Putting together a business plan for a swimming school can be daunting - especially if you're creating a business for the first time - but with this comprehensive guide, you'll have the necessary tools to do it confidently.
We will explore why writing one is so important in both starting up and growing an existing swimming school, as well as what should go into making an effective plan - from its structure to content - and what tools can be used to streamline the process and avoid errors.
Without further ado, let us begin!
Why write a business plan for a swimming school?
Having a clear understanding of why you want to write a business plan for your swimming school will make it simpler for you to grasp the rationale behind its structure and content. So before delving into the plan's actual details, let's take a moment to remind ourselves of the primary reasons why you'd want to create a swimming school business plan.
To have a clear roadmap to grow the business
It's rarely business as usual for small businesses. The economy follows cycles where years of growth are followed by recessions, and the business environment is always changing with new technologies, new regulations, new competitors, and new consumer behaviours appearing all the time...
In this context, running a business without a clear roadmap is like driving blindfolded: it's dangerous at best. That's why writing a business plan for a swimming school is essential to create successful and sustainable businesses.
To write an effective business plan, you will need to take stock of where you are (if you are already in business) and where you want the business to go in the next three to five years.
Once you know where you want your swimming school to be, you'll have to identify:
- what resources (human, equipment, and capital) are needed to get there,
- at what pace the business needs to progress to get there in time,
- and what risks you'll face along the way.
Going through this process regularly is beneficial, both for startups and existing companies, as it helps make informed decisions about how best to allocate resources to ensure the long-term success of the business.
To maintain visibility on future cash flows
Businesses can go for years without making a profit, but they go bust as soon as they run out of cash. That's why "cash is king", and maintaining visibility on your swimming school's future cash flows is critical.
How do I do that? That's simple: you need an up-to-date financial forecast.
The good news is that your swimming school business plan already contains a financial forecast (more on that later in this guide), so all you have to do is to keep it up-to-date.
To do this, you need to regularly compare the actual financial performance of your business to what was planned in your financial forecast, and adjust the forecast based on the current trajectory of your business.
Monitoring your swimming school's financial health will enable you to identify potential financial problems (such as an unexpected cash shortfall) early and to put in place corrective measures. It will also allow you to detect and capitalize on potential growth opportunities (higher demand from a given segment of customers for example).
To secure financing
Whether you are a startup or an existing business, writing a detailed swimming school business plan is essential when seeking financing from banks or investors.
This makes sense given what we've just seen: financiers want to ensure you have a clear roadmap and visibility on your future cash flows.
Banks will use the information included in the plan to assess your borrowing capacity (how much debt your business can support) and your ability to repay the loan before deciding whether they will extend credit to your business and on what terms.
Similarly, investors will review your plan carefully to assess if their investment can generate an attractive return on investment.
To do so, they will be looking for evidence that your swimming school has the potential for healthy growth, profitability, and cash flow generation over time.
Now that you understand why it is important to create a business plan for a swimming school, let's take a look at what information is needed to create one.
What information is needed to create a business plan for a swimming school?
Writing a swimming school business plan requires research so that you can project sales, investments and cost accurately in your financial forecast.
In this section, we cover three key pieces of information you should gather before drafting your business plan!
Carrying out market research for a swimming school
Carrying out market research before writing a business plan for a swimming school is essential to ensure that the financial projections are accurate and realistic.
Market research helps you gain insight into your target customer base, competitors, pricing strategies and other key factors which can have an impact on the commercial success of your business.
In particular, it is useful in forecasting revenue as it provides valuable data regarding potential customers’ spending habits and preferences.
You may find that more parents would like to enroll their children in swimming classes if there were more evening and weekend classes available. Additionally, you might discover that parents prefer a more personalized approach, such as private lessons or classes tailored to a specific age group.
This information can then be used to create more accurate financial projections which will help investors make informed decisions about investing in your swimming school.
Developing the sales and marketing plan for a swimming school
Budgeting sales and marketing expenses is essential before creating a swimming school business plan.
A comprehensive sales and marketing plan should provide an accurate projection of what actions need to be implemented to acquire and retain customers, how many people are needed to carry out these initiatives, and how much needs to be spent on promotions, advertising, and other aspects.
This helps ensure that the right amount of resources is allocated to these activities in order to hit the sales and growth objectives forecasted in your business plan.
The staffing and capital expenditure requirements of a swimming school
Whether you are starting or expanding a swimming school, it is important to have a clear plan for recruitment and capital expenditures (investment in equipment and real estate) in order to ensure the success of the business.
Both the recruitment and investment plans need to be coherent with the timing and level of growth planned in your forecast, and require appropriate funding.
