So, you want open your own Pilates Studio. You’re itching to walk into the doors of your very own space full of equipment you love and clients flowing in and out every hour. But where do you start? How do you go from where you are now to physical space with your name on the front? You’ve finished your program, have been teaching at another studio and are ready to take that next step, leap and jump into owning your own space. Congratulations, I’m stoked for you!
I’ve got 10 tips for opening your own studio. Before you sign any leases, buy any equipment, or pay for any branding or merch, you’ve got to visualize your future space. Write down all your dreams, visions, and goals. Then head over to your CPA’s office and familiarize yourself with the money rules you need know. Not just to follow but also to protect yourself. Then meet with a lawyer who can help you read lease agreements. If you are going to allow other instructors to work in your space, your lawyer will help you figure out who can be in your space and what their role is (independent contractor, employee, etc). Once you’ve got a handle on the fine print, it’s time to get your studio up and running!
Open Your Doors with Confidence
There are probably 100 + but these 10 steps will get you started:
- Plan Your Budget: Know how much cash you have on hand to start your business and how much you need to make to pay bills, eat, and have your Pilates session each week.
- Sing It Loud and Proud: Tell 100 people in your community about your new space, or even your soon-to-be new space. These should be in-person contacts; make as many in your new studio community as possible. Be able to articulate who you are, what you do, and who it’s for. Think of it as your “elevator speech.” (I have a course in the works on this, so stay tuned!)
- Get Online: A website and social platforms that vibe with you are another way to share who you are, what you do, and whom you serve even while you are sleeping and teaching. Get this going even while you’re looking for a space! Websites are not built in a day. At least the good ones aren’t. You can always make changes to copy and pictures. Need a web design firm? Check out Striped Rhino and Keep Simple Solutions. Both firms have done several Pilates websites, so they speak our language.
- Figure Out What You Need: Have a vision for your future, but build for today: You can always get bigger! But you can go broke before you ever have a chance to downsize. Start with just the equipment and tools you need.
- Stick with Low Overhead: You’re just starting out on your own! There’s so much to do just in the marketing and teaching side. Don’t start yourself out with so much pressure that you can’t pay yourself for all the hard work you are doing.
- Do YOU!: Yes, look to other successful studios for advice and examples, but you have to be your authentic self. That’s what will attract clients and help you be your own success, not a copy of someone else’s.
- Participate in Community Events: Find out about community events, and go to schools in your area. How can your studio serve them? Is there a school in your neighborhood you can donate to a fundraiser? Can you invite your neighborhood chiropractor, massage studio, and personal trainers in for a day of classes just for them? Allow them to experience you. How about teaching a class at a local athletic wear store. Instead of waiting for walk ins, take your Pilates teaching on a field trip to your future clients.
- Share with Your Wolf Pack: Know who is in your tribe! Share your new adventure with them via e-mail. Develop a flyer or brochure and create it as a PDF. Attach the PDF and ask for their support by sharing it with anyone they know. Write up social media posts that people can easily copy and paste.
- Market to Your Clients: Focus on those clients you already have! Remember they are starting on this adventure with you. It’s easy to think about the client you don’t have yet. But the clients you have are going to be the best marketing you can get. Give them the best customer service.
- Be Eager: You’ll need your hustle muscle. However, allow the growth of your studio, the branding, and your vision to organically unfold.
Stay tuned for more courses on each of these points. This is such a vast topic. Each of you will have your own journey from teaching in a studio to opening the doors of your own. Remember: Starting and running your own Pilates studio is just like Pilates. It is a balance of strength and flexibility. Know what you need and where can bend your own rules and hold strong to your core values.