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Kovar Systems
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7 Must Haves for a Successful Martial Arts School Owner

By Dave Kovar
 Today's blog includes some wonderful insight from our founder Hanshi Dave Kovar about what it takes to be a successful martial arts school owner in today's ever-changing world. 
Time flies. I can't believe that it has been over 42 years since I opened my first martial arts school! It was November of 1978 and I had been training for nearly 6 years. I had just graduated from high school, so I thought I knew everything. Generally speaking, being optimistic is a good thing, but sometimes blind ignorance can be good as well. Looking back at it now, if I had any clue as to how much I didn't know, I may never even gotten started. So much of what I did for so long was total guess work, complete trial and error.
As a matter fact, it's still a lot about guess work, trial and error.
However, I have to say that after all these years, I am actually starting to feel like I am beginning to understand the martial arts business.
The thing I'm really aware of now, the thing that's probably most different than it was "back in the day " is you can't just be "really good" any more. Most everyone is at least "really good" now. Being a really good school owner or operator is just the starting point. If you want to be successful in this business, you have to be excellent! You have to know the martial arts business inside and out. You have to be a great teacher (And of course, you probably ought to be a pretty good martial artist as well). Gone are the days when a mediocre school can thrive.
Here are seven things that I believe the modern martial arts school owner MUST have:
1 = Passion for What You Do.
If you're feeling burned out and you don't have the same level of passion, find it. Being burned out is just a sign of losing sight of your vision. Yes, this IS a hard business. Yes, you DO have to work hard. Yes, you HAVE to stay motivated. Yes there IS a lot of stress that goes along with this job. But honestly, what successful professional in any field doesn't encounter these things? You can keep your passion strong by creating a clear vision of where you want your school to go and then visiting that vision it often. You also might find it helpful to frequently read through those thank you notes you have from raving fans of your program. Finally, don't forget to stay a student of the martial arts. That always helps keep your passion strong.
2 = A Strong Base of Knowledge for Every Aspect of the Business.
The bottom line is... You have to know your stuff. Without strong business practices, outstanding teaching skills, and high-level martial arts education, you are doomed to just survival and mediocrity.
3 = On-going  Education.
You have to stay relevant. The martial arts industry is constantly changing (marketing, technology, programs, etc). You don't have to jump on the bandwagon for every new product that comes out, but you need to keep your eye on what's going on. You need to be constantly "sharpening your saw," as Steven Covey would say.
4 = Consistency.
Sometimes we forget that success is not something that we "arrive at." It is an ongoing process. It is not a destination, it is a journey. If we are not careful, success can be fleeting. Past successes can be an excellent indicator of your potential, but you can't live off of them for very long.
Consistency is king.
5 = Ethical Business Practices.
The only way to do good business is to do good business. Not only is having ethical business practices the right thing to do, but in this modern era, it is the surest way to success. Bad business practices will expose you quickly, just as good business practice will. The challenge for most people seems to be that good business practice takes longer. Cutting corners may seem like it helps in the short-term, but it will always cost you in the long term.
6 = Likability.
This might seem rather obvious but it is important to remember that most people, if they have any choice in the matter, will not stay in an on-going relationship with someone that they don't like.
7 = Trust.
If you want people to do business with you, they have to trust you. They have to know that your word means something. This can only happen if your word does mean something.
Just as a building must have a foundation in order to stand, your business must have a foundation of these basic principles in order to succeed. Remember these “must haves” when considering a business decision to keep your foundation strong!

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by Dave Kovar