How To Start A Gymnastics Business, Successfully And Safely

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A gymnastics gym for adults and kids alike can be a great addition to your community. If you’ve been thinking about how to start a gymnastics business, this is what you need to know to get started.

How To Start A Gymnastics Business: A Checklist

Starting your own gymnastics business has many different elements, so it’s best to start with a checklist. Each of these is outlined in more detail below, but here’s a snapshot of how to start a gymnastics business.

  1. Develop a business plan
  2. Create a legal entity
  3. Figure out costs and other financial aspects
  4. Set up a safe and successful space
  5. Protect your students (and your business)
  6. Write out policies and procedures
  7. Staff your gymnastics gym
  8. Promote your new business
  9. Plan for growth

Starting from scratch can be daunting, but these steps can help you build your business from the ground up.

Develop A Gymnastics Business Plan

Some businesses skip this step, but it’s a crucial part of not only opening a gymnastics gym but also running it successfully. In your business plan, you will outline:

  • The costs of opening a gymnastics gym (and where you’ll get that money)
  • Your target client
  • Pricing structure
  • Your goals for your business (including a mission statement)
  • A plan for how to grow sustainably

This essential guiding document can help you make difficult business decisions. For example, if your goal is to introduce your community to the joy of gymnastics, do you really need to pay top dollar for Olympic-level coaches who won’t be teaching at that level? Or, if you are focused on competitions, how will that change your target client and messaging?

Taking the time to consider why you are opening your gymnastics business and what you want to accomplish lays a solid foundation for success.

Create A Legal Entity

Creating a separate legal identity protects you from personal liability if a disaster happens. There are many structures to choose from, including:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Limited Liability Corporation (LLC)
  • Corporation (S-corp or C-corp)

These will also determine how your business is taxed. You’ll also set up an Employer Identification Number (EIN) and apply for the appropriate permits and licenses from your state or city government, but you cannot do those things until you register as a legal entity.

Figure Out Cost Of Opening A Gymnastics Gym

One of the primary concerns when opening a gymnastics gym is money, of course. You will need to figure out how much it will cost to not only start the business but also run it. Start-up costs might include:

  • Cost of equipment
  • Legal fees
  • Initial deposits for your space
  • Insurance costs
  • Business costs (e.g., marketing, office supplies, and more)

Once you open, you will need to calculate the regular costs of running a gymnastics gym. These may include utilities, staff salary, and any other incidentals like equipment that students can buy, replacing worn out equipment, and so on.

Some of these costs can be cut by purchasing refurbished equipment and renting in a more affordable location. Try to figure out a range of potential costs: what’s the most it would cost to open a gymnastics gym, and what’s the streamlined version? Which one is more realistic and sustainable for your circumstances?

Set Up A Safe Gym

Finding the right location for your gym is crucial. Look for one that has enough space, is close to your target students, and offer amenities like parking.

From there, figuring out safety is a crucial part of how to set up a gymnastics business. Chances are good that gymnastics equipment will be a big part of your opening expenses. Even if you are purchasing refurbished gym equipment, make sure it is in good working order before you buy it. The same applies to mats and braces for gymnasts.

Consider also safety in the studio. Fire extinguishers and exit signs are important for emergencies but don’t forget things like non-slip mats in restrooms and by the doors. Hygiene items like hand sanitizer, disinfecting spray and wipes for equipment, and plenty of paper towels are also part of keeping your staff and clients safe.

Protect Your Students (And Your Business)

Likewise, choosing the correct insurance is another important part of starting a gymnastics business. Your insurance will generally cover:

  • Equipment
  • Accidents on equipment
  • Injury on the premises
  • Catastrophic events (e.g., theft, fire, flooding, etc.)

Teachers who are independent contractors should come with their own insurance that lists your studio as an additional insured. This offers teachers, your studio, and your clients another layer of protection in case of an accident.

Write Out Policies And Procedures

Clearly outlining policies and procedures for teachers and clients makes everything so much easier. These policies should include the following, at least:

  • How classes are set up (expectations and rules)
  • How payments (and late payments) are handled
  • Steps to take in an emergency
  • Where (or if) parents can watch students
  • Focus and mission of the gym

You might consider building these into a welcome packet, student manual, or FAQs on your website for easy access. We also recommend checking out USA Gymnastics’ guide for more ideas on what to include, as this step will depend on the types of classes you offer and students you teach.

Staff Your Gymnastics Gym

You can’t talk about how to set up a gymnastics business without discussing the heartbeat of your gym: teachers! Think about your mission statement as you staff your studio. If you are training elite athletes headed to the Olympics, find the teachers qualified to work at that level. Welcoming younger students into the sport? Look for enthusiastic teachers with dedicated experience with small children.

And don’t neglect your administrative staff. These are your gym’s first impression, so make it a good one with friendly, knowledgeable folks.

Consider Day-To-Day Management

Who is in charge of opening your gym? Who closes? Do teachers have keys, or will an administrator always be present? Who orders paper products and office supplies? How will discipline issues be handled? Parent complaints? Who updates the website, and who makes the call on weather- or disaster-related closures?

How hands-on will you be? Your partners? What if someone calls in sick?

Proactively planning your day-to-day management—otherwise known as planning for the worst and hoping for the best—is something that many new businesses fail to do. There’s a lot of questions here, but set yourself up for success by imagining how each day will look before you open your doors. You also may want to consider using gymnastics registration software for class scheduling, online registration, billing and more. Relying on technology to help with some of your administrative tasks can streamline your processes and reduce staff overhead.

Promote Your New Business

You’re all set: your gymnastics gym has beautiful equipment, a great space, and highly-qualified teachers. How will you let people know you’re open?

Promote your new business with a digital marketing strategy that includes targeted social media posts, a fully-fleshed out website, updated profiles on review pages like Yelp, and email marketing.

Note that you don’t have to cover all of the social media outlets as you’re starting out. Work smarter, not harder, and choose one or two platforms that speak your language. Instagram and Facebook are still two of the most popular and come with the added bonus of easy integration with each other.

Plan For Growth

It’s ironic that some businesses fail because they are too successful. The number of clients outpaces their ability to serve them well, and word spreads. Clients drift away, and the business does, too.

Plan for growth from the very beginning. Where do you see your business a year after opening? Five years? Do you have the capacity to add teachers, locations, or expand your space? Figure out what you’ll do to sustain your growth, long-term.

Start Your Gymnastics Business

If you still have questions about how to open a gymnastics business, The Studio Director can help. We can help you manage and automate the administrative parts of your studio so you can focus on building the best gym for your community. Check out our free demo, then get in touch to get started!

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