Top Lessons From A Unicorn Society Member Turned COO

Today we have a guest post from BFU coach (and now COO!), Ben “The Secret Weapon” Pickard. 

Ben was a client for many years. Since we just opened up enrollment for the 2023 Unicorn Society, I’ve asked him to share a bit about his experience.

He also includes one super clever use of his coaching hours that I had never thought of.

Read below, I think you may be interested to see, I was very impressed. 🙂

This fall is the beginning of year 14 of my career in fitness, my 5th year of coaching other business owners, and my (almost) 3rd year as a team member with BFU.

When I started my education was entirely around better ways to deliver fitness to my clients – programming, coaching cues, exercises, and habit coaching.

Fast forward to when I opened my personal training studio almost 8 years ago, my focus shifted primarily to business – marketing, sales, finances, etc.

If you own a fitness business, this seems like a reasonable path:

Step 1: Get good at fitness

Step 2: Get good at business

Step 3: Profit????

Looking back I missed some big opportunities, and I don’t think I ever would have caught them if it weren’t for Unicorn Society and our unique approach to business mentorship.

Here’s how you can fast forward your business based on my mistakes.

Missed Opportunity #1 – Always being “the guy”.

I was always focused on personal growth – I was leveling up my skills hand over fist and the business performance showed it.

I got really good at almost everything in the business. 

My team turned to me for almost everything, so I did almost everything in the business, which means long hours and a longer to-do list.

Let’s face it – paying for a handful of tickets to Perform Better, plus airfare, plus food, plus accommodation, plus lost revenue from closing for a few days adds up. 

And that’s only one event. Add on marketing, sales training, leadership training and more and it can be a real challenge to develop team members year over year.

Joining Unicorn Society 5 years ago made all the difference. 

As a member, you get full access for 5 team members for courses, support, live content (in person and zoom if travel is an obstacle), and of course 1:1 and group coaching for no extra cost.

All of the sudden “MY growth and development” turned into “OUR growth and development”.

When I had a team member struggling with getting their tasks done, instead of a series of 1:1s with me they did BFU’s Time Ninja Course (it’s so good it’s part of my new team member onboarding), saving me time and having them learn directly from Mark’s efficient wisdom.

When I was struggling with who to choose as a new hire I used one of my 1:1 coaching calls for Michael to interview the candidate and give me a second opinion.

(NOTE FROM MF: That’s what I was talking about. Having Keeler interview a potential hire?? Brilliant.)

When my GM wants to hone sales skills, when my lead coach wants to level up their leadership skills, and pretty much anytime anyone needs anything, BFU is the resource for that.

Unicorn Society was the tide that raised our ships, and the result is a team and business that operates with very little input from me.

I’m no longer “the guy”, no longer exhausted, and my team continues their journey to rockstardom.

Missed Opportunity #2 – It absolutely is lonely at the top.

I’m going to get raw with you.

The early days of owning a personal training studio were fucking hard.

The days I left before my son woke up and got home after he went to bed wore on me.

Being the one who has to manage the finances to pay for the equipment, then staying late on a weekend to install it instead of going to a social event was mentally tough.

And it truly felt lonely when we were facing problems, or even having wins, and I didn’t know who to turn to.

My wife is amazing, but she didn’t get it on the same level.

My friends were just starting their careers as employees, and didn’t understand the challenges of entrepreneurship.

My team could see if something is wrong, but I didn’t think it was appropriate to ask them to review the P&Ls to see where we can cut expenses when one of those expenses was their income.

I always felt a bit of “damn, I wish I had a business partner” to celebrate the wins, mourn the losses, and turn to for support.

Years ago when I mentioned this to Pete, in his cool, calm, demeanor, he said “It can be great, but it’s not always as good as it seems. If nothing else, keep in mind you only keep half of every dollar of profit when you have a partner.”

I know when it comes to continuing education we’re looking for the marketing plan that consistently delivers leads, or the programming system that’s better and easier to do, or the X solution to accomplish Y problem in the business, thinking that will be “the thing” that helps.

I joined the Unicorn Society 5 years ago for those exact reasons.

Unexpectedly, the single biggest benefit I’ve had is the community of people who all have each other’s backs.

Talking to Dustin in NYC during the lunch break in a course changed the way I viewed taking time off.

Talking to Haylin about balancing work and family during the uncertainty of COVID helped me stay sane.

Rooftop beers with Kevin, Greg, and Blake talking about business and life gave me more aha-moments than almost any course.

Even before I became a team member at BFU I could reach out to anyone in the group for help and I’d be on a call within a week to ask questions, commiserate, or simply not feel alone.

I still learned best practices to solve problems, and I continue to learn even after 5 years.

But what I’ve realized is Unicorn Society became my tribe.

I got everything I wanted in a business partner, but I don’t have to split every dollar of profit.


PS This is one of the ONLY times of year that you can enroll in the Unicorn Society.

In addition to our coaching for you (and your team) you get access to our library of on-demand courses, quarterly retreats, bi-weekly group coaching calls, free admittance to Business for Unicorns live courses, and more.

To lock in the best pricing, apply by November 6th

NOTE: We sold out all spots last enrollment period. And we don’t have an unlimited number for this round as we want to ensure you have personal access to our coaches. So if this sounds like a fit, don’t wait.

Learn more HERE.