Independent Contractors: 3 things to think about as you build your business in the #fitness industry

By: Carla Ricalis

For new instructors in the fitness industry, it can often be overwhelming to know where to start and what to do. In addition to establishing your clientele, submitting resumes and job applications to studios, you’ll want to be clear on some of the more concrete steps to take in order to properly establish yourself as a sole proprietor. 

Here are 3 quick tips to think about as you begin to establish yourself in the fitness industry. 

And if you’re looking for more information and additional business guideposts, send us an email and we’ll add you to the list of those interested in our upcoming workshops and courses that focus  setting yourself up for success in the fitness industry.

Register for a tax/business number

Most countries have varying thresholds as to when you’ll need to start paying taxes on your income. 

In Canada once you start to earn more than $30,000 per year, you’ll be required to pay Goods & Sales Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) to the government. To do this, you’ll need to register for a business/tax number and add the tax (in Ontario: 13%) to each submitted invoice. 

For those of you living outside of Canada, check with your government website to determine what the earnings threshold is for taxable income and how you register for an account. 

As you reach that threshold of tax payback, it’s important to set aside a certain percentage of each contract payment in order to pay your taxes on time and without penalty. 

Many instructors will set up a savings account that automatically transfers a fixed amount weekly or bi-weekly to avoid spending money that they’ll need at year end. 

Get Insurance

Regardless of the contractual relationship you have with the studio or gym where you work, it’s important to determine what type of insurance you need for yourself and your business. 

Although most fitness spaces will have overarching insurance that covers instructors in the space, as an independent contractor, you’ll want that autonomy of having your own insurance to properly demarcate your status as independent contractor.

And  it’s also extremely important protection for yourself and your business when you’re working with clients virtually and in person. Although rare, if something untoward was to happen where a client became injured, that additional form of protection is basically peace of mind for you. 

When you’re looking for an insurance provider, see what their criterion is for becoming and staying insured. 

For most, a valid First Aid/CPR accreditation is key as is a recognized certification. Taking the time to learn about how you’re protected given the varying services you offer is an important step to better informing yourself as you establish your clientele. 

Studio³’s business insurance plus the individual insurance of our team members is primarily purchased through Sports Fitness Canada; they recognize our certifications, the rates are competitive and because they’re a small, Ontario based firm, we’re always able to chat with someone directly (and quickly!) with any questions we have.  

Find a good Accountant

When I moved back to Canada after teaching Pilates in California, I knew I had to get an accountant to help with that transition. I had experienced the value of having an accountant while working in San Jose and didn’t want to let that go as I continued to build my clientele in Toronto. 

Finding an accountant who can help guide you on expenses, money management and organization is key at any stage of your career – but as a sole proprietor it’s a good idea to find one sooner than later. 

Like most things, asking for a referral from instructors in the industry who you consider successful, organized and on top of things is a great place to start. 

Chances are, they’ve retained an accountant who has helped them manage how much money to set aside for taxes and overhead expenses and has clarified how to save receipts and what type of expenses can be write offs through their business (think; continuing education, transportation, communication expenses as some examples). They can also advise on programs like Quickbooks and Excel to organize and monitor monthly expenditures and revenue. 

All three of the above suggestions are important steps in setting yourself up for success. 

Along with learning how to teach Pilates or any other modality of fitness, learning how to structure your business is key in providing you with the framework to grow it without becoming overwhelmed, frustrated and discouraged with the many moving parts that are part of being a sole proprietor. 

If you’d like more information or have any questions about this and other parts of building up your business, reach out and let us know!