As exciting as it is to practice martial arts, many people want to take their training to another level and pass their knowledge on to others. One way to do this is to open your own martial arts studio. This rewarding experience doesn't come without its challenges, though. While the end result is definitely worth it – especially when you see how much your students love learning from you – there are things you should know before opening your own studio.
It's not cheap
Getting a business up and running comes with a lot of expenditures and a martial arts studio is no different. Before you decide to take the plunge, it's important to research costs, determine your budget and stick to it. According to Champion's Mind, the five biggest expenses to work into your studio budget include:
- Insurance: Injuries can happen in many martial arts classes, so you want the business to be protected if a situation arises. There are some providers who have special insurance for martial arts businesses, gyms and similar establishments. Of course, you want to make sure your belongings and the building itself are covered as well. Don't be cheap when it comes to your insurance! On the off-chance that you need it, you'll be relieved that your provider has your back.
- Equipment: While you won't have to purchase hundreds of pieces of equipment before opening, you'll want to have a good base for your first students. Figure out what's most important for the style of martial arts you'll be teaching and purchase that before splurging on unnecessary items. You'll also need building necessities like a refrigerator, seating for parents, and mirrors for the walls so your students can watch their form.
- Rent: Rent is pricey just about anywhere, but it's an absolute necessity. Unless you have the money to drop on a building that you can buy upfront, be sure you factor rent, plus some into your business' monthly budget.
- Marketing: Nobody is going to attend a studio that they don't know exists. It's important to network and get the word out before you even open the studio doors. Get people in the martial arts community talking. If necessary, hire an outside entity like an advertising or marketing agency or a public relations professional to build up the hype.
- Permits: You can't just start allowing students to come and go without having the proper permits. Consult with the U.S. Small Business Administration early on in the process to ensure that none of the permits you need are out of your reach.
Consider hiring a lawyer
While most of us don't have the budget to keep a lawyer on retainer, a few consultations are never a bad idea when you're opening a new business, especially if you don't have any experience. Not only will a lawyer ensure you have all of your permits and licenses, but he or she can also make sure you fully understand everything that you sign – from leases to rent. Your lawyer can also help you write waiver and release forms for your students.
Screen potential employees
Many martial arts studios begin with just the owner instructing classes. However, if you're interested in hiring employees or other instructors, it's important to make sure you're working with people you trust. It's a good idea to make your first employees people you're already familiar with – like family members, friends or people you've trained with. If you're going to look outside your social circle, you need to know what you're looking for. Do you want your instructors to be industry accredited? If so, you may have to pay them more than you would someone who hasn't been accredited. Are you open to hiring people who haven't had a lot of industry experience? How high of a rank do you want them to have? According to Fighting Arts, you should also be suspicious of people who claim to have incredibly high ranks, as an eighth, ninth or tenth dan isn't usually obtained earlier than the age of 35.
Though this may seem like a lot to go through when opening a studio, the sense of pride in having a practice space that people love to be in will be well worth it all.