Do you want to start a football academy business? If YES, here’s a complete guide to starting a football academy business with NO money and no experience.
Although soccer in the United States may not be as big as baseball or basketball, its influence is beginning to reach beyond the borders of the United States. The sport is beginning to receive more interest among the youths and adults alike.
Fans are beginning to show more interest in the sport and major clubs like FC Barcelona have even decided to set up their football academy in the United States of America. With more interest in the sports being developed, it is no wonder that even private owners may seek to set up a soccer academy for the sake of raising prominent players that will make a mark in the football arena.
In the United States of America, the football academy is known as a soccer academy or youth academy, and it is normally owned by major clubs in the country. The major objectives of these academies are to develop talents from a very young age to eventually become professional players.
The earliest age for enrollment is 9 years, however there are other academies structured for those who are younger, these ones are not as stringent as the major soccer academies in terms of training routine, practice sessions and so on, but they do prepare the youngsters to be part of the soccer academy when they come of age.
Those who set up such academies are football clubs, but anyone that has an interest in it can set up a football academy without necessarily having a football club. The owners of that academy need to have the needed connections to make sure that 50% if not all of the students who enroll in this academy will have a chance of playing professionally when they come of age.
In the United States of America, most youth academies are incorporated into the college educational system. This is the same for other sports like baseball, basketball and American football. It is not so popular to find private soccer academies that are not either attached to a football club, college or university.
When one intends to set up an academy like this, then there are very strict rules and regulations, and the process may take quite some time because of various state rules and regulations around it. One would first of all have to put together a committee or body of people that will assist in setting up the academy.
Some, if not all of these people, could be partners in the business, investors or may have various degrees of interest in the company.
The major niche of this academy is already identified; the next thing would be moving to register the business name as a working legal entity. You need to set up some type of business plan; I would suggest that the business plan should be developed for the first five years to begin with. Nothing too ambitious should be put in the business plan because this company is just starting.
One could seek advice from those who are already in the system. After the business entity is registered, then it would be very necessary to register with the state department. Recruiting your staff and management team would be another set of activity one would have to look into carefully.
You need to make sure that the coaches, their assistants and all the other personnel are credible people with a track record of producing successes from their various methods. Setting up a soccer academy would take quite some investment, especially if you intend to provide boarding for the candidates in the school.
There are soccer academies that provide other regular courses of study like mathematics, physics and the likes. Then there are others who simply focus on the football aspect of their vision while providing scholarship for the candidates to attend regular college. So, you can see that the various dynamics of setting up and running a football academy can be a very tedious one.
The risks in investing privately in this type of venture is there, but if one has the necessary drive to make a success out of this, then success is all there is to gain. In all, make sure you do your feasibility studies, draw out a proper business plan and make sure everything that needs to be taken care of is taken care of.
Steps to Starting a Football Academy Business
1. Understand the Industry
It is no news that the soccer industry in the United States of America is not as strong as its counterparts in Europe or South America. This could be attributed to the poor structure of recruitment and training of young players.
The development age between sixteen and twenty is the most critical for any youngster to develop skills to be able to compete at club level, but in the United States, most come out of college into the professional leagues at age twenty-one a time most European players must have already began playing in the professional leagues.
Another challenge the industry has is the understaffed scouting system that have also placed more work load on the scouts who may not feel at all motivated to get the right person into the teams.
Most promising players may not have access to proper soccer academies due to the high cost of payment for proper coaching, the general belief is that the higher the price the better the quality of training, so many are left behind. The general trend in the soccer academy industry in the United States is coaches promising parent’s college certainty for their children if they can get them to play for certain clubs.
For the promise of getting their children into collage they enroll the young ones in the academy; however what usually happens is that the coaches do not do a very good job at developing the children to the point of them being able to play professionally.
One of the other challenges the industry is facing is the professional structure that causes great limitation in the level of exposure of young players due to the fact that the system has made it a constant, if not permanent choice of operating a closed league.
Not to mention when it comes to the decision makers, agencies and leagues in the industry stick to very old ways of doing things.
In as much as the industry is facing these challenges, there is still much money to be made from establishing a soccer academy as those who are in the business know how to make money from it, most of the time from the parents. However, this kind of money hungry approach to the business will only make the pockets of the owners fatter, rather than actually producing powerful players for the country.
