As with any other business, starting a music school takes determination, hard work and even a bit of luck.
But you already know that.
What you want to know is how you can make sure you don’t overlook anything important and keep your new business running well.
This article can help with that, by outlining the 5 P’s you always need to keep in mind when starting a music school:
Let’s explore each one in more detail.
1. Plan your goals before you can achieve them
If you’re not clear on your goals, you can’t expect anyone else to be either. And we don’t mean just your startup goals—to make a successful go at starting a music school, you need to review and revise your goals as needed.
Here are a few things you should consider at the onset.
- The number of instruments to teach
If you know more than one instrument, it’s worth advertising that. If you only specialise in one, capitalise on your focused expertise.
- Cost of Lessons
No matter what you choose to teach—single instrument or multiple—remember that you’re a professional and your knowledge is a valuable commodity. Don’t shortchange yourself with below-market rates.
- Group, private lessons or a combination?
Study the market if you can. You’ll find that some students enjoy learning in a group setting and others simply cannot learn except in a 1-on-1 lesson with you.
- Age groups you’re interested in teaching
If you prefer to teach only children or only adults or only teens, it’s worth knowing your own preferences before starting your music school. Of course, if you’re not sure, you can always start with all age groups and go from there.
- Part-time or full-time?
If you want to earn a living while teaching, you’ll have to manage your hours and take on more clients that you might be used to teaching at one time. Plan for this early on to avoid fatigue later.
- Teaching locations
If you prefer to teach out of your own home, you may need to do some renovations to turn it into a true office space. You may also want to nurture relationships with nearby schools to have access to their music studios. As well, at-home lessons and online lessons are worth exploring.
- Number of teachers at your music school
Do you want to teach solo or have plans to hire more teachers? If the latter, you’ll also need to create ironclad lesson policies and guidelines so that everyone who attends your music school receives a consistently high level of education.
Once you have your goals in places, remember to take a good, hard look at them once in a while, maybe when you do your quarterly review or even monthly, to make sure they’re still aligned with your vision for your music school.
2. Prep your promotional & marketing materials
Now that you have an idea of what your music school will offer and how, you’ll need to come up with a name—one that’s not already in use or too hard to remember or difficult to spell.
There are a lot of articles out there on choosing the best name for your business. It’s always a good idea to include descriptive keywords, e.g. “music school” or “music academy” as part of the name.
Once you have decided on a name, here are the next steps:
- Double check that your name isn’t already taken
You can search the ASIC Registers for free to have a look at any other music schools in Australia. If you’re not in Australia, your government should have an equivalent program to let you search for business names.
- Register your business name
If you’re ready to make your music school official, head on over to the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) website to register your business name.
- Register for required documents
You may need to register for a TFN, an ABN and possibly a Blue Card to run your music school legally. If you do have a legal advisor, consult them or read up on what you need to do to register your business.
- Purchase your website domain
Once you have your business name registered, purchase the domain name. It’s usually good practice to buy the local extension (.com.au) and also the .com for extra visibility.
- Design your collateral
You’ll also want to have a logo, and of course business cards, a website, and flyers—all things essential to getting the word out about your music school. Ask colleagues or friends for recommendations on designers or post a job on freelancer websites like Upwork.
- Hosting your information
There are many, many options for website design. You can try a DIY version such as Wix or SquareSpace, hire a freelancer or use Google Sites, whichever makes the most sense for you. You’ll also want to decide on where to store information such as your invoicing, lesson plans and other creative.
3. Promote your business anywhere you can
It’s simple: If your students don’t know about your music school, they can’t attend it.
Promote your business in as many places as you can, and consider both online and offline marketing tactics.
For example, you can advertise in:
- Local directories and the classifieds
- School newsletters
- Google, Facebook and Twitter ads
And that’s just the start. Depending on your budget and upfront investment, you can have door hangers, neighbourhood flyers, website SEO, vouchers, coupons…there are a lot of marketing opportunities out there.
You can also ask your friends and family for referrals, and always ask your current clients to refer you as well. Word of mouth is still a very powerful way to earn business!
4. Push yourself to do less, not more
Though it sounds counter-intuitive, the real success is not in doing everything by yourself as the business owner—it’s in delegating tasks that are better suited for others to do.
Have a think on the tasks that you don’t need to do. Maybe it’s payroll or maybe it’s organising an event. Focus on what you do want to do more of: teaching your students, interacting with other business owners, and becoming an active, highly visible member of your community (more on this in a bit!).
Some of the things you can expect to do (and eventually source out) involve:
- Keeping the website updated
- Coming up with new marketing ideas or promotions
- Tracking the progress for each student
- Signing on new students
- Reviewing your finances, both income and expenses
5. Participate in your community
Professional development goes hand-in-hand with community involvement. You need to be engaged and be engaging.
Nurture relationships with other local business owners. You never know who’ll recommend a friend or a friend’s child to your music school.
Invest in yourself. Attend professional development courses to stay sharp and always be in the know about the current trends and best practices.
Pass on that enthusiasm to your students. You can’t expect anyone to be engaged if you’re not. And students who enjoy learning from you will continue to learn from you—and refer others to do the same.
Hopefully you now have a very strong idea of what it takes to start your music school.
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