One possible staffing cost for a swimming school could be the salary of a swimming instructor. The instructor would be responsible for teaching classes, developing lesson plans, and providing feedback to students. Additionally, the school could incur costs for lifeguards, who would be responsible for ensuring the safety of swimmers in the pool. The swimming school might also incur equipment costs, such as purchasing flotation devices, kickboards, and goggles for student use. Additionally, the school might need to purchase pool cleaning supplies and other maintenance items to ensure that the pool is kept in good condition.
In order to create a realistic financial forecast, you will also need to consider the other operating expenses associated with running the business on a day-to-day basis (insurance, bookkeeping, etc.).
Once you have all the necessary information to create a business plan for your swimming school, it is time to start creating your financial forecast.
What goes into your swimming school's financial forecast?
The financial forecast of your swimming school will enable you to assess the profitability potential of your business in the coming years and how much capital is required to fund the actions planned in the business plan.
The four key outputs of a financial forecast for a swimming school are:
- The profit and loss (P&L) statement,
- The projected balance sheet,
- The cash flow forecast,
- And the sources and uses table.
Let's take a closer look at each of these.
The projected P&L statement
Your swimming school forecasted P&L statement enables the reader of your business plan to get an idea of how much revenue and profits your business is expected to make in the near future.
Ideally, your reader will want to see:
- Growth above the inflation level
- Expanding profit margins
- Positive net profit throughout the plan
Expectations for an established swimming school will of course be different than for a startup. Existing businesses which have reached their cruising altitude might have slower growth and higher margins than ventures just being started.
The forecasted balance sheet of your swimming school
The projected balance sheet of your swimming school will enable the reader of your business plan to assess the overall financial health of your business.
It shows three elements: assets, liabilities and equity:
- Assets: are productive resources owned by the business, such as equipment, cash, and accounts receivable (money owed by clients).
- Liabilities: are debts owed to creditors, lenders, and other entities, such as accounts payable (money owed to suppliers).
- Equity: includes the sums invested by the shareholders or business owners and the profits and losses accumulated by the business to date (which are called retained earnings). It is a proxy for the value of the owner's stake in the business.
Analysing your swimming school projected balance sheet provides an understanding of your swimming school's working capital structure, investment and financing policies.
In particular, the readers of your plan can compare the level of financial debt on the balance sheet to the equity value to measure the level of financial risk (equity doesn't need to be reimbursed, while financial debt must be repaid, making it riskier).
They can also use your balance sheet to assess your swimming school's liquidity and solvency:
- A liquidity analysis: focuses on whether or not your business has sufficient cash and short-term assets to cover its liabilities due in the next 12 months.
- A solvency analysis: takes and longer view to assess whether or not your business has the capacity to repay its debts over the medium-term.
The projected cash flow statement
A cash flow forecast for a swimming school shows how much cash the business is projected to generate or consume.
The cash flow statement is divided into 3 main areas:
- The operating cash flow shows how much cash is generated or consumed by the operations (running the business)
- The investing cash flow shows how much cash is being invested in capital expenditure (equipment, real estate, etc.)
- The financing cash flow shows how much cash is raised or distributed to investors and lenders
Looking at the cash flow forecast helps you to ensure that your business has enough cash to keep running, and can help you anticipate potential cash shortfalls.
It is also a best practice to include a monthly cash flow statement in the appendices of your swimming school business plan so that the readers can view the impact of seasonality on your business cash position and generation.
The initial financing plan
The initial financing plan - also called a sources and uses table - is an important tool when starting a swimming school.
It shows where the money needed to set up the business will come from (sources) and how it will be allocated (uses).
Having this table helps understand what costs are involved in setting up the swimming school, how the risks are distributed between the shareholders and the lenders, and what will be the starting cash position (which needs to be sufficient to sustain operations until the business breaks even).
Now that the financial forecast of a swimming school business plan is understood, let's focus on what goes into the written part of the plan.
The written part of a swimming school business plan
The written part of a swimming school business plan is composed of 7 main sections:
- The executive summary
- The presentation of the company
- The products and services
- The market analysis
- The strategy
- The operations
- The financial plan
Throughout these sections, you will seek to provide the reader with the details and context needed for them to form a view on whether or not your business plan is achievable and your forecast a realistic possibility.
Let's go through the content of each section in more detail!
1. The executive summary
The first section of your swimming school's business plan is the executive summary which provides, as its name suggests, an enticing summary of your plan which should hook the reader and make them want to know more about your business.
When writing the executive summary, it is important to provide an overview of the business, the market, the key financials, and what you are asking from the reader.
Start with a brief introduction of the business, its name, concept, location, how long it has been in operation, and what makes it unique. Mention any services or products you plan to offer and who you sell to.
Then you should follow with an overview of the addressable market for your swimming school, current trends, and potential growth opportunities.
You should then include a summary of your key financial figures such as projected revenues, profits, and cash flows.
Finally, you should detail any funding requirements in the ask section.
