Q: I’ve just moved to Oregon and am planning to start a business as a personal trainer. I’ve already purchased some equipment and will be doing sessions in clients’ homes. What should I be thinking about in terms of accounting to start this off on the right financial footing in the fitness industry?
A: Welcome to the Pacific Northwest! Being able to help fitness clients in such a personalized way must be such a rewarding experience. Through your chosen line of work, you provide tremendous knowledge and strategies that can change their lives forever. That’s magic.
As I’m sure you’re aware, the start-up costs for anyone in the fitness industry can be substantial. The good news is that many of the expenses you need to get yourself up and running can be a deduction on your taxes.
You’re probably saying to yourself by now, “Do tell.” So how about I get to it?
Please note that documentation is critical to accounting and your financial systems. If you want to take a deduction, then you need to have the appropriate documentation for it. This is an important habit to get into with every aspect of your business.
I recommend that you get into the routine of getting your financial documentation in order at least once a month. When it comes to your receipts, don’t give them the chance to get lost. Take a picture of them. Then, you can play a magician and get that pile of receipts piled on your counter to disappear–almost like magic! Here’s the trick: Attach the receipts to the appropriate financial statement and move to your “completed” folder and off your desk.
Here’s what you should save your receipts for:
1. Track Your Mileage.
Okay, it’s not like you get actual receipts for this, but as a personal trainer getting to your clients is an inherent part of your business. So that means you need to have a concrete system to account for your mileage.
I’ve written before about apps that I like, such as MileIQ. Find what works for you and stick with it. Having the right app at your fingertips makes the process of tracking your miles as easy as point and drive.
2. Certifications and Training Count.
The fitness industry is a competitive one, and you need to keep on top of popular trends in exercise and nutrition. Save your receipts for personal development activities such as classes, certifications, and reading material you purchase to increase your knowledge. When you own a business you have to set your professional development budget, and this is an area where I encourage entrepreneurs to really focus on.
3. Don’t Forget All of That Fitness Equipment.
Yes, those kettlebells are indeed a business expense, as is the array of other equipment you own to deliver personal training services to your clients. This is a necessary investment for your business, so be sure to hang on to those save your receipts and document them for when you file your taxes.
4. Networking and Membership Fees
Been busy networking? Your associate fees and dues for professional organizations to which you belong can be deducted. This is part of both your marketing and professional development. On a related note, trade magazines also can be deducted, so be sure to keep tabs on those purchases as well.
There are so many possibilities of business-related expenses you can deduct, but I want to start off with the basics so as not to overwhelm you. While this is a starting point, please be sure to work with a tax professional.
What an exciting time in your life and on your entrepreneurial path. Best of luck to you!