Start with a plan, then do these other things.
I first had the idea to start my fitness apparel business over 5 years ago, but it didn’t come into fruition 4 years later.
Looking back on the struggles – a lot of time wasted could have been avoided, but it was a learning experience and has been the inspiration for what I would like to talk about.
In 2014, I discussed my business idea with a friend, and I was directed to Alibaba. I spent some time on the site, was overwhelmed, life took over and I forgot about my business idea. Every time I was asked about this fantastic idea – because I was so excited about it and had gone into great detail when describing it – but I had absolutely nothing to tell whoever asked.
A couple of years later, I got the opportunity to travel to China and meet manufacturers. After I returned home, you’d think I kicked off my business… the story is different.
Again, there was a lull. Nothing happened. I continued with my personal training business and online services.
Nothing literally happened until I met my mentor who literally forced me to put together a business plan, because he’d observed that what had been holding me back was fear of the unknown. I had no business plan, which meant I had no idea how much I needed to start the business and I was subconsciously avoiding the entire thing. What a waste of time!
Once I got the plan together, things moved really fast. I was able to show the potential of the business and the plans for growth. It had gone past talk, to a solid plan on paper. The loan I had no idea how I’d get was mine in a short time and I placed my first order with my manufacturers… and the rest, as they say, is history.
At this point, it’ll be safe to say that I have got the information that can lead me to share some tips on financing your fitness product/idea:
Write a Business Plan!
Don’t do anything else before you do this. In my case, I wasn’t able to move forward without a business plan. With a business plan, you will be able to share your vision, define your goals clearly, and detail how you plan to achieve these goals. It brings your brilliant and exciting idea to life, and shows the direction you intend to take the business.
Without a business plan, you won’t be able to convince companies or individuals to grant you a loan or invest in your business. Don’t expect to start making a profit immediately, include business costs in your plan.
Get a Mentor or Advisor
Again, in my case, there was no growth until I got a mentor who guided me and explained the pertinence of a business plan. Not only will a mentor help and advise, he/she will help you stay accountable. You set your business goals with them and have someone to keep you in check, and make sure you keep working hard.
Mentors could lead you to sources of funding you probably didn’t know existed – all because they’ve spent more time in that market than you.
Your mentor should be someone who either runs a successful business in your industry, or an experienced business owner in a different industry.
Find The Money
Get Help From Family
Not everyone has this option but to those who do, take advantage of this blessing. One tip I’d give in this situation is to show the family member(s) your plan and propose a plan to repay the loan.
There are private individuals who want to invest in start-ups, unlike most investors who aren’t prepared to take the risk. An angel investor is usually wealthy and willing to provide capital or funding, sometimes in exchange for equity.
Having a network and mentor will go a long way in helping you locate an angel investor.
Banks or Companies
Banks are increasingly providing low interest loans for start-ups. An increasing number of companies are also getting involved in offering loans, and sometimes grants to start-ups.
It is important you do your research and compare rates on loans, note when they expect repayments. Some companies run competitions to award start-ups with cash prizes to invest in their businesses.
Don’t Be Idle
Before you get funding, start with something, no matter how small it is. I kept myself busy as a Personal Trainer, my profile as a fitness expert and grabbed opportunities that came my way to lead at fitness events, be featured on TV shows and being active on social media. For a short while, I bought a small stock of activewear and sold them on social media. This added to my credibility both to potential lenders and customers.
All of the above start with a solid business plan. So, start writing and turn your business idea to a promising product or business.
Adura has a BEng in Electronic Engineering & Computer Science. She found her passion for fitness over ten years ago and got certified as a Personal Trainer. She is the CEO of DBG Active – which focuses on making fitness accessible to as many people as possible.