Ready to start a fitness business and don’t know where to start or how to get it off the ground? Check out these 8 Tips and discover how to start smart!
1. Understand the Reality
I’ve been fortunate to mentor quite a few personal trainers over the years and many believe that having your own business is “the dream.” Then I get to explain to them the realities of owning your own business: working 7 days a week for quite some time, hiring and firing employees, taxes, financials, marketing, sales, payroll, landlords, leases and on. My point is that owning a business is an incredible learning curve and one that can, in fact, be both challenging and fun. You just need to determine if that’s what you truly want because it’s not all rainbows and unicorns.
2. Don’t Quit Your Day Job
This was some of the best advice ever given to me from a S.C.O.R.E. volunteer. Some of you reading this are so excited to get your business started, change more lives, and you’re fed up with where you’re employed - I get it. But quitting a great job that earns that much needed income to support you or your family is important. This income also gives you a way to start self-funding your fit biz start-up. Keep your job for as long as humanly possible and run your new start-up in any of the additional “off” hours that you have.
3. Find a Coach or Mentor
You need to work with someone who has “been there and done that” because it will help you save a ton of time and money by focusing on the right things and avoiding pitfalls along the way. Plus, investing in someone who will challenge you and hold you accountable to achieve your goals is important right?! Just like we tell our clients.
4. Create A Business Plan
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” You might think you know what you’re going to do and how you’re going to be successful but this process really challenges you to think through the specifics…especially important if you ever want to get any funding.
Here’s a great article from AFS that dives deeper into things to include such as: Who is your target market? Where will those clients come from? How you will solve their problem with your program or services? What are your specific services and pricing? What are your current financials? What’s your marketing strategy?
5. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Your business name, logo, colors, brand promises, website URL…it’s all important and remember you’re just starting out. You don’t need to have all the answers and fancy (or expensive) items now. You just need to keep moving forward. Keep it simple and keep it cost effective. As for a business entity, consult with an attorney and accountant and keep this simple too; most likely starting as a “sole proprietor.” You can always change to an LLC, S-corp, or C-corp down the road if necessary.
6. Sublease If You Can
You may have dreams of a glorious 7,000 sq. ft. amazing studio, but sometimes it’s best to hold off on that dream and sublease. Why? You will save a TON of money while you get your business off the ground and you won’t be locked in to a lease. See if you can negotiate a deal with your local community center or church.
If you’re looking for a more professional environment, do a search in your area for a place to sublease as a trainer. Identify the 5 nearest to where your target market lives. Then tour each one, get pricing, the term of sublease if any, etc. Narrow to your top 2-3 and negotiate a better price. Select the one that best suits you and your clients. This will also allow you to build your business until you’re bursting from the seams and at that point you will hopefully be able to afford leasing your own spot.
7. Get to Love Sales & Marketing
It’s not the number of letters after your name that will bring in more clients. It’s your ability to market your services and sell those services to your ideal client. Don’t like sales and marketing? Tough. If you want to start your own fitness business, you MUST get to love them both and become an expert at both.
However, you don’t need a huge marketing budget to get new clients. You need to wow them, provide excellent service, and help them solve their problems and achieve their goals. Document their journey and get the social proof you need (before and after pics or videos) to showcase what you do and bring in more clients. Ask for referrals, get a Yelp account and ask them to post a review for you, give out guest passes, etc. Get creative and think low or no cost marketing to conserve your cash.
8. Get Rid of the Head Trash
A lot of the battles that occur when starting your own business don’t take place externally, they take place internally. Negative thoughts and head trash can lead to self-doubt, crushing fear, and ultimately can be the demise of your business and your happiness. Positive thoughts, affirmations, and visualization can lift you up, help you find perspective and keep you moving forward. Plus, as Mark Twain once said, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” Don’t make mountains out of molehills and engage awesome support structures and positive people in your life to stay the course.
I hope these 8 tips give you the tools to start your dream fitness business. Be ambitious and also be patient and remember to enjoy the journey. People out there need help and I’m counting on you to help make a difference by creating a sustainable and thriving fitness business. Good luck!
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