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.


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