Running a martial arts school should be a lot of fun, and it is in many ways. But making it work financially is another matter altogether. I struggled for years with my schools but it was what I didn't know that was holding me back. It was what I was carrying around in my head which did help me too. What I believed about the art I was teaching, myself and the value of my school to students was all wrong.
Mindset and Business
Whether you think you are teaching out of the love of what you are doing or to build a business, is a large factor in your schools success. I thought that just by turning up again and again and doing what I had always done for 20 or so years of training, would be enough. It was not.
Only after several years of struggle did I really look into what I was doing, how it was making me feel and why it was not working.
I decided that it was make or break time. I had a few classes and a few students, but I was not satisfied with it. It was not making me happy. I would get a new student at the club and they would leave. My regulars were leaving too. I didn't know what I was doing wrong but I decided to take some responsibility for the school. I was in charge after all but I was letting habit rule me.
How could I expect change if I didn't change anything? If my school hadn't changed within a year I was going to scrap the whole idea. I had to make it work or that would be 20 years of training down the drain – or at least that's how I saw it at the time.
Doubt and Uncertainty
I doubted myself and my ability. I doubted whether I was doing the right thing. Maybe I should do something else? But I couldn't abandon the few remaining students who kept turning up. Martial arts had been a focus for my life. I don't know what I would have done without them. So I needed to keep going. But I also needed to make it pay. I was turning away work so I could make classes. It was crazy. I was doing myself out of money for the sake of my failing classes – which were costing me money!
I knew my indecision was not helping matters. I focused on getting my classes together in the same building. That would build some cohesion at least. I had done some affiliate training online so I was using some of the ideas I had learned to promote my class with advertising on the internet. But I was still struggling with numbers. I then put myself on another marketing course and started applying what I learned online.
One of the biggest factors was mindset again, not in the same way though. I knew I was being too 'wishy washy' with my advertising and in my confidence too. I knew I could be great at what I was doing, I just didn't fully believe in myself. But not only that, there was another hidden mindset problem which I was about to discover.
Marketing With Confidence
I was doing some marketing. But I was dipping my toe in. I would pay a tiny amount and see if it worked. If it didn't I would stop my advert. I kept doing this for ages. I did not have any confidence in what I was doing. I did not have the money to back it up either.
After a rather expensive marketing course I saw the main mistakes I was making. I did not have the cash for the course so it went on credit card. It was scary and I don't recommend spending money you don't have. But for me it was make or break time. I was so frustrated with my results. I did not know what I was doing wrong.
The course lit up a few lights and I saw some of my limitations. It taught not only the advertising specifics but also back-end products and the long-term value of the customer. Knowing these things gives you confidence in your advertising. You still need a range of products and a good business model for it to work.
Within a few months I was pushing my comfort zones and advertising many more beginners courses than I had even done in the past. Part of the problem was I had become too comfortable. I only did what was necessary to perpetuate the situation.
When I changed things and turned up the advertising in a kind of 'do or die' manner, things began to change. Again, I was spending money on credit but with a bit more confidence this time. I had been learning advertising online for some time, but I did not understand the concept of lifetime value of a customer, or return on investment. Knowing these things gave me confidence in what I was doing.
Don't get me wrong, I didn't just throw money at advertising. I was doing it in a very controlled way, targeting my specific location through Facebook advertising. I had learned how to lower costs and offer more back-end products. My main problem was a lack of students. This was partly my confidence problem and uncertainty with the school. It all starts from your mentality. By changing my mentality, valuing what I was doing and my approach to advertising, everything eventually changed.