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Old 04-19-2006, 09:51 PM   #1
Nobleronin4
Location: Macon GA / USA
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 15
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Entrepreneurial Spirit

How would you go about selling the idea, to some of the more entrepreneurial minded practitioners of Aikido, on the dream of packing your bags, quiting your current 9-5 desk job, moving to a city you never heard, and opening a dojo?

Are you willing to live on rice and beans for a solid two years? Are you willing to pretend to go home after training only to drive your car around back, park behind the dumpsters, then sneak into the back door and sleep in your office? All of this for the love of your art?

Then check out Macon, GA. Population 100,000. Next stop Aikido 60-75 miles north in Atlanta.

If you do a deep, deep search you will find that a Shodokan class is supposed to be taught at Mercer University,....but every time I try to find out any information, I get blank stares of wonder. I feel that I would get better results trying to get McDonald's to reintroduce the McRib sandwich.
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Old 04-19-2006, 10:01 PM   #2
Michael O'Brien
Dojo: Nashville Aikikai
Location: Nashville, Tn
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 288
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Re: Entrepreneurial Spirit

Mark,
First I would recommend that you do enough market research/market analysis to ensure that the area will support an Aikido dojo for the long haul, especially if this it to be your new career and you aren't going to have another "job". Finding a location would be a key element. You want some place people feel safe attending class, but usually most locations on your mail "retail" strips come with a high price tag. An inexpensive, slightly out of the way but easy to find location would seem to be important.

Then, I see no reason to "hide" that you are living in your dojo. You have either bought your dojo location or are renting a space and if it can double as a reasonable living space without interfering with training why pay rent on an apartment as well.

Just a few thoughts to get you started from someone way too sleepy right now.

Harmony does not mean that there are no conflicts,
for the dynamic spiral of existence embraces both extremes.
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Old 04-20-2006, 04:08 PM   #3
Nobleronin4
Location: Macon GA / USA
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 15
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Re: Entrepreneurial Spirit

Thanks Michael for your reply.

The question more of less should have read... "How could a entrepreneurial sensei, who has thought about opening a dojo, be sold on the idea that Macon might be an ideal local to relocate and open a dojo"?

The population of 100,000 makes me believe that Aikido would thrive in an area that is full to the brim with "TKD" and generic Karate......(absolutely nothing wrong with these Martial Arts.)

There would only be (one) Aikido dojo.
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Old 04-20-2006, 04:26 PM   #4
Mark Uttech
Dojo: Yoshin-ji Aikido of Marshall
Location: Wisconsin
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,218
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Re: Entrepreneurial Spirit

You never know until you try. I basically tell people thinking about opening a dojo to give it a ten year commitment. It is not easy, but if you persevere and are determined, the Gods have no choice but to help you. In gassho. (My dojo is in its 14th year)
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Old 04-20-2006, 04:39 PM   #5
Michael O'Brien
Dojo: Nashville Aikikai
Location: Nashville, Tn
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 288
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Re: Entrepreneurial Spirit

Mark,

So are you the one wanting to open the dojo or are you trying to sell someone else on the idea of opening a dojo in Macon?

If you are trying to sell someone else on the idea I would still do the upfront market research and analysis and try to scout good locations. Also, perhaps determine what the average price is in your area that the other MA schools are charging for their training.

That way when you do find a prospective Sensei open to the idea of relocation you can already tell them there appears to be "x big a market of potential interested students", there are 2 locations that are easily suitable for a dojo within "x" miles of downtown with a monthly rent of "x", and based on what other schools are charging you should easily be able to charge "x" a month for classes.

Again, just some basic thoughts to get you heading in the right direction.

Harmony does not mean that there are no conflicts,
for the dynamic spiral of existence embraces both extremes.
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Old 04-20-2006, 06:14 PM   #6
Patrick Crane
Dojo: Dojo Chattanooga
Location: Cleveland, TN
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 43
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Re: Entrepreneurial Spirit

I don't think a population of 100,000 is enough unless for some specific reason you have a disproportionately large and active martial arts subculture.
I'm not sure the presence of many tae kwon do and karate schools would necessarily mean an aikido dojo would thrive.

I live in a suburb near Chattanooga, TN.
Chattanooga's got, I think around 400k to 500k population.
We practice in a dojo right smack in the middle of the busiest downtown area.......shopping, clubs, parks......the whole scene.
I don't think there could possibly be a better location for a dojo in town.
The dojo offers instruction in Kenpo, Wing Chun, Fitness Kickboxing, personal training, and on Wed and Fri nights....Aikido.

With all that market potential, you might think we'd be swamped with folks, newbies like me, and other experienced martial artists coming to do, or at least try, aikido........right?

NO!!!!

We've got about 4 or 5 people who show up regularly for class.
That's .001% of the population.

The hard truth is that aikido is a tough sell.
Aikido is a tough art.
Gentle? Peaceful?..........BS!! Not here.
At the end of our classes, our gi's are absolutely drenched in sweat and our wrists, elbows, shoulders and knees need a thorough icing down.
We love it...We're having an absolute blast; but the wing chun and kenpo guys look at us like we're nuckin' futs.
We get maybe one or two people a month who come and try out......and we make an effort to be friendly and welcoming an even kinda take it easy on them.

