Tuesday, 26 January 2016

How To Start Your Bike Business On A Shoestring

So you want to work for yourself, as you don't enjoy your job and you want a better financial future. You know that you are simply not where you want to be right now and figure there must be something better you can do.

Owning a Mobile Cycle Repair business or bike shop is more then trying to making huge profits, its a lifestyle thing.

But you have no money or very little, then you need to be very creative with your thinking!

It's what I did! I had the enthusiasm to make it work. Do you?

While passion is what you need to drive your business setup and run it, you also need to be business minded. Reality is; passion alone will not put food on the table.

I am all for people wanting to work for themselves.
But if you don't get it right you could fail at the first hurdle.
The first question to address when considering starting a mobile bike business is, is it right for you?
"Understanding basic mechanics and how a bicycle functions is helpful" as well as being a rider that has a lot of experience on the bike and knows the products, will tend to give you a niche and will generate trust quickly within the local cycling community. An open mind is the key to succeeding, you can look at things in a different way. Look at it from a customers point of view and work it in to your vision. As with bicycles there are many types and styles for every cyclist and your business model needs to fit in with that. You also need to think of your businesses future, as your business will need a lot of money to successfully develop and if starting on a shoestring it will come from your profits!

I had 6 BIG advantages in my favour before starting this business, I had experience of working in a bike shop, I had mechanical skills, I had run a mobile car repair business for 10 years, I had very little money, but I had no debts (Only the house hold monthly bills) I had contacts in the bike trade and met lots more when I started, who have been very helpful and supportive, I was determined to do something different, that I enjoy and so can you, with what ever your background, that you come from. Those people coming from outside of the cycle industry can bring with them a different approach and fresh ideas.

I also take risks! "I call them calculated risks" And I am always willing to learn.
I called my job and I still do "a working holiday"
I had an interest in this business model, I like working with my hands, working outside, meeting people and talking bicycles.
Looking back "I did not worry about the money, I just made it work" I enjoyed getting this business of the ground and back in 2008, it was the big financial crises!

You first need to ask yourself;
  • Is this something you want to do for the rest of your life?
  • Will it be ok to have a go and then you fail?
  • If you have a partner or family member(s). Will you have their support?
  • What advantages/skills do you already have to make this business work?
  • What will make your business different?
  • How will you pay your monthly outgoings at the beginning?
  • Do you consider the way you live your life is organised? By that I mean you know how much money you need to earn each month to pay bills and these bills are paid on time. You use a dairy to organise you day to day life. You like to get things done one at a time, you even make a list of what needs to be done or do you try and multitask and don't finish anything you started. If not you need to think twice before starting any business.
The mobile bicycle mechanic at a Dr Bike event in 2008
Back in 2008 when I first started, I soon found out that my van "The mobile workshop" was way too small. After only a few months of starting my own business, I had to sell my van and buy a much bigger one. It turned out to be a turning point in my business, along with building Cycle Tech UK The network of mobile mechanics, that led to my success. It gave those who joined our network "Business Tools" to give not just mine, but each member's business the right start-up and support every successful business needs.
Those "Business Tools" allowed each members business to tap into our resources:
  • Business listing - easy for customers to find their nearest bicycle mechanic
  • Branding - recognised as offering quality service with value for money
  • Corporate clients - being part of our national network, means we are ideal for mechanical support for cycle events, online bike sale businesses for offering bikes builds and warranty for on-line bike sales.
  • Trade accounts - Cycle Tech UK has become recognised in the bike trade and each member now has their own wide range of trade accounts available to them.
  • Extra mechanical training - Discounts available for advanced training with recognised industry certificate. Also in house training available and day with a lead Cycle Tech UK member with mechanical & business setup (What the training schools don't show you)

As with any good business idea, going alone there are only a few who struggle through with sheer determination and finally make a living from their business.
Even with cycling continuing to grow there is no guaranties you will make your first 12 months, let along make a living from, especially doing it on a shoestring.
In this business we now see more mobile and bike shops opening, then within 12 months not to be seen. Its the same with many types of business, landscape gardeners, gardeners, taxi drivers, learner driver instructors and many more, where people think they can start a business and make lots of money.
"You need to look and think like a professional" 

Start Your Bike Business On A Shoestring TODAY
This is just an outline of what you should be looking at, there are so many more things to think about. The type of person to do this will no in themselves if they can do it or not! 

