Aerial sports offer people outstanding views, adrenaline-inducing flight and lots of fun. Before people take off paragliding or hang gliding, however, they first need to learn how to take off, fly and land safely. Aerial sports instruction businesses offer lessons to novice, experienced and even expert flyers on how to safely enjoy these sports.
Learn how to start your own Aerial Sports Instruction Business and whether it is the right fit for you.
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Start an aerial sports instruction business by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Aerial Sports Instruction Business
- Form your Aerial Sports Instruction Business into a Legal Entity
- Register your Aerial Sports Instruction Business for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your Aerial Sports Instruction Business
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Aerial Sports Instruction Business
- Get Aerial Sports Instruction Business Insurance
- Define your Aerial Sports Instruction Business Brand
- Create your Aerial Sports Instruction Business Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
We have put together this simple guide to starting your aerial sports instruction business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What will you name your business?
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Aerial Sports Instruction Business Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
What are the costs involved in opening an aerial sports instruction business?
The startup costs for an aerial sports business can easily reach $50,000 or more. The first significant cost is training, as attaining the aforementioned levels requires a number of lessons that must be taken at other aerial sports schools. The other large upfront cost is the price of equipment, for each glider can run in the neighborhood of $2,000.
Other notable upfront expenses include liability insurance, other insurance, staffing costs and advertising fees. Businesses also need a vehicle that can transport students and gear, if the business owner doesn’t already have one.
What are the ongoing expenses for an aerial sports instruction business?
The ongoing expenses for aerial sports businesses include fuel and maintenance for a vehicle, maintenance for equipment, professional membership fees, insurance premiums, employees salaries and advertising costs. Professional memberships aren’t required, but they’re relatively inexpensive and help show that a business is well qualified to teach aerial sports. Membership with the USHPA is $294 per year for instructors. This amount could be earned back in a single lesson or class.
Who is the target market?
An aerial sports instruction business’ ideal customer is someone who enjoys adrenaline-inducing sports, but is new to paragliding or hang gliding. Such a person will be open to taking a class, and they may get hooked and want a lot more instruction. Additionally, most customers that are able to afford instruction have a decent amount of discretionary income.
How does an aerial sports instruction business make money?
Aerial sports instruction businesses make money by charging for lessons on paragliding, hang gliding or other aerial sports. Lessons may be one-day long, or they may build on each other in longer courses.
How much can you charge customers?
Aerial sports instruction businesses usually offer a variety of classes and bundles, and the rates are different for each. Eagle Paragliding, LLC has a well-structured pricing scheme, which includes:
- Tandem flights priced between $100 and $200
- A 1-day course priced at $200
- A 2-day course priced at $400
- An 8- to 10-day course for novice students priced at $1,500
- Clinics priced between $395 and $750
- Tours priced between $1,800 and $2,250
How much profit can an aerial sports instruction business make?
An aerial sports instruction business’ profit potential varies, but these can be highly profitable businesses. One husband-and-wife team in San Francisco earned $18,000 in their first year and grew that to $210,000 in revenue just four years later.
How can you make your business more profitable?
There are several ways an aerial sports instruction business can increase its revenue. To start with, instructors can obtain advanced certificates and certificates in other aerial sports. This lets instructors lead advanced clinics, which often command higher prices, and provide classes to people interested in a wider array of aerial sports.
Businesses can also sell equipment to beginners they introduce to the sport. Many people will first try out aerial sports by taking a class or two, but they may soon want to buy their own gliders. Without many contacts in the industry, they’ll often purchase gear from that their trusted instructor recommends. Since gliders can run $2,000, this can add a significant amount to a business’ profits.
Want a more guided approach? Access TRUiC's free Small Business Startup Guide - a step-by-step course for turning your business idea into reality. Get started today!
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your aerial sports instruction business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Open a business bank account
Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.
Get a business credit card
Getting a business credit card helps you:
- Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.
Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from BILL and build your business credit quickly.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate an aerial sports instruction business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
Paragliding businesses should be aware of Federal Aviation Administration airspace restrictions. Airspace restrictions break down into three categories:
- Airspace flyers cannot enter
- Airspace flyers can enter only with prior authorization from the controlling authority
- Airspace flyers can enter without prior authorization from any controlling authority
For a more comprehensive description of these regulations, visit section 60-109 on the Federal Aviation Regulations Page.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
FInd out what types of insurance your Aerial Sports Instruction Business needs and how much it will cost you by reading our guide Business Insurance for Aerial Sports Instruction Business.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.
How to promote & market an aerial sports instruction business
For a couple of reasons, online marketing is one of the most effective ways to market an aerial sports business.
First, online advertising campaigns let business owners target specific demographics. Often, campaigns can be based on age, gender and income, as well as other interests.
Second, many people search online when they’re looking for an activity to do. Having a strong presence on the internet and social media will help ensure a business comes up when people begin looking for things to do in the area.
How to keep customers coming back
An aerial sports instruction business can stand out from its competitors by hiring highly qualified and very experienced instructors. Instructors who have certifications will assure customers that the instructors are true experts. In addition to the main certifications offered by AAPPI and USHPA, instructors may also attain specialized certifications.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.
Recommended Business Phone Service: Phone.com
Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
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Is this Business Right For You?
People who enjoy being outdoors and like aerial sports may be well-suited for opening an aerial sports instruction business. Business owners should be flexible and strong enough to fly paragliders and hang gliders. They should also have good people and communication skills, as much of their time will be spent interacting directly with students.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at an aerial sports instruction business?
An aerial sports instruction business owner spends much of their time teaching students how to fly paragliders, hang gliders and similar equipment. When not teaching students, a business owner may spend their time maintaining and repairing equipment, managing any instructors they hire, marketing their business, scheduling classes and monitoring the weather (to see if conditions are conducive to flying).
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful aerial sports instruction business?
Business owners will need to be experienced and knowledgeable flyers in their chosen aerial sport. If they don’t have previous experience, they’ll need to attend classes at another aerial sports school.
While there are some variations in training programs, reaching the level of instructor always takes a number of lessons. For instance, instructors who train through the Association of Paragliding Pilots and Instructors (APPI) system, need to go through five levels before they reach professional status. Even then, full-fledged instructors have to complete four more levels of training.
The U.S. Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association’s (USHPA’s) levels are a bit simpler, but instructors must still reach H-4/P-4 Advanced Pilot level before the association lets them teach others. This is the fourth of five levels.
Technically, this training is normally a legal requirement. Prospective students, however, will ask and check what training their instructors have. If the instructors aren’t officially recognized by a respected professional organization, students will probably not sign up for classes.
What is the growth potential for an aerial sports instruction business?
Most aerial sports instruction businesses operate from a single location. Many business owners are able to find plenty of students to fill their schedule, as well as the schedules of other instructors.
Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting an aerial sports instruction business?
Aerial sports are weather-dependent activities. While there are many weather resources available (e.g. weather radios, apps and websites), becoming an amateur meteorologist and intimately familiar with local weather patterns can help business owners decide whether, when and where to take off.
How and when to build a team
Business owners will likely want to hire at least a few staff members from the start. Employees can help coordinate launches and landings, and they can assist students with their gear.
Real World Examples
- The association of Paragliding Pilots and Instructors Homepage
- Established Paragliding School in California
- United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (USHPA)