29 Oct How to Write a Business Plan for Your Fitness Business
Maybe you’ve already started, or you’re just about to take the leap and start your fitness business? Setting up your own business is incredibly exciting, and as with any project, there will be some aspects you love and others you may find more challenging.
You’re probably bouncing lots of ideas and excited about where the future can take you, so now’s the time to put pen to paper and work out the whys and the wherefores.
Why do you need a personal training business plan?
Your business plan provides an outline of your business, examines the market you will be working in and most importantly, how you’ll make money.
The key question a business plan should answer is, “Will my business succeed?”
If you’re looking to gain financial backing for your business, you’ll definitely need a business plan. Any lenders will want to know that they are making a viable investment. They will want to see evidence of strategic thinking, financial forecasting, and attention to detail.
It will help you organise your thoughts and create a clear roadmap of where you want to be and how you’re going to get there.
What’s in a business plan?
Whatever your business idea, a business plan follows a relatively standard format. Sticking to this format will make it easier for anyone reading your plan to find the important information.
A standard business plan includes the following headings: –
- Executive Summary
- Market Analysis
- Business Overview
- Sales and Marketing Strategy
- Implementation plan
How do I write a business plan?
It can be daunting to write a business plan – but remember, no one’s trying to trip you up, and it’s you who will benefit the most from having a plan. There’s nothing worse than blank page syndrome – staring at a blank word document. You can always start with bullet points or try writing a list of what you know and what you don’t know.
When writing, keep it relevant and concise. Make your plan easy to understand, be specific, not woolly. The finer details are often the ones that could make or break your business.
TOP TIP: Imagine you’re writing for someone who knows nothing about the fitness market
The key components of a business plan
Let’s look at some of the critical components and how best to write them.
A business plan starts with an executive summary. It’s the first section a decision-maker will look at and what entices the reader to carry on reading the rest of your plan. Think of it as a trailer for a film.
Keep it easy to read, relevant and concise; explain what you’re doing and why it matters.
The executive summary provides a brief overview of your business plan, describing: –
- Your business
- What makes you different
- The problem your business solves
- Target market
- Financial highlights
The executive summary is often the most challenging aspect to write, but after writing out your full business plan, it will be easier to understand the strongest aspects of your business.
TOP TIP: Even though the Executive Summary is at the beginning of the Business Plan, it’s easier if you leave writing it until last
Market analysis is a key tool in business planning. Understanding trends, target markets and learning about your competitors helps you identify business opportunities.
Research should consider:
What are the current industry trends?
It’s important to know what is currently happening and gain an understanding of any future trends. Social media is a great way to gain deeper insight.
Keep an eye on industry journals and websites; one great source is CIMSPA who provide a wealth of information about the fitness industry.
What is your overall market size?
Identify how many gyms, people taking up exercise there are in your area. Use Google to its full potential, you can see popular times for gyms and the typical time people stay there via Google Maps:
Parkrun has lots of facts and figures. You can use their data to identify how many people run at your local event and drill that down to age and gender categories.
Facebook and other social media platforms are ideal for checking out local groups and pages to find out what services are being offered locally. It’s a great way to find out how many people are in the various groups. You can use social media to see which platforms work best for your competitors, by looking at the number of followers and the type of engagement they get.
Who are my competitors?
By really understanding your competitors, you will gain an understanding of any gaps in the market. Find out: –
- who they are
- services they offer
- what they do well
- what lets them down
You can use this data to ensure both your services and marketing make you stand out.
Where can I offer my services?
The great thing about being a personal trainer is the variety of settings you can provide your services. You could work freelance in a gym or with private clients at their homes or provide group classes in a hall or public park. Identify where existing classes are and if there are any gaps you can fill with your services.
As we said above, there’s lots of desktop work you can do. The Office for National Statistics has a wealth of data on everything from local population, demographics and earnings. YouGov provides UK survey data on various topics, including societal attitudes, lifestyles, hobbies and interests.
But don’t forget, it’s worth doing some groundwork as well. Go and have a look at your competitors in action; you might spot an interesting opportunity. Speak to people in the community to find out if there’s anything they might specifically be interested in.
Surveys are a great way of gleaning helpful information. They’re easy to set up and free; SurveyMonkey and Google Forms are practical and easy to use. Remember to have a specific objective in mind and frame questions around that to gain meaningful data. Make sure you don’t just ask your friends and family, try and share your survey with the broader community.
By organising the information you’ve collected, you can identify effective data-driven strategies for your business idea.
PESTLE analysis is useful for looking at the bigger picture. It looks at the Political, Economic, Socio-Cultural, Technological, Legal and Environmental issues. So, an example of Socio-Cultural change could be the effect COVID has had on the attitude to exercising outdoors.
You may find that not all the columns apply to your business and that some things will go under multiple headings; for example, BREXIT could be political and economic.
SWOT/TOWS analysis looks at an organisation’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It’s helpful to apply this to both your business and your competitors.
By turning the analysis round to look at threats and opportunities first, you can identify how to use your strengths against potential weaknesses.For example, COVID was a threat to the fitness industry, but by using its strength of flexible delivery, personal trainers were able to identify an opportunity to offer classes in public parks.
This section is where you introduce yourself to your audience and present a general overview of your business. Again, you might find it helpful to draft an initial outline of your business overview and then complete it alongside the Executive Summary.
Firstly, start with a short snappy paragraph. Explain who you are, what you do, and the benefits your business provides.
It’s worth spending time to get this right, as you can use it in elevator pitches and your marketing materials.
