The man that got everyone jumping around their living rooms during lockdown is expanding his exercise and diet business with the launch of a new app. Joe Wicks explains why his success is purely down to passion and belief in what he does….
One man fitness industry Joe Wicks, is an exemplar of entrepreneurial spirit. Starting with sparsely-attended Boot Camps in his local park, he has kept on going to become a social media and publishing phenom.
His #Leanin15 recipes on social media and his success during lockdown has created a strong personal brand which is now being extended with the launch the new Body Coach app, offering subscription-based work out content and his company is scaling up beyond videos of Joe jumping around his living room.
And it has all happened without a real plan, fulled entirely by his enthusiasm and belief in what he does.
“It was just completely unexpected,” he says, “I didn’t realise it was going to be so successful.”
“But with me, when it comes to business and any kind of success I’ve had, it’s all been about enjoyment and just loving what I do. I can’t say to you when I set up the boot camp in Richmond years ago, that I was going to go on to do DVDs, live events, and tours of the country and stuff. I had no idea that I was going to release a cookbook and have all these books in the market.
“I think for me, it has been really clear that as long as I love what I’m doing, as long as I’m enjoying it and I’m passionate about exercise and cooking, that’s what I need to keep sharing.
“I’ve never been focused on profit. It’s always been the purpose, which is ‘can I get more people cooking, exercising and feeling good?’ That’s really my North Star.”
Success has brought with it the need to expand into being a ‘proper’ structured organisation, with product development and back-office functions. Not really Wicks’ wheelhouse, but he is building a team that can realise the possibilities that his passion creates.
“We’ve really evolved a lot recently since the launch of the app. We’re now really a tech company. We have an in-house team of designers, engineers, we’ve got a senior leadership team. I’m good at the marketing and I love sharing stories and stuff, but I’m not great at the kind of operational stuff.
“Luckily, my brother, Nikki Wicks is the CEO of the company and he’s now running a company, an organisation, which is really focused, we’re really ambitious, we’re really passionate. It all comes back to that same thing – ‘How can I get more people moving today?’ We focus on that. We don’t have a really, really long two or three year roadmap. I’d say we’ve probably got a six-month roadmap with new features, things we’re going to release.”
The challenge for Wicks, when so much is centred on his own efforts, is to maintain the interest he gets from his social media following (4.6m on Instagram, 430K on Twitter, and 2.8m on YouTube) and keep levels of engagement high. It is becoming a crowded market too.
“It’s definitely a challenge,” he agrees. “I see in this modern social media world that the glory days are over, the glory days of reach, of growth, of getting loads of followers. Because I started in 2013 on Twitter, and then 2014 and Instagram when there’s probably half a billion users, it wasn’t that busy. There was a few trainers on there doing online fitness stuff and a few recipe guys, but there wasn’t millions and everyone’s trying to grab your attention. It’s much harder to grow than it ever has been. Because of that, you are forced into doing certain reels and memes and trends to sort of jump on the algorithm and get the things on there that work. I think it becomes a thing where maybe you’re posting things, you don’t really believe in but you just know it’s going to get a bit of traction, catch a bit of fire, and you’re going to get some likes or comments.”
“I think the only way to get followers is to consistently post useful, valuable, inspiring, uplifting, funny content that’s going to make people go, ‘You know what? I actually like Joe. I learn from him, and I actually find this useful.’ It’s really important to be consistent with your content and your messaging and just keep posting, keep turning up regularly. Like the algorithm, it loves consistency, and it loves the deeper engagement.”
The success has brought pressure but as long as Wicks is able to maintain a balance and therefore his sanity, he is so far able to cope. Building an infrastructure around him should ease some of that burden. Luckily, the very thing that he does so well is all about wellbeing and maintaining good mental health.
“I try not to think about, because if I’ve thought about all the people’s mortgages I help pay and other people I support, it might be a bit pressurising and I might think, ‘Oh, can I do this? Can we lean into that and hire a team or should we have an agency?’”
“I’ve never had that mindset of ‘It’s going to go wrong. What if we can’t pay the bills and we can’t support the business?’ I’m just so focused on what I do that everything else sort of takes care of itself. We have the confidence to hire and to build a team, because I know that if I keep doing what I’m doing, I know I’m inspiring people in different generations that the Body Coach brand will grow. If I stop, have an injury or I hate exercise or I fall out of love of it, then the whole business would fall apart.
“It’s very much a personality driven business, which is a strength and a weakness. But we are working on that. We’re trying to build out a team where there’s different trainers and trying to take the load off me a little bit. Essentially the pressure’s there, but it’s not pressure, it’s more like responsibility.
“A quote that my dad told me once is, and I love it, ‘If you’re going to miss the bus, miss it running.’
“Because if you don’t, you’re never going to know. You’ve got to try. I think with the content and social media game, you have to just be continually grinding away because there’s someone else next door working just as hard. They’re going to overtake you if you slow down. If you’re not growing, what are you doing?”
You can catch him speaking next month at ATOMICON in Newcastle where he will be expounding on his story and his fitness and lifestyle methods
“I’ve got so much to talk about and we obviously haven’t talked about it now, but it was a struggle at the start and it was really hard for like five, six years. Then there’s that tipping point where things start to take off.
“But I love that resilience message because there’s so many smart people out there with businesses that they really believe in, but they get those knock backs and they stop, don’t they? I’m just hoping that my story will help them push through because then the great leaders and the great companies come out of that.”
See Joe Wicks speak live at ATOMICON taking place in Newcastle on 13th June. For more information on attending – Click here – https://atomic.site/atomicon/