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I want to open a cycle shop.

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Hey ladies and gents. I'm a 20 year old business major and I love working on bikes. Not just my own bike, but every bike. Being in all these business classes has given me this stupid idea of opening a cycle shop. Talk me out of it? Or into it? Has anyone on here tried it? Has anyone done it successfully? What goes into it? I know I have a lot to learn still but hey I'm still youngish. I know I'll probably get roasted for having a dream but I'll take whatever you'll give me haha.

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Get a normal good paying job, work on bikes as a side hobby. Charge accordingly, do a good job and eventually you could be busy enough to do your own thing in the side. Carry proper insurance, WCB, liability and such if possible and have a business licence...

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I had the idea in my early 20's as well. Then after working at bike shops for several years I saw their is NO money in it. Motorcycles are a hobby, hobbys are the first thing people stop spending money on when the economy takes a dump

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I'm on the other side. I've worked in shops all my life, and have been close with several of the owners. You can't guarantee you'll love it or hate, nor can anyone on here esp. If they don't know you. A lot will say work a regular job and make money, keep it as a hobby, but I know just as many who have to zone out at their good paying job just to make it to the weekend. I don't make a lot of money, but somehow make it work and the job doesn't usually seem like a job.

One thing I wouldn't necessarily do is just start up a business off the bat. You would be better off trying to be a mechanic for someone else first. If you want to learn the in's and out's of the business, don't go for a larger dealership. There's too much disconnect between the office and the workshop.

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Also, keep in mind, not all mechanics make good business owners and not all owners make good mechanics. Just because you can pay the bills this month doesn't mean you can put a piston in right. I worked 3yrs in a shop while starting my own separate business on the side. The owner was a crook to customers and did everything he could to keep me from working my own business. I despised the way he mentored one employee as a mechanic because it made him a shady too. Stuff like stripping bolts on they would charge the customer...Timing worked out perfect when he laid me off as I was making enough to not be able to dedicate full time hours to him. I never felt an ounce upset over it.

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All these guys gave great advice.There is no money in it.Start a business that has potential to make money.Work on peoples bikes after hours,for extra money. 

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Also some things to add...

If you really think you want to get into the motorcycle business, stay away from retail. The game has changed drastically and yes, there is no money to be made in the retail side. Amazon, Motosport, RMATVMC and the like can only get to where they are by doing HUGE volume. The margins on parts, clothing, etc. are very low with Internet shopping being the primary source for most people. The key is low overhead and service that beats everyone else. This also means long hours, going out of your way for customer' weird needs, and the schedule might suck for a while.

I also feel like location is a big factor, too. I see you're in Illinois, which may be tough. I was in Virginia most of my life and had trouble making it work at a Sportbike-focused shop because of the short season. Now, I'm in Santa Fe and although it still hits 10 degrees here on occasion we still have a pretty long riding season. We also have a lot of customers who are adventure bike BMW types and they ride most of the year. There are ways to make it work, and it's been good for me at least. YMMV.

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I started my business at age 18 and have never regretted it financially or otherwise. Did everything wrong and things still ended up going right.

Starting early makes it easier, as you get older it gets much harder - can't put in the same crazy hours as when you are young and the wild enthusiasm against all odds inevitably fades.

Would I start a motorcycle business today? Possibly. But I definitely wouldn't open a chain dealership, merchandise retailer, independent garage, or any of the cookie cutter businesses out there. Cookie cutter businesses usually don't make very good money - if they did, a savvy businessman would start them en masse and leverage the economy of scale to make them even more profitable.

So it would have to be something else. Something that nobody else had thought of. As an entrepreneur it is up to you to figure out what "something else" is, and to crunch the numbers on it and figure out how it can put food on the table. Nobody else can tell you what kind of business to open. You need to write your own destiny.

So back to your original statement "talk me out of it" - not going to talk you out of it, but it doesn't sound like you are completely sold on the idea, so it sounds like you are talking yourself out of it.

When you find the right idea you will know.

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I'm on the other side. I've worked in shops all my life, and have been close with several of the owners. You can't guarantee you'll love it or hate, nor can anyone on here esp. If they don't know you. A lot will say work a regular job and make money, keep it as a hobby, but I know just as many who have to zone out at their good paying job just to make it to the weekend. I don't make a lot of money, but somehow make it work and the job doesn't usually seem like a job.

