Starting From Scratch: 10 Steps to Making Your Business Official
Now that you've done the legwork, it's time to make your business official.
In “Starting From Scratch,” in the previous issue of IDEA Trainer Success, we wore ourselves out with figures and calculations to create a livable work schedule and doable financial goals that would lay the groundwork for starting an in-home personal training business. Now that the hardest part of our work is behind us, let’s dive into 10 organized steps you can take to make your business official.
1. Choose a Graphic Designer to Create Your Materials
An important step in creating a strong, recognizable business identity is having a logo designed by a professional graphic artist. Locate someone in your area with an excellent reputation and whose work you like. You can begin your search online or ask other business owners for recommendations. It will cost around $300-plus to have a designer create a few options to choose from after a discussion about what you want your logo to convey. You can then opt to have the artist design a letterhead and envelopes for you.
2. Choose and Register a Domain Name
Since you have determined your business name, now is a good time to choose and register your domain name so that when you are ready to create your website, it is already reserved. Since my business name is so long (“Cross Coaching & Wellness”), I decided to use my personal name for my website, www.kaycross.com. Godaddy.com, an inexpensive and easy site for this purpose, has hosted my website for 8 years. The company has excellent prices and service.
3. Prepare Your Brochure Content
Take a couple of hours one day to write content for a brochure that details you, your mission statement, your training and certifications and a menu of services. Be sure to include your web address and any client testimonials you already have. Have your photo taken by a professional photographer and include that with your bio. Have your brochure designed by your graphic artist and make sure it is eye-catching and tells any potential client what they most want to know. I print my pricing on my brochures, but some trainers and coaches prefer not to.
4. Print Brochures and Business Cards
Now that the content is written and your promotional materials are designed, print what you think you will need for 1 year or less. Start with a small batch of 100 brochures so you can make changes sooner rather than later. When I started by business in 1988, I printed 500 brochures. I wanted to make several changes to my menu of services way before I ran out of expensive printed brochures.
5. Register Your Business “DBA”
Head to your county clerk’s office (or download the forms at the county website) to register your sole proprietorship as a “DBA,” which means “doing business as.” You will need this form when opening your business banking account. My business account is “Cross Coaching & Wellness,” and I can deposit checks with either my company name or my personal name on them. You will also want your company name printed on your checks, credit card or debit card.
6. Open a Business Account
Shop around to see which bank offers the best services and perks for a small business. All I want out of my bank is checks and deposits. I use www.cellcharge.com to process credit cards by phone or online because its prices are the most reasonable I have found. Since I do not have a shopping cart on my website, I do not need the merchant services that my bank provides. However, if you decide to sell your services or products through your website, you will need to ask your bank about the cost of its merchant services. Generally, banks are very expensive for sites that do little online business. Be sure to get all that information upfront before you commit to a bank.
7. Outline Your Training Policies
This step is very important to your future profitability and sanity. I wish I knew in the beginning of my business what I know now. Create a document that outlines scheduling and cancellation policies as well as “tardiness” and no-shows at a client’s home. I learned after my first 5 years or so of business that the “24-hour” cancellation policy was not going to work for me. That made it way too easy for clients to call the day before to cancel (and not be charged) because there was something else they needed or wanted to do. Very carefully think through what you want your policies to be, and enforce them from the beginning. Every once in a while you will need to be generous in extreme situations (i.e., death or health emergency) so that you do not come across as selfish or unfeeling, but in general you need to stick to your guns.
8. Choose Personal Training Client-Management Software
One of the best investments I made in the past 15 years was purchasing a quality client management software package. I use Fitness Analyst by www.bsdiweb.com. It is fantastic software. It provides all the client intake forms I need, the ability to design and illustrate workouts and the ability to generate dozens of reports for clients. I can enter all of their assessment data and print incredible reports. There are many more personal training software packages out there, but this is my favorite.
9. Choose and Create Client Forms
After choosing and installing your client management software, as we discussed in step 8, go through all the forms and questionnaires and choose the ones you will use for new clients. You can then personalize the forms with your own company name, number and website before you send them to clients via email or mail. Make a list of forms you want clients to start with, and make a second list of forms and questionnaires you can use with them later. You do not want to overload people with 20 pages of forms that must be filled out before the very first appointment.
10. Create Your First Business Website
I highly recommend getting at least a basic informational website up and running before you officially open for business. If you know a local website designer who you think does a fantastic job, get a bid on what your site will cost. A five-page site is plenty to get started. I personally designed my first site in 2003 with godaddy.com’s website software. I finally had my graphic designer redesign my brochures and cards in 2009, and she worked directly with godaddy.com’s dream design team to create a new site to match my promotional materials. All my designer had to do was send them the graphics they needed and godaddy.com did an incredible job.
Starting an in-home personal training business from scratch involves a lot of steps. But when you break the process down into chunks and small steps, it becomes much less overwhelming. Making your business look and feel official to you and your potential clients is very important. You do not want to get ready to open your doors without being fully prepared and ahead of the game. I cannot stress enough how important it is to be totally prepared in every avenue. Without that preparation, you will lack the confidence and finesse to start your new in-home training business with a bang! Complete all 10 steps above, and next time we will wrap up the business-building process by spreading the news.