From the Classroom to the Back Office
I’m currently in the journey of opening a new pole studio. It’s both a rewarding and challenging endeavor. Truth be told, I’m not the best poler in the world. I know. Stop looking at me like that! I made my decision to open my studio taking that into careful consideration.
Making the decision to move from STUDENT or Teacher to STUDIO OWNER.
I’ve been poling for about two and a half years. I’m not one of those star students that moved from beginner to advance in six months. I’ve fought for every single move I gained. I started pole for a new form of exercise. I weighed 287 pounds when I started. My pole journey has been filled with successes and frustrations, but all these things helped me to understand that I wanted to create a community to cater to women who want and need support in their journey of change. Whatever the change may be!
That’s the first thing to think about. Why do you want to open a studio? This is important in so many ways and can be one of the biggest reasons we succeed or fail. If the goal to opening the studio is because we think we can make so much money doing this, maybe we should rethink our plan. If the reason is because you don’t want to work all the hours you do at your current job? Yeah, run don’t walk in the other direction. Think what the studio owner and instructors do is easy? Let’s chat!
Be REALISTIC about your WHY.
But that shouldn’t discourage us if our intentions, planning and execution are good. Some of the best reasons that have been shared with me for opening a studio are the following:
- A passion to help others and share the love dance and pole with others – this requires the person to be an excellent instructor. You have to have skills that you can translate to others. I’m a good teacher because I have the ability to explain things to people in a way they understand and I’m great at breaking down processes. Others may have amazing dance and pole skills that they can share with others.
- There isn’t a studio in the area you live – it’s hard to drive long distances to take an hour class. Trust me. I drive all over the place to take classes. If you think there is a market for pole in your area, then this can be a smart option. This can also include if studios in your area don’t offer the style of pole or dance you prefer, which is one of the reasons I started thinking about my own studio.
- You have a keen business sense, you think there is a viable market for a studio in your area, and you have the means and the resources to do something different and special. I’m a business woman. That’s my background. So, I’m very business oriented about my decisions regardless how much I love pole and dance.
In truth, you need to have some of all three of these to build a thriving studio.
Think about the HOW.
There is so much to opening a studio. I’ve worked for a long time researching, asking questions, networking, and planning. I did all this before I even stuck my big toe in the water. It takes time, money, business knowledge, and manpower to open a studio. I think many people believe they can buy a pole, put it up, and classes can start. It’s not quite that easy.
First decision is how we’ll organize our business. Will it be an individual entity, partnership, LLC, or corporation? Unless you already fully understand the ramifications of those choices, seek professional guidance. Then, apply for the proper business license. Second, where will you locate your business? There are pros and cons to each location choice. Make sure you weigh all your options! Third, are you teaching? Will you be the only instructor? Then, we have to research and obtain all the other things you need like insurance, state requirements, items need for start-up, and so much more. The planning phase of opening a studio probably took me a good year.
PLANNING – A necessary evil!
Once we have all our research and information, it’s time to build a business plan. I see the confused looks on your faces. So many people tell me they don’t need a business plan. I get all the excuses from all kinds of business owners on why they don’t need a plan, not only from the pole and fitness world.
Here’s why a business plan is a necessary evil:
- Writing things down helps solidify it in our mind.
- It gives us a reference point to understand if we’re on track or not.
- It makes us think through each point of running a business successfully.
- We need to understand the finances!! If you can’t do this yourself, find someone to help. The Small Business Administration and SCORE have free resources.
- If we need to get a loan or want capital from anyone, we have to have a business plan.
I spend a lot of time building out business plans, whether it’s for myself, my corporate job, or companies I consult for. In the end, they bring value if used properly.
Embrace the journey and learn from the challenges
It’s a hard transition from thinking only about ourselves to having to consider our students and maybe other instructors. As a student, we come to class, do our thing, and go home. As an instructor, we teach our class, we help our students, and we go home. As an owner, we cater to our students, we look out for the well being of our instructors, we’re beholding to the expenses of the studio, we have to think about our presence in our community, we have to build a brand that people want to embrace, and somewhere in there take care of ourselves and still figure out how to maintain normal routines with family and friends.
Don’t walk into the decision of opening a studio lightly. It’s not an easy world to thrive. It’s hard work and huge investment in resources. We can’t just think about ourselves anymore. We have a huge responsibility to the community we’re building. In doing so, we make sacrifices that many don’t quite understand from the outside. But if we can make it through the storms, we are rewarded for everything we put into the business. I hope this gives you some food for thought. If you choose to make the journey, I wish you the best of luck and can’t wait to see you succeed and shine!