Congratulations, you’ve made the decision to launch your own fitness business! Exciting times lie ahead in this fast-moving, fascinating and dynamic industry. What could be better than helping people maximise their potential and create their best selves? But in this noisy, fractured marketplace – where do you start? And how do you build your business?
I’ve worked with a range of fitness brands from studio owners, designers, clothing ranges and app developers, so have put together some thoughts to consider…
1. Write up your Hopes & Dreams
Take a moment… You are launching a new venture, with all the excitement and activity that entails, but sit down somewhere quiet to think deeply about your hopes and dreams for your future. For you personally and professionally, for your business, for your family. List five or six. Write them down somewhere safe that you can refer back to.
These hopes and dreams will form the horizon point for where you are aiming with your business. They provide the guiding star to plot the route, helping you focus on the right direction when you get pulled off course. They are the place you want your business to take you to.
2. Understand your difference
In this business, people buy people. Think of all the classes you attended, who inspired you the most, got max effort from you, made you achieve the impossible? What was it they had? A confidence, a belief in you, an ability to teach you what they loved. Now think yourself there… it is your difference, skills and passion that will help you grow your business. But first you need to map these to form the basis of your offer.
Look at your background in detail, write it up large on paper mounted on the wall. Look at your past – what have you been paid to do, what clients have you worked for? And what are your passions, skills and talents? All of this has gone into creating you, who you are and the personal resources you can call on to take your business forward. It is a unique trajectory to here that no-one can match. Use it to form the basis of your business. You can see how to draw this up in the first section of my book Simple Tips, Smart Ideas: Build a Bigger Better Business.
3. Study the Fitness Market
There are so many different types of health, wellbeing and fitness businesses – from the tiny to the very large. Where do you want to position yourself? Are you looking to work with the developed active well sector, or do you want to go for growth with the medical/fitness interface that has huge potential? Or perhaps a bit of both? Look at the current market, as well as trends. Read everything to see where there is momentum. What part of this world appeals to you and offers opportunities for your venture?
4. Side-hustle, freelance or studio owner?
One of the next questions you need to consider is how you intend to work with your clients.
Many new entrants to the fitness industry start with a side-hustle to their day-job. This gives them flexibility, an extra interest as well as extra cash, but means they are not reliant on it as their sole income. And many stay working like this for years, which is fine.
Another way to enter this world is to offer classes or treatments within an existing studio. They carry the costs of the building overheads, marketing etc whilst you come in to teach your classes. This can allow you to build your audience but also means you are bound by the studio’s rules.
You can also build your freelance business without a studio, teaching outside, in playgrounds, offices, homes. This takes time to build but can be a great next step from a side-hustle.
And then you can consider launching your own studio. This gives you lots of freedom to shape your own offer, but also responsibilities too. Not only are you running a teaching programme but a whole business. Perhaps this is a step to consider once you have grown your audience and have a breadth of experience behind you.
5. Face-to-face or remote?
The huge growth of online fitness and wellbeing apps and programmes means that a fitness business doesn’t have to be standing in front of a class, or even working with a client one-to-one in person. With social media and digital delivery, you can create and build your business from your desktop in interesting and different ways. Or use these tools to add to the in-person physical business you have already started.
Teaching a class or individual is a hyper local business as it needs you to be in the room together, but think about what you could offer regionally, or at national level. By adding digital coaching you can build your business internationally – finding clients across continents that you couldn’t reach in person.
6. Add new revenue streams to build resilience in your business
When you are launching your business you need to focus on one or two prime revenue streams. These are likely to include selling your time in a class or through one-to-one teaching. But being reliant on only one business model is dangerous. If you fall ill or injure yourself, you may lose your income. Burn-out and stress-related ailments are common in the fitness industry.
As you start off, do consider additional ways of earning revenues that you could build once your venture is underway. Could you sell your knowledge through teaching, running industry events, by devising workshops for local doctors’ surgeries? There are countless inventive ideas and ways of thinking about this in my book to spur you on – with all sorts of revenue model suggestions.
7. Five areas of opportunity
When new businesses are being launched, I always encourage them to keep an eye open for potential new ways of working with these five areas of opportunity…
- Past/present clients : what else could you offer these people who’ve already worked or are working with you? Is there something you could add to their experience that is new, fresh and encourages them to spend more with you?
- Future clients : with these you can structure your charging and offer differently as they will accept it as normal, for example you could bring in new packages, add value in some way to charge higher fees.
- Competitors : this area is often overlooked but by offering a service or product to your own industry, you can find new revenue streams and ways of building your business others may not have spotted.
- New Buyers : in this dynamic market, can you identify new ways of engaging with companies entering it for the first time if they fit with your plan ahead?
- New Audiences : I always look outside the window to ask ‘what could I sell to the wo/man walking past?’. What additional services could you devise that would make them want to buy?
I hope these ideas help you think through your business in different ways and give you ideas for growth, for other ways of earning revenues, of approaching other sectors of this amazing industry that you may not have thought of. Good luck with your endeavour – I hope it grows and brings you all those hopes and dreams you wrote out!