Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Starting a Martial Arts School: Part Two

So you’ve decided to take the leap and officially break off from your old martial arts school and start your own martial arts business. This can be a frightening task for some people, but in this entry, I’ll let you in on some tips for getting your business off of the ground.
1. First things first: make sure you have the financial ability to start a school.
This sounds like a really boneheaded tip, but you’d be surprised at how many martial arts businesses, (and for that matter, other businesses as well) can go under because of a failure to pay rent or utilities. Make sure you have the money to put a down payment on a property and pay at least the first few months of rent before you dive into this project. You want to be able to pay the down payment and the first few months of rent because whether you’re building a new property, or moving into a used property, it’s inevitably going to take some time to prep the property before you can move in and start teaching.
2. Select a location that’s going to get you noticed, and make sure there is room for parking.
As with any business, you want to bring in revenue, and to do that, you need to advertise. One of the biggest ways you can advertise without spending any extra money on T.V. commercials or newspaper ads is by selecting a smart location for your business. Select a spot that’s directly off of, or right on a main road. This will get your name out to passing motorists without having to spend money on an ad campaign. Make sure that people can see a sign for your business, and put a phone number on that sign, this will get the calls rolling in before you even open the school, and give you a base set of students to begin teaching.
Be sure that there is plenty of room for parking for your practitioners. It does not do any good to have a great location and have little or no parking for your students.
3. Use the space you have efficiently.
Whether you are building a new facility from the ground up, or moving into a pre-existing facility, you want to make sure you use the space that you have to your advantage. You will obviously need a main training room, which should be the largest space in the building. You also need to allocate space for the dressing rooms/bathrooms, an office, and a waiting area. With that said, those four spaces are the bare bones that you will need for a martial arts school. If you have extra space, you might want to think about putting in a small private lesson room, and/or another medium sized room, in case you ever want to split your class into two groups.
4. Understand the double meaning of the phrase “martial arts business.”
When I talk about a martial arts business, I’m really talking about two very distinct and separate ideas. There is the martial arts side of the equation, and the business side of the equation. You as the instructor want to be present for the martial arts side of the equation, but it might be in your best interest to have a business partner to handle the business end of the school.
As the instructor, you want to be present for the initial meeting between you, the business partner, and the practitioner. You want to make sure that the practitioner knows the ins and outs of your style of martial art, and it’s your job as the instructor to put your practitioner at ease about the whole process. Beyond that, however, your job is to teach your students the martial art. The phone calls, the attendance records, the payment records, ordering supplies, paying rent and utilities, and all other aspects of the business side of the equation would be up to your business partner. The reason why I give this tip is because too many martial arts instructors serve as the teacher as well as the business man. When that happens, the business man portion takes over, and you have to shove the teaching off on black belts…which was the very reason you left your old school in the first place.

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