You don’t need years of experience or a degree to start your own sports store. The surprising thing is that a lot of potential entrepreneurs give up on their ideas before even trying to get their dream business going simply because the starting process can be so overwhelming.
But fear not, because there are so many guides out there that can help you organize and prepare your business for launch off! This post alone will give you a tried and tested checklist of steps that are needed to start your business and get your independence. Let’s get started!
Overview Of Our Steps
The steps needed to start your own sports store can be roughly separated into three equally important segments. Each of these business starting segments will have a significant impact on the success of your sports store, so you should dedicate a lot of time and care to planning and implementing each one.
These segments are as follows:
- Pre-launch phase
- Launching phase
- Growth phase
As the name suggests, the pre-launch phase focuses on all legal and business planning aspects of starting your business. On the other hand, the launching phase represents the technical dilemmas that arise once your business is opened. Finally, the growth phase, possibly the most important one, relates to bringing in new clients and expanding your business further.
The first thing that we need to do is to prepare and write down our plans and projections so that we have a very clear idea about:
- How much capital do we need to start our store?
- How is our store going to make money?
- Who will we sell to and how much will we charge?
- How will we name our store?
Let’s dive deeper into each one of these questions.
How Much Does It Cost To Open A Sporting Goods Store?
The biggest decision in your entrepreneurial career arises when deciding whether to go with a brick & mortar store with a website, or an entirely online business model. In today’s market, you will need a website in either case, however, when you have a brick and mortar store you can choose not to implement the eCommerce functionality (even though we wouldn’t recommend it).
The costs you incur will vary greatly depending on which of these approaches you choose as the costs for a brick and mortar store greatly surpasses the expenses for a strictly online business. You will need to pay for rent & utilities, hire staff, and always keep a stocked inventory.
Choosing a strictly online business model does seem like the best option for a company that is just starting, but it’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons for your specific business and make that decision!
Define Your Target Market
Follow your closest and most successful competitors and write down the products they offer and the market niche that they target. Based on this, define a niche that your company will focus on. By targeting a more narrow market small businesses can gain an advantage over their larger and more broad competitors as they can service that market’s needs much better.
For example, you can focus your business on a specific sport like basketball, football, or hockey. On the other hand, you can choose to just sell sports clothes or to sell used sporting goods.
How To Make A Business Plan?
Once you’ve decided on your business approach and a target market, you should write out a detailed plan for your business operations:
- Summarize the competitive analysis and the niche you’ve chosen
- Describe your products or service
- Write out and calculate your finances
- Define your organizational structure
- Plan your marketing and sales efforts (more about this in the growth phase segment)
How Much Should You Charge For Your Products?
One of the most common mistakes new business owners make is to undercharge for their products because they “feel uncomfortable” about charging more than what they deem to be acceptable. Don’t fall into this trap and set your prices so that they are very close to what your competitors are offering. Remember, sometimes a larger price can lead to more customers as it can signal quality.
How To Name Your Sporting Goods Store?
Choosing the right name for your business is a very important step and it can sometimes be very difficult. If nothing comes to mind when you try to brainstorm ideas, try using a sports business name generator to give you some inspiration (https://businessnamegenerator.com/sport-related-equipment-business-name-generator-ideas/).
When choosing a business name always first check whether it is available on:
- State and federal level trademark & business records
- Social media
- Web domain (https://www.godaddy.com/en-uk/domains)
Once you’ve planned everything out, you will need to handle all procedures and technical challenges that are present when starting a new business. In this segment you will get a better idea about:
- Forming a legal entity
- Applying for taxation
- Getting permits and licenses
- Starting a business bank account
- Obtaining liability insurance
Form A Legal Entity
You will need to decide whether you should open a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or corporation. Establishing a legal business entity is generally considered a better option as it protects you from being held personally liable if your store is sued.
To get a better idea of how LLCs are formed search google for LLC forming guides for your state.
Apply For Taxation
The first thing you will need to do is acquire your EIN, which you can get for free through the IRS website. EIN acts as a business ID and after creating it, you will be able to register for state and federal taxes.
