A fitness apparel business is a retail establishment that sells shoes, apparel, and equipment designed for athletic consumers. Products are sold on a local level and to online shoppers. These businesses support local athletes through community events and offer advice regarding the ideal products for their customer’s individual needs.
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Learn how to start your own Fitness Apparel Business and whether it is the right fit for you.
Start a fitness apparel business by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Fitness Apparel Business
- Form your Fitness Apparel Business into a Legal Entity
- Register your Fitness Apparel Business for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your Fitness Apparel Business
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Fitness Apparel Business
- Get Fitness Apparel Business Insurance
- Define your Fitness Apparel Business Brand
- Create your Fitness Apparel Business Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your fitness apparel 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 are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a fitness apparel business?
Successful fitness apparel shop owners report a starting capital of $150,000 to $350,000, depending upon the size, amount of inventory, and geographical location. Manage start-up costs by investing in a modest location of 2000 square feet or less. As you get to know your customers, you will gain a deeper understanding of their needs and expand accordingly.
Once a location has been chosen, you will need to fill the space. Fixtures, business management software, and specialized equipment such as a foot and gait analysis system should all be included in your initial budget. Inventory should include apparel, footwear, accessories, and exercise equipment. A marketing strategy will help boost your business and simple, yet intuitive website will keep the community informed and allow you to reach customers on a national level.
What are the ongoing expenses for a fitness apparel business?
Industry leaders report monthly expenses ranging from between $4,500 and $21,000. The size of your store will define utilities and insurance costs and influence the amount of merchandise you will need to keep in stock.
Who is the target market?
When developing your marketing strategy, target athletes of all skill levels and financial means. This includes everyone from the high school tennis player to the ultra-marathoner. Runners are known for investing a great deal of time and money in their sport, so shop owners are encouraged to specifically target the running community in their advertising efforts.
How does a fitness apparel business make money?
A fitness apparel store generates revenue from the sale of each item. While a large portion of your sales will come from local consumers, an online store will extend your reach to athletes outside of the community.
How much can you charge customers?
Pricing varies from product to product. In addition to inventory cost, overhead expenses should be taken into account when setting an item price. If you are inexperienced in this aspect of the business, consult with your vendors for advice.
How much profit can a fitness apparel business make?
While many retail stores realize a profit in the first year, it typically takes three years to build a well-established business. Store owners who are committed to the community and maintain a pulse on the latest trends repot a profit of over $76,000 after the third year.
How can you make your business more profitable?
To boost profits, your inventory should include items with a higher profit margin, such as compression garments and insoles. Hosting educational workshops, fitness classes, and guest speakers will help bring both current and prospective customers, boosting sales in the process. Lastly, sponsor local sporting events as part of your community involvement. It is satisfying to see your business’ name on t-shirts and event advertisements and is a great way to boost visibility.
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 Fitness Apparel 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.
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 fitness apparel 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!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
- LLC Taxes
- Sole Proprietorship vs LLC
- LLC vs Corporation
- LLC vs S Corp
- How to Start an S Corp
- S Corp vs C Corp
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.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
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.
Open net 30 accounts
Net 30 accounts are used to establish and build business credit as well as increase business cash flow. With a net 30 account, businesses buy goods and repay the full balance within a 30-day term.
NetMany net 30 credit vendors report to the major business credit bureaus (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Equifax Business Credit). This is how businesses build business credit so they can qualify for credit cards and other lines of credit.
Recommended: Read our best net 30 vendors, guide and start building business credit.
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 Divvy 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.
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.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
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.
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 a fitness apparel business
When developing your business plan, research what sports are most popular in your community. Get to know them on a personal and professional level, noting what needs are not currently being met. This will assist you in ordering inventory and allow for a more targeted marketing strategy. While printed and online advertising will prove beneficial, the best gift you can give is your time and attention. Organize group runs, host special events at your store, and sponsor local sporting events. Your commitment to their cause will boost your reputation and spark a deep commitment from the athletes you cater to.
How to keep customers coming back
Word of mouth can either make or break a business. Your involvement, strong customer service, and knowledge will go a long way towards building community support. These things, along with an inspiring disposition, will position you as a fitness leader, ensuring your store is the first name that comes to mind when people look for that new pair of workout gloves or shoes.
Still unsure about what kind of business you want to start? Check out the latest Small Business Trends to help inspire you.
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.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
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 2022 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.
Start a Fitness Apparel Business in your State
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
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Is this Business Right For You?
This type of business is best suited for the entrepreneur who is passionate about living an active and healthy lifestyle. They enjoy interacting with athletes in the community, sharing their knowledge of current trends in activewear and the newest in fitness-related medical findings.
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 a fitness apparel business?
You and your staff will spend much of the day interacting with customers. You will consult with them regarding their unique needs, offering guidance on everything from the best shoe for their gait to nutrition and training schedules. The most successful fitness apparel stores draw athletes throughout the community, offering a place to gather and meet other like-minded individuals. Therefore, downtime should be spent creating an environment that encourages athletes of all kinds to participate and interact. Additionally, inventory is tracked daily and orders are placed on an as-needed basis. The store must be clean and well-maintained, with displays changed out regularly. Your customers are looking to you for guidance, so researching industry developments and trends should also be an integral part of your team’s day.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful fitness apparel business?
Interaction with customers, vendors, and your staff will be an integral part of each day. Therefore, strong interpersonal and communication skills, coupled with business acumen, will help set you up for success. Your commitment to customer service and fitness will help you integrate into this tight-knit community, building a loyal customer base along the way. Those considering entering this business venture are encouraged to work in a similar setting. This real world experience will help you gain a deeper understanding of the intricacies involved in owning retail store and offer networking opportunities along the way.
What is the growth potential for a fitness apparel business?
Most athletes are drawn to the individualized attention they receive when visiting a small, locally owned store. For this reason, many store owners concentrate on keeping their shop small, opening additional stores based on community needs. With the right vision and branding, entrepreneurs looking to expand further can open stores across the country and even offer franchising opportunities to other aspiring fitness apparel store owners.
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 a fitness apparel business?
While sports enthusiasts love to spend money on their activities, they come from all financial brackets. Therefore, your store should carry quality products, with price points that fit every budget. A flexible return policy will offer that last push some customers need to purchase an item they’re considering. When choosing your vendors, inquire about their return policy. Many have made it a policy to accept returned shoes at no cost to the store owner.
How and when to build a team
Depending upon the size of your new business, it may be possible to operate the store yourself during those first few months. As business increases, you will need to start building your team. Many fitness apparel store owners have found success hiring high school athletes. This keeps payroll costs under control and offers another level of support within the sporting community. Every employee should possess extensive knowledge of at least one activity and be able to communicate with all demographics. Strengthen your team by hiring new employees that can help build on your current skills and knowledge.