The Learning Curve of Opening a New Business
Your first year as an i9 Sports® owner is both exciting and challenging. You’re establishing your business and finding your first participants. Eric Stephens, who launched an i9 Sports business in Frederick and Carroll counties, Maryland, last year with his wife Nieshia, recently spoke with us about his first year in business and what new franchisees can expect.
Getting the hang of things
How is the business going? Is it progressing the way you hoped?
Yes, and we’re investing back into the business, which is allowing us to scale smartly.
This winter will be our first time expanding to a second venue for simultaneous games. We have more than one venue, but this is the first time that we’ll have leagues playing at the same time in two different spots.
In winter, we just host basketball. In spring, we’ll have our second full location with multiple sports. We’re pretty excited about the growth!
How has being part of i9 Sports helped you?
We have found the community of franchisees extremely helpful. Any time we’ve had a question, we’ve reached out to fellow franchise owners and to other owners in our state, and they were extremely helpful.
The franchisee convention (held in Tampa in July 2022) knocked our socks off. We thought it was amazing.
What type of help are you getting from other franchisees?
The franchise owners from Maryland held a meeting at the convention, and we decided to start meeting together monthly. We had our first meeting in August and discussed some things that are particular to our area.
First year progress
How have things changed for you since last year?
We’ve grown our business about 25 percent, and we’re already trending very well for our late fall clinic.
What do you think could be better?
We have a large population of Spanish speakers. Although we have some materials in Spanish, it would be amazing if we could tailor the website, too.
Advice for potential owners
What advice do you have for others who are thinking about getting started with i9 Sports?
Go in with an open mind and with goals.
We bought a territory where i9 Sports was not present. We really embraced the community through brand awareness. Research and market as much as you can.
It takes a ton of work, a ton of effort. But it’s rewarding, both financially and mentally. I like seeing the smiling faces out there. It takes a little time to get it going if it’s a new territory, but it’s worthwhile.
Aside from that, I would lean on other franchise owners and the network. Everyone is really supportive.
It’s a great time to start a youth sports league franchise. Want to learn more about franchise opportunities with i9 Sports®? Download our free franchise report to learn more.