Fitness is your passion, and you have decided it’s time for you to share what you know about health and exercise with those willing to learn. In short, you have decided to become an entrepreneur and open a fitness center.
However, running a gym is not as easy as buying a full rack of free weights and some elastic bands; you need to have serious management chops to keep your business humming and your clients happy. Here are a few tips to help you launch your fitness facility in style and strength, so you, your clients and your business can grow big in no time.
It is never a good idea to pursue entrepreneurship in a field in which you have little or no experience. Though you might be relatively fit, you still won’t be able to run a fitness facility successfully without appropriate experience managing a business, specifically one within the health and fitness industry.
Therefore, before you start looking for facility locations, you should spend a few years looking for the right jobs. If you haven’t already, you should earn your personal training license and begin working with clients. From there, you should be able to secure employment in fitness sales or facility management. At this level, sports management careers are broad; you can even find work with specific athletic teams if you have the right qualifications and connections.
On the side, you might also start taking courses in business management. Online or at your local community college, look for classes in accounting and finance, marketing and sales, leadership and similar business-related subjects. These should supplement your fitness industry experience – not replace it – so you will be more competent in your leadership role once your facility opens.
It takes money to make money, especially in fitness. Starting now – or ideally a few years ago – you should begin scrimping and saving for your entrepreneurial dreams. Though you shouldn’t try to fully bootstrap your fitness facility, it is good to have a cushion of savings available to keep your personal financial situation afloat while you build your business. Most new businesses operate in the red for at least the first few years, and you should have enough money available to buy food and pay your mortgage during that time.
When it comes to funding your fitness facility, you have several options. Likely the best is pursuing a small business loan and other forms of business debt, like lines of credit and credit cards. You should talk to whatever institution does your personal banking, but you should also compare rates and terms with other financial providers in your area. Doing so ensures you get exactly the funding you need for your facility.
During your time in the gym, working as a personal trainer or otherwise interfacing with the fitness community, you should be building a network of contacts you can leverage when growing your business. Ideally, some of these contacts will be clients who are interested in moving with you and becoming members of your facility. Having a handful of loyal and enthusiastic customers at the get-go will start your facility out strong and ensure it grows faster through word-of-mouth and similar natural marketing methods.
Now, it’s time to sit down and think seriously about what your fitness facility will look like and how it will run. Though you might be blinded by the excitement of having a well-appointed workout space all your own, you need to remember that the goal of your facility is to make money, which might mean you must provide fitness resources you yourself won’t necessarily take advantage of.
The key to choosing a direction for your fitness facility is research on your market. You should look into existing fitness facility options in your area, the demographics of those who visit gyms, the types of fitness that are currently popular and more. Using this information, you can begin making decisions about the wheres, whats and hows of your business, meaning where you want your facility to be, what equipment you will provide and how you will encourage health and wellness in your clientele.
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