starting my own studio - buying existing TMA business

dvcochran

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I guess my skepticism comes from the fact that in order to teach those topics, one needs to have a fairly solid background in them. There are a lot of topics there, Anatomy, psychology, physics, history, behavior science, art, linguistics, pedagogy. It takes more than just having had one or two classes in something, to be capable of teaching it.

I realize the goal is not to teach a university-level course in each of these topics. But still, some solid background is needed in order to teach it well, or even at all. One needs to know more than the simple equation F=MA, for example. Working something like that into a class session does not mean you are actually teaching physics in your class, does not elevate one’s teaching above a host of other folks who are all doing the same thing.

So, what kind of background does the OP have in these various topics, that makes him believe he can integrate them into the curriculum in a groundbreaking and effective way, more so than the next fellow?

There is a sense of irony that the individual topics listed are a normal part of most all true TMA, nothing new at all. In the TMA I have been exposed to we learn all of them, albeit, certain terms (like pedagogy) may have never been used. Anatomy and psychology are big elements in learning self defense, both in the give and take of it. Behavior science could also be listed under SD. Anatomy is huge in learning how to perform technique. There is a ton of psychology throughout our curriculum. History and linguistics are straight forward teaching.

Giving an old idea a new name is marketing 101. Just a horse of a different color. Still smells like a horse however.
 

Flying Crane

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There is a sense of irony that the individual topics listed are a normal part of most all true TMA, nothing new at all. In the TMA I have been exposed to we learn all of them, albeit, certain terms (like pedagogy) may have never been used. Anatomy and psychology are big elements in learning self defense, both in the give and take of it. Behavior science could also be listed under SD. Anatomy is huge in learning how to perform technique. There is a ton of psychology throughout our curriculum. History and linguistics are straight forward teaching.

Giving an old idea a new name is marketing 101. Just a horse of a different color. Still smells like a horse however.
Yup, although I’ll say linguistics is misused here. Linguistics is the study of language structure and the relationship between language families and cultures. It was counted as a sub-field of anthropology for a long time. Using terminology of a foreign language, teaching some basic vocabulary is not linguistics. I cannot imagine how someone might incorporate actual linguistics into martial training.

I’ve seen some folks try to get all “physics-ish”, my impression has been that they are making an attempt to elevate what they do above the rest, making it seem more “sciencey” than the rest of us. Like they are in search of the equation to define the perfect punch, on some theoretical level. It’s all hogwash, in my opinion. If it even exists (which I highly doubt) it is irrelevant in the chaos of combat. Honestly, this stuff is not rocket science, and trying to make it so isn’t doing anyone any favors.

I believe that an academic study of anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology and sport/coaching could be very useful. But I would get that training at an accredited college, and not from my Sifu, unless he has proper degrees in those fields.
 

JowGaWolf

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So, what kind of background does the OP have in these various topics, that makes him believe he can integrate them into the curriculum in a groundbreaking and effective way, more so than the next fellow?
And that's why I'm not skeptical lol. I already see the potential for things not turning out as planned because things like "the type of customer" that is in the school may not like the new ideas and directions.. My thoughts are: Things like what the OP is talking about has a better chance to be successful ground up vs trying to "convert" students who are happy where they are and with what they are doing.
 

hoshin1600

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@333kenshin your second post explains a bit more about what you are thinking. thank you for that. i would suggest you take some business courses. you have a kernel of an idea and it may be a great idea. i think your thoughts are not exactly new or novel i have been incorporating those subjects in my own training as well and so have others. but the problem for you is one of business knowledge. you have to have an honest evaluation of how many students will actually want your product and how many will actually be willing to pay for it. entrepreneurs often think "everyone will want my product" and its not true. one problem you have is a problem with a matter of numbers. schools do not generally have many advanced students. they survive on new enrollment (at least here in the US) then you would only have a small number of those students willing to pay for advanced extracurricular classes. the juice is not worth the squeeze for your product. you may have a great idea but are not being creative on a method for delivering your product to the customer. to give you a hint, why would i pay you to teach something about an advanced topic when i can watch lectures and classes from world renowned professors from Harvard, Yale, Stamford, Oxford ect, on YouTube for free. a little Google- Fu goes a long way.

i always go back to the example of McDonalds. most people can make a better hamburger then McDonalds they just cant make a better delivery system.
 

gpseymour

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@333kenshin, good on you for bringing your bold idea here, to get some feedback before moving forward. You’ve gotten some good cautions and bits of advice already.

