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Building Your Business Plan: Finding Success as a CrossFit Affiliate

A CrossFit affiliate gym is a business, and just like any business, you need a plan on how you’re going to turn a profit - this is how CrossFit wants you to do it.

Sam Karoll
July 15, 2022
TLDR;
A CrossFit affiliate gym is a business, and just like any business, you need a plan on how you’re going to turn a profit - this is how CrossFit wants you to do it.

The business plan CrossFit wants you to have is one that keeps you in business, but also one that employs their gym culture guidelines.

You’ll find that while it’s difficult to get started, having a CrossFit gym is one amazing way to heighten your retention rates to something that gym owners only dream of. It’s a culture, not just a gym membership.

So how do you make a business plan that actually embodies what CrossFit wants, while also turning a profit and getting to take Sundays off (if you want)?

That’s what we’re here to discuss. Only you can make your business plan; we’re just going to show you how to get started with it.

What is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a series of documented steps a business plans to take to achieve success, each step outlining another motion closer to the goal. A business’s goal should be growth and profitability (otherwise, it wouldn’t be much of a business).

Business plans include a few key components. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, you should have:

  • Marketing Solutions: Marketing is a constant and consistent effort. If you aren’t marketing, you’re falling behind. Even if your gym is almost reaching capacity, you can always expand (marketing equals money). Your business plan should include the methods you’ll be using to market, whether that’s direct response copywriting, local billboards, YouTube video ads, or what-have-you. CrossFit needs you to have an acceptable website, so one of the best marketing solutions is investing in content for local SEO search results. No matter how you choose to market your gym, it has to be marketed; your mere presence will not sell itself.
  • Financial Planning: Financial planning is all about your current resources, available debt, where you’re spending your money, and how you intend to get it back. Your financial planning stage will include your budget, but we will also include that later in your operation expectations. With a completely brand-new business, you should estimate ahead for the next three to five years. The problem is, your financial situation will change rapidly in that time (for better or worse), so this may not ring completely true, but it does show prospective investors that you’re serious about the future.
  • Operation Expectations: This is where your budget plays into how it’s being used. How is your business going to operate? Write it down. How many employees do you expect to have? Write it down. Make sure everything is laid out so that when you need to access it to tell investors or what-have-you, it’s completely available.

With the minimum of these three things in place, you should have a good foundation for a business plan.

With gyms specifically, operation expectations will define your word-of-mouth marketing, as well as your financial forecast. Pay special attention to these if you want to see the growth you’re hoping for.

Why is a Business Plan Important for a CrossFit Affiliate Gym?

CrossFit is an organization that wants you to succeed. However, they’re staking a brand name on your success. If there’s a negative view of your gym, it could come back on them.

Having a business plan is the best way to say “Hey, this is what you said you were going to do, remember?” and point to operations, financial planning, and other aspects of your business.

Is someone from CrossFit going to just barge in and demand to see your business plan? No, but you should still pay attention to the CrossFit affiliate agreement to understand how it affects them if your gym closes or has a negative view.

Your business plan talks about how you’re going to run your gym and the financial projections behind it, which puts them at ease.

Additionally, any business should have a business plan to discuss how it’s going to run. If a business has no plan, then it has no way to achieve goals. Without goals in mind, there’s nothing to strive for, and the business quickly loses direction.

You need to know where you are and where you intend to go before you can even open your doors; that’s just business basics.

Components of a Business Plan

Every business plan can look different. There isn’t a direct and exact formula, otherwise it would be a copy-and-paste solution.

Investors want to see that your business plan fits you, but there are some important elements that help them make decisions, and these sections can help you devise a better solo business plan as well if it’s just to organize your thoughts.

Executive Summary

Your executive summary serves as the introduction to your plan and summarizes everything within it. Think of this as the highlight, the bit of marketing that actually sells the rest of your business proposal. If I don’t like the trailer, why am I going to watch the entire movie?

This will income your mission statement, what products you’re selling (remember subscriptions/classes are products), and what you’re offering to potential investors for what stake. Mission statements can also include a “why” behind the business model as well, but this has to be short, sweet, and to the point.

Business Description

This section doesn’t mean to simply say “We’re a CrossFit gym”, but rather what your business goals are. What you’re trying to achieve with your current business plan, and information about your target audience.

Your business can be described by talking about the community/income level it would serve, primary products and what demographics they would impact/affect, and what the core of the business is trying to achieve with this.

