Business Overview

A whirlyball business provides the public with an opportunity to have fun, build relationships, and improve their hand-eye coordination. Whirlyball is a team activity that is best described as a unison of basketball, jai alai, hockey, and lacrosse along with bumper car-esque whirlybug vehicles. Players form teams to compete against one another in hectic and incredibly fun whirlyball action.

Who is this business right for?

This business is ideal for individuals who are looking for a way to promote a sense of community and to help people stay active and have fun. Whirlyball games promote social interactions, involve physical activity, and provide plenty of excitement. This is the type of business that can bring a community together and establish or reinforce social bonds.

What happens during a typical day at a whirlyball arena?

The typical day involves the scheduling of whirlyball matches, ensuring whirlybug vehicles are in tip-top shape, collecting payments and overseeing the whirlyball action. The business owner does everything from ordering new whirlyball equipment to delegating work to employees, managing marketing efforts, and ensuring participants are having a blast during whirlyball games.

What is the target market?

The target market is wide-ranging. It includes youngsters as well as people who work and belong to organizations and groups of varying sorts. As an example, plenty of corporations rent out whirlyball courts as an opportunity for professionals to engage in a team-building exercise.

How does a whirlyball arena make money?

The business makes money by charging customer for every half hour or hour of play. It is also possible for customers to rent out whirlyball courts for an extended period of time. Plenty of customers reserve whirlyball courts for matches between their professional colleagues, friends, youth groups, family members, and other groups.

What is the growth potential for a whirlyball arena?

Whirlyball originated back in the 1960s yet it never hit a true mainstream tipping point. Whirlyball courts are beginning to pop up across the country. Whirlyball appeals to those who are looking for a way to enjoy a fun and competitive activity with others. Whirlyball will likely continue to grow in the coming years and decades as more people are exposed to it. A businessperson who launches a whirlyball business will likely make a substantial profit that creates the opportunity to open an one or several more whirlyball courts.

Getting Started

What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful whirlyball arena?

This is the type of business that requires a passionate owner. Above all, the entrepreneur should have a sincere interest in this activity. Furthermore, he should be interested in whirlyball's potential to strengthen ties between community members. Whirlyball brings people together who otherwise might not have interacted with one another. The best whirlyball business owner understands and appreciates the game to the point that selling its merits doesn't feel like work. This natural enthusiasm will seep into his daily activities and motivate prospective customers as well as current customers to participate in whirlyball matches.

What are the costs involved in opening a whirlyball arena?

A whirlyball business requires a special electric court floor that typically spans about 4,000 feet. This space also requires bumper barriers along the walls. Plan on spending several thousand dollars at a bare minimum to renovate an existing basketball court or other indoor court to function as a whirlyball court. Securing such a space will likely cost several thousand dollars. Alternatively, you can rent the space on a monthly or yearly basis.

A number of different pieces of equipment are required to play the game. They include whirlybug vehicles, elevated backboards, whirlyballs, and plastic scoops. Such equipment will run about $5,000 to $10,000 or more. Insurance is necessary. Plan on spending several hundred dollars per month for insurance. Other requirements include cash registers, a point of sale system, a website, personnel, and an arena for whirlyball action to occur.

What are the steps to start a whirlyball arena?

Once you're ready to start your whirlyball arena, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:

  1. Plan your business. A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. A few important topics to consider are your initial costs, your target market, and how long it will take you to break even.
  2. Form a legal entity. Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your whirlyball arena is sued.
  3. Register for taxes. You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
  4. Open a business bank account. A dedicated checking account for your whirlyball arena keeps your finances organized and makes your business appear more professional to your customers.
  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.
  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.
  7. Get business insurance. Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
  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.
  9. Establish a web presence. A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.

Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.

Where can I 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.

Recommended: offers video courses and a supportive online community of like-minded entrepreneurs. Try one month membership for for free.

What are some insider tips for jump starting a whirlyball arena?

Whirlyball has not yet saturated the mainstream. It is on the brink of mainstream exposure. So don't panic if the business does not take off right away. It might take several months or even a full year or longer for the business to gain momentum. Be patient.

Growing Your Business

How to promote & market a whirlyball arena

There is no single marketing channel that will inspire the masses to show up at your whirlyball business. However, keying in on web ads and SEO will certainly help. This type of activity appeals to those who are open-minded and willing to try new things. Build a polished website with SEO-laden content and prospective customers will gradually find your business through online searches. It will also help to establish a presence on social media, to create and regularly update a blog, and to invest in inbound marketing methods. Yet traditional outbound marketing methods such as ads in local newspapers, magazines, radio spots and TV commercials will also help increase awareness that a whirlyball business is in town.

Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.

How to keep customers coming back

Key in on marketing the business to groups. Organizations ranging from youth groups to corporations, athletic teams and beyond will be interested in enjoying a whirlyball game. Strive to secure the business of such large groups and you will have no trouble making a profit. In terms of retaining customers, key in on providing high-quality equipment. If whirlybugs malfunction, have them repaired in a timely and thorough manner. The whirlyball court must be kept in near-perfect condition at all times. Make sure your whirlyball games are competitively priced with other local entertainment options like laser tag arenas, go-kart racing, etc.

How and when to build a team

You will need a team right away. As the business owner, you can only do so much. Though you can serve as the manager while the business is in its infancy, staff members will be necessary to handle other duties. Hire personnel to manage the arena's schedule, coordinate and execute marketing efforts, maintain the court and equipment and accept payments.

Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a whirlyball business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.

Legal Considerations

State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a whirlyball 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, check out our informative guide, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.

For information about local licenses and permits:

Certificate of Occupancy

A whirlyball business is generally run out of a large indoor space. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO).  A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.

  • If you plan to lease a location:
    • It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
    • Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a whirlyball business.
    • After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
  • If you plan to purchase or build a location:
    • You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
    • Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your whirlyball business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.

Reduce Personal Liability

Structuring your business as a limited liability company (LLC) ensures your personal assets are protected in the event your business is sued.

What is an LLC?

Form an LLC in 5 easy steps

Earning Potential

How much can you charge customers?

Upwards of $150 or more can be charged for a single hour of whirlyball action. However, the exact amount of money you charge should hinge on a number of different factors. Everything from the cost of other local entertainment options to customer demand and the quality of your whirlyball floor and equipment play a part in determining pricing.

What are the ongoing expenses for a whirlyball arena?

The whirlyball court and equipment must be maintained. Budget in at least several hundred dollars a month for maintenance and equipment repairs. Labor costs will chew up a large amount of money. Clerks will make between $8 and $12 per hour. A maintenance worker will earn between $10 and $20 per hour. You can handle the accounting and marketing duties when the business is first starting out. However, if the business grows, professionals will eventually fill these roles. They will earn between $30,000 and $50,000 per year. The business must also pay for utilities, office supplies, insurance and marketing. Budget a couple hundred dollars per month for marketing efforts. Utilities including high-speed internet will run at least $150 per month. Budget another $50 to $150 for office supplies and other sundries.

How much profit can a whirlyball arena make?

The best whirlyball centers net in excess of $100,000 per month. Extrapolate this figure and it is possible for a whirlyball business to make more than a million dollars in a single year. The whirlyball business's profit depends on the popularity of the activity in the area in which the facility is located. Profit level also hinges on marketing efforts and the quality of the whirlyball court/equipment.

How can you make your business more profitable?

Consider selling food and drinks on-site. It is also possible to make money by adding go-karts, a quarter-operated pool table and/or arcade machines.

Next Steps

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