Some entrepreneurs look to the internet and the digital world to start a new business. However, there are still bricks-and-mortar businesses that can be lucrative, such as a soft play business.
Learn what a soft play business really is, if it can be profitable, how much you’ll need and how to finance a soft play business – right here!
What Is a Soft Play Business?
A soft play business is a space that includes lots of exciting soft play equipment that young children can enjoy and benefit from. Parents bring their children to these places so their children can play in a safe space with other children. They are often used as a way for children’s parents to meet and catch up while their children play together.
Sometimes a soft play zone is incorporated into an indoor play centre that older children use as well, making them an inclusive family venue.
What Does a Soft Play Business Need?
The product of a soft play business is the soft play equipment that the children will use. This means you will need items like:
- Padded play space
- Soft play shapes
- Soft play rockers
- Soft play mini obstacle courses
Soft play rockers are some of the most popular soft play items among young kids. They are just like a rocking horse but designed in the form of other animals from land and sea.
This equipment is exceptionally safe because of the soft materials it is made with. If children trip, fall or have any other accidents, the equipment is much less likely to cause injury. But there are other things that a soft play business will need to ensure safety.
You will also need to install soft floor and wall padding. This will increase safety further and reassure your customers – the children’s parents and guardians.
Are Soft Play Businesses Profitable?
Yes, soft play business can be profitable but like any other business, it requires hard work to make them successful. The business needs to be in the right building in a viable location, paying reasonable rental/building overheads and offering a service ethic that appeals to the local catchment and that differentiates the venue from any local competitors.
How Much Does It Cost to Start a Soft Play Business?
Most soft play equipment for young children will cost £50-£300 for each item. If you want to kit out a large space to create a fantastic soft play centre that will get a lot of footfall you will need to spend thousands of pounds. The exact figure will depend on the size of the soft play centre you want to create.
As is the case with most new businesses, the biggest costs come at the beginning, meaning you probably need to research financing options.
As a basic principle to follow, do not be either under or over capitalised. If you spend too little setting up your venue the public will recognise that the equipment and service is not optimum and are likely to patronise your competitors. If you spend too much, then the business may well have to service borrowing repayments beyond that which it is viable to do so
It is important that you do a business plan like the one provided by House of Play. This business plan template is written around soft play and indoor playground businesses and is a great tool for evaluating capital costs and potential income/profit streams.
How Can I Finance a Soft Play Business?
Most people who started a soft play business didn’t have thousands of pounds in the bank at their disposal. They looked for ways to finance their idea.
Some ways to finance your soft play business include:
- Use some of your own cash
- Asking the bank for a business loan
- Pitch to venture capitalists
- Look for an Angled Investor (Yes, you could go on Dragon’s Den!)
- Ask friends and family if they want to start the business together
- Use crowdfunding websites
In most situations, you will need a detailed business plan.
Most operators finance projects with a mixture of their own cash supported by either a bank loan, asset finance or both. Any financial institution that lend money will look at risk and the lower the perceive risk the more likely you are to get funding approved. Further, if you have the support of industry expertise, like the House of Play support package, financiers recognise that this reduces risk and you may be more likely to get a larger loan and, perhaps, even a better interest rate!
Does Soft Play Equipment Need Maintenance?
Sometimes soft play equipment will need to be maintained, but these costs will be negligible compared to the costs in the beginning. If you clean the equipment regularly and encourage children to use it properly, you shouldn’t have big costs unless you decide to buy more.
Will Soft Play Businesses Always Be Profitable?
Lots of businesses go out of fashion because their products and services are no longer needed. But one thing is for sure – children are continually being born so your market is always renewing itself!
For that reason, you can be confident that your soft play business should always have a market to support it
Other Soft Play Business Ideas
Most soft play businesses are aimed at children, but there is some soft play equipment now being incorporated and used in similar centres for adults.
You might want to consider an indoor agility park, Ninja Warrior, a trampoline park or a project that incorporates several product types.
Who Can Help Start a Soft Play Business?
Finances aside, some soft play equipment suppliers will also provide their insights and design skills to bring your business to life. There is one supplier, House of Play, that offers an all-inclusive service to work with you and make sure you don’t make any common mistakes when starting a soft play business.
Our Complete Soft Play Business Service
House of Play is a recognised and trusted soft play equipment supplier in the UK. We don’t just provide the equipment you need to get your business off the ground, but we offer a complete service for entrepreneurs.
We have a step-by-step service to help create your new business. Get in touch now and don’t forget to request our free brochure!