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Business Planning

Writing a Business Plan for Your PADI Dive Shop or ResortWriting a Business Plan for Your PADI Dive Shop

There are many resources available online, at your chamber of commerce or even just people you know who have opened their own businesses.

You can start with what some call a start-up plan, which consists of a snapshot of your -intended business venture. This is a good way to see how all the pieces would fit together and analyze how ready you are to start a business. Plus, it works as an outline for the business plan that you will need to get all the pieces in place.


Tips for Writing a Business Plan:

  • Create for Effectiveness
  • You should be writing it to use and follow in your day-to-day operations.
  • The measure of effectiveness of a business plan is how well it affects the results of your dive shop.

Keep it Simple and Specific

A business plan should be easy to:

  • read
  • understand
  • follow

It should also lay the groundwork for specific and measurable goals for your dive shop to meet.

If you can’t use it to explain your goals to new staff members or scuba instructors, it’s too complicated and/or not specific enough.


Be Realistic and Complete 
Make sure your goals are attainable and that you believe you can attain them. Otherwise, they’re not goals, but wishes.

  • It takes dedication and hard work to make a business succeed. If you’re cut out to own your own business, you’ll do what it takes if you believe in your goals. But, even the most fanatical people won’t knock themselves out for a fantasy.
  • Know your boundaries and stick with them in your plan.
  • Include a comprehensive website strategy with multiple calls to action to drive customers to contact you.  If possible, an online shopping capability makes it much easier for your customers and they don't have to be local.  It expands your market.  Consider EVE Online (Available only in English)
  • Finally, make sure you’ve covered all aspects of your new dive shop. It will make it much easier to have all your goals, plans and objectives in one place.

It is important to use a business plan template that you’re comfortable with.


Resources that can Help Get You Started:
Create a Scuba Business Plan You're Comfortable With

  • is a site that offers several free web courses that walk any new business owner through the steps of starting a business. The Business Plan session will walk you through the steps helping you build it as you progress through the course.


  • offers several free sample business plans, a software program for purchase that will walk you through the process or you can create a start-up plan by going to


  •  If you're planning to open a business in the United States, The U.S. Small Business Administration is an excellent starting point for gathering information. They streamline all the facts for someone looking to start a business, or dive shop in your case, in an easy to navigate website. They also offer several tutorials including How to Write a Business Plan .


  • If you're planning to open a business in the UK, you might the UK Business Link services are excellent starting points for gathering information. They streamline all the facts for someone looking to start a business, or dive shop in your case, in an easy to navigate website.



Some other resources that may be of interest are:

Know Your Market – Send the Right Message to a Receptive Audience

When you’re planning a new business you need to consider who your primary target audience will be. This largely depends on:

  • Where your dive center or resort is located.
  • Are you near a university, health club, military base, or professional park? This will influence the audience your business will attract.Set Realistic Goals for your Dive Shop
  • What type of services you offer.
  • Are you offering recreationalprofessional or technical courses?
  • Will you be offering dive trips or local charters?
  • Will you have a pool onsite or work with a local pool
  • What type of staff you have.
  • What courses will your staff be able to teach and offer?
  • What type of ecommerce/ shopping cart you offer on your website.
  • Will you allow website visitors to purchase scuba gear, courses and/or trips via your website?
  • How will you compete in the ecommerce world?
  • What type of pricing you offer.
  • Will your price emphasize a low value strategy or a full value, full service strategy?


A Target Audience, Defined: 

A target audience is the group of people you want to attract with your advertising, promotion and marketing efforts. You can define your audience by:

  • age
  • gender
  • location
  • behavioral patterns
  • lifestyle


Targeting the right generational audiences for your dive shop is imperative. You want your messages to draw in the consumers you want to sell to.

Most likely you will find your consumer base is a mix of these three generations:


Echo Boomers (Gen Y): Born 1980-2000Echo Boomers, Gen Y
The fastest growing group of new divers, the Echo Boomers, is one of the largest untapped generations (challenging the Baby Boomers in size). It is a group whose attention is difficult to capture. They are extremely active, multitaskers and have a large discretionary income (thanks to Mom and Dad!) Plus, they are known to get their parents active in their interests. In previous generations, this role has usually been reversed. Echo Boomers:

  • Want to control their media experiences
  • Are masters of multi-tasking and have access to evolving technology
  • Interests waiver and shift rapidly
  • Value relationships, having control in life, and being really good at your job.
  • Were raised in the age of information and uncertainty, teens in this group can be skeptical
  • Feel that most grown-ups are really stressed out and they don’t want to be the same
  • Have significant discretionary income (about US $100 or equivalent per week)
  • Spend family money as well as influence their parents’ spending on both large and small household purchases
  • 63% of 6-17 year olds prefer going online to watching television
  • Are three times larger than Gen Xers (71-80 million of them)
  • Are culturally diverse, confident, optimistic, and follow the MTV culture
  • Respond to humor and irony
  • Like to volunteer for worthwhile causes
  • Want to be part of a crowd, think of a phone as a person and believe that staying connected is important
  • Have less of a nuclear family, which makes them rely on group connections

 Gen X

Generation X: Born 1961-1979
Gen X is often the hardest to define, mostly because this group doesn’t like being labeled. The word “pragmatic” is often used to describe this demographic. Ranging from 29-47, they either have families or are just starting that chapter of their life. While they enjoy hobbies and traveling, being practical plays a role in major purchase decisions until their kids are old enough to go with. Gen X’ers are:

  • Skeptics and critical of everything
  • Individualists who feel the need for excitement, and to do things others wouldn’t dare to do
  • Optimistic about quality of life
  • A group of 20 million with a discretionary spending power of $120 million US annually

Baby Boomers: Born 1943-1960Baby Boomer
This group is the parent generation to the Echo Boomers. They’re heavy travelers, nearing retirement and have discretionary income. They have many activities that keep their focus. Between family, free time, discretionary income, and proven high participation in scuba, it’s important not to ignore this audience. This group tends to be the most active scuba diving customer. Baby Boomers:

  • Live longer, healthier lives than previous generations
  • Have a propensity towards travel
  • View parenthood in a positive light and feel they were positive role models for their children
  • Want to provide for their financially secure adult children by leaving them an inheritance rather than leaving their money to a charitable organization
  • View empty-nesting in a positive light
  • Claim their disposable income has either increased or remained the same (35%) since their children left home
  • Think looking good is important
  • Are more likely to engage in traditional exercise programs such as walking, swimming and weightlifting and less likely to try traditional exercises such as pilates, Tai Chi, or salsa dancing
  • Like to spend their new found free time to focus on becoming debt free, wellness/health, relaxing, traveling and enjoying hobbies
  • Often pay for their kids and grandkids to join the fun
  • Have reached the time in their life where they are trying the things they’ve always wanted to do
  • This is the generation upon which diving was built, so millions of them are already certified. For these reasons, many dive destinations have an active Baby Boomers customer base that is disproportionately large compared to their proportion as new divers.

Focus and Communicate Appropriately to Your AudienceUtilize PADI Marketing Tools
Based on your location, services, staff and scuba instructors, you may want to focus more on one audience over another, but try to remain open-minded in dealing with all the groups. You may find it easier to build or use different communication tools for each different audience.

As a PADI Member you have access to many professionally designed marketing tools to help you reach these potential customers. If you are presently a PADI Member, check the PADI Pros’ Site or contact your PADI Regional Manager for guidance.

Want more information? Check out PADI Statistics