One bit I think was addressed in at least one other post (I’ve skimmed them all quickly), but which wants highlighting: you’re going to lose a fairly large portion of the existing students. And maybe a higher number among the advanced students, unless they individually prefer your approach immediately. Most won’t.

Let’s say I go back and take over my instructor’s school. I was there for about 20 years (before he was the chief instructor), and used to be one of the lead instructors there. I also have some advanced students who already like what I teach (from when I visit), and two instructors there who were my students. With all of that going for me, I’d expect to lose half of the students if I took over.
 

WaterGal

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I think you'd be much better off teaching some seminars or starting your own school. You want a shortcut to having advanced students, but remember - the students stuck around at this hypothetical failing school because they really liked something about that school the way it was.

As you say, there are many schools in your area, so the students could have easily quit there and found somewhere else to go. But they didn't, because there was something there they really liked - the teacher, the culture, the curriculum. If you buy it and change all that, they'll quit, and you'll have lost all the advanced students that you spend $20k or whatever to aquire.
 
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333kenshin

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Hi everyone,
First, thanks for all the input! You've given me a lot of food for thought, and accelerated my ability to think through situations that I otherwise might have failed to plan for and stumbled over.

The consensus appears quite clear that the "buying-a-business" approach comes with tremendous risk of students leaving shortly after the transition, thereby largely negating the value of the purchase in the first place.

This strongly tips the scale of my thought process back towards the "start-from-scratch" approach, which in fact was my initial thought process before the thought crossed my mind to explore the BaB approach. And just to reiterate, I do believe I have sufficient teaching chops to make SfS work (at least as well as the next black belt). So skipping the startup stage was never a necessary, but preferable due to:
  • lets me skip the hassle of first finding micro-rental (eg YMCA) and then later dedicated studio
  • let me skip period of trying to juggle full time work while teaching part time
  • I simply find medium to large classes more fun to teach than tiny ones
That's not to say I would rule out the "buy" approach altogether, but only if circumstances of the deal sufficiently mitigate against aforementioned risk of student departures:
  • neither floundering or flourishing: A studio deep in the red probably doesn't have enough customers (or reputation) to be worth buying. But one deep in the black will have no incentive to sell. So the sweet spot is a studio with a stable roster of students providing enough revenue to meet operating expenses but not outright profitable, and perhaps has been hovering in that state for the past several years. Solid enough to have survived the downturn of the past decade, but realistically unlikely to see a return to the heyday of the 80s and 90s.
  • continuity of customer loyalty: apparently it's possible to design buy-out contracts that include a bonus for each quarter of the first year if revenues stayed at least as high as the year prior to sale, giving outgoing proprietor incentive to facilitate a smooth relationship transfer over to me
  • continuity of curriculum: find a studio whose teaching style and content are sufficiently similar as to minimize disruption and alienation of the students.
  • gradual transition: Someone suggested I spend a couple months before the handover serving as an assistant instructor to the proprietor. This gives me time to learn their curriculum, teaching style, and testing rubric, while also getting students comfortable with me. Then when the business handover occurs, the transition will feel less jarring.
Whew! Think that captures my thoughts on the matter. This has been a lot of fun and education, so thanks to all who provided suggestions and feedback.
-Dave
 

dvcochran

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Hi everyone,
First, thanks for all the input! You've given me a lot of food for thought, and accelerated my ability to think through situations that I otherwise might have failed to plan for and stumbled over.

The consensus appears quite clear that the "buying-a-business" approach comes with tremendous risk of students leaving shortly after the transition, thereby largely negating the value of the purchase in the first place.