For one looking to set up a soccer academy, it would turn out that it is a very lucrative business to start, however one would have to consider if they actually want to do the job of actually raising strong players who can compete on an international level or if they simply want to get paid for coaching the youngsters.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The major people targeted for a soccer academy are first of all parents who want to secure some type of collage education for their children using sports scholarships. The cost of attending colleges in the United States can be very high, so quite a number of parents have taken to sports as one of the ways to help their children get a college education.
The alternative sometimes could be that the students would have to receive student’s loans which they get to pay back after they get employment, assuming the parents do not have the necessary means of financing their higher education.
Since most soccer academies provide scholarships for athletes when they enroll for the programs, parents who have noticed some type of potential in their child will desire to nurture such talents for the child to have a shoe in for college education. This is usually one of the major targets of soccer academies.
Another set of people that will be interested in enrolling for a soccer academy are the kids that desire to become professional soccer players. The possibility of receiving college scholarship could be another idea that may sweeten the deal for parents, however should the child have real potential; they may actually make it to the big leagues.
Parents who love the sport and would like to see their children become professionals. Usually parents like to live through their children, maybe they may not have had the opportunity to chase their dreams of becoming a professional athlete, but they can get their children enrolled in the academy at a very young age, so that the child may have a shot at going professional.
3. Decide What Niche to Concentrate On
It may be difficult to identify niches in this type of business seeing that the business itself is a niche on its own. However, there are different reasons for getting people signed up in a soccer academy and you could establish one of those different purposes as your major niche.
Sometimes many parents enroll their children in academies like this for the sake of securing them sports scholarships. You could make this as one of the major purposes of your academy, or some people simply develop players until their values are very high and then when they have improved immensely, they sell such player to another club. Whichever option you choose, as your signature practice you would have to be the best at it in order to stand out.
The Level of Competition in the Industry
With how profitable this business is for coaches and soccer academies, it is no surprise that one who wants to get into this business would have to fend off other coaches who would want to get their hands on young talent. I would say that the level of competition in this industry is low, due to the unappreciated level of soccer in the United States.
This means that there are great talents out there but very few are able to access quality training due to financial implications.
So, the few that are able to pay for coaching services are less in number compared to the talent available. When a brand knows the areas in which their competition is lacking, they can develop themselves to take full advantage of these weaknesses in emerging as the number one in their field.
4. Know the Major Competitors in the Industry
The ones who are considered the best of the best in every industry is one to pay attention to. The thing about well-known brands is that they have some type of leverage in the area of popularity and effective service delivery, making one wonder how they would be able to rise in success.
But to win over this, one must first of all know who they are. Below are therefore some of the leading Football Academy Businesses in the United States;
- FC Barcelona Football Academy
- LA Galaxy Football Academy
- FC Dallas
- New York Red Bull
- Real Saltlake group
- Vancouver Whitcaps
- Seattle sounders
The financial constraints of starting a football academy can be very high. With the money needed to pay for permits and so on, not to mention the money that goes into paying for the facility, team jerseys and so on.
One would have had to secure a large amount of money to get this type of academy off the ground. When it comes to bringing a board together, one must be able to actually see how the money would come in, seeing that they have to take care of so many multiple parts.
It would be a wise decision to have someone who knows the technical aspect of this type of business to consult with you, so that you know if putting your hard-earned money into this venture is worthwhile.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
When you decide to start your academy from the scratch then you would have an uphill work cut out for you when it comes to building your brand to the point where you begin to make lots of profits and strike a general name for yourself.
Acceptance may also be a challenge for you when you start from the scratch, but if you are someone who already has some type of standing in the American Soccer industry, then starting your own soccer academy can be a lot easier for you seeing that you already have a name to leverage over.
Unfortunately there are not so many franchise opportunities when it come s to football academies so if one is going to go into this business, starting from scratch appears to be the best option.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
The major set of threats facing this particular type of business is the level of importance given to certain other sports. These would be first of all American football, a game most loved by Americans, then baseball, practically every American love’s baseball, then Basketball.
These three sports are the three most loved sports in America and because of how Americans love these sports, there is little or no serious attention given to developing the soccer industry. Many aspiring sports professionals would readily opt for baseball or American football, then soccer. The opportunities available for these other sports in America far outshine those that await the soccer aspirant.
