How to Create a Business Plan for Your Dojo
If you're thinking of opening a dojo to share your knowledge of and passion for martial arts with your community, one of the most important first steps is to create a business plan.
What is a business plan and why is it important?
Simply put, a business plan summarizes your vision for your business, and the actions and steps you need to take to achieve it. Beyond outlining your ideas and aspirations, a business plan helps create an effective strategy for your dojo and prepare for future growth.
Also, a business plan can attract potential investors to help cover some of the costs associated with opening. Typically, an investor (or a small business banker) will ask for a copy of your plan. They'll use this document to assess the financial soundness of your plan, your passion for the business, its growth potential, and a variety of other factors. Learn more about why you need to write a business plan.
Here are the foundational steps that will help you create a business plan for your dojo:
1. Create a mission statement
Before you begin, think about the mission or philosophy behind your dojo. What inspired you to open a martial arts school? You might start with a statement like, "I want to instill a love of martial arts in young children and help them increase their physical and mental wellbeing," or perhaps, "I want to create a disciplined approach that helps beginners advance to a highly competitive level."
Take time to craft your statement. Think about what brought you to this line of work. Try out different phrases, mix and match ideas, and then distill your thoughts into a precise representation of your core mission. After you've defined your intention, write a description of the purpose of your new dojo and how it will fit into your community. This mission statement will eventually become the basis of your business plan’s executive summary.
2. Conduct a competitive and customer analysis
You wouldn't want to open a new dojo next door to an already established martial arts school. Before selecting a location, perform a competitive analysis. Is there enough interest in your community to support your business? What’s you’re the competition like? What sets you apart?
Check out the competition's online presence. Are their websites easy to navigate? How engaged are they with their students online and on social media? What are their online reviews like? Ask yourself why someone would choose your dojo over another.
Next, define your target market. Create profiles with descriptions of your ideal students and include: why they would be interested in joining your dojo, how your dojo can serve their interests, and how they might learn about your business. This process will give you a solid jumping-off point to generate buzz about your business and attract students. Learn more about how to identify and understand your target market.
3. Develop a marketing plan
Marketing is how you'll reach new students and build awareness of your martial arts business.
Start with your brand identity—what types of fonts, colors, imagery, and messaging will you use? Then, outline strategies for each of your marketing channels. These can include a mix of online and traditional strategies but be sure you choose the channels where your ideal students will find you.
Marketing can be a large expense for many new small businesses, so it's important to budget wisely. Download our marketing plan and budget template to create yours.
4. Include financial projections
In many ways, the most important part of your business plan is your financial projections.
With class capacity and pricing in mind, calculate your anticipated revenue. Include additional revenue streams like branded merchandise, too. Next, get a clear picture of your expenses. Include your startup costs, like equipment and retail inventory, as well as ongoing costs like employee payroll, insurance, martial arts software, rent, utilities, interest payments on business loans, and more.
This part of the plan should include detailed financial reports—like projected balance sheets or income and cash flow statements. These projections will give you a better idea of timeline for launching your business and growing your customer base. They’ll be especially helpful if you decide you need outside funding from a bank or investor.
Although a martial arts business plan is practical in nature, the process of creating one ultimately helps you envision the business you want to create. When you set clear goals and strategies and anticipate your financial needs upfront, your dream is that much closer to becoming a reality.