FOCUS: Stand Out From the Competition by Carving Out Your Unique Niche

FOCUS: Stand Out From the Competition by Carving Out Your Unique Niche

The sports, fitness and leisure industry is a giant, generating around $500 billion in revenues each year in the United States alone, according to Plunkett Research. Counting professional athlete, coaches and employees at fitness, winter sports and golf facilities, more than 1.3 million Americans work professionally in sports, fitness and recreation. As you might imagine, the competition is brutal.

Continually changing, the sports and fitness industry is also not a place where companies can find a success formula and then rest on their laurels. The customer base continues to change dramatically. For example, baby boomers—with leisure time, disposable income and concerns about their health—have become one of the largest groups of participants, flocking to exercise in huge numbers.

Ever-changing personal exercise preferences and shifting interests have created many “overnight” sensations. Zumba Fitnesss (named Inc.’s 2012 Company of the Year), Surfset Fitness (secured $300K in funding from Mark Cuban for 30% equity on SharkTank) and CrossFit (now boasting over 10,000 affiliate gyms and its own widely-televised CrossFit Games) are just some of the better-known examples. There are also many one-hit wonders and those ideas that didn’t quite catch on. Anyone remember prancercise?


Meanwhile technological advances, transmedia convergence and the popularity of gamification have created the likes of FitBit, Nike’s Fuelband (as well as Nike+ integration) and Jawbone’s UP24. You can even exercise from home or on the go with P90X and T-25 videos or all-you-can-eat subscription-based services like DailyBurn that you can stream on-demand via laptop, gaming console, iPad, SmartTV and numerous other devices pretty much anytime, anywhere.

While consumers have no remaining excuse to avoid physical exercise of some form, the sheer amount of options can be daunting. If you make your living through sports or fitness, standing out in this very busy crowd and attracting customers is likewise very difficult.

In this feature, we take a look at three small business entrepreneurs that, through fierce focus and clarity of purpose, have firmly embraced their ever-evolving industry and quite successfully carved out their unique niche in a highly competitive market.

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