14 Small-Business Ideas for the Sports Fan

rsz_computerwithphone by Tim Parker on December 10, 2012
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Many successful small businesses start out as hobbies or recreational activities. Sports fans in particular can find ample ways to turn their passions into profitable ventures.

Here are 14 sports-related small-business ideas to consider:

1. Sports apparel — Chances are, your community is full of amateur sports teams. All of these teams need uniforms, and the players’ friends and families will likely want to purchase fan gear and spirit items to show their support.

2. Youth sports photography — Yes, camera phones have evolved, and many take above-average photographs. But nothing beats professional shots of an athlete in action. Parents will often pay for pictures of their children scoring that winning goal, making that basket, and even hitting that out-of-the-back-end-of-the-park foul ball. Build a business on taking action shots at youth events.

3. Golf equipment cleaning — Golf is an expensive hobby, and many players are willing to spend big bucks to gain a competitive edge. If you live near a golf course or in a golfing community, consider starting an equipment cleaning and maintenance business. Even better, make it mobile, so customers don’t have to come to you.

4. Fitness boot camp — Extreme sports are a fast-growing niche. Fit Body Boot Camp and Operation Boot Camp are two of the many franchises capitalizing on the boot camp style training craze.

5. Boxing gym — Along with extreme sports, combat sports such as mixed martial arts and kickboxing have exploded in popularity since the Ultimate Fighting Championship has gained popularity. Open a boxing gym to capitalize on this trend.

6. Walking tours — Combine fitness and scenery. If you live in a tourist destination well-suited to walking, consider offering tours on foot. Providing active travelers with an experience that fits their lifestyle can pay off. For more rugged and adventurous clients, you might consider overnight hiking tours, too.

7. Indoor playground — Parents love ways to entertain (and exhaust) their children. You could open your own indoor playground or become a franchisee for a company such as Under the Sea Indoor Playground or BounceU.

8. Canoeing instructor — Or any instructor for that matter. If you have a talent and passion for a certain sport, introducing it to novices can be rewarding in many ways. Allow for group and individual lessons, if applicable.

9. Massage/physical therapy — Athletes get hurt, and sometimes relief for aching muscles is priceless. These are specialized fields that in most states require a license.

10. Health & wellness consulting — Companies are always looking for ways to cut health-care costs and decrease sick days. If you have expertise in health and wellness issues, consider working with companies in your area giving seminars and coaching.

11. Fantasy sports — Who’s on your fantasy team? The fantasy sports craze has exploded in size, and companies are finding success serving this demographic. One company offers insurance if a player gets hurt; other companies offer specialized research and recommendations. Go to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association to find a list of some of the many businesses that serve the fantasy sports market.

12. Driving range — Whether you buy an existing location or start from scratch, a driving range can keep you close to a sport you love and provide income for much less than the cost of a golf course. Keep it basic (buckets and balls), or add food, arcade games, and activities for the kids, depending on your interests and budget.

13. Race organizer — Runners and race walkers could make a business of putting together 5Ks, 10Ks, and half and full marathons in their area. Often a local company organizes, advertises, and provides equipment for these events.

14. Paintball/laser tag site — Did you think paintball was a fleeting fad? Convinced that laser tag has seen better days? Hardly! If you are into either of these sports, you know both have loyal followings that are always looking for places to play.

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Tim Parker is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.

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