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Starting your first school -- a Blog

Author Topic: Starting your first school -- a Blog  (Read 8021 times)

Offline Rob Poelking

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Starting your first school -- a Blog
« on: March 17, 2008, 08:36:29 AM »
I'm getting to the point of seriously thinking about running my own school and since instructors often consider this I figured I would share my trek and welcome the comments and questions of more and less experienced instructors. I will keep all my comments here.
Rob Poelking, Black Belt, Original Method
Black belt under Sigung Ray Anderson
http://www.ohiokajukenbo.com

Offline Rob Poelking

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START TEACHING
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2008, 08:41:07 AM »
Step 1) The first thing I've done already is find a venue to start teaching. This is more than to just build a base of students but to also find out IF YOU CAN ACTUALLY TEACH. The response from students and parents will often be your best indicator of you ability to succeed at teaching. Opportunities to teach can be found by teaching at your local Rec Center or as in my case, apply for a position at a local YMCA. You could also look into teaching at schools and colleges, churches, etc.

After 6 months of teaching I've picked up a bulk of my adult students from the parents of my kids. That was a huge compliment to see my adults that impressed with my abilities and the content of what was being taught enough to learn it themselves.


Rob Poelking, Black Belt, Original Method
Black belt under Sigung Ray Anderson
http://www.ohiokajukenbo.com

Offline Rob Poelking

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MARKETING
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2008, 08:43:22 AM »
If you have graphic skills, design your own look and materials. If you DON'T--PLEASE DON'T MAKE YOUR OWN! Seek out some of your adult and teens who have a sense of design especially if you have an adult who is seeking a graphic arts degree in college. If you don't have that, don't settle on crap. Hire a pro! Poorly designed marketing materials reflect on you. If they look like crap, you look like crap without anyone ever seeing you.

At the very least you should have a good business card. Vista Print is a great place to get marketing items printed for FREE. The quantities are limited but it you can go back and use the service over and over. I get email alerts DAILY for free stuff. I've had brochures, postcards, and business cards printed and they all look phenomenal.

Make sure your materials communicate effectively and clearly. I should be able to pick up any one of your marketing materials and within a 5 second glance know exactly what you are selling. If you don't grab the attention within that span, your efforts are lost and I won't read any further.

Your business card should state very prominently who you are and how you can be reached. I know that sounds like a duh statement but I've seen too many Kajukenbo business cards that fail that very point. They're cluttered with crests and blah blah and I can't find the name and number of the contact individual. Less is SO much more in this respect. Keep your business card clean and uncluttered. Most importantly, Your name, your phone, your email and your web address must be on the card.

« Last Edit: March 18, 2008, 09:06:53 AM by Rob Poelking »
Rob Poelking, Black Belt, Original Method
Black belt under Sigung Ray Anderson
http://www.ohiokajukenbo.com

Offline Rob Poelking

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RESEARCHING
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2008, 12:15:49 PM »
This is where I am today. We are seeking a storefront location to lease. It seems better places lease for about a $1 per square foot (per month) or $10- $15 per square foot per year. What I am intending to do is determine my first year's expenses. Consider EVERY expense you can imagine and then add 15% - 25% on top of that as a cushion. Then put it all down on paper. This is the start of your business plan.

Some expenses you should consider and include:

Lease + common area maintenance, taxes, etc.
Remodeling Expenses (contractors, etc)

Utilities (electric, HVAC, water (should be included with lease)
Phone/internet

Advertising
Insurance
Snow removal (hey, I live in Ohio, you Californians have no idea)

Equipment (mats, chairs, mirrors, mitts, etc)
Signage

Parking (if it's not included with the lease)

Office expenses
   Postage
   supplies
   computer
   POS (Point of Sale--if you use one)

Maintenance
   cleaning supplies or cleaning service

Added:

Administrative fees
   Licenses
   Taxes (esp if you merchandise anything, you must collect and remit sales taxes--nuthing like being tax collector for the gov)
« Last Edit: March 18, 2008, 11:18:07 AM by Rob Poelking »
Rob Poelking, Black Belt, Original Method
Black belt under Sigung Ray Anderson
http://www.ohiokajukenbo.com

Offline Sifu C

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Re: Starting your first school -- a Blog
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2008, 12:46:10 PM »
I would also add the expenses of:

Business License often required by the city your Dojo is located in; usually an annual fee based on revenue.  Recommned you don't get snared without one.

Fees for filing a Fictitious Business Name often required by the county your Dojo is located in; usually a flat fee charged every several years.

With my respects,

Sibak C
Sifu Craig Lawrence
CLAW Martial Arts - Chief Instructor
4th Degree Black Belt, KSDI
Antioch, CA
www.clawmartialarts.50megs.com

Offline Patrick Campbell

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Re: Starting your first school -- a Blog
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2008, 06:17:53 PM »
Great inforamation, Rob. Thanks.

