Q: I have trouble getting my students to pay me on time. How do I deal with it?
A: You’re either teaching in the wrong area or you’re attracting the wrong type of client. Move to an area where the mean income is higher, or change your marketing strategies so you attract a better class of client.
In addition, you should look at automating your billing using your own merchant credit card account and an online credit card terminal that will allow you to bill clients on a recurring basis.
Q: Location seems to be important in the success or failure of a school. What is better, getting a cheaper rate on rent and doing lots of advertising or renting in a higher foot traffic location with much higher rent?
A: First off, how good are your marketing skills? Second, do you have enough money to pay all your bills for the school and your bills at home for a year, even if you don’t turn a profit?
If you don’t have much experience in marketing, and you have a lot of money, go for the high foot traffic area (next to a major supermarket is a tried and true tactic).
However, if you have some marketing chops, and you are short on cash, the lower rent method may be better – but you still need to be able to pay your bills when you open. If you’re broke, read the Small Dojo Big Profits manual because that’s where I show you how to do it, step by step.
(Note: Personally, I think the low-rent approach is the safest bet. You can always become a better marketer, but you can’t always get your landlord to lower your rent if you’re struggling. – MM)
Q: The economy sucks/we’re in a recession/I live in a poor area… how will this affect my school?
A: First, refer to the question and answer above on getting your students to pay on time. If you open any business in an area where people don’t have a lot of money, you are already ice skating uphill in a headwind. Things will be twice as bad when the economy goes south, which it will every 7-10 years or so.
However, most small businesses weather these times, and some even thrive through slower economic periods. Just look at real estate right now. A few years back, any fool with a license to broker homes was making a killing – now, they’re all bailing and only the strong and smart will survive (this was written in 2008 – MM).
It all depends on the individual, some probably do just as well when the market drops out, some do poorly and quit to become wage-earners, and some get resourceful and have break out months.
Same goes for MA schools. Personally, this is turning out to be our best year since we opened the new school almost three years ago… it’s all about reaping what you sow and finding ways to make things work, just like in any other industry. Success is reserved for those who create their own luck, not for those who are lucky.