The 5 Key areas are:
  1. Planning
  2. Funding/investment
  3. The Setup
  4. Running your business
  5. Sacrifices

1. The Plan
Planning ahead is crucial to any business. Always start with pen to paper and write down your ideas.
Where can you cut back on without effecting a professional service?
  • Having mechanical skills - Are you already a bicycle or car mechanic?
  • Tools - If you are already a mechanic the chances are you have a basic set of tools?
  • A van to work from - Do you have a car you can change to a van?
  • If you don't have mechanical skills, you need to plan how and when you will achieve this.
  • Work in a bike shop for a year and have your training paid for.
  • Research - your proposed working location, what bikes shops are near by and what bikes are they selling. Is there a large cycling community.
  • What's going to make you stand out from the crowd?
2. Finances
No good starting any business if you have personal debts!
  • 1st have you personal monthly outgoings to the minimum, check you back statement(s) for monthly outgoings and see where you can cut back on. Pay off any loans and credit cards and have the best deal on your mobile phone and internet provider. Do you need a home landline?
  • If starting on a shoestring you probably wont have money available to cover your personal outgoings for the first 3 months.
  • What do you know about cash flow? Crucial to any successful business - How will you achieve having cash flow? You will need a minimum amount of money in your bank account each month to cover costs of running your business and paying yourself a monthly income (Don't forget to set aside a fixed amount each month to pay Tax (First year should be zero from business set up costs) and business insurance each year. Also van maintenance!). This is a ideal business to run, (If not abused) as customers pay when work complete and customers can pay up front for any special ordered parts. Having trade accounts will also give you a few days before paying, giving time to complete most jobs and for payment to clear.
  • Have a part time job for say the first 6 months to cover personal expenses, while you are building your business. It will mean working long hours and being flexible with your own time.
  • Is there any funding or support available? for training or business setup!
  • The biggest challenge is raising the money to fund the project - Start by going to the bank first with a solid business proposition. Try a specialist broker and look at local government funding. The cycle trade is quite hot at the moment and people are willing to invest, as long as its in the right business model. By joining Cycle Tech UK you can present our proven system and strong identity.
3. The Setup
Make a list of what is required to setup your business
  • Buy seconded hand tools. (Not good idea to skimp, as this is where you will be making your money from) Do contact me from time to time I have sets of used tools available or know who is selling.
  • Buy parts as you need online or have a relationship with your local bike shop. "see cash flow"
  • Open a separate personal bank account for business as a sole trader for free banking, providing you don't go overdrawn.
  • Cycle Tech UK have details of an insurance company that specialises in mobile service.

    4. Running your business
  • What are the costs of running your business?
  • What can you cut back on?
  • Multitasking does not work. Do one thing at a time and do it well - How will you organise yourself?  
  • There are many people that have started a business on a shoestring and become wealthy from it. But it can also be entering into the unknown. Be prepared by knowing how best your business can run and the pitfalls.  
5. Sacrifices 
  • Where managing your time and making sacrifices are key to getting your business running.
  • If you don't know how to do something, that will make your business a success and not willing to learn how or feel the time is best used elsewhere. Then I am a great believer you need to pay someone for their knowledge and help. As long as its an investment to the long term growth of your business.
Why not start your bike business under a name that has been doing this for over 9 years?