2. The presentation of the company
In your swimming school business plan, the second section should focus on the structure and ownership, location, and management team of your company.
In the structure and ownership part, you'll provide an overview of the business's legal structure, details about the owners, and their respective investments and ownership shares. This clarity is crucial, especially if you're seeking financing, as it helps the reader understand which legal entity will receive the funds and who controls the business.
Moving on to the location part, you'll offer an overview of the company's premises and their surroundings. Explain why this particular location is of interest, highlighting factors like catchment area, accessibility, and nearby amenities.
When describing the location of your swimming school, you could emphasize its potential for growth and success. The area could be a bustling hub for young families, with a growing population and income levels. Additionally, the local climate could be an ideal one for swimming, providing plenty of opportunity for year-round classes. The area could also provide access to other amenities such as parks and shopping centers, making it a desirable place for potential students and their families. By emphasizing all of these points, you could show the potential financier why this location could be a great fit for a successful swimming school.
Finally, you should introduce your management team. Describe each member's role, background, and experience.
Don't forget to emphasize any past successes achieved by the management team and how long they've been working together. Demonstrating their track record and teamwork will help potential lenders or investors gain confidence in their leadership and ability to execute the business plan.
3. The products and services section
The products and services section of your business plan should include a detailed description of what your company offers, who are the target customers, and what distribution channels are part of your go-to-market.
For example, your swimming school might offer private and group lessons for children and adults, pool parties for special occasions, and swimming classes tailored to the needs of competitive athletes. Private and group lessons are ideal for those who want to learn basic swimming skills and for those who are looking to progress their swimming ability. Pool parties are a great way to host a fun event, while classes tailored to competitive athletes allow them to improve their technique and overall performance.
4. The market analysis
When presenting your market analysis in your swimming school business plan, you should detail the customers' demographics and segmentation, target market, competition, barriers to entry, and any regulations that may apply.
The goal of this section is to help the reader understand how big and attractive your market is, and demonstrate that you have a solid understanding of the industry.
You should start with the demographics and segmentation subsection, which gives an overview of the addressable market for your swimming school, the main trends in the marketplace, and introduces the different customer segments and their preferences in terms of purchasing habits and budgets.
The target market section should follow and zoom on the customer segments your swimming school is targeting, and explain how your products and services meet the specific needs of these customers.
For example, your target market might include young children and their parents. This could include children between the ages of 3 and 10, as they are of an age where swimming lessons are beneficial and developmentally appropriate. Additionally, their parents may be willing to invest in their child's swimming skills due to the safety and health benefits associated with swimming.
Then comes the competition subsection, where you should introduce your main competitors and explain what differentiates you from them.
Finally, you should finish your market analysis by giving an overview of the main regulations applicable to your swimming school.
5. The strategy section
When crafting the strategy section of your business plan for your swimming school, it's important to cover several key aspects, including your competitive edge, pricing strategy, sales & marketing plan, milestones, and risks and mitigants.
In the competitive edge subsection, clearly explain what sets your company apart from competitors. This is particularly critical if you're a startup, as you'll be trying to establish your presence in the marketplace among entrenched players.
The pricing strategy subsection should demonstrate how you aim to maintain profitability while offering competitive prices to your customers.
For the sales & marketing plan, outline how you plan to reach and acquire new customers, as well as retain existing ones through loyalty programs or special offers.
In the milestones subsection, detail what your company has achieved thus far and outline your primary objectives for the coming years by including specific dates for expected progress. This ensures everyone involved has clear expectations.
Lastly, in the risks and mitigants subsection, list the main risks that could potentially impact the execution of your plan. Explain the measures you've taken to minimize these risks. This is vital for investors or lenders to feel confident in supporting your venture - try to proactively address any objection they might have.
Your swimming school could face the risk of a decrease in enrolment. This could be due to changes in the local area, such as new swimming schools opening up, or if the public’s interest in swimming lessons decreases. Your swimming school might also face the risk of injuries and accidents. This could be due to a lack of safety precautions or if the pool facilities are not well maintained. If accidents occur, this could lead to costly legal fees and a decrease in reputation.
6. The operations section
In your business plan, it's also essential to provide a detailed overview of the operations of your swimming school.
Start by covering your team, highlighting key roles and your recruitment plan to support the expected growth. Outline the qualifications and experience required for each role and your intended recruitment methods, whether through job boards, referrals, or headhunters.
Next, clearly state your swimming school's operating hours, allowing the reader to assess staffing levels adequately. Additionally, mention any plans for varying opening times during peak seasons and how you'll handle customer queries outside normal operating hours.
Then, shift your focus to the key assets and intellectual property (IP) necessary for your business. If you rely on licenses, trademarks, physical structures like equipment or property, or lease agreements, make sure to include them in this section.
