By Julian Forbes
Founder of Karate Athlete, Inc.
Athletes are often sterotyped as having little business sense having supposedly sacrificed education for training. Those lucky enough to have picked a sport with lucrative rewards can afford business managers to do the thinking for them. Alas, that is not yet the case in the Martial Arts.
So…. better get some business knowledge under your belt because chances are you’re going to need it.One thing I strongly advise you all to do is to have a non Martial Arts career, or second job/business to rely on while you develop your Martial Arts business. By no means do I mean that you should abandon your dreams! I do, however, advise prudence and strategic planning of your goals, taking into consideration your resources, talents, and responsibilities, be they financial or otherwise clearly in mind.
Opening a dojo (school) seems quite straightforward on the surface, and it is, in principle. There are however many factors that people starting out tend to over look. Insurance is obviously a must, but you must also consider that students go through phases and often take breaks, or drop out altogether, due to a number of reasons, some within your control, some not. Constant marketing and a steady stream of new students is a must for most schools in order to survive. This becomes particularly difficult in smaller communities that don’t have a seemingly endless supply of new people.
Being the best teacher isn’t enough! You need to run it like a business.
That said, there is no reason you can’t start a school that’s initially only open after you (and your students) get off from work in the evenings. This way you end up with two incomes while you build your student base rather than going broke and having to close your school prematurely because you’ve run out of money.
I will follow with a dojo (school) specific article in the near future outlining things to consider and watch out for, as well as ways to improve your odds of success.
For now I have begun to put useful stuff up like a Guide to a Formal Business Plan which I myself used for Karate Athlete, Inc.. I cannot stress how useful it is to go through the process of putting a business plan together for anyone thinking about starting a business. For me I saw a horde of jumbled ideas and thoughts sort themselves out like a jigsaw puzzle and saw for the first time exactly how much I was going to need and how much I thought I could make on a monthly and yearly basis. It was like someone turning on a light in a dark room full of noises! Illuminating!