Starting a school as secondary income

thesensei

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Well, it's been a while since I've posted, and I've never been a very prolific poster anyway; I just enjoy reading what others have to say occasionally! My story in brief, followed by my questions:

I am the pastor of a small church in a small Oklahoma town. My church pays me a salary which is about half of what I need to support my family of 5, pay the mortgage, etc. I have studied for 13 years, and taught martial arts (primarily Kenpo (Chinese and American) and TKD) for about 10 years. In my early teaching years, I worked for a program teaching children in a YMCA, but that's about it on the commercial side. The rest of my teaching has been a lot of private instruction, teaching as part of a private school PE curriculum, etc. I am also a music teacher, and have been principal of a private school, so have plenty of experience teaching and dealing with people!

So, I'm considering trying to start a school in my town. It's a town of about 8,000 people. Average household income is about 35,000-40,000. There are no Martial arts schools in town; the nearest is in a town about 15 miles away. There is a gymnastics gym in town, but I don't know anything about it, other than the fact that it's there!

I found a building that I'll be looking at tomorrow morning; it's right on the main drag into town - couldn't be a better location in town. It used to be an insurance office, so will definitely need some walls knocked out! I'm not sure of square footage yet, but judging from what I've seen on the outside, it's big enough for a small commercial studio, and I've taught in much smaller spaces! It's renting for only $450/month, so there may be other issues; I'll find out tomorrow when I see it.

Bottom line: I've never run a commercial studio, so I'm looking for advice on what to expect! What are the expenses that I'll need to look for? How much do you think it will cost me to get started? What are my chances of making it succeed? Do you think the town is large enough to support an endeavor like this? Once again, it's not my only source of income, but I can afford to put a good amount of time into it in the beginning.

Thanks for the help!
 

jarrod

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is your primary goal to make money? if so your emphasis will have to be children & fitness. i would focus on the children's program & start some sort of fitness-kickboxing class as well.

is there a community center or YMCA in town? if so, you might approach them about letting you teach a class. that way they absorb most of the overhead, then if you outgrow them you can move on from there. personally i would have second thoughts about opening a school as an income source in a town that small, especially if my existing income is already stretched thin. i would go the community center/YMCA route & see what develops.

as for expenses the most important one should be your insurance. never-never-ever teach without insurance. for equipment, you can get wholesale deals through century, ringside, title boxing, & combat sports pretty easily. i would supply my gym with good equipment from these dealers, & occasionally try to sell equipment to my students. equipment sales won't get you rich, but every little bit helps.

at any rate, best of luck & keep us posted!

jf
 

AMP-RYU

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You should be able to easily start a school in a town of 8000! Dont listen to naysayers, if you want to teach and be successful you will! Just keep your prices low and overhead lower and you'll be fine! I have almost 200 students in a town of 8000 and there are 5 martial arts studios 10 miles away! You can do anything you set your mind too! Never give up!
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And always have insurance.
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The way I stay successful is I keep my prices atleast 30% cheaper than the cheapest school around! This gets me the students and I make profit off of testing fees. Please keep us posted on your progress!
 

stickarts

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Having a very strong passion for teaching the martial arts and wanting to help others is key. This is what will keep you going through the tough times, and early on when you are spending money faster then its coming in, can be tough times. Pick a good location, have a good accountant and attorney for business advice, teach a quality program and get your name out there. Treat people very well and word will spread. Word of mouth will make you or break you. Expenses to get started has so many variables and not knowing your area its hard to predict. Your chances of succeeding are directly related to how strong of a committment that you are prepared to make and how quickly you learn from mistakes made! :)
Good luck! Let us know how you do!
 

Brian King

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Thesensie wrote:
Bottom line: I've never run a commercial studio, so I'm looking for advice on what to expect! What are the expenses that I'll need to look for? How much do you think it will cost me to get started? What are my chances of making it succeed? Do you think the town is large enough to support an endeavor like this? Once again, it's not my only source of income, but I can afford to put a good amount of time into it in the beginning.

Hello sir,
Judging by your posts you know how to teach and what to expect as for as teaching goes and you know your martial art. So I can assume that your not asking about the rewards and trials that teaching offers.

Before you go into any situation it is best to get a good look see before leaping and that is what I assume you are posting about and what I will be replying to. Pastor I do not know you so please consider my post as someone thinking aloud based from their own experiences and by those experiences related to me by others.

Running your commercial school especially your first it will be very tempting to go whole hog into the venture. Buying shelfs full of uniforms and practice weapons for the students to purchase, buying new focus mitts and hanging bags and what other training paraphernalia that your style and method uses. Buying mats of a long dreamed color or a hardwood floor just so will be a temptation as will be remodeling a space so that it is perfect putting loads of time and treasure into the venture. Avoid this temptation at all costs. It is all easy to justify many expenses and needed rather than wanted. Every dollar saved sir is a dollar earned. Start slow and build slow and honestly. Make this venture a cash deal and DO NOT go into any debt to start this business. Start from home or training in a park or on the edge of town or in the church. When you have a student body of a size you will know better what size and type of location that you need. Be honest to yourself about what the expenses are. That will tell you what size of student body you will need and what you will have to charge per student. You will have your building lease if you lease a building. There may be other charges above the rents due for common areas shared with other businesses. The building will have power and water charges (ask what the two most expensive months charges were, the utility companies should be able to get that information) you may need a phone there unless you want to use your personal phone. You will have printing expenses and perhaps other advertising expenses although word of mouth is good to go and cheap. As stated above insurance will be a cost as well although if you teach at the church perhaps they can cover that with their policies). You and your school will be hit up for all kinds of charities.

Being a pastor you know how easy it is for the wives of pastors to feel like widows as their man looks to others needs often at the neglecting of their own and their families while serving the calling. Wives of owners/teachers of martial arts can face the same situation and this must be guarded against.

I am guessing that a town (not knowing the town or how many children or schools in the town) of 8,000 you might be able to some day get 80 students willing to train or more importantly for this conversation willing to pay to train. At first you will likely get maybe a dozen if the kids and the parents like you. To be safe think maybe six to ten. Divide that amount by the expenses including your wages to see if it might be profitable. Perhaps you can see that it might be better to train a small group from your home or a park one or two days a week to see if there is an interest in what you have to offer and to see if running a group for profit is what really interests you. If your expenses can be kept low enough it will be a second stream of income and most importantly it will strengthen your pastor/counseling skills and will be a benefit to your community.

Good luck sir
Warmest Regards
Brian King
 
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