Setting up a Business with a Limited Budget

Jun 26, 2014 | by AIF

Starting up any fitness business can be a costly exercise, but with some forward planning and clever budgeting these costs don’t have to be so high, says Jim Marsh, Coach at the Australian Institute of Fitness in Victoria. There are plenty of ways you can get started on your dream of setting up a fitness business and getting on the path to being a successful business owner.

Initial costs

Start up costs will include insurance and registration, and in some cases franchise fees, so it’s important you have a financial plan in order to have a positive cash flow. Ensuring you have a great plan and a clear of idea of the kinds of up front costs involved will help you to better plan out what you hope to achieve.

Finding an area

Firstly pick your area or locality you wish to set up in. Do your homework and research socio-economic, demographics, competition, etc. to identify if there is a need for your business. You can also harness the use of free information by doing some research online of the area you wish to work in, looking at the competitors and what they’re charging their clients. This is a very simple (and almost free) way to research your ideas before implementing them.

Meeting an accountant

Just like you would advise a personal training client on how to get fit and healthy, a good accountant will advise you on how to get your business fit and healthy, i.e. making a profit!

Together you should put together a 12-month financial plan with all projected income and expenditure. This roadmap will help you stay on track and give you focus so you can make smart decisions with money. An accountant will also be able to help you decide on whether your venture is able to be achieved with the funds you currently have, or whether a little more time and savings will be required first. Don’t be put off if you are in this situation, as you will only be more prepared and ready financially in this instance.


One of the main expenses for any Personal Trainer is equipment. If your budget is limited, obviously start small, get some money rolling in and then invest some of that into more equipment. It should go without saying that you really only need to purchase the equipment you really need when first starting out. Try to limit your equipment purchases to the basics, just until you get on your feet and have more clients to help out.

Some low cost equipment include boxing gloves, mats, skipping ropes, resistance bands and suspension training equipment. If you are taking groups, then boxing is an ideal low cost method. In Punchfit boxing courses you can purchase the gloves and pads used on the day at cost price.

Also, Workout World is offering exceptional discounts on all purchases to our Friends and Warriors, or there’s also the option of picking up second hand gear from gyms or Personal Trainers who are updating their equipment.

For those opening a personal training studio

If you are thinking of going out on your own and opening a personal training studio this can also be done with a limited budget.

Start looking around for commercial properties. With the slow death of retail stores there are many shops now empty with landlords desperate to find tenants. This gives you plenty of options and bargaining power compared with years gone by. Choose 3-5 that you like, go and inspect, and then it’s time to negotiate!

Make a list of what you need done to the building, such as installing toilets, showers, etc, and put this forward to the landlord. Remembering that they are desperate for tenants so they will be more than likely to accommodate your requests rather than leave the building empty.

Also negotiate the rent, especially at start up. Try for the first 3 months rent free, as this will help you greatly with cash flow, and especially if you haven’t got a large client base. This will give you a good chance to get your business name out there and build up some numbers so when the rent is due you can comfortably afford it.

Next thing to do is follow the guidelines above to purchase equipment. For the larger equipment, negotiate payment terms. If you can get the first 3 months at a low repayment, this will tie in with the building rent so outgoings at the start are minimal and you can concentrate on growing your business and keeping cash flow positive.

As we know the industry is growing towards more functional training, which is good as the traditional gym equipment like treadmills and weight machines are very expensive. Suspension training equipment, resistance bands, Kettlebells, mats, medicine balls, plyometric boxes, battle ropes, etc. are much cheaper and enough equipment to train clients without spending a fortune on machines.

Building clients

So now you should be concentrating on building your client base up as quickly as possible. Another low budget way to try and gain more clients is via social media. Almost everyone is accessing some form of social media, such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. These three sites are currently the three most popular, so by starting your own business pages on these sites, you can start to get local attention and advertising. Building a website needn’t be an expensive venture. There are plenty of websites online that allow you to build your own website, which can easily be customised to make the site to your liking. Once your website is complete, you can eventually pay for your own custom domain name. In the meantime, you can use a free web address which may include the website builders’ name.

Once you start getting consistent numbers and can cover expenses easily, then (with the help of your accountant) work out a plan to purchase more equipment if required. Equipment purchases should be done in a planned stage by stage process in order to help with cash flow.

Preparing for the unexpected

There will always be unexpected costs that come up like stationery, advertising, website, etc. so make allowances for this too. Always be conservative when budgeting so then any excess money can be invested back into the business.Try not to have a budget that is constantly pushed to it’s limits. Your accountant will be able to help with your cash flow, but both with your personal finances and business cash, you should always allow for the unexpected, just in case.

Good luck!

Following these steps and with the right professional advice will get you on track to setting up your fitness business without breaking the bank. You don’t have to be made of money to be able to get started on your own successful fitness business. You can also look into a partnership with a friend or colleague who is also looking to start a business. Always remember to seek the right advice for your business decisions.



At the Australian Institute of Fitness (AIF), we are no stranger to the competitive and evolving nature of the fitness industry. That’s why we remain the #1 fitness educator since 1979. We continuously raise the bar by providing the best education and resources through dynamic and hybrid training methods that mould to your lifestyle. We are strong believers in evidence over fads, so you can be assured your training with AIF will solidify your career for the long-term.

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