When you are thinking about setting yourself up as an independent personal trainer, there are a few steps that you need to take to not only ensure that your business gets quickly off the ground, but that you also meet with all of your legal requirements. Let’s take a look at how to start your own personal training business in our easy to follow guide.
Many people that start up their own personal training business usually start out working as a solo enterprise. However, lots of independent personal trainers experience great success, and then often go on to expand their business to employ others. Whether you are planning to run a solo business, or plan to expand in the future, this guide will be a great starting point to get your business launched.
You need to put a lot of work into making your business a success, but in a lot of cases it hardly feels like hard work when it involves doing an activity that you truly enjoy!
Skills and qualifications
Firstly, do you have the necessary skills and experience to work in this field? To work as a professional personal trainer, you will need to hold formal qualifications that show you have completed some relevant training. Many personal trainers will go on training courses to qualify in general fitness instruction, or choose to focus on more specific skills training, depending on their interests and what fitness services they want to offer to their clients.
Even if you have gone through professional fitness training and gain qualifications in the field, it still doesn’t mean that you will be able to successfully run your own business. You will still need to brush up on your practical business skills such as learning how to manage your bookkeeping and accounts, record you expenses, market your business and sell your services to interested clients.
It is well worth taking a business course to learn all the ins and outs and responsibilities of running a business, including sales and marketing training. Some IT training would also be advisable so you can keep safe electronic records of your customers and comply with current data protection laws.
Avoiding the pitfalls before they happen
The success of a personal training business can often rely on its planning and structural stages. It would be advisable that you have a good business plan in place that you can use as a guide before you launch your business. It can be frustrating because all you want to do is to get out there and start engaging with and working with clients. However, having a good set of plans and goals under your belt before you begin will help you stay focussed. It is better than jumping in without a plan and swimming around aimlessly not knowing in which direction to take your business.
Here are a set of questions to ask yourself before you begin. Only when you can answer ‘yes’ to every single question will you be ready to launch your personal training business.
- Do I understand why my clients would want a personal trainer?
- Do I have a very clearly defined target market or specific demographic that I want to work with?
- Will my niche clients create enough numbers to give me a viable business?
- Have I developed a detailed plan to work from for building my relationship and business with them?
- Am I able to deliver exactly what my clients will most want in the way they want it?
Once you have a detailed plan on paper that cover all of these points listed above, they you will have provided yourself with a blueprint to follow that will ultimately make your business a successful one.
Give yourself a base
So – where exactly are you going to work from? Choosing your work base can actually be quite tricky. There is a lot to consider here. For example, you may be thinking about using your local gym as your work base. After all, you love working out there yourself and you are on excellent terms with the gym manager, who is happy for you to use the gym to train your clients (for a small fee of course).
But what if your client ends up liking the gym more than they like you? What if they ditch you and join the gym themselves? You could be putting temptation in their way.
What if your client is extremely body-conscious. What if the idea of working out in a busy gym scares the life out of them? How is it actually helping your client by bringing them into a stressful environment and then expect them to feel comfortable, concentrate on their training and listen to your instructions if they really don’t want to be there?
Where you operate your personal training business from can be a huge influencer on whether a client decides to take up your services or not. It deserves a lot of thought and the ability to offer alternative options where your client will feel more comfortable.
You could look at training clients from a separate room at your local gym that you can hire for the session. Or you could look at mixing up indoor gym sessions with outdoor sessions at your local park or playing field when the weather is fine.
There may be an opportunity to run lunch-time fitness sessions for local office workers either within an office building, or at a park, church hall or community centre that is close by.
Would the client be more comfortable working out in their own home (providing they have the space to safely work out). If you offer home training, then you may have to look at buying portable training equipment to carry with you for your clients to use. You will also have to factor in travel times and travelling expenses between clients. Narrowing down your area to a manageable size where travel time between clients is minimised will help to save you a lot of time and money.
Create a positive business culture
Every business has a culture. What you need to do is to create a positive business culture by using a set of behaviours that complement your work. This goes back to establishing your work base. For example, if you choose to operate out of a gym where you can get access to gym equipment without having to buy and house your own training kit, but the place doesn’t have a good vibe and you really don’t feel happy working in the environment, then it is not a good way to start out.
Your clients will want three things from you: A good working relationship, consistency, and results. It is going to be difficult to achieve all three if your client picks up on your negative energy about a place, is unhappy to have a regular venue swapped or changed around when they would prefer to have some consistency, and lastly may not see they results they want because they may carry uncertainty or doubt about your delivery.
Plan for client loss
Remember that your personal training clients are not robots. They will often take time off for holidays or illness. Some clients may only hire you for a few weeks before moving on. There can be lots of different reasons to lose clients, so you need to factor at least a 10% turnover of your client base. Never rest on your laurels. You may plan to handle a maximum of 20 clients on your books at any one time, but never assume they are going to be loyal and dedicated to you for the rest of their lives.
With this in mind, you should also determine a cancellation policy and stick to it. Should a client decide to cancel within 24 hours of an appointment with you, then they should be made fully aware that they will have to pay a part of or full cost of the session fee. You may consider sudden illness as an exception in these cases, as well as any family emergency that needs their attention. Decide what is an isn’t an acceptable excuse for cancellation and make sure your clients understand and agree to your policy before they sign up with you.
It is still advisable to perfect your marketing plan and put it into action to keep your public profile high. If you find you are having to regularly turn down clients because you are too busy, then you can safely say that you are a victim of your own success. Now may be the time to expand and take someone on to help you out!
Professional Liability Insurance
This is critical insurance cover for any personal trainer. Many insurance companies offer personal trainer insurance that offers to cover Public Liability and Professional Indemnity, which helps to protect you from claims by members of the public and your clients.
Insurance policies can usually be tailored to your specific needs depending on risk and they types of clients you handle, but it is important that you get enough cover to help protect you should injury or property damage occur caused by you or your clients.
Because you are in a position of authority, instructing adults or children, you can be held accountable for your client’s actions. Therefore, it is important to have adequate personal trainer insurance in place.
Organisation and routine
Setting up systems and following set routines may sound like a pleasure drain, but if you want to have an established business that is viable for the long term, then being organised can greatly ease the load when you are maintaining customer records, marketing your business and chasing up new leads.
Don’t forget that you will need to meet compliance requirements from HMRC regarding your National Insurance Contributions and tax affairs. Deciding early on how you are going to structure your personal training business is crucial, especially if you do plan to expand your business and employ staff in the future.
Registering your company
Whether you plan to run you business on your own, or your long term plan is to hire staff and expand, you would be protecting yourself as well as your personal training business by officially registering your company and going through a company formation.
By registering your personal training business as a Limited Company, you can safely separate your own assets and finances from that of your business. Your business will have its own legal identity, so if anything should go wrong with your business, you won’t lose any of your personal money.
Although being a personal trainer is a fabulous career to have, should you experience a serious accident or sustain an injury whereby it would be impossible for you to carry on your career, being separate from your company protects your finances.
So for example if you have some debts in your company name, maybe for a year’s lease on a building or for a loan to buy fitness equipment, once your business assets are sold off to pay back any outstanding debt, you will not lose any of your personal money having to pay any shortfall that is owed.
It is quite easy to register your own Limited Company when you use a company formations expert such as Your Company Formations. We have been working with Companies House as an approved Company Formations agent for many years. We make the whole process easy for you by dealing with Companies House and HMRC on your behalf, leaving you free to focus on building your personal training business and attracting new clients.
You can find out more here about the benefits of company formation compared to being a sole trader. You can choose your ideal company formation package online here, or you can contact us for more help. We would be happy to discuss your needs.