Pat
Patrick "Kaponookalani" Campbell, Ph.D.
KAJUKENBO - Professor Kai Li - ETS / HKA
Kenpo - SGM Rick Alemany 
DZR Jujitsu - ETS / AJI
BJJ - ETS / USFBJJ / Master Joe Moreira
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JKD / Kun Tao - ETS / IMB / G. Savelli
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Offline Ron Baker

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Re: Starting your first school -- a Blog
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2008, 02:27:40 PM »
Good info.

Also, if you happen to be in an area where there's a lot of available commercial space, see if you can negotiate 6 or 8 months free.  Here in the Atlanta suburbs, we're seeing brand new spaces just sitting and gathering dust.  Some are offering up to 1 year free rent (although there's usually a catch).  Still, now may be a good time to lease.

Finally, try to get to know someone with a legal background.  Occasional issues arise when you'll need some help with collections, injury claims, etc.

All the best.
Sigung (Shihan) Ron Baker
Kajukenbo 5280 MMA Foundation
Under GM Jason Groff
Ordonez Kajukenbo Ohana

Offline Rob Poelking

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Re: Starting your first school -- a Blog
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2008, 08:39:55 PM »
Just thought I'd let people know I'm it a little bit of a holding pattern. The "Y" is trying to move me into the nice aerobics room but we're dealing with scheduling conflicts and such. I've got a significant following of students that I am quickly discovering are quite loyal to their training. Another very humbling thought. I want to be sure that I do everything possible to protect their interest as well as my own.

ALWAYS consider your students interest when making decisions. Note that I did not say always put your students interest first. I have a family and my family will come first and that means I have to maintain my day job, too. Hopefully one day, teaching will BE my day job but that day is still a ways off. But, that being said, don't be afraid to involve your students in your decisions. Involving them helps them to "own" your ideas. When a subordinate "owns" an idea, they are much more enthusiastic about its progress and success. They end up being your biggest cheerleader.

Rob Poelking, Black Belt, Original Method
Black belt under Sigung Ray Anderson
http://www.ohiokajukenbo.com

Offline Stan Kristovich

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Re: Starting your first school -- a Blog
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2008, 05:48:35 AM »
You have a good read on expenses.  You should also estimate income.  Take a look at what you can reasonably expect to earn, hour by hour, i.e. what is the per-hour amount of revenue you can expect to receive based on a reasonable number of students and what you are charging for your services.  Subtracting your expenses from this gross revenue gives you your estimated before-tax profit.  It will also give you an idea as to whether or not you need to develop other activities/profit centers (like seminars) that will help you to meet your income/return on investment goals.

The rule of thumb is to UNDER estimate income and OVER estimate expenses.  That will keep you out of trouble most of the time (no accounting for UNFORSEEN expenses, so work out as many expenese scenarios as you can, ahead of time--what can go wrong?).  For example, with a school that carries the potential for a lot of injuries, liability insurance is important. 

You should also consider incorporating--it sounds hard, but really it can help.  Setting up a corporation puts all the assets of the business into the business, but if done right, it also shields your personal assets from any downside liability.  You make yourself an employee of the corporation instead of taking money out directly.  More than an accounting trick--if something really bad happens, you have the corporation to shield you from the downsides.  Say, for example, a student gets seriously injured, an you get sued--a corporation may save your personal assets, even if you have to surrender everything you put into the business.  On the other hand, if you go this route, you have to be very, very meticulous about keeping your personal and corporate assets separate, otherwise a good lawyer can 'pierce the veil' of your corporation and go after your personal assets (like your house and bank accounts).  LegalZoom.com or other entities can help--many state governments have an office whose job it is is to help out new businesses.  If you are a military veteran, the DVA can provide some advice.  And the Small Business Administration has programs for veterans' owned businesses. 

The bottom line on whether or not to incorporate, create a limited liability arrangement or be a sole proprietor, rests on your own goals for your business, and your state's laws about liability and business structure.  I'm not an attorney, and this is not authoritative legal advice.  This is (really) MBA-level advice about some of the things you should think about, in regards to the business aspects of creating a for-profit school.  You should consult a qualified attorney in your district for the specifics.

Another thing that can help is taking the time and effort to write a business plan.  Writing up a business plan that lays out as much as possible about what you can anticipate happening in your school, especially your anticipated strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, will provide a good frameworks.  And a well-thought-out business plan can help with getting financing, if it shows how and where you expect the money to come from and how the up-front contribution of dollars will flow into both paying off the loan and achieving your earning goals.  And another important thing about having a plan, it will help avoid getting swayed by the tumult of conflicting advice you could get once you open your business (this email doesn't count, of course!).

Regards,
Stan K
Aloha,
Stan Kristovich
(a Black Belt instructor [and currently on extended sabattical] in North Las Vegas, Nevada
Formerly of Stevenson Kenpo-Karate, Mililani, HI