Market Analysis and Market Strategy

Your target market, what they want, and how much they’re willing to pay for it are all part of your marketing analysis. Talk about the problem that your target audience is facing, how you plan to solve it, and what you intend to do to retain them as customers.

This is where you can go into detail about what your target audience is into, how they’re going to benefit from your solution, and so on. Your strategy should include the expected pool of individuals in that bracket in your city/area so that anyone who views it understands your room for growth.

Sales Plan

Now that you have your market, how are you going to bring your products and brand before them? How are you going to reach them?

This is where marketing and sales meet. This plan can include how you plan on advertising, the pricing plans you intend to use to push sales, and the unique selling position that your brand has over others.

What makes it tick, and why are people going to actually subscribe to your product? What’s in it for them that can be marketed to them? This should all be answered here.

Competition Analysis

You’re not the only gym in the city, and you’re likely not the only CrossFit gym, either. What’s different about you and your brand? You have to analyze the competition to find out what they’re offering, what you’re doing better, what they might be doing better, and find your advantages over them.

Define the areas that you can beat them in, and be sure to outline the ones that you aren’t trying to beat. No one business can be everything to everybody, so don’t try to be. Just sell on those points.

Management and Day-to-Day Operations

This shows if the rest of your business plan is a sustainable model, or if you’re just knocking around in the dark and hoping to find your footing. Daily operations and management will play into payroll costs (the highest cost for any gym), so this is crucial for your business plan.

Service Description

What is your business doing? What’s the service, what’s in the subscription, and what are the additional products?

Essentially, you want to outline your monthly, annual, and class-based subscription packages, and any other way that you make money, whether that’s corporate discounts, after school activity discounts, or whatever you decide to use to structure your service.

Financial Projection and Needs

Financial projections aren’t just a request for investment money that you need right now. It’s how much you anticipate making in your first 3-5 years of owning and operating the business.

This part can take the longest because if you do bring this before an investor, you have to explain how you came to these conclusions. Local market data, your pricing structure, and how you plan to acquire customers (plus your marketing and sales costs) all come into play here.

Process of Developing a Business Plan

Developing a business plan is like building a business, and then dissecting it and putting your findings on paper. You have this big plan for your gym, how you want it to run, and where you want to take the business. Now you have to outline it.

The end goal is a polished report that can be easily read without confusing or boring the reader (yes, even business plans have to be entertaining to some extent). This is how you can start the process:

  • Outline: Create the bones of a business plan. Outline the headings we talked about earlier and anything else you want to add. You’ll fill in the gaps later.
  • Vision: Begin with where the business goals are. Setting the vision and goals ahead of time will help you find the most feasible and reasonable way to get there.
  • Starting Point: Think about where you are now in the business journey. Since goals have been established, this lets you know how you get from A to B.
  • Finances: Poke around and find out how much trainers and front-end staff are going to cost, how many you’ll need, and whether you’ll be renting or buying your gym equipment, then factor those costs in.
  • Tie it Together: You have the main components, now make them make sense, like the pieces of a story.
  • Conclusion: Stories come to an end eventually. How will you write the plan from the introduction and lead the reader all the way to the end and actualize the vision? Write it down.

Can You Have Someone Else Develop a Business Plan for You?

Yes, you absolutely can. There are plenty of business writers who can help you develop a business plan. This process isn’t a simple “Hire someone and they’ll just do it” kind of thing, though.

Building an actionable and attractive business plan is difficult, so you’ll likely meet with a writer for a few phone calls to outline the business, talk about numbers, and then you’ll let them do their magic. It’s always helpful to writers to have all data and information available so you can pass it over to them.

The benefits of outsourcing this, even though you’re the one with the information, is that it frees up your time to actually begin the business the way you want to. Writers are also experienced in writing successful business plans/proposals, whereas this might be your first rodeo. It helps to have someone knowledgeable helping you out.

Designate How Your Business is Going to Operate

You have to turn a profit to keep the lights on, and the way that CrossFit wants their affiliate gyms run is actually a great way to do that.

When you make a business plan, whether it’s for potential angel investors or just so you have a beacon in the night, make sure it’s thorough.

Beyond planning your business, CrossFit also has a ton of other information on how to run your gym and retain your members. We break down every aspect of the CrossFit Affiliate Handbook right here on PushPress, taking a deep dive into every element that goes into one of the greatest fitness businesses in modern history.

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Sam Karoll

Sam is our Community Manager for PushPress. He also owns and operates Xplore Nutrition, a personalized nutrition coaching service designed "for your lifestyle and goals by a Coach who's always available."

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