Opening your first school can be a huge learning curve. For every successful, longstanding martial arts academy, there are many that didn’t make it past the first few months or years. As an independent business owner, you will be responsible for many aspects of your school, from onboarding new students to paying for utilities and applying for zoning permits. While it may seem like an uphill battle, the result can be one of the most rewarding experiences a martial arts professional will have.
To help you live your dream, we’re starting a new series: Tips from the Pros. These pieces of knowledge will be aimed at helping martial arts professionals run their schools, through direct advice from some of the martial arts industry’s top professionals. Today, we’ve asked four industry leaders to share their guidance on one very important topic:
What is the biggest piece of advice you would offer to a martial arts professional opening their very first school?
Araje L’Bert – Championship Martial Arts
Starting a new school, there is a lot to stay on top of. One thing I believe is important is keeping track of every lead that makes contact with you, whether it is a walk-in, from your website, phone call, etc. Make sure they are in one place and you have a systemized way to follow up, schedule appointments and enroll them. I've found that ChampionsWay does all of that seamlessly and efficiently. No trying to remember if you added this person to all your different databases and if you updated contact info in different platforms.
Rich Grogan – Grogan’s Academy
My biggest piece of advice for anyone who is turning their dream of being a Martial Artists professional into a business is to surround yourself with likeminded professionals who have had the same vision as you and have found a way to make it work. Success leaves clues and the blueprint to success is to find those clues and find those people who have done what you want to do, so you can follow their steps.
Will your journey be the same as theirs? Probably not but there will be a lot of similarities and there will be clues for you to follow. If you're persistent enough and determined to do what it takes to be successful, your dreams will become a reality. Be the person you were meant to be, do what you were meant to do, follow the footsteps of those you trust & respect, NEVER EVER give up, and you will be successful.
Edmund Ciarfella – United Martial Arts Centers
1. Start with the “WHY” (watch TED Talk by Simon Sinek). You must LOVE what you do!
2. Find a “Mentor:” someone to help guide you through the process. (Your Master Instructor)
3. Have a well thought out business plan. Make sure it’s completely written out.
4. Do not go into this venture undercapitalized. Remember, the first 6 months are going to be the toughest so you need the funds to run the school, before it starts to bring in income. This number might seem high to most but minimally $100-$150K. You have to take in to consideration ALL of your expenses, including rent, salaries, utilities, phone, and unforeseen costs, not including your school’s build-out.
5. Hire professionals to guide you: Get a great attorney, bookkeeper and accountant.
Carlton Doup – Kung Fu Northwest
Invest in the important things early. Don't wait until you can "afford" to do them. This is the easiest way to ensure that you will never be able to afford to do them. Waiting until you have “X” number of students to do something that will better your business and bring you new students is a flawed approach.
What’s your biggest piece of advice for someone opening a new school for the first time? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ and following along with our social accounts, to stay up to date with all of your ChampionsWay and martial arts industry news.