Two men stand in a large showroom filled with bicycles of various colors. The man on the left, who wears an orange shirt and gray apron, uses his hands to hold up a red bike. The man on the right, who wears a yellow T-shirt over a long-sleeved navy blue shirt, looks at the red bike with interests. Several more bikes hang from the ceiling of the showroom.
A sporting goods store can cater to a specific activity. If bike-riding is popular in your area, try opening a bike shop. If you're near the coast, consider a fishing supply store. — Getty Images/Kingfisher Productions

Many small merchants start out by turning their passion into a business. If you spend every Sunday cheering on your favorite team, avidly track the stats of top players, and count down the days til the next season starts, you may be able to turn your sports love into a thriving business. Analysis from Deloitte shows the sports industry is gaining momentum following the pandemic, and there could be great opportunities to start a new venture in this area. Here are some ideas for sports-loving entrepreneurs to consider.

Start a pickleball club

Pickleball—best described as a combination of tennis, pingpong, and badminton—is America’s fastest-growing sport. One of the reasons why is that it’s accessible to players of all ages. “Most of pickleball's core players — those who play more than eight times per year — are over age 65, but the game is getting younger, with the strongest growth among players under 55,” reported NPR.

Interest in pickleball is skyrocketing, but municipalities need help to provide enough space for pickleball courts. Fortunately, USA Pickleball is working on a toolkit for entrepreneurs to enter the market. This toolkit provides cost estimates for building courts, either using tape and a temporary net or by building a permanent structure. With high demand and plenty of resources to help you get started, pickleball is a relatively low-risk way to get started in the sports industry.

Create fitness videos

Many people turned to videos to work out at home during the pandemic, and evidence shows that trend is here to stay. Consumers are now supplementing their outdoor activity and gym sessions with at-home workouts, using apps, YouTube videos, and subscription services like Peloton and iFit. A 2022 survey from Momentive found that 72% of weekly gym-goers also say they exercise at home on a weekly or daily basis.

[Read more: 10 Fitness Industry Small Business Ideas]

There are hundreds of at-home workout videos available, and it can be hard to break through in this specific sports segment. But think of ways you can stand out, especially in your community. Are there trails in your town where you can host guided runs? Is there a sport that’s especially popular among high schoolers that you can create workouts for? Think outside the box and be specific to your market.

Sell sports nutrition

Sports nutrition is a big business: Analysts estimate this market will reach $66 billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 7.9% from 2021 to 2028. And you don’t need a background in sports nutrition to become a distributor or wholesaler of different sports drinks, electrolyte powders, and energy gels. There are dozens of products on the market to choose from, and with careful research and special attention to athlete reviews, you can stock your store with plenty of ways to keep athletes fueled and ready to compete.

Many people turned to videos to work out at home during the pandemic, and evidence shows that trend is here to stay.

Get into e-sports

Like pickleball, e-sports have become massively popular. According to Goldman Sachs, e-sports competitions were anticipated to have roughly the same viewership levels as the NFL by 2022. There are lots of ways to get involved with the e-sports market, such as:

  • E-sports journalism: Start a publication dedicated to covering the movers, shakers, and events of the e-sports world.
  • Start an e-sports team.
  • Open a venue for streaming e-sports events and bringing fans together.
  • Sell e-sports merchandise to gamers.
  • Start a podcast covering e-sports.

Virtually any type of business that can be founded to follow or support a traditional sports franchise can be adapted for an e-sports setting.

Open a sporting goods franchise

Sporting goods and equipment franchises are a relatively straightforward way to turn your passion into a business. Franchises like Fleet Feet, Destination Athlete, and Play It Again Sports offer ways to connect with athletes and support the sports you love. As a franchise owner, you’ll also benefit from the foundation created by the brand—meaning you can get started without having to build from scratch.

[Read more: Growth Studio Spotlight: ASIYA Modest Activewear]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Applications are open for the CO—100! Now is your chance to join an exclusive group of outstanding small businesses. Share your story with us — apply today.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

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