I guess that's just the way aikido is.

Try this, check with the parks and rec department in Macon and see if they'll lease you some cheap space in the rec center a couple nights a week.

Good luck
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Old 04-20-2006, 06:39 PM   #7
Chuck Clark
 
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Dojo: Jiyushinkan
Location: Monroe, Washington
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Re: Entrepreneurial Spirit

In the late 70's into the late 80's I had a dojo that had over 30 very active yudansha in a town that had a population of about 50,000 people. There were a few other dojo but we were the only one doing both judo and aikido.

Maybe there just wasn't much else to do except drink beer or go to church... (tongue in firmly implanted in my cheek...)

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
www.jiyushinkai.org
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Old 04-20-2006, 07:17 PM   #8
Nobleronin4
Location: Macon GA / USA
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 15
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Re: Entrepreneurial Spirit

Quote:
Michael O'Brien wrote:
Mark,

So are you the one wanting to open the dojo or are you trying to sell someone else on the idea of opening a dojo in Macon?

.
Just trying to sell someone else on the idea.
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Old 04-20-2006, 08:37 PM   #9
Michael O'Brien
Dojo: Nashville Aikikai
Location: Nashville, Tn
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Re: Entrepreneurial Spirit

Quote:
Patrick Crane wrote:
I live in a suburb near Chattanooga, TN.
Patrick,
Will you or any of the other students make it up next weekend, the 28th-30th, for the seminar with Ikeda Sensei in Nashville?

Harmony does not mean that there are no conflicts,
for the dynamic spiral of existence embraces both extremes.
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Old 04-22-2006, 09:06 AM   #10
Patrick Crane
Dojo: Dojo Chattanooga
Location: Cleveland, TN
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 43
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Re: Entrepreneurial Spirit

Quote:
Michael O'Brien wrote:
Patrick,
Will you or any of the other students make it up next weekend, the 28th-30th, for the seminar with Ikeda Sensei in Nashville?
Not sure.
I can ask at Wednesday's class.
Our sensei is at a seminar this weekend in Chicago.

Personally, although I love the "brutality" of our classes, I'm really just a newbie and not athletically conditioned enough to enter a room full of experienced students and do anything but flop around and get myself seriously injured.
Assuming I can continue to successfully pursue my fitness goals, I'm planning on being able to attend my first seminar sometime late this year or early next year.
Gotta' at least break that 200lb. barrier.
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Old 04-22-2006, 10:22 AM   #11
George S. Ledyard
 
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Dojo: Aikido Eastside
Location: Bellevue, WA
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Re: Entrepreneurial Spirit

Quote:
Mark Jackson wrote:
Thanks Michael for your reply.

The question more of less should have read... "How could a entrepreneurial sensei, who has thought about opening a dojo, be sold on the idea that Macon might be an ideal local to relocate and open a dojo"?

The population of 100,000 makes me believe that Aikido would thrive in an area that is full to the brim with "TKD" and generic Karate......(absolutely nothing wrong with these Martial Arts.)

There would only be (one) Aikido dojo.
The demographics according to the trade journals is that only about 1% of the population has any interest in doing martial arts. That figure would be 1000 folks in your case. That 1000 may try an art or even more than one but 90% will drop out relatively quickly. That leaves about 100 who might train for a substantial time. How many martial arts schools are there in your area? Figure that the mixed martial arts programs will get the highest percentage because you can see them on prime time cable just about every night. Then comes Tae Kwon Do because it's an Olympic sport and because they have promoted themselves better than any other martial art. The rest gets split up between whatever other arts and dojos are there.

Most dojos pay the bills with kids classes. They are the "bread and butter" of the martial arts industry. Aikido dojos seldom have kids programs which are larger than their adult programs. So you won't have that base that most arts do. Kids mostly want to be Power Rangers or Ninja Turtles... you have to be, or at least have, an exceptional kids instructor to have the kids program that most karate schools do.

So in the end you are talking about teaching an art that has far less market share of the martial arts in general, one of the smallest shares of the largest market segemnt, namely kids, in an area with a small population. To top it off, the hot thing right now is competitive mixed martial arts. Traditional arts are losing share of a not rapidly growing market.

No, "thriving" would be a bit of wishful thinking. Maybe you could build a good community center program... but quitting your job and teaching professionally at your own school would be difficult (unless you have a spouse that has a "real" job)

From what you say, I'd expect you'd get a dojo of about 20 - 25 adults and maybe an equivalent number of kids, unless you are really good with them. Rents are usually cheaper in places like you are talking about but so are the average fees that folks pay to train. The national average for dues is $120 / month now but you can't get that in a smaller city like you are talking about. Aikido fees tend to be on the lowest side of the scale so not only arte you talking about the smallest market share but you won't charge what you probably should for the students you do get (Aikido people pretty much pride themselves on being bad businessmen). Do the math - no way, unless you are independently well off, that you will thrive. You'll be hand to mouth. Chuck Clark Sensei's experience of doing well in a small local is largely due to his being an extremely good and charismatic teacher. If you can perform at the very top level of the field you can make almsot anything fly.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 04-23-2006, 06:42 PM   #12
Nobleronin4
Location: Macon GA / USA
Join Date: Dec 2002
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Re: Entrepreneurial Spirit

Thanks George.
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