November 23, 2022
Sports have never been more popular around the world, whether it’s the glitz and glamour of the world’s biggest stars in professional events, or the hard work and achievement of the amateurs at grassroots level. This growth has meant that sport has become an industry in its own right, and countless businesses have emerged to cater for all the needs that sportspeople, clubs and associated entities need.
Naturally, lots of people therefore want to get involved and get a piece of the action. But which business is right for you, and how should you go about getting it off the ground? In this guide, we’ll give you a starting 11 of our favourite sports business ideas and highlight some of the key things you’ll need to consider.
Firstly, it’s the perfect way of combining your work with your passion for whatever sport you love the most. Whether you’re feverish about football, nuts about netball or head-over-heels about hockey, you can find a way of building a business in something you really care about.
Aside from your passion, starting your own business can be an extremely exciting and liberating experience, especially if you’ve never tried to do so before. It gives you the chance to directly influence your earning power through hard work and good decision-making, set your own working hours (within reason!) and free yourself from working for someone else.
To a certain extent, finding out the right sports business for you is limited only by your imagination. However, some business ideas are naturally going to be more viable than others. Ideally, before you start, you’ll be able to establish that there is a good-sized target market for your idea, and that the marketplace isn’t already saturated by other companies who had the same idea before you.
Obviously, there are far too many sports business ideas for us to list them all here, but to give you some inspiration, here are 11 of our favourites which should be relatively practical and potentially viable:
Professionals and amateurs alike need coaching in order to keep their fitness up, maximise their ability, learn new skills and build bonds as a team. Coaching opportunities abound in just about every sport, where you can use all your sport-specific expertise to help your customers achieve their goals and step up to the next level. You can provide coaching either regularly to an individual or team, or occasionally on a more freelance basis.
Fitness is big business these days, and many people prefer to get one-to-one training for a variety of reasons: to take advantage of professional expertise, to give them the motivation to push themselves harder, or simply to keep them exercising because they lack willpower! You can easily set yourself up as a self-employed personal trainer, operating either outdoors in parks, at clients’ homes, or with the right agreement in place, from your local gym.
Whether it’s a big professional event or a local kids’ football tournament, all sporting events need coordinated organisation, and that’s where event management comes in. As an event manager, you can ensure that all arrangements and services are put in place ahead of time, troubleshoot any problems on the day, and help your clients, customers and visitors alike get a positive experience from start to finish.
Every sport requires a certain level of equipment, some more than others: for example, darts requires a board and three ‘arrows’, while climbing and skiing require advanced kit as well as safety equipment. If you can find a way of obtaining a cost-effective supply of sports equipment, then the Internet gives you the opportunity to sell it to competitors at all levels and build a strong e-Business as a result.
Broadcasting and social media content
Becoming involved in sports journalism is no longer limited to working on the TV, on radio or for a newspaper. The age of social media and video platforms like YouTube have changed the game entirely, allowing talented creators to develop their own broadcasts and content, and get them out to audiences all over the world. This self-made model makes it easy to monetise your content and shape your own business model around your content.
Marketing and PR
Connected to the previous idea, sports clubs and organisations big and small are always looking for help with marketing and public relations. Many aren’t big enough to justify a full-time employee for this work, and so outsource it to a third-party agency instead. A good sports marketing/PR operation will incorporate a mix of services, such as writing, design, video content, social media management and advertising strategy.
Gyms are getting more and more popular, and while you might think that means the market is saturated, there’s plenty of scope to grab market share if you can specialise in one particular area. For example, you can focus on weight-related facilities for men and women who want to build strength, or create a female-only haven where women can get fit with confidence. Don’t forget that gyms and exercise facilities don’t have to be full of treadmills and rowing machines: you can also start a centre with open spaces that cater for a range of sports and activities, such as martial arts, yoga or even ballet and dance.
Nutrition and dietary advice
Even the most famous sportspeople in the world still need help understanding what to eat and drink, and when, in order to extract maximum performance from their bodies and minds. So if you thought a sports nutrition business would have to focus on people trying to lose weight, think again: there are opportunities to gain consulting work and devise dietary plans for clients at both ends of the market.
From climbing mountains to rafting down rivers, and from running ultra-marathons to cycling across entire countries, the demand for sports and adventure tourism has never been greater. If you can safely operate trips for groups of customers, provide expert advice to enhance their experience, and organise all their travel and accommodation arrangements, then you have the chance to run a very successful adventure tourism business.
Science and technology are vital parts of modern sport, especially at professional level. The performance, fitness and data of every player in every game are all ruthlessly analysed to spot patterns and make improvements to their tactics or line-up for future games. Good sports analysts are therefore highly sought-after, and those who can demonstrate a good understanding and application of sports analytics are often hired on a freelance basis.
In team sports, all sides are looking to bring through new talent to improve their squads, whether they’re currently playing for other senior teams, or they’re promising young talents about to make the step up. As a result, many are constantly on the lookout for freelance talent scouts who can attend games, observe players in action, send reports back to the team and offer advice on whether they’re worth signing.
As with any business, there are certain hoops you will have to jump through whichever sports business idea you decide to pursue. For starters, you’ll need to register your business (assuming you operate as a limited company) at Companies House, as well as annually filing tax returns and paying tax to HMRC every year. You’ll also need to open a business bank account so that there is a clear line of separation between your own personal finances and those of the business.
You may need premises to run your business if you’re unable to do so from a computer at home. This could be an office, depot or simply a storage unit for goods and equipment depending on your business idea. In any case, the premises will need to be bought or leased, have appropriate taxes paid, and be equipped with utilities like electricity, gas, water and Internet. You’ll also need to make sure the premises are fully secured and insured.
If your business will be more than just you and therefore employing other people, there are extra obligations that you will have to meet as an employer. These include (and are not necessarily limited to) contracts, payroll, health and safety assessments, Employer’s Insurance, and making the appropriate tax and National Insurance payments.
All of this can be covered by writing a business plan before you start. Our guide here covers all the basics of putting this together.
Whichever sports business you decide to set up, you’ll need reliable and comprehensive insurance to protect both you and your company from unexpected events.
At Protectivity, we have a wide variety of sports business insurance policies available to suit almost every sport and every type of business. Our policies can include Public Liability, Professional Indemnity, Employer’s Liability, Equipment Cover and a range of other protections so that you can work in confidence that accidents, injuries and claims won’t result in damaging financial losses.
To find out more, explore all our Sports Business Insurance.