When your BMX-racing pre-teen builds his own practice track in your side yard, you know that it’s time to consider starting your very own, “real” track, for profit.
It’s not that difficult to start one. It just takes a lot of patience, a little paperwork, and some personal investment. You also have to put forth some cash to get the job done, but there are plenty of sources of funding to offset that cost.
Here’s what you need to do.
Rally your community to get the support you’ll need. If fifty kids are making a thirty-minute journey to the closest BMX track, it’s a safe bet that you’ll have a bunch of kids at your track – even BEFORE it opens! (Can you really blame them for being too excited to wait?)
Advertise and talk with people. Post fliers. Get a good public speaker to talk to the Lion’s Club and any other community-oriented organizations in your area. Even if you live in a very small town, you can make this work: if there are children and teenagers around, there’s a good possibility of generating their interest.
Talk to the public school(s) in the area about posting fliers or sending home information with the students. Take out advertisements in your local newspaper. Let everybody know that you’re trying to do this and that their support is vital to the process.
Soon you’ll have volunteers coming around or calling to give you the help that you need. You’ll probably even get a hand from someone who’s already started his or her own track, and can thus tell you what mistakes NOT to make.
If it looks like you have a winner, contact your BMX sanctioning body. This is most likely ABA (American Bicycle Association). Just tell them that you want to start your own BMX track. They’ll put you in touch with the people – and paperwork – that you need to get started.
They’ll also help you pick a site, figure out a track design, and then build it. You don’t have to do the actual installation of the track.
You and your ABA representative will talk everything over – and he’ll probably even pay you at least one visit to be sure that everything’s going according to plan. You’ll work out every little detail, from the design of the track itself to where you’ll put the parking lot. Once you’re on your way, be prepared for a lot of waiting and working.
The process can take months or years, depending on weather and what else the sanctioning body is doing at that time. If they’re building twelve new tracks all across America, they aren’t going to have as much time to work with you as if they were only building one or two. Be patient and understanding, even when it seems like you’re being ignored.
Besides which, there are still plenty of things that you can do on your own – like build the facilities. You need storage areas, concession stands, parking, utilities, plenty of bike racks, and nice, shady places for parents to sit and watch.
- Raise funds. You really need to do this as soon as possible. If nothing else, you need to have a very good idea of where you’ll go to find the money. There are several places that you can look at:
- Community-friendly organizations. Your Chamber of Commerce should have information. If not, check with City Hall. Non-profit organizations like the Lions or Rotary Club donate money and hold fundraisers for community events all the time. Check with your city or town as well: they might be willing to help invest in your project.
- Grants. An Internet search will reveal a list after a list of companies (huge, large, and small alike) that want to give you money. Because so many of them contribute to community endeavors, you can probably convince a couple of them to invest in your track – especially if you’ve established it as a non-profit organization.
- Small-business loans. These require payback but are often more immediate (and reliable) than some other means of getting money. Be sure to check the interest rates and repayment terms before you sign.
- Your own pocket. If you’re bent on getting this thing started, you can borrow against your retirement fund, take out a personal loan, or cough up the cash all on your own.
Whatever the case, BE SURE THAT YOU HAVE A VERY GOOD BACKUP PLAN. This business is not guaranteed to succeed, no matter HOW well you research or plan it. Don’t leave yourself penniless and dangling on the dream of getting five hundred kids to race on your track, buy your nachos, and drink your sodas. It’s not going to happen – especially in the first few months or years of operation.
With all that in mind, go forth and create!