The question I’ll continue to wake up at 5am for, is how do I facilitate this in the best possible way?

What does the future hold?

I still remember the first client. The first article. The first case study. The first podcast. I remember each of the firsts. I remember the specific moment of where I was, how I felt, what I was doing. I was in the gym when we first went live with RNT. I was training back and shoulders and in between sets of machine shoulder presses when I first clicked www.rntfitness.co.uk on my phone. We didn’t have www.rntfitness.com back then. It was a Japanese porn site. I kid you not. I remember when I was in a lawyer’s office and he asked, so what’s your company website? I said www dot rntfitness dot. I didn’t get a chance to finish my sentence. He said, ‘you do realise…’ How embarrassing. We did get it shortly after, and that was a big win!

So what does the future hold? Luckily I’m not winging it anymore. There was always a special feeling waking up not having a clue what was coming. In many respects, that’s still the case. Playing this game is too unpredictable. You can be having a relaxing Sunday until 2pm, and then receive one message that’s enough to change the entire dynamic of your week and month. As Omar Little says, ‘it’s all in the game, yo, it’s all in the game’.

If we align our own journey with the RNT Transformation Journey, we’re definitely in our own consolidation phase. In fact, we’ve been here for just over a year. It’s a critical period that started with a CTP reset of instilling our 3Ss, and now extends to refining them so we can begin a lengthy investment phase with a clear idea of what the next evolution of RNT brings. I’m enjoying this time. It feels like we’re on the cusp of something great, with the potential to deliver our impact in a way that transcends everything we’ve done up till now.

As I draw this piece to a close, all I can think of is the immense gratitude to the support network I have around me. Entrepreneurship isn’t a one man sport. Anyone who tells you that isn’t playing the same game. To create real impact takes a team. I want to thank the team, old and new, for everything they’ve poured into the game. I remember walking to the gym with Kunal and he was eloquently describing how each member has a specific position and responsibility on the team. Whether you’re a striker producing jaw dropping transformations, or you’re the sweeper keeping the team from leaking any mistakes, everyone has a role to play. I also want to thank my support network of family, friends and mentors, who’ve been with me through every high and low, at each stage of the journey. I couldn’t have reached this 3 year mark without any of you.

I’ve always struggled to celebrate the small wins. Every checkpoint feels like an anti-climax. All the pleasure is in the reward. But on today’s anniversary, I’m going to soak it all in. My ten year pipe dream of publishing a paperback book has come true – it’s a two wins for the price of one. In one day. The duality will come. Another challenge is right around the corner. It’ll probably come tomorrow, or maybe just after I hit publish on the website right now. Here’s to another year.

You can listen to the 3 year and book launch special podcast, where I turn the tables and ask our Business Manager, Puja Teli, to interview me here:

 

Related Articles

Episode 144: 3 Year & Book Launch Special: Turning The Tables

It’s never about the physical

Five phases of the RNT Transformation Journey

Transform Your Body Transform Your Life

Transform Your Body Transform Your Life is available from May 24th 2020 on Amazon. Stay tuned!

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Akash Vaghela
akash@rntfitness.co.uk

Akash Vaghela is the Founder of RNT Fitness, where his mission is to see a world where everyone experiences the power of a physical body transformation to act as a vehicle for the greater good in their lives. Akash has produced 200+ blogs, 100+ videos and hosts the RNT Fitness Radio podcast, which has amassed over 110,000 downloads in 90+ countries across 100+ episodes. Alongside this, he's been seen in Men's Health, BBC, T-Nation, Elite FTS and the PTDC, while also regularly speaking nationally and internationally on all things transformation.