Swim Clubs

STEP 1: PREPARATION

The first step is to ask yourself why you want to be a team owner. You will be the focal point of this venture and you need to be very clear about your motives. Why do you want to leave the mainstream and plunge into the unknown?  Secondly, make sure you personally can handle the task: emotionally, physically, socially and financially, before you begin. Be sure to consider family involvement and obligations. Realize that coaching may quickly become secondary to running the business side of your club. The business can become all consuming and success is not guaranteed. 

Here are some preliminary steps you need to take.

  1. Decide what does your picture of success look like. Sharing administrative time with daily “hands on” responsibilities is a challenge. You have to have a personal vision and a passion for your goal. Have a clear picture of where you want to go.
  2. Share the vision. To motivate others to help you succeed, develop a “vision message" that helps people immediately recognize what you offer. Use the “elevator pitch” concept.  If you only have a minute-or-so riding with someone on an elevator, how will you convey your message?  Your vision message has to be a brief, powerful message that's based on the benefit you will offer to your clients.
  3. Do your research. Organizations pay a lot of money to professional consultants to find out what people really want. You can do this yourself by researching and visiting existing businesses and swim clubs. Use the internet for research and get out and talk to people, especially coaches who have succeeded in starting their own businesses. This real-world information will save you time, money and frustration. Also:
    1. Research recent articles written about swim clubs, especially coach owned ventures.
    2. Investigate the marketplace and report the latest trends and best strategies.
    3. Find new resources, outstanding ideas and new contacts that will help you grow. 
    4. Contact your local Small Business Administration (SBA) office, Chamber of Commerce or your nearest SCORE chapter www.score.org/  SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and to the formation, growth and success of small business nationwide.   
  4. Write everything down. Use a log book or daily planner and track all meeting dates, attendees and discussions. This will be a great resource and reference later on.  A sample of things you want to record:
    1. Insurance issues. Have you discovered things for which insurance is either too costly or unavailable? Do you need to revise your planning?
    2. Legal and financial discussions. What have you learned about types of corporate or business structures you are considering? What legal advice have you received on starting and protecting your business?
    3. Record any setbacks or challenges you discover and create action steps to deal with these challenges.
    4. Record new opportunities you discover.
  5. Develop a one page script. You already developed an “elevator pitch” to share your vision. Now develop a more in depth description of what you plan to do. Speak positively about your vision and plan to inspire others to help you succeed. This will help you synthesize your thoughts and plans. In your script:
    1. Confirm your passion and share your past successful experiences
    2. Focus on the benefits you bring to your new venture
    3. Explain why someone would pick your program over another offered in the same area
    4. Show how it will work
    5. Reference where it is now working
    6. Share a brief biography of yourself
    7. Your one-pager becomes the foundation for all of your planning. It can be used to open conversations with all sorts of potential supporters.
  6. Plan to improve your plan. Don’t let your judgment be clouded by passion. Gather your supporters and talk through issues. They can provide honest and objective feedback on how to improve your methods. It's important to obtain feedback early in your planning process.  Open by reading your one-pager and then ask for honest feedback: 
    1. "How can I improve my idea?"
    2. "Is my vision appropriate?"
    3. During the session, keep an open mind and don't defend yourself. Write down every idea. Afterward, analyze the ideas, and keep and implement those that are most useful. Hold additional meetings as necessary.  


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