How to Start a Recreation Business

Recreation businesses run the gamut from amateur swim clubs to skateboarding parks, and they can be started practically anywhere in the country. Whether you live in a small town or major city, you likely live around people who want to participate in enjoyable, safe recreational activities. Your business can also improve the health of people in your community by encouraging outdoor and physical activity. There are several things you should consider before getting started.

Gain Experience

To grow a thriving recreational business, it is helpful to have industry experience or relevant education in your outdoor business ideas, according to Community Leisure. Professional experience can include working as a camp counselor at a city-funded program, volunteering with your city's parks and recreation department or working for a private-sector recreation company. Education may come in the form of obtaining an undergraduate or graduate degree in sports and recreation management, leisure studies or general business management.

Choose a Niche

Think about the services and programs already offered in your city and try to avoid starting a business related to those niches. You should also consider the public resources available that you may be able to use for your recreation business. For example, if your city has a well-developed network of hike and bike trails, you can start a company that takes locals and tourists on scenic bike rides, complete with a stop for a healthful picnic. If your town rents out its recreation center's basketball court for a reasonable fee, you could start a for-profit, competitive youth basketball league without having to incur the expense of building your own court or formally leasing a building.

Permits and Certifications

No matter what your company's niche is, to run a legal operation, you will likely need to obtain some sort of business documentation. If you choose to start out as a sole proprietor an assumed name certificate, also known as a DBA, and a sales tax permit may be required, if your state taxes recreation services.

The professional certifications, permits and licenses you need will depend on what type of recreation business you plan to open, according to Recreation Law. For example, if you are starting a business where you take people on guided canoe tours, you may need first-aid, CPR, water safety and American Canoe Association certification. Figure out the cost to build a recreation center and how you will finance those costs.

Promote Your Business

Community involvement will be key in spreading the word about your recreation business. You want locals to see you are contributing to your area, not just profiting off its residents and tourists. Try donating services or gift certificates to charity auctions, joining the board of a local nonprofit or volunteering in your community to increase your visibility and build goodwill.

Other promotion strategies include creating an interactive, informative website; signing up for social media accounts; placing coupons and brochures in complementary businesses such as sport equipment shops, golf course, and dance studios; or placing ads in print and online newspapers that serve your area.