You could have physical assets such as swimming pools and other equipment, as well as intellectual property such as lesson plans, training programs, and even the school’s logo. These assets may be used to generate income, attract new students, and protect the school’s reputation. Additionally, the school may have an online presence, which could include a website, social media accounts, and other digital resources. These digital assets and IP may help the school reach a wider audience, build relationships with customers, and provide a platform for marketing initiatives.
Lastly, include a list of suppliers you plan to work with, detailing their services and main commercial terms, such as price, payment terms, and contract duration. Investors are interested in understanding why you've chosen specific suppliers, which may be due to higher-quality products or established relationships from previous ventures.
7. The presentation of the financial plan
The financial plan section is where we will include the financial forecast we talked about earlier in this guide.
Now that you have a clear idea of the content of a swimming school business plan, let's look at some of the tools you can use to create yours.
What tool should I use to write my swimming school's business plan?
In this section, we will be reviewing the two main options for writing a swimming school business plan efficiently:
- Using specialized software,
- Outsourcing the drafting to the business plan writer.
Using an online business plan software for your swimming school's business plan
Using online business planning software is the most efficient and modern way to write a swimming school business plan.
There are several advantages to using specialized software:
- You can easily create your financial forecast by letting the software take care of the financial calculations for you without errors
- You are guided through the writing process by detailed instructions and examples for each part of the plan
- You can access a library of dozens of complete business plan samples and templates for inspiration
- You get a professional business plan, formatted and ready to be sent to your bank or investors
- You can easily track your actual financial performance against your financial forecast
- You can create scenarios to stress test your forecast's main assumptions
- You can easily update your forecast as time goes by to maintain visibility on future cash flows
- You have a friendly support team on standby to assist you when you are stuck
If you're interested in using this type of solution, you can try The Business Plan Shop for free by signing up here.
Hiring a business plan writer to write your swimming school's business plan
Outsourcing your swimming school business plan to a business plan writer can also be a viable option.
These writers possess valuable experience in crafting business plans and creating accurate financial forecasts. Additionally, enlisting their services can save you precious time, enabling you to concentrate on the day-to-day operations of your business.
It's important to be mindful, though, that hiring business plan writers comes with a cost. You'll be paying not just for their time but also for the software they use, and their profit margin.
Based on experience, a complete business plan usually requires a budget of at least £1.5k ($2.0k) excluding tax, and more if revisions are needed after initial meetings with lenders or investors - changes often arise following these discussions.
When seeking investment, be cautious about spending too much on consulting fees. Investors prefer their funds to contribute directly to business growth. Thus, the amount you spend on business plan writing services and other consulting services should be negligible compared to the amount you raise.
Another aspect to consider is that while you'll receive the output of the business plan, you usually won't own the actual document. It will be saved in the consultant's business plan software, which will make updating the plan challenging without retaining the consultant on a retainer.
Given these factors, it's essential to carefully weigh the pros and cons of outsourcing your swimming school business plan to a business plan writer and decide what best suits your business's unique needs.
Why not create your swimming school's business plan using Word or Excel?
Using Microsoft Excel and Word (or their Google, Apple, or open-source equivalents) to write a swimming school business plan is not advisable. Allow me to explain the reasons.
Firstly, creating an accurate and error-free financial forecast on Excel or any spreadsheet demands technical expertise in accounting principles and financial modelling. Without a degree in finance and accounting and significant financial modelling experience, it's unlikely that the reader will fully trust your numbers.
Secondly, relying on spreadsheets is inefficient. While it may have been the go-to option in the past, technology has evolved, and software now performs such tasks much faster and more accurately.
The second reason is that it is inefficient. Building forecasts on spreadsheets was the only option in the early 2000s, nowadays technology has advanced and software can do it much faster and much more accurately.
And with the rise of AI, software is also becoming smarter at helping us detect mistakes in our forecasts and helping us analyse the numbers to make better decisions.
Moreover, software offers ease in comparing actuals versus forecasts and maintaining up-to-date forecasts for clear visibility on future cash flows, as we discussed earlier in this guide. Such tasks are cumbersome when using spreadsheets.
Now, let's address the written part of your swimming school business plan. While it may be less prone to errors, using software can significantly boost productivity. Word processors lack instructions and examples for each section of your business plan. They also won't automatically update your numbers when changes occur in your forecast, and they lack automated formatting capabilities.
In summary, while some entrepreneurs may consider Word or Excel for their business plan, it's far from the best or most efficient solution when compared to specialized software.
- Having an up-to-date business plan is key to maintaining visibility on your future cash flows.
- A business plan has 2 parts: a financial forecast highlighting the expected growth, profitability and cash generation of the business; and a written part which provides the context needed to interpret and assess the quality of the forecast.
- Using business plan software is the modern way of writing and maintaining business plans.
We hope that this guide helped you to better understand how to write the business plan for a swimming school. If you still have questions, do not hesitate to contact us.
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