Starting a business is one thing. Building a new vertical in an industry is something entirely different.
Getting a business off the ground may just be one of the most difficult things someone can do in life. Securing enough capital, hiring the right employees, perfecting a marketing plan – the hurdles you have to clear when launching your own business are seemingly endless.
Now imagine kicking it up a notch further. Imagine not just creating your own business but building your own category. Before I started GYMGUYZ, there was no franchise for in-home personal training. It simply didn’t exist. Sure, there were personal trainers selling their services door to door. But I created a company that brought these trainers together under one roof to focus on a specific brand mission: convenient, customized and creative workouts delivered to your home. Here is how to create your own business category and succeed.
Identify a Need
You can’t very well create a new business category unless you have an original idea, but that doesn’t mean grabbing blindly for something new. For many (including me), this is a simple matter of focusing on what you are most passionate about. I loved fitness and training. It was always something I liked and I never considered it work.
I saw a need for change when I noticed early on that many in-home trainers were inconsistent in their services. The lightbulb didn’t turn on, however, until a client who was consistently late to her appointment said she wished I could just come to her house. There was a demand for gym-level experience at home, and no one was delivering it. That’s where the idea for a dependable, franchisable system came from.
Examine the Market
Before you get those entrepreneur wheels spinning at full speed, you need to make sure your idea is truly original. Take the time to see not only if there’s a market for what you’re offering but if someone else is already doing it.
My philosophy has always been to think outside the box, but you won’t know if that space exists unless you carefully research the current market. I began studying demographics and other metrics in specific areas, finding out who had the most disposable income, as well as who was willing to spend it on fitness. From there I was able to focus on a specific consumer profile and create an appropriate price point.
Create a Budget
In my case, it worked out that I had $15,000 saved over the years. When I launched GYMGUYZ, I spent almost everything in one day. The money I had saved for more than two years was gone in less than 24 hours. It left me with a thousand dollars to cover expenses for a couple of weeks.
My business wouldn’t have thrived if I hadn’t carefully laid out my budget ahead of time. Businesses require capital to survive. So make your budget a top priority before making your move. You don’t have to be a math whiz to make it work. Essentially, all I did was figure out exactly how much money I would initially need to get started – from equipment to marketing – and then concentrate on doing it as affordably as possible. At one point I was cutting paper in half so I could double my materials without added cost. The key is figuring out which expenses are absolutely necessary.
If you have an original idea for a new business category, speed should be top of mind. Getting to market first is the difference between being an innovator and being viewed as a copycat. Imitation might be the highest form of flattery, but it won’t do you any favors if you’re too late to the party.
At the same time, speed shouldn’t come at the cost of proper execution. Remember that being first won’t count for much if you don’t do it right. Someone else could come right after you, take your bright idea and do it better.
I began to furiously research online and offline to see if any in-home training franchises already existed. Fortunately, no one had pounced on the idea yet. Once I knew the market was wide open, I realized I needed to strike before someone else came along. However, I didn’t jump in without first conducting detailed research on consumers and planning out my budget.
Prepare to Survive
Each of these steps are vital to success, but this one may be the most important. Even if you do everything else exactly right, times will be tough, especially when first starting out in a new category. You need to be a survivor. In many ways it’s like the best and worst relationship you’ll ever experience, filled with many highs and lows. It’s essential to make sure you’re both mentally and physically able to handle the stress of it all.
When I started GYMGUYZ, I said these exact words: “This is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life.” Many people told me that my business wouldn’t succeed, but I knew there was a demand for something new. Now, the category I started from my parents’ dining room is the No. 1 in-home personal training business in the country. Currently, we have franchises in six states, all experiencing rapid growth and looking forward to territory expansion.
Creating your own category can be done. It just requires the will to succeed. With these strategies, you’ll be able to find the niche you need to make your business successful. It’s not easy, but it’s also not impossible.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
Image credit: CC by Greg Westfall.