Business of Teaching the FMA: Start Small, but GROW!

As I stated in an earlier post, I have been exchanging with an aspiring martial arts school owner. Actually, I have been talking to a few teachers. Because at any point in time I am always one of the only FMA schools in town, my schools are usually the place to stop by for those wanting to teach the Filipino arts. Recently, I was visited by a gentleman who has quite a resume of Filipino styles among a few other arts. He wants to teach pure art without selling out, but wants to make a living at it.

Needless to say, he purchased my book on the subject.

But I would like to add that a great place to start is in the community center–regardless of where you want your school to end up. Teaching in your city’s Parks and Recs (or equivalent) will help you ease into a commercial location for several reasons:

  • you don’t have to keep a minimum enrollment to pay rent; most city departments will simply take 40% of the tuition (or less) collected. this way, you make a profit–whether you have one student or 20
  • departments will advertise your class for you in a schedule that is mailed to every residence in your city. of course, you can advertise on your own, but you can’t beat the free advertising… that will most likely be read by all of your potential students
  • most community centers are appealing places to teach. one of the challenged I faced is that most of my schools have been in run-down buildings. you won’t have this problem in a community center
  • a safe place to learn the business, that won’t ruin your credit if your class grows too slowly
  • you will be able to network with other teachers, such as soccer coaches, dance teachers, etc. many of your students will come from these other classes
  • you can try several communities before settling on a longer-term location and signing a lease
  • costs are low, and will free your finances for other things, like equipment and marketing

Just remember to strive to grow. As your enrollment increases, you can either take on more centers or move into a shopping center. In my town, I know a Karate teacher who started in a community center and stayed until his enrollment reached 100, and now he is in a nice shopping center. For the FMA teacher, the center gives you a stable place to establish yourself while you learn the business side of the “business”. Get a website, build your reputation, and develop your curriculum and system (business system, that is). I have known teachers to remain in community centers far longer than they wanted to because they never saved their money or developed a plan to grow.

If your goal is to make a comfortable living with your class, start small and slow, and then GROW.

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