Looking Back On 20 Years Of Small Dojo Big Profits

Small Dojo Big Profits book

20 Years… How Things Change, And How They’ve Stayed The Same

So, it’s been over ten years (update 2023: now, two decades) since I first released Small Dojo Big Profits.

Since I’m almost finished with the completely updated and revised version of SDBP manual right now (note: it’s done already), I’ve been thinking about how much things have changed in our industry in the last decade.

As for me, well, a few things have changed. For example:

  • Trolls on the internet forums have finally gotten around to actually reading my book, and they’ve stopped calling it “that McDojo manual” –
  • I am finding more and more that martial arts instructors see me as some sort of minor celebrity (I don’t see myself that way, and I think it’s pretty funny when someone sends me an email that starts, “Great Master Massie” – please don’t do that) –
  • And, where ten 20 years ago I was pretty much the lone voice crying out in the internet wilderness, it seems I started an entire movement… one that has unfortunately resulted in there being more independent “consultants” in our industry than there are independent school owners (um, yeah… sorry about that) –

But then again, some things have stayed the same:

  • I still do not get invited to speak at industry conventions, and I still take that as a sign that I must be doing something right –
  • My wife still thinks that martial artists are pretty much just Trekkies who can kick your ass
  • The best part of my job is still hearing from satisfied clients who have successfully made the transition to becoming full-time school owners, Small Dojo Big Profits-style –
  • And, I still believe with every fiber of my being that running a small, low-overhead, high-profit martial arts studio is the surest way to achieve long-term financial success and career satisfaction as a professional martial arts instructor –

I’m No Nostradamus, But…

Now here’s the interesting thing about that last bit; currently, economic conditions have practically made it a mandate that you run a small lean studio… something I predicted would happen in my book back in 2003.

So, it’s no surprise to me that the very business model I described in my book over ten 20 years ago has now become de rigueur for martial arts school owners who want to not just survive, but thrive in a tough economy.

Am I gloating? Maybe a little, but I think I’m entitled considering the initial derision I faced when I first released the Small Dojo Big Profits manual.

After all the character assassination (amusing), content pilfering (at times, infuriating), and flat-out dismissals of my ideas (asinine), it’s nice to see so many people benefiting from the information that I’ve worked so hard to share.

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

However, what really amazes me is that the same things I railed about in the original release of the manual are still occurring in our industry. It’s just that the manner in which they are being done has changed.

Bad advice is still being crammed down your throats. The only difference is that there’s no monopoly on information now, so just about anyone with an opinion and a keyboard is willing to tell you how to run your business.

Now, I’m definitely not one of those people who will try to convince you that listening to anyone but ME is going to result in the utter financial destruction of your school. However, I will say that you should be careful about who you take business advice from, because business advice is cheap; mistakes in business aren’t.

The Gatekeepers of Information Are No Longer Relevant

Speaking of which, it interests me a great deal that there are people in this industry who will make it a point to denigrate others in order to boost their own standing. This, of course, only makes them look small and petty.

However, it also points to another very substantial shift that has occurred with the growth of the internet. And that is, there aren’t any gatekeepers any more; or, rather, the gatekeepers of information are no longer relevant.

Look, it used to be that there were only a few sources of martial arts business information out there. I remember starting my first commercial school decades ago, and having to hunt down the sort of information that is so cheap and free these days. No, a lack of information is no longer an issue for martial arts school owners these days. Uh-uh.

Instead, the problem you have now is information overload. You’re constantly bombarded with information from a multitude of sources. Industry association memberships and magazines. Email newsletters. Membership websites. Blogs. Forums. Facebook. Twitter. YouTube. And on and on…

Five Simple Steps to a “Master’s Degree” in Running a Martial Arts School

The problem with being pummeled by all this information is, how do you sort through it? How do you make sense of it? How do you determine what the really important stuff is that will take your business from struggling to stable?

And, what should you focus on to take your business from just getting started to insanely successful?