Cycle Tech UK are looking for those who have £15k to invest and start a professional business. Whether from savings or from a loan. There are conditions that would need to be met, especially those who wish to borrow:
  • Your current mechanical skill level
  • Your proposed working location
  • Living within your means - no payday loans or credit card debts.
  • A must for health, fitness and cycling is required.
Our network will give you all the business information and support
  • Invest your money in the right areas
  • Our network has a wide range of trade suppliers you can tap into
  • Stock and tool lists
  • Advanced training, discounted for our Members
  • Insurance specialists for mobile business
  • Run your own business under our branding (Subject to basic terms) and run it how it suits your dream ideas.
  • You don't feel alone with our setup & backup business support.
  • Technical support from a network of successful mechanics who have entered this business from all types of background.

If you want the freedom of being your own boss but with the support of a national network, working in one of the fastest growing leisure sectors please do get in touch with Martin Wilkins at 
martin@cycle-tech.co.uk for an information brochure.


Tuesday, 19 January 2016

London Bike Show -Thursday 11th Febuary @ ExCel

A great opportunity to meet me at this years London Bike Show

Take your dream of starting your own bike business to the first step of becoming a reality.

Email martin@cycle-tech.co.uk your interest and I will let you know an available time for a chat about starting your bike business or growing your existing business.

We are less then a month away from this years show and there will be over 300 brands that will be exhibiting at the UK's Largest Cycling Show

The official site is at www.thelondonbikeshow.co.uk for tickets and view brands & Stands.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Who needs bicycle sales anyway?

It's always nice to meet like-minded people and who recognise our business as part of the growing bike trade.

This week I met Duncan Moore, the Editor of the new Cycle Trade Magazine.
Who are promoting and supporting those in the bike trade and not just the well-known high street names. But also those who do something different to bring in more customers, promote cycling and know how keeping active with these new ideas brings in more revenue all year round.

Cycle Tech's UK main business is service & repair, though we do sell bikes, it's not important to our business for survival. While winter can be a quiet time for those is the bike shop, (especially the traditional bike shops, that are jam packed with new bikes for sale). January is proving to be our second profitable month of the year, for many mobile mechanics time & time again. With repairs, servicing and the fitting of parts to those jobs, to be the main core work at this time of year. The turnover of jobs is less than the summer period, but Cycle Tech UK find our main profitable work this time off year that our mechanics are doing is fitting more parts to each job they see. From the harsh winter weather, that plays havoc to wheel bearings, bottom brackets, cables, tyres, chains & cassettes. (Not to mention - Cleaning and degreasing bikes this time of year which is all chargeable) It's more of doing an "overhaul" then doing service and gear adjustments. As more people are cycling and doing more mileage, all year round and not unusual for all these people to own 3 or more bikes!!!!
Also many new bikes are fitted with poor quality parts to help keep the costs down. Those parts are "un-serviceable" that are hidden such as wheel bearings and bottom brackets. With replacement being the only answer with better quality to help keep the bike running smoothly and help keep any breakdowns to a minimum between servicing. So all those last year's models brought from September onwards, will require parts changing after only 3 months of use.

Specialized carbon bike just over 3 months old. No sign of
water ingress, just poor quality BB. Replaced with Shimano.

"There are still quiet periods, but generally it can be one of our best months"

Cycle Tech UK also offer other services that work well as being a mobile setup which helps to fill in the gaps of those quiet periods. WithCycle Event mechanical support, we work with some of the big names across the UK.
Teaming up with ParkTool School, with many of our Cycle Tech UK Members have become instructors and offer 1/2 day bicycle home mechanics school
Our Dr Bike and cycle clinics, work well for both our Members and with promoting more people to safe cycling. (Ensuring bike is in safe road use).
As for bikes sales, Cycle Tech UK offer new bikes, mainly to those bikes that have been condemned due to not being cost-effective to repair. Cycle Tech UK also work with each customer, to their needs, especially when it comes to Custom Bike Builds, from choosing the frame to components for the style of ride and use.   
But then there is always the bike in a box assembly, for those customers who choose to buy online and we work with online bike sale businesses, offering a backup support for warranty & repair work, keeping their customers happy and less returns. Many customers also like to have their bike sorted/ready for when the weather improves. The list can go on with the work/jobs available; frame swops, wheel building, replacing spokes, suspension service, disc brake service/replace/setup, bike setup/fit.
We also have mechanics who teach cycling/training, turbo/spinning classes as "add-ons" to their business, some have already been doing this before they started their bike business, which has given them a customer base. With the right mind-set, training and Cycle Tech UK's setup you can achieve more........

