How’s your business fitness?

People always laugh when I tell them I’m watching my weight. It’s easy to see why if you’ve ever met me. I was the “scrawny” kid in school. For most of my life I’ve enjoyed a fast metabolism that burns through food very quickly. And I’ve been drawn to hobbies like dancing and living history that help to offset my sedentary freelance work. Of the things I’ve had to work hard for in life, staying thin usually hasn’t been one of them.

Yes, I know many of you hate me now. Stay with me a moment.

As bony as I may look today, there are several reasons I can’t afford to be complacent. For one thing I’ve seen pictures of my father and uncle from the 1940s and 50s, when they were beanpoles like me. Suffice to say they don’t look anything like that today (and I say that with love). Apparently the “magic metabolism” effect in my family tree wears out sometime around the age I am now.

The freelance writer’s lifestyle is another factor that makes me cautious. As a teenager I watched much of my father’s considerable weight gain happened when he started his own business a few steps from the refrigerator. If that comparison weren’t frightening enough, men on both sides of my family also have a history of developing type 2 diabetes if they don’t keep their weight down later in life.

business fitnessimage courtesy of Shutterstock

Long-term danger signs like these are the reason I continue to step on the bathroom scale regularly, even when it seems like I don’t need to. And I’m not too proud to admit that in the wake of last year’s holiday season I’ve been weighing in about ten pounds heavier than I’d like to be.

So a few days after my wife Toni started using a free app called MyFitnessPal to help her stay in shape, I downloaded it too. We especially like the app’s barcode scanner, which makes it a snap to enter a lot of nutrition information quickly. Seeing how our choices affect the data is encouraging us to make small changes that have big health benefits. Now we’re both making better progress toward our fitness goals than before.

What does all this have to do with being a creative professional?

Whether you’re a solopreneur or the owner of a small agency with a few employees, many of the same skills — regularly setting goals, tracking progress, and measuring results — apply to keeping a creative business healthy.

Instead of counting calories, a creative business needs to weigh the relative merits of activities that result in lead generation and revenue, including marketing, networking, and the like. Taking the time to develop accurate customer profiles helps you to understand the “nutritional value” of each type, which leads to healthier (read: more profitable) choices.

Just as my fitness app has different settings for people who want to lose, gain, or maintain their current weight, these principles hold true no matter what kind of shape your business is in today. Some of you need to generate more business, others may want to regain control of an overloaded schedule. Even if everything is just right today, you still need to do your “marketing exercises” regularly to keep your business at peak performance.

Here’s another fitness parallel: the healthier your business is, the less effort it takes to keep it in shape. And the best way to get there is to establish a marketing routine that promotes your business a little bit every day. Small efforts add up over time, so stay with the program even if you don’t see immediate results.

Feel like your business could use a personal trainer or a wellness retreat? Join me and hundreds of other creative pros at the Creative Business Conference in Chicago later this year. The price goes up on April 1 (no joke!) so register today. Enter the secret code “TUMBUSCH” (in all caps) to save $50 off your ticket. Hope to see you there!

Tumbusch_TomupdatedHSTom N. Tumbusch writes copy that creates action for designers, creative agencies and green businesses. He is the author of the free eBook The Writer/Designer Dream Team and periodically shares more casual wisdom on the WordStream of Consciousness Blog. His tiny solar-powered corner of the Internet can be found at

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