It isn't rocket science but it can be daunting. Trying to figure out where and how to get started is no easy task if you haven't previously done the research. What type of business is right for you?
Let's say you are a mechanic who is tapped out on earning potential working for someone else, or you just want to venture out on your own. Where do you begin? Many before you have tried a great many things. Some have been successful, some have failed, some have found that going about it the wrong way simply leads to other challenges and road blocks.
Here is how to do it right:
Before you do all that you need to decide what the business is going to be. Are you trying to open a full bicycle retail shop with the whole gauntlet of stuff including service? Are you going for service only? Are you going mobile? What you likely don't want to do is open your shop in your garage if you are trying to do it "right". Many of the companies you want to open accounts with aren't interested in home based businesses. Over the next years that may change as many communities (even here in Austin) are building more live/work spaces. Other older neighborhoods likely do not have HOA conditions that disallow you from doing this, but I can tell you it will be harder to reach your full capacity with ease, though it is not impossible.
A full bicycle shop is likely the most expensive and least profitable for the individual owner/operator, if you have business partners and financing it is possible to be successful but always look at your business needs, your budget and your forecasts before committing your new business to brand debt. You can certainly make headway here but you'll need to be very, very smart about how you build your business.
Mobile is a real draw and offers the freedom of providing service to the customer, moving your business to the demand, there are a growing number of mobile bicycle shops, some even now selling bicycle regularly. Here you'll want to do your research. You don't need a new van and there are great resources available on the various vehicle types. Most distributors and many brands are open to working with mobile as long as you have done your homework, created a proper business and dotted your "I's" and crossed your "T"'s. You will need a ship to address that isn't your home, even though you have a bike shop on wheels, most companies won't ship to your home, you shouldn't expect it. Many storage spaces and even some UPS or Mail stores offer "addresses" and can receive packages on your behalf.
Service only is not a popular option but if done right can be highly profitable. Keeping your rent low is key, find a nice spot on the fringe, don't be afraid of providing service to every bicycle that comes through the door and keep regular hours. Even offer pickup and delivery into the city or neighboring communities. Just like the movies, if you build it they will come.
At the end of the day, your business needs to be a legal entity within the city, state, county, country you are operating within. Those rules are going to vary, even from county to county within the same state. Do your homework and be prepared! Also don't forget to take care of yourself, operating your own business take a lot out of a person, be sure you've included family and downtime for yourself.
When we created A Better Bike Biz we shared this useful information. The link below shows you how you calculate what you need to make every hour you are open. You set the profit margin you desire and work the math from there.... check it out by clicking here
It's a new year and ABBZ wants to push the envelope and see positive change in our small cycling industry. We recently picked up the latest edition of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News (January 2020). Here is what Founder James Stanfill had to say:
Dear Bicycle Retailer and Industry News
I have been in this industry for nearly 30 years, having worked for retailers in and outside of our industry. While in the industry I worked in sales and service, for brands in technical roles and have seen a lot of our industry, including the good and the bad. My experience is not limited to our country's borders…
I have been an avid reader of the magazine both online and print for a long, long time. You have published words I have written and I thank you for that.
In my 30 years, most of the time only a small group of folks knew who I was, or cared about what I had done... mechanics tend to stick together. Since forming the PBMA, my name has been in the news and I have been privy to many discussions, and in these last 4-years I have seen the good and the absolutely terrible.
I was told I made a bad decision because I wouldn't accept what essentially was a bribe to ignore a large segment of the PBMA's audience. This came directly from a former director of everyone’s beloved Interbike tradeshow.
I have been lied to by leaders of companies in our industry that are For-Profit as well as leaders of organizations in our industry that are Non-Profit. These lies directly tied to our freethinking nature and a lack of financial motivation. You have to consider, everyone seems to be always thinking about "what's in it for me". Some of these companies and organizations should really be thinking about how they can foster a better environment for industry success instead of personal gains. Our nature is to put members first, despite the personal sacrifice or lack of cash in the pocket.
The PBMA has been excluded and purposefully ignored because we are freethinking, non-conforming and forward thinking. Those terms and ideals are very scary to organizations, companies and people who absolutely demand control.
The article below is in your January 2020 print magazine page 29, “Through the Grapevine” and references the brand new bicycle industry trade show called the Big Gear Show. A show that your own online survey suggests the dealer base the NBDA is trying so hard to represent simply isn't interest in attending.
There is a comment calling some commenters "petty". I assume this is your Publisher Marc Sani referencing a dialog between myself others and another who were asking serious questions. I’m all for fucking around sometimes but the questions asked by myself and others deserve answers.
When an organization such as the NBDA makes a decision to outright endorse something, a lot of assumptions are made, and some even noted as likely within the comments on that thread your piece references. They are getting paid, they will push attendance – but why, that is all anyone wanted to know. Nobody even asked if they will be "allowed" to attend CABDA, I suppose we will find out in a couple weeks.
Taking money for the simple fact you need money is akin to standing on the curb with a sign.
I am most disturbed that despite an ownership change, the message and vision of your magazine mostly has not. The news at times does not feel unbiased. The constant stark defense of anything the NBDA, People for Bikes or anything referencing Interbike is really disturbing, when the Bike League is simply ignored and CABDA just sort of tolerated.
At times Marc is such a defender that as a reader I can’t help but wonder, why not get out and experience some other things the industry offers? It is now 2020 and our world needs editors and publishers who are connected to the true happening in our retail landscape.
The comment thread on the original article (click here to read the original announcement at Bicycle Retailer and Industry News Online) even included outright defense from the later to-be-announced new show director. Just 10 days later your magazine announces his appointment as NEWS.
It's been explained to me how the website works, things that are announcements go to announcements not to the news reel… this was posted as news and I think intentionally because it’s the old boys club looking after one another once again. Similar things have happened "by accident" on behalf of the NBDA.
My point is, if you’re calling my comments or me petty… how about the guy who is defending a show he knows he runs but from the point of view the he just simply believes in it?
I don’t wish the show any ill will, I just wish as an industry we could be a bit more transparent for the sake of betterment for everyone.
I have to scratch my head and wonder, are we really trying to move forward to better the state of our industry, or are we trying to make sure our pals continue to have jobs and through those pals keep scratching each others backs?
I myself am truly disappointed and will find other sources for true unbiased information. I encourage everyone reading this to do the same.
Owner – Kyle Cyclery
Founder - A Better Bike Biz
President – Professional Bicycle Mechanics Association