Have you been involved in the fitness industry most of your life and finally gotten sick of working for other people? Are you envious of the success that facilities like Gold’s Gym have achieved in the past decade and want to build your own career in the gym industry? Do you have a large chunk of changes saved up that you could invest into a business venture?
Well, good for you! Gyms and fitness centers represent an ideal business opportunity for most athletes and personal trainers since they can be an excellent source of revenue and you get to do what you love. It sounds like a dream job. What could possibly go wrong, right?
The truth is: quite a lot. 70% of all new gyms shut down during the first year of operations and these gym owners soon find themselves looking for 9-5’s with most of their savings down the drains.
It’s one of the many harsh realities of life, but one you must come to terms with if you want to be successful: at the end of the day, a new gym is nothing more than a new business start-up, and it’ll come with all the problems and challenges you’d face in any other entrepreneurial venture.
There are plenty of other factors you’ll need to consider too, such as the finances, the location, the size of space you want to buy, the equipment, and more. Competition in the fitness industry has never been as intense as it is today, and all of these little factors will play huge roles in determining what kind of success (or failure) your gym achieves.
To help you out in this endeavor, we’ve prepared a checklist of 3 most essential things every personal trainer and athlete needs to consider before they go about opening a new fitness facility. We hope that this list will guide you in avoiding common mistakes entrepreneurs make during the first 2-3 years of starting a new business, and help you build the gym of your dreams.
Here are 3 things to consider before starting your own gym.
1. The Business Plan
Preparing a business plan is the first and the most important step of embarking on any new venture. It helps the business head in a particular direction and acts as your compass whenever you feel lost. If it is prepared smartly, the document will serve as your key to achieving true business success.
Ideally, a business plan will including the following things:
- The results of your market research. As a long-time personal trainer, you already know common problems gym members face in your city or country. Identify these problems and try to come up with your own unique solutions. You should also identify what kind of competition you’re going to face, what equipment you require, what kind of budget you’ll need, and how you’ll manage the initial finances
- Goals and objectives. Every business needs smart, practically achievable goals and objectives which serve as a beacon whenever the ship starts to go astray. It’s also a good idea to write a mission statement which captures the business’ essence in few words.
Don’t freak out if your finished business plan doesn’t seem to cater for the juggernauts of the fitness industry. Your goal in the first 3-4 years of running operations is simply to stabilize the business so that it can sustain competition. Only once you’ve established yourself in your region and the profits are rolling in monthly can you even think about expansion.
2. Money Management
This is where new gym owners struggle most, mostly because a wide majority of them come into this venture with little to no experience of managing large sums of money. Opening up a new fitness center isn’t cheap, and there are a lot of hidden costs here and there that can add up very quickly.
The best tip we can give you for managing your money smartly is to always keep spare whenever you’re thinking about business expenses. Pitch in an extra $500-600 in your estimated start-up cost and a further $100 in the monthly bills. If you’ve calculated your finances smartly, great! That $600 becomes valuable savings. If not, you’ll be prepared beforehand.
Another great tip is to make sure you have enough savings to cover for the first 3-4 months of your operational expenses. This gives you a lot of leeway initially and leaves you prepared for any unforeseen financial incidents.
While calculating the start-up and monthly costs, you’ll need to consider the following expenses:
- Business registration and other legal costs
- The space you’ll buy/rent
- Additional fixtures that need to be installed (A.C, fans)
- Renovations if required
- Utilities (electricity, gas, etc.)
- Staff salaries
- Other office supplies
- Marketing campaigns
If you want to have a more detailed discussion regarding the costs, it's highly recommend that you get in touch with fellow gym owners who’ve been in business for more than a year. Most of them will be happy to help, and you might even develop valuable associations.
3. Time Management
When working as a trainer at someone else’ facility, you never truly realize the hours that go into running a successful business. But once you have your gym set up, you’ll figure out very quickly that everything is not so smooth as it seems.
As a gym owner, you’ll be working 80+ hours a week just to get things moving at the start, and you suddenly you'll be short of time to pursue a lot of your favorite activities. Most days, you won’t even have the time to relish a scrumptious meal.
During the initial period of struggle, time management takes on a whole new level of importance. Naturally, you’ll want to invest most of your time in your new gym because you’ll be motivated and excited to work, but it’s also important that you get some “Me Time” during the week to avoid getting burnt out.
We recommend setting certain time periods during the day when you can leave the gym’s operations to one of your senior staff members and go out to the park for a walk. Eventually, you’ll achieve a balance that allows you to manage gym operations while also keeping your batteries charged and ready to go.
Starting a new gym isn’t just about buying the required space, setting up the equipment, and handing out memberships. You’re embarking on a new business venture and so naturally there will be challenges and difficulties you will need to address to.
This is why it’s essential that you give the thought of opening a new gym some consideration before you begin. Think about what you want to accomplish with your new fitness facility, and write down everything that could possibly stop you from achieving your dreams. You’ll soon find that a lot of these small factors can add up over time to create significant problems.
If you prepare for the process smartly, you would get off to a better start than most people in your industry. After that, it’s just about managing your time and finances to ensure your gym becomes the business success you’d always been dreaming about.