Kudos to you for delving into the brave and exciting world of owning your own studio, and for doing your due diligence on how to start a Pilates business. And I’ve got good news: there are ways to nail the cost of opening a Pilates studio without spending every pretty penny you’ve got. Here are some ways to stretch your dollar as you start out.
Successful entrepreneurs know that you must think “lean”. You need to start by finding an immediate way to bring in revenue by using as few resources as possible.
If you have the capital, you might consider getting your own space. Renting a space in an industrial area may be cheaper than a space in a retail or office building. Sometimes you’ll find that such an area offers more square footage for the cost.
However, if you need to watch your budget, there are still ways you can get a great space without spending a lot. Consider leasing a space in an existing health or fitness club or therapy center. There’s an added benefit to doing this: existing clients. People who visit the club learn about your business. Additionally, you can promote the club and the club can promote you. It’s a win-win for both of you.
Before you buy
Don’t just go out and buy every piece of equipment you want to have. Starting with mat classes is a fantastic way to keep costs down when beginning a Pilates program. Then, as you move toward equipment, look at leasing or second-hand options. You can often find gently used reformers from other studios or therapy businesses. Small studios can often do well with having only one reformer. Before purchasing any piece of equipment, consider how quickly you will expect a return on your investment.
Start by doing it all
It is possible to open your studio by going solo to keep labor costs down. Get ready to wear a number of hats such as bookkeeper, janitor and marketing specialist as well as instructor. Take time to understand your business model before moving forward. Team with a partner or hire staff only as you find necessary. You can start with a contract teacher that will get paid per student. Make sure any staff you do hire meets with qualifications that will strengthen your studio, or have existing students that will follow him or her.
You can also market private sessions (especially to any nearby wealthy neighborhoods).
Web for less
Any small business owner will tell you that having a website is as important as a brick-and-mortar space. Creating an online presence does not have to be expensive.
First, consider creating a business page on Facebook. This gives you an immediate URL as well as a place for possible clients to find important information about your studio. Once you create a personal account, creating a business page is simple to do and free of charge. You can post events here, too. There are reasonable plans for advertising your business through Facebook if you want to spend an amount of your choice to grow your local following. Facebook’s audience targeting is very good.
Yelp offers a way to get your business listed for free. All you have to do is “Claim your business page.” Yelp walks you through simple steps to get all your vital information such as phone number, address and hours of operation listed. This is great because of the review potential. Encourage new students to give feedback on Yelp.
For an entry level website, there are a number of free website building tools that provide a more polished look. These include:
Getting the word out
Advertising and marketing can be expensive. However, there are ways to get your business known without having to spend too much. When you first open your business, create a press release and let the local press know about your grand opening. Getting an article in the newspaper or being interviewed by a radio or television station is great free publicity. Create social media accounts and start posting to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Remember not to simply sell, sell, sell. Show the benefits of what your studio offers. Share stories about your client’s successes.
Hold an open house to welcome the community and introduce yourself. Become involved in community groups and network with others. While it takes your time and energy, it’s a low-cost way of getting a great return on your investment.
When you thought about opening your own business, you likely started weighing how you should be structured. Most small business owners look at becoming a limited liability corporation (LLC) or an S corp. (S corporation is taken from subsection S of Chapter 1 of the IRS code.)
Setting up an LLC typically costs just a couple hundred dollars. An S corp costs more to set up, but it is a pass-through entity and is not subject to double taxation. This could mean huge tax savings. Taking time to talk to an accountant to see what is best for you and your business is a good investment, especially if you will hire employees.
If you will be structuring your business as a sole proprietorship, you can save on costs by filing a DBA (Doing Business As). Procedures vary from state to state, but usually you only pay a registration fee of just a couple hundred dollars (or less).
Opening up your own business means looking into Pilates insurance. The best coverage will vary depending upon the exact type of studio you open. Dance Studio Insurance offers comprehensive Pilates studio insurance starting as low as $475 per year. An online quote is free to obtain.
Pilates Instructor photo by U.S. Army, under the Attribution 2.0 Generic License
Studio Photo by Robert Bejil, under the Attribution 2.0 Generic License