Taxation depends on the business structure you choose, to get a better idea about small business taxes read some of these articles:
Start Your Business Bank Accounts
You need to separate your personal assets from company assets. To do so you will need to open a business bank account. The two actions you will need to take are to:
- Open a Net 30 account (used to establish business credit and increase cash flow by making 30-day loans)
- Get a business credit card
Get Permits & Licenses
You may need certain licenses and permits to run your sporting goods store. Check the requirements for your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits. (https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/launch-your-business/apply-licenses-permits)
You will also need to inquire about any local permits, the best way to do so is by getting assistance from one of the local associations in the US Small Business Association directory of local business resources. (https://www.sba.gov/local-assistance/find)
Obtain Liability Insurance
Getting business insurance is an absolute must as it protects your company’s finances if you incur a covered loss.
There is a number of different insurance types, however, one that is most widely used and that we recommend is General Liability Insurance as it’s a great place to start. Once you begin growing you can look into different types of insurance.
Growth Phase (Web Phase)
We have arrived at the most important phase in the process as it’s what makes a difference between a failing business and a thriving one. If you don’t have any solid growth and marketing plans your business will stagnate and slowly decline.
The growth phase can also be called the web phase because in recent years they have become synonymous. You cannot have growth without promoting your business on the internet.
The most important steps in the web phase are:
- Making your website and displaying it online
- Creating a promotional strategy
- Building your social media presence
- Managing your client relations and word of mouth
- Planning for expansion
Get Your Sports Website Online
As most business owners say, without a website your business doesn’t exist. It represents the online real estate that brings in new customers and allows you to communicate with them, so you should dedicate a lot of effort to bringing your website to life.
When building a website you generally have 2 options:
- Build the website yourself
- Hiring experienced web designers to create your website for you
Building Your Own Website
Taking the time to create your website would be a much cheaper option as most of the software that you need to make it is free. However, when you take into account the time it will take you to learn how to make a website and get it hosted properly, as well as to actually do it, the overall cost of this approach goes up quite a bit. In addition to this, you would most likely not be able to create a very professional-looking website unless you have prior experience in the field, so your website could come out a bit lackluster.
When all is taken into account, this option would work well for someone who is short on capital. But if you have the resources and want to see your business grow, it would be a much safer option to hire a decent web design company.
Hiring Web Designers
This option will be more expensive but the results are evident as good web designers will not only create a visually appealing website but also make it responsive and optimized for conversions, meaning that it will convert more visitors into customers. Similarly, good web designers will optimize your site for search engines so that it comes up when people search for it on google.
All this means that hiring professional web designers is a more expensive option that can lead to much more potential profit in the long run.
If you’re looking for a web design agency that specializes in creating revenue-driving websites for small businesses check out WebPhaseStudio’s Pricing Plans.
Create A Promotional Strategy
The next step in your business will be to plan out your promotional strategy. To do this with maximum efficiency, you will need to focus your marketing effort on a small number of channels and try to gain additional customers through them.
Some of the marketing channels you can use are:
- Content Marketing – Writing blog posts relevant to your target market, if your customers receive value from you they’ll be more likely to buy from you
- Search Engine Optimization – Boost your website to the first page of Google for relevant keywords
- Paid Marketing – For paid marketing, you can use google ads or social media ads depending on how easy it is to target your audience on each
- Social Media Campaigns – Create a following on social media that will spread your message around
Leverage Your Social Media Presence
Once you’ve started promoting your business you will need to choose one or more social media channels that you will use to communicate with your audience. It’s best not to waste your efforts and go in 100% on all social media platforms because some will simply be worth more to you than others.
To leverage your social media presence, find out which social media platform is most widely used by your customer base and focus most of your efforts on it. You should still post on other social media but don’t put as much effort there.
Manage Word Of Mouth
Word of mouth is one of the most useful promotional methods as it holds much more value than any other channel, when a person gets a recommendation for a product they are much more likely to purchase it than if they see an ad.
For this reason, it is paramount that you always manage your client relations, offer refunds, and be as kind as helpful as you can be. A little pleasantness can go a long way and bring you a lot more customers.
Expand Your Business
Once you’ve covered all o the previous steps, the time has come to reap the benefits and expand your business. Even though this seems like the time to celebrate it will be best not to get too wrapped up in the hype. A lot of challenges come up when businesses expand and you should stay alert and keep evaluating each part of your business, looking for better and more profitable ways to do things.