"Well my winter bike could do with a bit of attention on the groupset area. Been meaning to get this looked at for ages, so this may be the excuse I need. In particular one of the shifters has a bit of a rattle and the gears are a bit off. I fitted a new chain last week so mainly all ok - If you need to give him any prewarning it is a Specialized Allez with Tiagra groupset" ~ Typical comment from a customers friend who has recommended me to, now I have booked their repairs in at the same time!

Increased confidence for Cycle Tech's Members. Being part of a Cooperative helps achieve our common needs and aspirations of its members, sharing, supporting, being more visible that brings referrals with more opportunities & Increased business.
From Duncan Cycle Trade Magazine:

"Despite the fact that the first issue of CYCLE-TRADE will be heading to the printer in a little over a week, I’m still finding time to get out of the office once or twice a week meeting old friends and making new ones in the bike world.
The one constant in many of these meetings is that businesses which rely on bicycle sales are in the doldrums, but those that have other revenue streams are seemingly unaffected. Further evidence of that trend came earlier this week when I had the chance to meet Martin Wilkins the founder of Cycle Tech UK, a mobile cycle repair operation.
Cycle Tech UK is not only enjoying consistent levels of work, and therefore revenue, it is also growing as it looks to expand its national network. Here’s a business that has not followed the traditional route of opening a bricks and mortar store, and like lots of potential internet retailers before him, because he didn’t have a regular shop when he started, Wilkins struggled to get trade accounts. Now, however, his business has the buying power to negotiate deals with the main distributors. To me, it’s another example of how at times the bicycle trade can be its own worst enemy failing to support new business ideas simply because they don’t follow old-fashioned examples; no shop equals no trade account. Maybe it’s time to accept that the retail environment is changing and adapt accordingly?
Have a good week,

Friday, 1 January 2016

I’d Start Right Now (Given Unlimited Time, Money & Resources)

Is 2016 The Time You Turn Your Passion For Cycling Into Your Own Business?

With Cycle Tech UK you can build a successful Bike Business TODAY and be part of the elite!
 Do not feel inspired at your place of work - Then you can get the motivation with the right planning to build your own bike business and be inspired by our technicians/entrepreneurs who have already made their dream a reality.
What's stopping you from your dream? Your idea?
The Problem: Many people who would embark in to mobile bike business lack the confidence to operate in a self-unemployed environment. This stems from a lack of business & customer skills and knowledge of basic mechanical techniques.

The Solution: Attended hands-on cycle mechanical training, develop your customer skills and product knowledge. Join our Network of mobile bicycle mechanic specialists "Cycle Tech UK" and have the backup of a brand, marketing with business setup help and technical support from the leading mobile bicycle repair network in the world.

The Result: More people who feel able to tackle mobile bicycle repair business, can operate efficiently once their journey has begun.

Why You're Not Doing It: You are not qualified to fix bicycles, you have never been self-employed and you are yet to be convinced that the demand is actually there........