Pure Gym’s overview is
The UK’s largest private gym operator with over 270 gyms and c.1 million members across the UK, and owner of Fitness World Group, the largest gym and fitness provider in Denmark, with a growing presence in Switzerland, making the combined group the second-largest gym and fitness operator in Europe, with a total of 1.9 million members over c.500 sites.
The key elements required are: –
- Business structure
- Company values
- Unique selling proposition (USP) or unique value proposition (UVP)
Let your audience know if you’re working as a sole trader or as part of a larger team. State your cover values; these are the philosophies and beliefs that drive your business. It’s essential to identify these, as they impact the relationships you develop with your customers and investors.
Write about your USP or UVP, not as a catchy slogan but explain the benefit you bring to a customer and what makes you different.
State the location and geographical area you will be covering. For example, will you be focussing on a smaller geographical area, or will you broaden your reach by offering your services to a broader audience?
Your mission statement clearly defines the personality of your business, what you want to achieve and why. It might seem early to do this, but it provides a clear structure of your goals, values and purpose.
- Stating clear goals defines a clear roadmap for your business, helping you structure your business and set a foundation for growth.
- Defined values ensure that your customers understand what they can expect from your services.
- By spelling out your purpose as a company, your audience gains a greater understanding of what sets you apart from your competitors.
Provide an overview of the services you will be offering and why.
More detail will be provided in the Services section of your business plan.
TOP TIP: Condensing this into a short paragraph or two, might seem tricky. So, start with a brain dump, revisit, condense and repeat
Use this section to provide further detail and justification of the services you are offering. Inform your audience about your target market and why you think it will work. Remember to focus on “Will my business succeed?”
From your market analysis and competitor research, you will be able to demonstrate the requirement for your services and show the benefits you offer to your customers.
Be sure to include: –
- Who is your target market?
- What is the size of the market?
- Why is this service required?
- What makes your services unique?
- What are the timescales to get up and running?
In this section, cover how you see your business developing in the future.
Sales and Marketing Strategy
As with any business, it’s important to let your customers know about you. Your sales and marketing strategy outlines how you will reach and sell your services to your target audience. It’s a vital part of your business plan, particularly if you are looking for investment, and it also helps you keep a clear focus on what you need to do to keep on track.
From your market and competitor analysis, you now have a clear understanding of your target market and the services you will be offering, so you’re in a good starting position.
You’ll hear a lot of talk about P’s when it comes to Marketing. When writing your sales and marketing strategy, try and cover the following P’s: –
Again, this strengthens your argument that your business will succeed. Provide a summary of the products and services you will be offering and your target market.
Detail and justify your pricing strategy. Will you be charging per individual class or on a block/subscription basis?
Explain where the services will be offered – in a gym, outside, in a hall or online, and why.
Show how you are going to reach your target audience. Will you use social media, website, print advertising? Make sure you can justify your methods. For example, if you’re targeting an older audience, TikTok may not be the best platform. Demonstrate why you intend to use different channels and media.
Clarify how you will provide reassurance to your customers. What physical evidence will you use to demonstrate your value? You could highlight your qualifications, have an impressive website, or use case studies.
Include who will be involved in the business and identify any skills gaps that you will need to cover.
Describe the internal processes you will be using, for example – how will clients book and pay for sessions, and how will they communicate with you?
If you intend to deliver your services through partners and networks, provide information on how you will manage those relationships.
In this section, you demonstrate the financial credibility of your business. We’ve all seen people’s pitches crumble at this point on Dragons Den. Don’t shy away from this, as it’s an essential tool to determine if you have a viable business.
You’ll need to back up your top-line figures. So, include your initial start-up costs, the costs per sale and your predicted revenue.
The British Business Bank has some useful downloadable excel templates to calculate your cash flow forecast. They also include a personal budget survival guide, so you can be confident you can afford to live whilst developing your business.
TOP TIP: It’s easiest to set this section up as an Appendix on a spreadsheet and paste an overview into your document
Your implementation plan sets the foundation for your business, helping you translate your hopes and dreams into action.
By setting clear objectives, you’ll be able to grow your business. Goals should be SMART, i.e., specific, measurable, achievable/agreed, realistic/relevant and time-bound. For example:
- Sign ten clients within the first three months of operations.
- Website up and running by Month/Year
Break each of these objectives down into actionable tasks. Assign each task to a specific person and set clear deadlines.
Keep yourself on track by regularly monitoring progress. Delays and setbacks will occur, but by using an implementation plan, you will identify areas that you need to prioritise.
TOP TIP: You don’t need to use an expensive tracker – there are lots of free tools, and spreadsheets are an effective way of setting up implementation plans.
As with anything in life, there will always be risks associated with setting up a new business.
Use your plan to document key risks and how you plan to mitigate them. If you’ve done a PESTLE/SWOT analysis, you will have identified potential risks.
Keep your conclusion brief, reiterate the opportunity you see and summarise your overall vision, highlight the key strengths of your business, and why you are best placed to execute your business plan successfully.
TOP TIP: Remember to answer “Why your business will succeed?”
Remember your business plan is not a fixed document. It is a valuable tool to help your business flourish; try and revisit it annually – it’s a great way to see how far you have come!
Don’t forget to keep your skills up to date. You’ll need to be a Level 3 Personal Trainer to run your own business, and as you develop your clientele, it’s also worth considering our Specialist Personal Trainer courses. The great thing about having your own business is that you decide which route suits you best.