People with big dreams usually get them from a point in time when two events collide-often a bad experience followed quickly by a realization of a solution. Many family entertainment centers, as example started with a bad experience at the local fun center, followed by the thought “I bet I could run a better center than this.” With that thought, another entrepreneur is born!
If this is your story, you’re definitely not alone. Likely there are a few other motivators to your story:
- A 9-5 job that no longer challenges you
- A desire to do something positive for your family and your community
- A wish to have a career that brings you closer to your family
- An entrepreneur’s need to create something with their own hands-something in which they and their family believes
But once you have that vision, and the initial adrenalin-pumping enthusiasm fades, many new entrepreneurs think “Okay, where do I start?”
Here are some tips to point you in the right direction, along with links to the resources that will get you much closer to your family entertainment center’s grand opening.
1) Get some numbers
Planning your business starts with finding numbers. How many families are in the community you want to open your family entertainment business in? How many competitors are already there? How much business do they get during weekends? What is the age group of children you want to focus on? Also, what is the approximate age group of those children’s parents? Your local Chamber of Commerce as well as your Small Business Association office should be able to help you with some of the demographic research. Also, the U.S. Census Bureau has many tools to help you uncover these important numbers.
2) Get a plan
A business plan is vital for two reasons; it’s imperative you have a blueprint to follow for (1) setting up your business (could take six months to a year) and (2) running your business (definitely plan your first year, and consider going as far as forecasting to year three.) There are many business plans out there, but luckily there are some products that are custom-tailored to the family entertainment industry. You can find them by searching specifically for family fun center business plans. If you buy one of these targeted fun center business plans, make sure it includes family entertainment industry trends, sample revenue and income statements, as well as spreadsheets with pre-written formulas-this means all you have to do is enter your numbers and the spreadsheets do all the intricate calculations.
3) Get a location
We don’t mean buy some land, but you should source some ideal locations and get a feel for what you’ll be facing as a month-to-month leasing cost. You can search yourself on commercial real estate websites in your area, or (think of your target audience, traffic flow, popular parts of town OR low-rate lease space not too far out-of-town. consider spaces of 5,000 to 8,000 sq. ft. for a small to medium family entertainment center business. If your business plan included a spreadsheet into which you can plug in monthly leasing costs, go there and do so.
4) Get funding
Once you’re business plan is complete, it’s time to practice your pitch and then set up some meetings with financiers or investors. Which one you choose depends on whether you want funding in loan form, or a business partner that invests money and owns part of the business. Your pitch should include a five-minute overview wherein you describe your business and why it will be successful. To describe success you should touch on how it’s different from existing competition, why this will attract your target audience, and projected revenue for year one and profitability for years 2-3. Next you’ll take your financier or investor through the business plan. You won’t read the plan, you’ll summarize the sections as you page through. You want to emphasize how you’ll manage the business, how you’ll attract guests, when you’ll break even, how you’ll repay the loan (or when you’ll start to show return on investment) and what your 5-year goal is. Of course, you’ll want to practice this at least five times with friends and family members. Knowing your business idea inside and out will give you confidence, and this matters to anyone who’s considering funding your business. Again, there are services available online that will help you draft a specialized family entertainment center business plan, as well as mentor you to help you complete it-right up to reviewing the final plan and coaching you on how to present it.
5) Get going
Now that you have your funding, you can focus on putting your business plan into action. This will include proceeding with securing your lease, leasehold improvements, fun center name registration, business registration, branding, employee manuals…it may seem overwhelming, but there are great guidebooks online that focus on helping you write, present and execute your family entertainment center business plan.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Starting a business is exciting and scary at the same time. It’s a never-ending journey that is its own rewards. It’s sometimes lonely, sometimes surrounded by a crowd, but it will take you to keep pushing until you can realize your dream. As Napoleon Hill said, “Effort only fully releases its reward after a person refuses to quit.” So never give up on your family entertainment center dream!