Here’s the answer – if you want to run a small, highly profitable school, the Small Dojo Big Profits way, then the hard thinking has already been done for you (bookmark this page, because you’ll want to come back to it as you complete each step):

  • The Foundation: Start with Small Dojo Big Profitsread it and implement the simple system in the book (note: SDBP is now available in a comprehensive online course as well). That’s going to take care of your foundation for growing a successful and profitable business.
  • Getting More Students: Then, you need to focus on boosting your leads and increasing your conversions (leads to enrollments). So, go through my martial arts marketing course and the martial arts sales course (both are also now available as streaming online courses, and in our mobile app).
  • Keeping The Students You Have: Next, you need to look at your retention. I suggest you implement the martial arts character education program, and that you add some pizzazz to your kid’s classes with the martial arts drills and games guide. You might also want to implement a rotating curriculum, if only to make your life easier.
  • Stabilizing Your Income: An optional step would be to stabilize your income by offering after-school and summer martial arts camps (also available as a comprehensive online course). It’s a lot of work, but done right kid’s martial arts camps can easily double your profits. Plus, it’ll stabilize your income so you don’t have to worry about seasonal slumps ever again.
  • Maximizing Your Profits, Honestly: Finally, you need to learn how to get the maximum profit from your school without screwing over your clients or driving them away. Read The Profit-Boosting Principles to see how to get 80% more profit from what you’re already doing, all while better serving your students.

And that’s it. Boom, you’re done. You just got a two-year master’s course in martial arts business and marketing, all in the space of the few months it took to read and implement that information.

Not only that, but you got the information a step at a time, in a logical progression, with no information overload. And, for a fraction of what it costs to join one of those crazy-expensive membership thingys.

So, now you know what to do. Look for my announcement for the re-launch of the newly revised and updated edition of Small Dojo Big Profits early next week (note: it’s out already).

And finally, thanks for all your support over the last ten years. Honestly, I’ve had a blast providing you guys with an alternative to the mainstream’s way of doing things over the last decade, and I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed reading my work as much as I’ve enjoyed creating it for you.

Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.
— Henry David Thoreau


  1. Brad Rhame on November 29, 2014 at 3:14 am


    I am looking to open my own school in the future. I am also planning on purchasing your SDBP packet. Thanks for all the emails. Keep up the great advice!

  2. Mike Massie on November 29, 2014 at 8:19 am

    Thanks Brad, I appreciate your support!

  3. Gage Hanlon on June 4, 2016 at 9:39 am

    Hi Mike. I had to close down my school when I took a job 9 hours away. I’m currently teaching one student via Skype, but definitely want to open another school. Only concern I have is that it’s been almost a year since I have operated one, and know it will be longer than that before I get the chance, so I’m worried at how rusty I am. This concern of mine led me to your site and material. I was getting ready to buy SDBP, but since you’re going to be releasing an updated version, I’ll wait for that. So, all of that useless info I just spat out is a roundabout way of asking, do you have a projected release date for the newest version? Thanks!

  4. Mike Massie on June 4, 2016 at 9:42 am

    This is an old post. It’s been out for a while now. Feel free to pick up a copy. Also, I wouldn’t worry too much about being rusty when you start teaching again. It’ll come back quick. Just stay in shape between now and then.

  5. Rudy Rodriguez jr on July 23, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Hi Mr. Massive my is name Rudy I currently rent space from a dojo here in town to teach my classes. I want to open my own dojo do you have updated SMALL DOJO BIG PROFITS book out yet for 2017

  6. Mike Massie on January 27, 2018 at 7:25 am

    I updated it a few years back. The info in it is evergreen, so I probably won’t update it again for a few years.

  7. Gavin Eastham on April 1, 2018 at 5:04 am

    Hi Mike, does all the information contained work internationally? I’m in the UK and something that I’ve learnt overhead the years is not all American style ads work in the UK. Would you say your systems are universal?

  8. Anthony on November 29, 2018 at 6:29 pm

    How do I get a copy?

  9. Mike Massie on January 6, 2019 at 9:14 am

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