Starting Your Own Fitness Business: When, Why and How
Starting your own fitness business isn’t a decision that comes easily. And it is one that can come about for any number of reasons. Regardless of your motivation, starting your own fitness business can be thrilling and terrifying all at the same time: you’re excited for what the future may hold, but you know you’ll have to work very hard to make it a success. If you’ve done your research, you’re aware of the statistics—just half of new businesses survive five years. So starting your own fitness business is a choice that requires thorough consideration and a good business plan.
Why start your own business?
There are many reasons to start your own business. Here are some of the top reasons today’s entrepreneurs embark on the opportunity, all of which are centered on increased personal gratification:
- You get to be your own boss – You make the decisions and create a work-life balance that works for you. No mistake about it, being the boss means you’re accountable 24/7 and must multi-task like never before, but you have the flexibility and freedom to adjust your work schedule to fit your personal life, too.
- Do work you are passionate about – Even if you’ve been working in the fitness industry for a while, you’ve likely been tied to the restrictions of your employer. Going out on your own means you can do what you love in your own way.
- You choose who you work with – That’s right, you aren’t stuck working with people someone else hired; that job now belongs to you. You can build a team of people who share your same passion and want to see your business succeed.
- You get to be creative – Owning your own business requires a level of creativity that helps you uncover innovative and cost-effective ways to showcase and market what you have to offer. And if you have an idea you want to try, you can run with it without having to seek permission from anyone else.
- Feeling of self-worth – You can take great pride in knowing you’ve set your mind to something and you’re striving to make it a reality. It’s also likely that your entrepreneurial spirit will inspire others.
- Increase your income – Ultimately there can be great opportunity to make more money for yourself, instead of for someone else. It may take a while to get there, but it will be worth it when the time comes.
Important considerations as you get started:
- If you’ve got a fierce determination and vision, you’re off to a great start. And you must commit yourself to believing that failure is not an option, while at the same time planning for all contingencies.
- Utilize resources offered by small business agencies. There are numerous agencies, development centers and incubators dedicated to helping entrepreneurs start their dream businesses. From help developing a business plan to financial planning to understanding tax laws, free training and resources are available to you.
- You must be financially realistic. It’s best not to expect a true profit for the first few years. The key to financial success is in good planning: determine how much it will cost to run the business for a 3-year period, and add to that figure to cushion for the unexpected.
- Save money to finance your business. Ideally you’ll start with at least a good portion of what you’ll need to get up and running. Other ways to get funding are through a bank or lending institution or a willing investor. Keep in mind that your personal assets (your home or other investments) will be put up as collateral when securing a loan. If you go looking for an investor, seek the help of an experienced negotiator to help ensure you’re making a fair deal.
- Don’t assume customers will come rushing in the day you open the doors. And when customers do find you, don’t automatically assume they’ll buy your services. Remember to be honest in your advertising and consider offering a great “new customer” deal to entice them to sign up with you—this is where some creativity will work to your advantage. Then, it’s all about delivering the great service you promised so they’ll return for more… and spread the good word about you. Word-of-mouth advertising is crucial for service-based businesses, and in the case of fitness training, it’s key. If you’re hard-working and dedicated to helping your clients get results, then you’re bound to get some referrals, especially if you ask for them.
- Customer service is #1. Getting customers is important. Keeping customers is more important. When you start your business, you’ll be very concerned with attracting new customers. The worst thing you can do is provide poor customer service to existing clients as you seek new ones. Poor service has many ramifications: it can not only ruin relationships with current clients, but you’ll earn negative word-of-mouth advertising (including online, where it will be visible forever), which is the very opposite of what you need to make your business grow. As we discussed in our post 12 Best Practices for Self-Employed Fitness Trainers, set aside time for your customer service responsibilities.
- Having your family’s support is a must—from the get-go, and for the long haul. Your family will be affected by your decision to start a business as much as you will. You’ll be faced with longer working hours and your financial security will be more vulnerable than before. There’s no 8 to 5—owning a business is a 24/7 obligation, especially while you’re getting established. As you embark on this adventure, find ways for family members to help you, whether it’s setting up shop or assisting you with advertising. The experience can be beneficial and rewarding for everyone, as long as your support system is intact.
As you embark on starting your own fitness business, expect that there will be bumps in the road—no self-employed business owner ever said it was easy—but when the goal is your own success, you’ll find your motivation and drive amplified. Building a successful business takes time, focus, persistence and business smarts, too. Be sure to secure proper business insurance including a personal liability insurance policy to protect your livelihood. If you’re seeking a career change, trust your gut if it tells you to take that leap of faith, then back up your decision with careful planning, bolstered by all the resources you have at your disposal. Best of luck!
Thank you so much for your prompt response. Might I add, Veronica was a delight to work with and her professionalism and attention to detail made this an overall pleasurable experience.