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Proper prior planning prevents piss poor performance!

Basic requirements

These requirements are points to consider, but the absence of a requirement should not be a deal breaker. You may still act to attain the requirement, or there may be ways to counter the deficit by using other resources. In addition, meeting all the requirements will not guarantee success. Some basic requirements include:
  • Black belt. To open a martial arts school, you should have a certified black belt. However, since there are no laws, licenses, or requirements that govern who may open a martial art school; you do not need any legitimate or illegitimate belt to open a school. As a rule, due to the experience required, a third or fourth-degree black belt should be the minimum belt required.
  • Teaching experience. As in other occupations, being a good technician and being a good teacher are two separate skill groups. Just because you are good at doing something does not mean you will be able to teach others to do it. You should have taught classes in your instructor's school for a few years and have experience in what it takes to attract and keep students. You could learn on the job at your new school, but that may be costly. Learning from others who have already been through the process is the better way. New students will quickly be able to determine your experience and teaching abilities and, if they are not impressed, they will just as quickly leave.
  • Approval. To maintain your standing within your martial arts organization, you will need its approval for you to open a school. Traditionally, you should have your instructor's approval to open a school, especially if it is in the same city as your instructor, but, unless you have some legal contract to the contrary, it is not required. However, instructor approval is always beneficial because you want to keep up your own training with him or her, and you may need assistance from the instructor or one of his or her assistants with problems in the operation of your school. If your school will independent of any organization, then you do not need anyone's approval.
  • Assistance. You cannot operate a school alone. You will need assistance from others, such as help with funding or equipment needed to get started, and then you will later need judges for testings, access to tournaments, people to perform demonstrations, etc.
  • Business knowledge. To operate a business, you need some knowledge about business. You do not need a business degree, but without some knowledge of basic business practices, such as accounting, taxes, local ordinances, etc., your business will fail even though the school itself seems to be doing great. 
  • Planning. To be a success in a business, you must have a business plan. From the moment you decide to open your own school, until the day you close its doors, your business will require organization and a business plan that is written down and followed.
  • Finances. You will need money to open a school. Be aware of the cost of financing and the ramifications if the school fails.
  • Awareness. To be successful, you must never become complacent. You must constantly be aware of problems in your school, changes in the economies of your local area, your state, and the country, changes in your local business environment, changes in business laws, and changes in the martial arts community.
  • Personal understanding. You should understand your own strengths and weaknesses as a teacher, technician, and as a businessperson. Have a frank discussion with your family and friends, your instructor, and available community business counselors, and be open to their suggestions and advice. This may be the toughest part. Sometimes it is difficult to admit you are wrong or have deficiencies. Be optimistic, but also be realistic and do not take on more than you can handle.
  • Beaver, W. (1986). Opening Your Own Martial Arts School: A Planning Guide. Originally published by Brennen Business Guides (out of print).

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