Other threats could also stem from the high cost of coaching exhibited in the industry and the difficulty in accessing proper training academies in the country. These and other factors pose a threat to the soccer academy industry in the United States of America.
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
The best legal entity to use for this type of business is the Limited Liability Company option, because of its flexibility when it comes to tax issues. The liability suffered by members of the board in this type of legal entity is limited and does not affect the properties of the persons involved in the business.
The worst kind of legal entity to use for this type of business is the sole proprietorship, apart from the fact that liability and taxation issues may be very detrimental to the owner, seeking funds for this very cost demanding business would be very difficult for the owner who registers the academy as a sole proprietorship.
Looking at the various things involved with the business, many investors will feel more comfortable investing their monies in a proper limited liability company or even a private company, due to the fact that they would feel safer if they knew that the company was not simply operated like a one-man business.
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name from the ideas Below
A catchy name can be a creative way to keep the idea of your brand in the minds of the people. The name of your football academy may not affect the performance of the business, but it also has a role to play.
Even when it comes to establishing your website or other advertising strategies, a unique name can help your academy to stand out and eliminate every suspicion or confusion with another brand. Some of these names are very good for naming your football academy;
- Future Football Academy
- Premium Football Academy
- Optimum Football Academy
- Alliance Football Academy
9. Discuss With an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
When it comes to a business like this, insurance is so important due to the possibility of things going the wrong way. Some of your students might get injured or something may go wrong in the facility, not to mention certain allegations that may come up in the area of malpractice or performance enhancement drug use.
The list is endless, so make sure that your academy is properly insured. Some basic insurance policies for your football academy business in the United States of America are;
- General Insurance
- Payment protection Insurance
- Overhead expense disability Insurance
- Risk insurance
- Liability Insurance
- Health Insurance
- Workers Compensation
- Business owner’s policy group insurance
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
One can run a business like this without necessarily filing for intellectual property protection except for certain things like the coach’s playbook. The playbook contains the different formations the team has trained for, some of these plays might have been passed down from coach to coach since the institution began.
To have such materials in the hands of a rival club would be very disastrous. So, when materials like these are copywritten, then the information written there is safe by the law. Should such items be found in the possession of an unauthorized person, or should they use the formation in the playbook, such a team could be subject to criminal prosecution.
Other things that can be protected by the intellectual property laws could be training routines, diet and nutrition methods and so on. All of these are intellectual property of the school that originated it.
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
One does not need any professional certificate before they can start their own football academy. Although it would help the business tremendously if the owner has been in the soccer industry for some time before they decided to start an academy like this.
Their experience in the industry can be the certification they need to provide confidence in the hearts of investors and parents alike.
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
One cannot run a business successfully in the United States without meeting certain legal conditions and the football academy is no different. This could be one of the major areas in which establishing a business like this could be delayed.
The owner/owners have to make sure they get all the permit, licenses and documents that will make them law compliant. Some of these processes could take months to complete, but no matter how difficult the process is, only those that persevere are able to have all of their legal documents in place. Some of these documents include;
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Operating Agreements
- Business Plan
- Insurance Policy
- Employment Agreement
- Operating Agreement for LLCs
- Employer Identification Number (EIN)
- Consulting contract documents
- Company Bylaws
- Memorandum of Understanding
13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
Funding is a most important aspect of putting a business like this together, it is financially demanding as was mentioned above and your ability to get it up and running will depend strongly on this. One of the things that will inspire confidence in investors would be your ability to present to them some type of credible plan for generating revenue and securing a high return on investment.
This would mean that you would have to have a strong knowledge of the industry and the demographics you intend to sell your services to.
This type of knowledge could come from past experiences or you could get a consultant to tell you what you need to know in order to make this a financial success. Some of the ways to generate funding for your football academy business include;
- You can get money from your personal savings
- Loans are easily obtained from family members and friends
- You can sell properties and items you own.
- You can raise money from selling stocks
- Investors and business partners
- Get seed funding from business angels and organizations that do such
- If you have the collateral, you can get loans from a bank
- You can sell your shares to interested people who will love to buy into the business.
14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
The location for your academy matters a lot when it comes to a business like this. One option could be setting up your boarding facility in an area that is away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Your business office can be in the city, but the place where the students are nurtured may be elsewhere.
However, if you do not choose to run any kind of boarding facility, then a place that is accessible by parents would be very effective.
