Starting a Sports or Recreation Business

The Most Important Rule of the Sports Business Game

It can't be said enough, with any business that you plan to begin: Love what you do. Otherwise, when you fumble and stumble, or when you hit that low point, you're going to hate your business-and your life. "It's incredibly competitive," says Pelletier, thinking of the university level of sports. "It's as competitive off the field, to do a sports business, as it is on the field, playing the game. It's a big business, and it can be easy to get disillusioned with the business side of sports." But if you love what you do, you're less likely to be disillusioned. Arthur Susskind, 32, owns Soccer Sticks, a Long Island store that specializes in soccer and lacrosse merchandise. His store now brings in about $200,000 per year, although he says "the first two years were tough." Like many entrepreneurs, he's lost none of his enthusiasm, and he knows that he's building what he believes is going to be one heck of a game plan.

Next Step

  • Lack the funds needed to get your dream sports business off the ground? You could bootstrap your way to success, just like these entrepreneurs did.
  • Is it smart to launch a business when you lack experience in that industry? Before you make up your mind, ask yourself these questions.

"Lacrosse is growing leaps and bounds throughout the country," says Susskind, and the numbers appear to back him up. According to the national organization US Lacrosse, youth membership (age 15 and under) has doubled since 1999 to more than 60,000, and sporting articles are often referring to lacrosse as one of the fastest-growing sports in the country, along with golf and soccer (a sport Susskind also specializes in). During the past 18 months, the business has "grown tremendously," says Susskind, who has one part-time employee and hopes to expand his store or open a second store in the not-too-distant future. "I think it's a great business to go into," he says, noting that his store and industry are almost recession-proof: "Parents are always going to want their kids to play sports."

Geoff Williams is a freelance journalist based in Loveland, Ohio. Maybe it was his binocular-sized glasses or his dweeb-like wardrobe, but as a kid he was almost always picked last to play on teams in gym.

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Geoff Williams has written for numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Consumer Reports, LIFE and Entertainment Weekly. He also is the author of Living Well with Bad Credit.

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This article was originally published in the November 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Starting a Sports or Recreation Business.

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