This strongly tips the scale of my thought process back towards the "start-from-scratch" approach, which in fact was my initial thought process before the thought crossed my mind to explore the BaB approach. And just to reiterate, I do believe I have sufficient teaching chops to make SfS work (at least as well as the next black belt). So skipping the startup stage was never a necessary, but preferable due to:
  • lets me skip the hassle of first finding micro-rental (eg YMCA) and then later dedicated studio
  • let me skip period of trying to juggle full time work while teaching part time
  • I simply find medium to large classes more fun to teach than tiny ones
That's not to say I would rule out the "buy" approach altogether, but only if circumstances of the deal sufficiently mitigate against aforementioned risk of student departures:
  • neither floundering or flourishing: A studio deep in the red probably doesn't have enough customers (or reputation) to be worth buying. But one deep in the black will have no incentive to sell. So the sweet spot is a studio with a stable roster of students providing enough revenue to meet operating expenses but not outright profitable, and perhaps has been hovering in that state for the past several years. Solid enough to have survived the downturn of the past decade, but realistically unlikely to see a return to the heyday of the 80s and 90s.
  • continuity of customer loyalty: apparently it's possible to design buy-out contracts that include a bonus for each quarter of the first year if revenues stayed at least as high as the year prior to sale, giving outgoing proprietor incentive to facilitate a smooth relationship transfer over to me
  • continuity of curriculum: find a studio whose teaching style and content are sufficiently similar as to minimize disruption and alienation of the students.
  • gradual transition: Someone suggested I spend a couple months before the handover serving as an assistant instructor to the proprietor. This gives me time to learn their curriculum, teaching style, and testing rubric, while also getting students comfortable with me. Then when the business handover occurs, the transition will feel less jarring.
Whew! Think that captures my thoughts on the matter. This has been a lot of fun and education, so thanks to all who provided suggestions and feedback.
-Dave

I wish you all the best Dave. MA needs driven, committed go-getters to keep the industry going.
That said, it clearly sounds like you are looking at this from a product standpoint and not as a service industry. A strong example is in your second bullet about buy-out contracts. In short, it will never happen and just drives the wedge between you (the provider) and the consumer farther in.

Your third bullet: I recall you said there are a lot of schools in your area so finding a school of your style should be easier. This tracks with your thought process. Thinking tenured students will automatically gravitate to someone with a few months experience or exposure to the same school does not. Anytime a small service business changes hands there will be shrinkage.

Your fourth bullet: Why would someone want to learn from someone else who has had less time in the same curriculum? In large, service industry just does not work that way. People are in a program because they want to learn THAT program. Not a modified or water down similarity. This has already happened too much in MA's.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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I think you'd be much better off teaching some seminars or starting your own school. You want a shortcut to having advanced students, but remember - the students stuck around at this hypothetical failing school because they really liked something about that school the way it was.

As you say, there are many schools in your area, so the students could have easily quit there and found somewhere else to go. But they didn't, because there was something there they really liked - the teacher, the culture, the curriculum. If you buy it and change all that, they'll quit, and you'll have lost all the advanced students that you spend $20k or whatever to aquire.
I'm going to second/highlight this. You would probably have a lot more success doing a seminar series based around what you're planning to teach, rather than the method you initially stated. And you can tailor the seminars to instructors or advanced students if you want, since those are the ones most likely to attend seminars in general.
 

jks9199

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Do you know how to make a small fortune running a martial arts school?

You start with a large fortune...

You've got a lot of grand ideas. You've given little indication of you actual background and education to support them. If you're serious about running any sort of business, you need to start by learning how to run a business -- basic accounting, advertising, licensing, all the boring stuff that nobody wants to think about but are essential to building a solid business. If you're going to advance new ideas about how to teach -- then you probably need some education supporting that, too, like coaching certifications, trainer certifications, and even some education classes. And you need to have the finances up front to support it. Based on your description of your background, and some guesses from your posting style and enthusiasm, you're in your early 20s at best -- though this is little more than a guess. Probably still in college or a recent grad... Can you pay the bills until you reach a level of success? I know the number of students you posited up-thread were just grabbed out of the ether for examples -- but if you think those numbers are close to enough, you need to rethink things quite a bit...

Notice that I haven't really even touched any of the unique martial arts issues. You don't think there's a reason so many martial arts schools today run before and after school programs that dance on the edge of daycare?

I wish you luck...
 

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