Don't know what direction to go or where to start?
Cycle Tech UK has done all the groundwork:
You can start your new business today by joining our network. It will give your business the start it needs to become professional and profitable. Based on our early success it's clear that cyclists are seeking a new and better way to have their cycle's serviced.
Cycle Tech UK knows the advantages and disadvantages of this business:
  • Why some people fail - Did not follow plan, poor money management, didn't organize themselves, especially by trying to multitask = major cause of errors and mistakes. Did not market themselves, poor customer skills, their working area (Remote or poor area) the size of  their van "The Mobile Workshop" was to small.
  • Why some people succeed more then others - While there is a small percentage of people failing, as in any business, there are also people who are a cut above the average business. By planning ahead, having a start date to open their business, they also get involved with Cycle Tech's network, they ask questions, they look professional, they promote Cycle Tech UK's branding, they go the extra mile, being organized, have good customer skills, further their mechanical skills with more training and researching, they have good product and supplier knowledge, they make notes, they know how much to charge per job, they don't look for excuses, but they find a way to deal with every situation to become more efficient without cutting back on quality of service. Have the correct tools for the job and a large stock of parts built-up over time. They look at a new way of doing business, know how to keep ahead of competition and any market changings. Also they enjoy their job!
  • Disadvantages - Working in the cold wet - Solution; By having a larger van with an awning and an area inside/work bench to strip down hubs, wheel builds, small jobs with small parts etc....Having an electric hook-up, for lighting and a heater. In quite winter periods - with your first year being quite. - But once established there will still be quite times, followed by very busy times with jobs that require more parts replacing due to winter use.
  • Risk - There is a risk when you start any business and many of those who want to try are fearful. But the permanent job doesn’t offer the security it used to either. Planning is key to succeeding, along with investing money and time in the right areas. Cycle Tech UK can share with you our knowledge and inside information to minimise risk. If you are thinking "what if " and you are not willing to find a solution then maybe owning your own business is not for you.
  • Types of people best suited to join Cycle Tech UK - The demand is overwhelming and we are looking for  hard working and motivated people, with the ability to learn new skills. Who are like minded and want to be involved with our network, promote our branding with a passion for cycling and all things bike is a must.
  • Why mobile - Be your own boss, low setup costs, high returns after year 1 and beats working in an office. By offering a unique service experience for cyclists across the UK and convenient for cyclists who have a busy lifestyle. Making it easier for cyclists not having the hassle of taking their bike(s) in the car to the bike shop and then having to return to collect, customer has more flexibility & choice, 1 to 1 working with customer face to face - makes point of sale easier then over the phone, customers feel they have value for money. Working in your local area, you will be part of the community with less time travelling. Enjoy meeting cyclists from and enjoy a great living doing what you enjoy.
  • Benefits of Cycle Tech UK - Cooperative of likeminded mechanics who support each other, unlike a franchise. A smart alternative offering a professional, friendly service. Business setup & support, access to a wide range of diverse trade suppliers. Known brand and Networking is good for any business. The challenge and rewards of starting up and running a business provide independence and fulfilment that you just can’t get in your day job - With a variety of different clients you’ll have an ever changing business environment.
  • Growth - Will come with confidence, repeat & new customers from word of mouth, product knowledge, further training, stock level increase - enabling more first time fix and more sales. After 2 - 3 years of hard work building your business, you can learn to say no to jobs and cherry pick in the summer months. There are many clients/cyclists for you to go after, cycling and the sport is growing.
    “I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.” ~ Jim Carrey
Many areas available that have high demand for bicycle repairs:
Including Aylesbury, Basingstoke, Birmingham, Brentwood, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Chelmsford, Harrow & Uxbridge, Henley, High Wycombe, London all areas, Maidenhead, Marlow, Milton Keynes, Newbury, Oxford, Poole, Reading, Swindon, Slough, Southampton, Watford, York And many more locations.................

What's stopping you?

If you want the freedom of being your own boss but with the support of a national network, working in one of the fastest growing leisure sectors please do get in touch with Martin Wilkins at martin@cycle-tech.co.uk for an information brochure.

Now Is The Time To Turn Your Passion For Cycling Into Your Own Business
“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So. . . get on your way.” ~ Dr. Seuss