Question #16: When am I ready to open my own studio?

There is a point in your teaching career when you might ask yourself “what’s next?”. One of the options is to open your own studio. I am asked often in Mentoring sessions with Teachers about what is involved in this exciting yet stressful process. There are many things to consider but before you take the leap there are a few specific things that will help you sleep better at night once you do decide to sign a lease.

I am particularly risk averse but love to plan so here are the strategies that I employed. This is by far not an exhaustive list of things to consider, just a few to get you started in your planning process.

These may not work for everyone so I suggest consulting professionals that you trust to help you through this process (accountant, financial planner, lawyer, etc).

  • Do I have enough clients?
One of the biggest concerns for every studio owner is what if no one comes? Before you open the doors of your new studio, build a stable and consistent roster of clients that fills you to capacity. Enough that you could consider bringing on another Teacher if needed. You may lose some in the transition, especially if you are leaving another studio or moving to another neighborhood, so have wiggle room to handle the temporary decline.
  • How will I fund the startup costs?
This is a huge question with lots of options. Personally, I saved and saved before signing a lease to ensure all startup costs were covered. Having an established business bank account long before you open the studio is also helpful to allow you to generate enough credit that you can apply for a small business loan. Borrowing money from friends and family can be risky and has ruined many relationships. If you do a Kickstarter or Go Fund Me campaign, make sure to carefully document how those funds are used for your business and be prepared to demonstrate how they have been used specifically to cover the startup costs, not your personal income.
  • What if business slows?
This is a scary reality that studio owners do not consider when opening while the economy is strong. If there is a downturn, we have to plan how we will continue to cover overhead, pay staff and still make a living. I established a goal for myself in year one, that by the first anniversary of my business, I would have at least one full year’s rent in the bank at all times. Having a Downturn Plan in place is imperative for every small business owner.
  • Do I need help?

The answer is YES! This may seem costly, and you may think you can do it all yourself but you can’t. Invest in good, trustworthy help in the areas of bookkeeping, accounting and law first and foremost. You will also need payment processing and scheduling tools, and website and promotional materials design. Other assistance that may be useful is Marketing consulting and office management when you get to that point. All of this is money well spent even though it feels like a lot in the beginning. Think big picture.

The most important aspect in deciding to open your own studio is planning. Take the time before you dive in to this commitment to ensure your success, rather than just hoping for the best.

Do you have a question related to your teaching or movement practice? Send it to to be featured in a future Ask Holly.

Written by
Holly Wallis, Certified Movement & Rehabilitation Specialist, PMA®-CPT
Director of US Operations, Body Harmonics Pilates & Movement Institute
Studio Director, ReActive Movement, 6200 LaSalle Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

© Movement Monthly 2019. All rights reserved.

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