One thing I wouldn't necessarily do is just start up a business off the bat. You would be better off trying to be a mechanic for someone else first. If you want to learn the in's and out's of the business, don't go for a larger dealership. There's too much disconnect between the office and the workshop.

 

 

Also, keep in mind, not all mechanics make good business owners and not all owners make good mechanics. Just because you can pay the bills this month doesn't mean you can put a piston in right. I worked 3yrs in a shop while starting my own separate business on the side. The owner was a crook to customers and did everything he could to keep me from working my own business. I despised the way he mentored one employee as a mechanic because it made him a shady too. Stuff like stripping bolts on they would charge the customer...Timing worked out perfect when he laid me off as I was making enough to not be able to dedicate full time hours to him. I never felt an ounce upset over it.

 

I got into residential construction as a second career and loved it, not so much the management end, but the hands on end. When I went on my own I made the decision to be a tradesman and not a businessman. With just me and a good reputation, I don't have to deal with alot of the business end, only the hands on end. And it provided a good enough income to semi-retire at 49, which is my current status.

I'm only semi-retired because I really love what i do. MOST of the time.

 

I can see a similar path for a potential motorcycle mechanic.

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Hey ladies and gents. I'm a 20 year old business major and I love working on bikes. Not just my own bike, but every bike. Being in all these business classes has given me this stupid idea of opening a cycle shop. Talk me out of it? Or into it? Has anyone on here tried it? Has anyone done it successfully? What goes into it? I know I have a lot to learn still but hey I'm still youngish. I know I'll probably get roasted for having a dream but I'll take whatever you'll give me haha.

I own my own business.

There is a strong need for mechanics. You need to charge a certain amount for it to work. Figure out the number. Start with market share, under the price. Work 6 days a week, 10 hours per day. Be convenient and work hard. Yup, stay out of parts and retail.

Spend a year or so heavily marketing yourself in a low cost way. Get the word out that you are in business. You could learn from guys in other cities, they'll gladly tell you what works or doesn't.

When you get busier, you can slowly increase your pay and dial back the hours. Start young like you are!

Don't listen to the naysayers, but with that you can never quit on yourself!

Pm me if you want more info, or opinions.

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I spent many years in a different trade but always addicted to dirt bikes.

Started doing suspension work on the side for 2-3 years.

Got so busy I said f#$k it. If it lasts a week it's better than hauling ass for some other shmuck.

Well into my first year of flat out full time business. Built a good reputation and attend local races. Use social media to your advantage.

Sometimes it is stressful and late nights but nothing beats doing it my way. Plus having breakfast with my boy every day.

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I was looking into heading down that path in highschool.. I had co-op with a privatye guy that builds and races custom GP sidecars and mostly worked on road bikes but always had me tearing apart RM80s and small stuff like th.

 

I told him I wanted to get into what hes doing and he snapped.. said just what Monk said, make some money and do it on the side. Something like a simple hobby can turn into a profit making business if you can go about it. 

 

I just got into powder coating about a year and a half ago.. I still get to work on bikes and the stuff I like all the time. Best part is getting the customer photos lol

Edited by chronicsmoke

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When the masses say "no don't do it. It's a bad idea"...it's probably a good idea to go against what they all say, and just do it anyway.

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Instead of telling you NO. I'll tell you to do your homework. Research to see what kind of customer base you have available in the area, get a solid operating budget in place and find out whether it will make or break you. 

 

Keep in mind $ is made on labor and parts/accessories not on bikes

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At 25 years old I opened my own bicycle shop, turning my top recreational activity into my job, which I had for 16 years.  There have been some good points made above, but here's what I would add.

 

--It takes lots of work, but ALL businesses do.  Working for someone else does, too.

--It can ruin a perfectly good sport/hobby for you if you don't manage to keep a suitable work/life balance (different for each person)

--Be sure you know as much about the front end (retail or service) part of your business as the back end (accounting, marketing, taxes, etc)

--Retail CAN make money.  There are people everywhere that would love to come to your shop, speak with a friendly, knowledgeable human and buy your tires, oil filters and t-shirts.  The trick is finding them, letting them know you are open and having what they need.

 

Personally, I struggled with the seasonality (Seattle) and the work/life balance.  I was a great mechanic and salesperson, but far too conservative in marketing and not knowledgeable in the back end.  I got REALLY stressed out.  If it was not for my wife's better business savvy, we would have never made it.

 

BUT, we did make a good living, selling retail items in one of the most competitive and connected markets in the country.  If you provide a good product and experience, you will have customers.

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