When it comes to sports gear, you would be justified in thinking there are only a few brands where you can shop. The truth is there are hundreds, if not thousands of smaller sports gear companies out there. Moreover, many of them use small business ideas to directly compete with the larger brands and succeed!
Competing against the big dogs is possible. Moreover at Sports Networker, we will always support promising entrepreneurs whenever we get the opportunity.
SN Small Business Ideas for Success
If you want to make some money selling sports gear and eat some of the larger brand’s lunch, here are our small business ideas for success.
Everybody, and we mean everybody, goes online when they start to look for new gear and equipment. To ensure that people keep coming back to you, you need first to ensure that your website is not only captivating, but easy to find and navigate as well. A cheap looking and slow website will ensure people will not stay – and worse – not purchase anything from you.
The web is a place where smaller companies can actually get the upper hand over the big dogs. Emphasizing features like customizability, range of selection, ease of use, and of course customer service are often times what make consumers trust and value smaller companies over larger ones. The two most important online features that all small business ideas should incorporate is usability and customer service.
Yes, Sport Networker readers, you can compete against larger sports gear companies. Look at DoItTennis, for example. You can find anything from a racquet to apparel to a tennis bag online in their one-stop-shop for top quality tennis gear. DoItTennis offers an immensely wide variety of top tennis brands from Wilson to Prince to 40 Love Courture. Furthermore, their intuitive website provides users with the resources and guidance needed to easily choose tennis equipment for players of all types and skill levels. In this way, DoItTennis helps customers feel that they are making an informed and responsible purchase decision, which is key in building positive consumer-brand relationships.
A beautifully designed site like Soccerloco will draw customers in, but what keeps them coming back is the ease with which users can navigate, search, and customize their site experience. In terms of customer service, direct is best. A great way to enhance business-to-consumer relations is a live chat customer assistance feature like the one found at Softball Rampage. For a successful website, small businesses must prioritize usability and customer service both before and after customer purchases.
A website is one just one tool for creating an online brand. You need to use SEO and social media as well. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) will help get people find your brand online, and social media savvy will keep them engaged and more likely to purchase your gear and equipment. You need a plan, and we can help. Take a look at our Sports Marketing 101 resource for more.
Get out There
Even the largest brands started small. Every one of the most popular brands grew because they believed in their products, hit a ton of in-person events, and used these events to further market their brand. Associating your business with popular brands, and carrying the products of those brands, is essential for gaining popularity for your own brand.
To further get your business out there, take a page from the big sporting goods stores out there. Take advantage of the number of positives provided by event marketing:
- Learn about your potential customer base – know who they are and what they want so you can tailor your product to their needs and wants.
- Associate your business with popular, quality brands.
- Gather contact information for marketing purposes
- Meet other entrepreneurs for networking and potential partnerships.
Of course, if your product line hits the ground running and you keep attending events to showcase your gear—even in the face of larger sporting companies—sales will soon catch up to production.
Work as Hard as your Athletes
Many businesses fail where they should succeed because people take their foot off the gas pedal. After a few sales, you absolutely cannot rest on your laurels. Even sports superstars need to keep practicing, and like them you need to continuously refine your product line and your sales approach. Failure to adapt will lead to failure in business.
Never Stop Learning
You need to adapt when necessary to succeed when selling sports gear. How do you know when to adapt? If you are not open to continuously learning about how your business or your competitors operate you will very likely miss the boat. We recently did an interview with one of our community contributors, Mike Rudd, who has a number of great ideas in his book, Hot Dogs, A Little Marketing and A Lot of Fun.
You need to be willing to work, learn, and have a plan of action. Let go of your fear, believe in yourself, and work hard for your customers. Work diligently on your brand, get yourself and your product in front of your potential customers, and never let up. You can, and will, succeed if you are willing to put in the work.