Beginner’s Guide on Starting a Bicycle Shop Business in the United Kingdom
The joy of riding a bicycle is generally a happy childhood memory for most of us. It is a great way to keep fit, get from point A to B, and reduce our carbon footprint. Cycling is a popular activity in the United Kingdom and is considered the ideal vehicle in most urban environments. This is why starting a bicycle shop business in the UK might just be the next great idea.
Increasing consumer demand, tax breaks, and the media spotlight suggest that bicycles are certainly trending. It’s not uncommon to see high-profile Government figures getting around on bikes. Further, the global pandemic has also played a part in boosting cycling as a healthy activity. According to the Bicycle Association (BA), the UK’s cycling market segment rose to GBP2.2 billion in 2020.
In this guide, we look at the essentials you need to know prior to your entrepreneurial journey. A bicycle shop business can benefit the environment, the individual as well as the trader. Hard work, innovative marketing and branding, and common-sense business strategies can bring in some tidy profits. It’s a win-win situation for all, so do read on to find out all you need to know.
What is a Bicycle Shop Business?
A bicycle shop business is one that is environmentally sustainable and done right, can be pretty lucrative. As a business idea, it is quite versatile and allows for niching fairly easily. You can sell or rent out all types of bicycles or simply focus on bicycle accessories. You can also specialize in repair, service, and bicycle replacement parts and even offer it as a mobile service.
The target market is also quite varied as you can focus on one, or combination of, the following:
- Cycling clubs or cycling enthusiasts.
- Recreational or family-oriented cycling.
- Executive or commuter cyclists.
- Professional or competitive cyclists.
There’s also the type of bicycles that you may want to build your business around. The most popular in the UK include:
- Road and off-road hybrid bikes suitable for short commutes.
- Road bikes, which are ideal for fast rides on roads.
- Off-road or mountain bikes, great for rough terrain.
- Electric bikes or pedelecs with powerful motors.
- BMX bikes, usually for kids and enthusiasts.
- Touring bikes which are larger and suitable for carrying luggage.
- Cyclocross bikes, a type of bike used for cyclocross racing.
- Folding bikes for compact spaces such as carrying on buses, etc.
How to Go About Starting a Bicycle Shop Business in the United Kingdom
It is axiomatic by now that any business needs to begin with a written business plan. When doing your due diligence, do give consideration to specifics that apply to this type of business. For example, when scoping your area and target market, check out the local road network and terrain. Starting a bicycle shop business in areas with parks, cycling tracks, etc., simply makes good commercial sense.
Unless you are going the freelance or sole trader route, it is good to incorporate your company. This applies even if you choose a dropshipping or affiliate marketing business model. Incorporation offers better protection, good tax incentives and lends a more professional image to your business. 3E Accounting has a great guide to company registration in the UK that will take you through the process.
Registering your business is pretty straightforward and is done with the Companies House. You will need to open a bank account and get a secure payment gateway for all your transactions. Most importantly, you will need to register for taxes, get insurance such as public liability insurance, etc.
If you’re an eager beaver and wish to get started straight away on your business, then help is at hand. The best recourse in this instance is to engage business solutions firms that offer incorporation packages. Firms such as 3E Accounting United Kingdom have customizable packages to get you started seamlessly.
Does Your Bicycle Shop Business Need an Online Store?
A crucial factor in driving sales is how visible your business is online. E-commerce has taken off in a huge way, and it is unthinkable not to have an online presence. What you really need to decide is the platform you will use for your virtual store. At its most basic, you will need to choose between:
- Having your own business website.
- Signing up with established e-commerce platforms.
Having your own business website means that you are in control of everything that goes on. You will be able to drive organic traffic to your website with SEO-driven blogs, marketing campaigns, etc. Alternatively, e-commerce platforms such as UK’s Argos or the US’ eBay and Amazon might also be viable. Signing up with these industry giants means you have access to established platforms and a ready-made clientele.
Doing your due diligence is vital as it will help you make an informed decision. Some things you need to be aware of include:
- The costs involved – investing in your own website vs subscribing to e-commerce platforms’ packages.
- Knowing the market – launching big and bold vs testing market response with small quantities.
- Niching – do you want to niche your products or your service?
Whichever route you choose, do notify HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) of your trading activity. The HMRC website has detailed guidelines on how to go about this. Do consider speaking to the professionals, some of which do provide competitive solutions packages. Reliable UK company incorporation firms such as 3E Accounting offer comprehensive packages that include website design and development.
What Approvals Do You Need for a Bicycle Shop Business in the United Kingdom?
Generally, licensing and permits in the UK are not really in play for small businesses. However, this all depends on the exact nature of your business activity. You can sell bicycles and accessories without a license, but adjacent activities may require approvals.
For example, you may sell in-store finance or insurance along with your bicycles. This will require regulation and authorization from the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Selling food or drinks may need the local council and Food Standards Agency (FSA) approval.
If you play background music or stream content on television in-store, you will need a Music License. You will also need permits for signboards or if you display anything on the sidewalk. Further, the Pedal Bicycles (Safety) Regulations have strict standards that all bicycle shop businesses must meet.
In a nutshell, getting your compliance right can be tricky and best handled professionally. If you opt for a corporate service provider such as 3E Accounting, you won’t have to worry about compliance. We will ensure you stay compliant and up to date on all regulations.
How to Grow Your Bicycle Shop Business
Niching and specializing are, of course, tried and tested ways to secure a commercial advantage. However, there are also a few other tips and tricks that apply to a bicycle shop business. For example, if you are a cycling enthusiast yourself, you can sponsor or participate in local cycling events. In addition, consider offering fitting bike services or promotional packages to nearby cycling clubs, such as discounts on replacement parts, etc.
Whether you have a physical or virtual store or a hybrid one, conversion rates are what you’re after. The best route to this is to build up your knowledge and specialization. This should include training your staff to be competent specialists who can offer guidance. Knowledgeable communication, solving specific problems, and offering advice will build up customer loyalty in no time.
Further, the bicycle business is considered seasonal; hence, diversifying is an excellent way to handle the ‘down time’. A popular idea that has been on the rise is to diversify as a ‘cycle café’ or a ‘cyclery’. These offer lifestyle concepts that tie in with cycle-related activities. Some examples include cycling for a coffee or spin bike session, bike maintenance workshops, etc.
Finally, you will definitely benefit by signing up with one or more bicycle trade associations. These include The Bicycle Association (BA), The Association of Cycle Traders (ACT), and Cycling UK. They are a great way to keep abreast of the latest trends, regulations, and other relevant information.
Whether you are selling or repairing, starting a bicycle shop business is a worthwhile enterprise on many levels. You can choose to be in the very center of town or tucked away in a corner in a village. Your clientele can range from rambunctious local schoolkids to serious executives pedaling to work. It’s a versatile business, catering to a growing market segment, and is socially and environmentally spot on.
For hassle-free, compliant, and professional company incorporation services, do contact 3E Accounting today. Our team of global experts is ready to craft a comprehensive business solution package for all your needs. Get in touch with us today and begin your entrepreneurial journey the right way.