I have been running a dojo since Sept last year - an existing small dojo with only two or three regular students. I've now got 6-8 regulars but it frequently drops to 2 or 3 due to vacations, work commitments and so on. It peaked at 11. Of these 6-8 regulars, only 1 is a beginner - the others were existing club members that trained at one of the other local club dojo, that now also come to mine as they seem to like the classes. So 1 new person in 10 months! I have another beginner that comes and goes but it has been more than a month since I last saw him, so who knows...
I have had 2 others come for a few weeks and then stop. I have had about 5 visitors come and watch a class but not come back. One student I had to ask to leave.
I think it is very difficult to grow a dojo unless you are in a strong catchment area, for instance a college or sports club. Especially as I am only a 2nd dan, and there are two other clubs in the same town. As a fairly new teacher, my ideal class size is around eight. I find it can be very disheartening when only a couple of people turn up, especially as I am putting so much of myself into the club. However I have also been to classes run by 5th and 6th dans where there are only 2 or 3 students, so I think there may be some hidden law that limits aikido dojo size, with a few exceptions that prove the rule !
Rachel - I really hope it works out for you. I know how much heartache goes into starting a new club.