How to Start an Online Sports Business


There are nearly 12,000 professional athletes in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  This may give the impression that even top collegiate athletes carry a relatively low probability of becoming a pro in their sport and turning their passion into a career.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t make a living in sports or start a successful online sports business. The sports industry remains to be a lucrative one, with plenty of room to carve out a career niche in one of any number of sports-related businesses.

Even if you’re not overly athletic, starting up your own online sports agency or one of a plethora of other online sports-related businesses is a good way to make a career in an industry that is something you enjoy.

Below we take a look at some ways to pull this off.

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Who can start an online sports business?

There is no need to be a former athlete or have any familial ties to break into sports management. Sports is a business, and there is no mystical formula that will help you to break into the industry. But there are certainly a few steps you can take to get you on a success path to a sports management career.

Your first step should be to gain as much knowledge of the industry as possible, either through education or experience. Most colleges and universities offer sports management degree programs, with courses that include sports marketing, law, business and finance. But there are also online sports business courses, podcasts, blogs, books, and tutorials on how to start. 

Finally, use the available social media platforms to your advantage, and join whatever professional and student organizations that can help you build relationships along the way. Networking can help you to find exactly where you can merge your passion with where you fit in with respect to the business at hand. 

Learn more: 27 online networking tips from entrepreneurs (mega-guide)

By building up as many connections as you can, the better you’ll be poised when you forge off to take on your own online sports business, and provide you valuable insight and connections to help you succeed. Your network can be key to discovering the next facet of your venture – finding your niche. 

Ideas/niches for online sports business

Ideally, prior to your enrolling in any degree program to start your sports management career, you would have identified your niche, or at least have an idea of what direction you’d like to take in the sports industry.

From starting your own sports agency to working to improve existing sports equipment to a host of other types of business, the sports industry affords countless opportunities. Below, we’ll touch on a few ideas.

golf business ideas

 

E-commerce 

With the hassle now involved with heading to a brick and mortar retailer, the convenience of having click and ship ordering, along with 24/7 availability has made online shopping an easy choice for the average shopper. This opens a host of opportunities for the sports enthusiast to venture into an online store. 

For example, if you have a passion for fishing, look into selling bait, tackle, and other types of angling supplies through a dedicated website. Golf enthusiasts can venture into the equipment market, from selling the best clubs to clothing lines online

But trends change quickly, so it’s important to dedicate attention to when they do and how to address them. Keep track of the various site algorithms, how listing information is coded and eventually displayed. When running a 24/7 business, the need for around-the-clock availability to address customer concerns and questions in a timely manner, as well as resolving various logistical issues need to be a priority.

Online coaching

If you’re more ambitious, get together with local teaching professionals and open a clinic providing lessons and instruction, either online or in person. Most coaches and students have seen online learning as inferior or a lesser version of the “real thing”, but as the trends have caused huge advances in online learning across all spectrums, it’s no different in sports.

Certainly, you can’t give an online golf lesson the full impact that an in-person, on the range lesson would. But there are now literally thousands of online courses and lessons for golfers, as well as many other sports. With the growth of online coaching, there’s no need to blaze the trail in your sport, so check out those who are successful at doing similar lessons and try and follow suit.

Retail

While it’s the most obvious niche, retail is typically not the path those looking to start a sports business should take. Online sporting goods retailers have been around since the earliest days of e-commerce, and the field is tightly packed as well as highly competitive.

The prices that small operations would have to charge to create a margin necessary to make a decent profit would likely be outside the range to remain competitive.

Unless retail and e-commerce are your passion or you have a unique product that can outsell any competition, the other areas of online sports business are probably a better path to take.

Sports blogging/journalism

For those who have an interest in sports blogging/journalism, you can start up a sports magazine, newspaper, or blog. Simply by the nature of sports, there is a high percentage of people who read and buy sports news, and by writing about it you can develop a following of readers and viewers, who have a similar interest.

After developing a strong following, advertisers and sponsors can start to notice your blog. This will add potential revenue sources to keep your publication afloat and profitable.

Sports promotions

If marketing and promotions are your thing, sports promotions businesses are a very popular path. Any boxing fan knows who Don King is, as he is likely the most famous and successful sports promoter in history.

Of course, you’re not going to want to start your business competing with a world-class promoter, but all you really need is some local support from your community.  You can choose to promote sporting events in your area and attract some of the best skills there. 

Profitability promoting sports can take some time and you’ll likely be spending more than you’re taking in for a while. But if you are consistent and willing to take the time to grow your operation it shouldn’t be long until you start to turn a profit. 

Promotional items

By marketing promotional items for interested organizations, you can be making money with little investment. By helping companies who are manufacturing sporting goods or clothing to promote their wares, you can assist them in getting new products recognized and you’ll get a return as long as people are patronizing their goods.

Tip: While finding your niche, keep in mind the basic business principle of finding out the needs of your market. If there are a host of others providing the same services, either online or in-person locally, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle attempting to gain their business.

Digital tools for managing an online sports business

We are now in an increasingly complex digital media environment. Websites, smartphone apps, and user interactive devices are used by every business expecting to compete in today’s marketplace.

Here are the things you’ll need to get your online sports business out into the digital world and communicate with clients.

online sports business ideas

Website

For an online sports business, the very first step is building your digital presence on the web.

With lots of DIY web builders, you can have a website up in just a day or two. Before launch, make sure to fill your site with lots of relevant content (your services, blog, contact, social media etc.) according to your sports niche.

Once your site is ready, spread the word either through organic SEO, ads, or ideally the combination of both. Outsourcing your SEO is a good option for beginners and non-techies. 

Learn more: 5 website builders for small business that put you first 

Social Media

The current popularity of social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram has come from the function of people power. The digital era has created the ability to advertise along with creating brand awareness to attract buyers. 

People of all ages are now connected on social media in some way, shape, or form, so figuring where Millenials and GenZ are going compared to the Baby Boomers is key to finding out how to keep your content relevant.

Joining social media communities like Facebook groups for your type of audience is a good way to get engagement as long as you’re willing to put in the effort and be helpful to the community, not just sell your product/service.

Learn more: How your small business can develop a successful social media marketing strategy  

Communications Tools

Communication and collaboration tools are now crucial from all businesses, as they boost worker productivity by saving time that would usually be spent elsewhere. Integrating all types of communication — voice, e-mail, IM, and video, makes it possible to manage all of your communications from one web workspace.

Other options for communicating are the various web conferencing, audio, and video conferencing solutions with built-in collaboration tools. 

Tracking projects, posting updates, sharing files, and assigning tasks are possible through free and low-cost digital services that help to manage a mobile workforce. 

Learn more: Communication tools to boost customer service for gym owners and trainers 

In conclusion

After realizing your dream of starting your online sports business, it’s important that you continue to foster successful business practices. Your effort and attitude toward the company is likely the type of outcome you’ll see when your business begins to generate revenue.

While the sports industry is a great business to enter, bear in mind that you are one of many who are fighting for the attention of customers and athletes. Do all you can to stay ahead of your competition, find ways to be creative so to stand out, and focus on your advertising efforts.

Here are other small businesses that you can try. 

About the author: Jordan Fuller is a retired golfer and businessman. He owns a golf publication site, https://www.golfinfluence.com where he shares tips for golfers.

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