Nobody starts a business on a whim. If you’re like most small business owners, you’ve been dreaming, thinking, and building your gymnastics business in your mind for years. Now that you’ve decided to take that leap into opening your own kids’ gym, you need to use those daydreams to build a crystal-clear vision of your future, real-world business.
Start by getting personal
You will never work harder than you will when you open your own business. A small business owner needs strong internal motivation to make the time and emotional investment required to be successful. You have to verbalize your why you’re opening a gymnastics studio, in order to build an authentic vision for your gym. Ask yourself these questions and write down your answers:
- When you picture your life as an owner of a kids’ gym– what does that life look like? What’s the atmosphere of your gym? How hands on are you? Who’s around you? What part of owning a gymnastics center gives you greatest joy?
- Why is now the right time to open your gym? Are you reacting to dissatisfaction with your current professional situation? Has an ideal location opened up? If your gut is telling you it’s time — what’s it saying exactly?
There’s a purpose in exploring these questions. This isn’t just new age “vision board” stuff. When you can answer these questions in detail, you’ll start to see the outlines of the kids’ gym you want to open. These high-level ideas are your starting points to make concrete decisions about your business vision, specifically regarding who your gym will serve and how it will make money.
Looking outwards: Why your kids’ gym?
Your gym can’t exist just to serve your interests. Your kids’ gym will only survive if it meets the interests of a segment of your local market better than any of your competitors. You need to answer the basic question: Why should your future students enroll with your gym instead of a competitor’s?
That’s the more difficult questions to answer. To get to that answer, ask yourself these more pointed questions:
- Who is your ideal student? Who is the ideal family? What does your gym’s community feel like? Look around your “gym” again – what are your ideal students and their parents doing? Who are they and what they do when they’re not at your gym?
- What makes your children’s gym unique? What do you offer that they won’t find at another gym?
You don’t need to be the biggest children’s gym in your area to make a profit. You may decide that your passions and skillset serve a narrow market, and will serve it better than anyone else. For example, you may decide to open a gym serving special needs kids. You may decide to open a gym not focused on competitive gymnastics but focused on teaching kids healthy lifestyle habits from the earliest age.
If you find your passion leads to a narrow niche, that can be a boon for your marketing and justify higher prices than your non-niche competitors. Use your research of your local market to determine the potential size of your niche target market, its financial demographics (e.g. average income, average monthly household expenses, etc.), and your competitors so you can develop a financial plan based on those realities.
The goal is for you to have a clear vision about what kind of gym you’re opening, for whom, and what its basic model for making money is. Will you operate on student volume, allowing lower prices, or will you operate on a niche or value basis that lets you charge higher prices? There’s no right answer — only a clear understanding of which way your gym will go.
You can find here a list of some of the hard data questions you also need to ask yourself about quantifying the market and financial opportunity for your gym.
You can’t reach a goal if you don’t know what it is
You probably coach your students using a similar philosophy. Goals that aren’t defined can’t be achieved. It’s no less true for your kids’ gym. Clarifying the vision you have for your gym from the start gives you a framework within which to answer all the tough questions that come next. Your vision is both the anchor that keeps you tethered to your goals and the spark plug that re-energizes you during the hard days of running a small business.