"My husband has been successful with several businesses," explains McAlonen. "Now it's my turn."
Her idea: Open a personal training studio that focuses on the over-40 crowd. McAlonen is about to earn certification as a personal trainer from the National Academy of Sports Medicine; she then plans to land a job as a trainer part-time at a local fitness club and also build up a stable of clients on her own. She hopes to open the studio, Body by Bobbi, in two years.
The reality: McAlonen's husband Jay, an entrepreneur who runs an investment company, plans to put $25,000 into the studio. But they both agree that this is no vanity business; it must become self-sustaining.
Luckily, the couple are in good financial shape: They have no debt, and they downsized to a condo after their children left home. They already have a comfortable retirement nest egg set aside.
The Plan: McAlonen is wise to build a customer base before committing to a retail space, says David Morganstern, a financial planner in Portland, Ore. His tips:
- Get credentials. Personal-trainer certification is essential, as is staying up to date with continuing education courses.
- Research the competition. She should join a fitness trade association and quiz successful studio owners in nearby cities like Seattle, where she isn't a competitive threat.
- Invest more money. Total start-up costs for a personal-training studio run from $20,000 to $40,000, says John Spencer Ellis, CEO of the National Exercise & Sports Trainer Association. McAlonen should put together a simple business plan (sba.gov offers a primer) to project her revenue and costs.
- Economize where possible. McAlonen should rent equipment rather than buy it, sign up her trainers as contract workers rather than staffers and lease space in a low-cost location such as a light industrial park instead of a retail storefront.