Starting a Martial Arts Side Hustle

Launching a business that relies on slim profit margins to succeed such as a deli or an auto parts store is always tough. An easier way to ensure that your next entrepreneurial outing is a success is to make a service the product. Thanks to a growing interest in fitness and health, exercise-related businesses are far more likely to thrive these days. Opening a martial arts studio is a great way to capitalize on this trend. You can easily do so for as little as $5,000 if you follow this simple blueprint.

Draft a Business Plan

Before you do anything, it’s important to sit down and come up with a business plan for your new martial arts enterprise. You could teach a variety of disciplines such as karate, kung-fu, aikido, taekwondo, wushu, jujitsu or even specialized techniques like sambo or krav maga. Do a little market research for your area to see what might be popular. A  solid business plan will help to focus your efforts and prove your case to potential financial backers such as the local credit union.

Sort Out the Paperwork

Once you have your game plan sorted, move on to the boring red tape. Form an LLC or other corporate entity to curtail liabilities and taxes. If you need money to get started, take out a loan through the normal SBA channels or from private investors. Be sure to get insurance in the event that someone gets injured. Of course, you’ll need to acquire a business license from the local authorities. Finally, settle on a payment system such as Square that can accept credit cards, PayPal and purely digital platforms like Apple Pay or Google Wallet.

Line Up Your Instructors

If you’re not going to teach the classes yourself, this part of the process isn’t all that difficult. If you want to offer classes in multiple disciplines, you’ll probably need to bring on multiple partners to help out. Keep in mind that these people will be bringing in the greenbacks for you. As such, it’s important to keep them happy and offer them competitive compensation. Just be sure that the people that will be teaching the classes are personable, reliable and above all else qualified.

Set Up a Dojo or Studio

The final piece of the puzzle is putting together a great location that potential students will clamor to visit. As far as space is concerned, you’ll need a good 1,000 square feet worth of training floor at a minimum. In addition, a few hundred square feet worth of locker room and bathroom space as well as a back office are critical. As for aesthetics, beautify the dojo by putting up some attractive wall art and placing a few bonsai plants by the door.

Sign Up the First Class

Achieving this objective will be the hardest part of making your new martial arts studio a revenue bonanza. It’s best to begin by offering severely discounted “teaser packages” that pique the interest of the local populace. Start by promoting classes at break-even prices based on your business model and profit projections. Pass out some flyers at your local community centers, libraries, government offices and major shopping centers. The key is to get the ball rolling in whatever way makes the most sense for your situation.

Market to the Community

For a small-time martial arts studio, advertising and aggressive though not overbearing marketing is of the utmost importance. First off, get your web presence in order. Set up Google+ and Facebook profiles  to ensure that the social media angle is covered. Use Twitter to regularly go after the followings that you’ve cultivated through all of your other online profiles. Targeting after-school program directors is a great way to bump up attendance. Network with local chamber of commerce members to make connections that can pay off later.

Refine the Business Model

Zeroing in on the right pricing is always a tough proposition. The best rate for your dojo depends on the usual factors like supply, demand and the cost of living in your area. The typical martial arts student spends around $600 a year on classes and training. If you build a real following, you can charge up to $40 per hour for expert instruction. Running summer camps for kids is a logical extension of a regular class schedule. In addition, tack on a “Pro Shop” where you can sell supplies such as uniforms  as well as hardware like kicking shields and hand targets.

Diversify Your Offerings

If you want to make your outfit pay, you need to branch out. For instance, you could offer flexible lunchtime classes for busy corporate employees. Furthermore, teaching private lessons to well-heeled clients is always a bright idea. You could even write e-books on martial arts training and sell them via Kindle or iTunes. Running dedicated training camps for law enforcement officials is another possibility. If you continue to expand your repertoire and learn as you go, there’s no limit to how much money your martial arts studio can generate.

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