Placing your academy close to a school is also a great way to strategically position your academy so that parents can have easy access to you. Below are some other key factors that you need to consider when picking a location for your football academy;
- Closeness to regular colleges or secondary schools
- Ease of access by various road routes
- The major demographics of the area
- The rules and regulations of the area, where the school is situated
15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
Your will need your scouts who go out into the various communities to look for potential soccer stars to recruit. You will need you Lawyers to set up contracts and deal with the other professionals in the soccer industry. Coaches and Coaching assistants are also another set of people you would need.
When it comes to the administration of the business, you will need your business manager, secretary, accountant and so on.
You will need your jerseys, boots and other sports materials required for the players to meet the standards permitted by the regulating authorities. You will need office furniture, printers and so on for the administrative offices and classrooms.
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
When a student is enrolled in the academy, most times they would receive strict training routines they would have to be involved with. Their parents would be informed on how to feed them with the described diet plan given to them by the academy.
Fitness is a very important thing and nothing helps one get fit like proper diet and exercise. Once the candidate enters the upper level of recruitment they could be signed unto a bigger deal, this may entitle them for some type of scholarship as they continue to develop their skills for the career they want to pursue in soccer.
Most times the candidates get to the place where they get signed into a proper soccer team in order to play professionally, this of course is the destination for most who sign up for the football academy. On the other hand, some do not make it into the big leagues and are taken out of the academy for not meeting the cut. So, it just goes to show that getting into a football academy is not an automatic key into playing professional soccer.
16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed With ideas & Strategies
Football academies hardly have open tryouts for the general public. Their access to young talent is usually through the scouting system.
However, should a soccer academy want to spread the word about their existence, especially if they have just begun and are looking for a large number of candidates to sign up, then below contains a list of possible approaches to making that happen.
- You can send brochures to households around your area of interest.
- Take advantage of the great opportunity the internet gives for marketing your school.
- Be part of the academies listed in the yellow pages.
- Attend international football academy and football services expos and events.
- The local directories should have your academy listed there also.
- Employ traditional marketers to market the academy business.
- Radio, TV Stations and Related magazines are excellent places to advertise your academy.
17. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
This sport is competing with other sports like baseball or basketball and also competing against other soccer academies within the same industry. The way to win over your competitors is to stick to your niche and make that your promise going forward.
If you want to be known as the kind of institution that establishes soccer players for a professional career, then let that be the thing you emphasize and sell the most. This means that you will generally attract those whose real intention is to go professional; this is always a great idea in making your light shine, putting your best foot forward.
If your niche is simply generating some type of buzz around players in order to get them to play college soccer for the chance at receiving a scholarship, then that too is acceptable. In whatever the case, stay true to your strength and make sure you are well respected for what you do best. This way your competitors will not be able to win you at your own game.
18. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
There is no other way to retain customers than to deliver on promises made. Whatever it was you used to get parents to sign up their children with you, you have to make sure you deliver on your promise.
The word will spread as to how you are one with integrity. Also assuring parents that you have the best interest of the students in your mind is another point that will make more and more parents come to you if they need the services of a proper coach.
19. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
One cannot establish a business and nobody knows it exists. One would have to employ a good number of strategies in order to create awareness for what is going on. One interesting suggestion would be to organize a local league for the immediate community, so that various youngsters can come and play in the league.
Prizes would be won on different levels, youngsters and parents alike can get to know of your football academy and begin to consider enrolling their students.
Apart from doing this for a community, you can also organize a league for various private or public schools, such an event may be tedious to put together but by the time the league is over, every student in those schools would be talking about your football academy and the word will spread with heightened interest.
Other ideas that can help boost the awareness of your football academy are;
- Branded items could be worn by staff, management, coaches and of course players at certain times during the week.
- There are areas within the city where you know parents as well as children would be interested in joining your academy, you can share fliers and handbills around that area.
- Billboards and Banners are excellent in drawing attention to what you do, ensure that such are placed at very specific areas within the city.
- Word of mouth is one of the best ways to advertise, encourage it.
- Your website is like an interactive flyer; ensure that you advertise your academy there.
- Make sure that all cars, buses or vehicles of the Academy are well branded.
- Ensure to make full advantage of digital marketing.
- You can use the direct approach by reaching households and talents directly.