How I turned a student loan into my first part-time business returning over $2000 p/m at 22 years old

My first business was an exciting one. It was something I envisioned starting when I was about 14 years old. I Always knew I wanted to start up my own business teaching martial arts, particularly teaching my “own system”. After 10 years of study across 11 styles and systems I moved away from the “traditional” martial arts and founded my own raw self defence “system”, turned it into a business and started teaching clients from ages 4 years to 60 years across two locations, six classes and over 60 paid members.
Self Defence School Students
Me (centred) with a few of some of my first students at my very first business location…

I very quickly grew my first business to a turnover of over $2000 p/m at 7.5hrs of teaching time over 3 days per week. During this time I was also doing my PhD full time in science, tutoring high school students in mathematics and science, working as a paid laboratory teacher for the university I was doing my PhD at, employed as a dispense technician for a pharmacy and maintaining a relationship with my girlfriend at the time who is now my wife and the mother of our 2 children.

I was passionate. I was ready to go for it and I did. I did my research and built the entire business myself, everything from registration, to managing the accounts, logo design, marketing and branding, website maintenance, curriculum design… the whole enchilada. This business no longer runs as a face-to-face business now as I am digitising the entire system for sale as an online digital product. I now figure I can reach a lot more people and turnover a lot more sales, but thats another story for another day.

I know many of you are wondering how to go about starting a business from scratch, especially if it is your first business. I didn’t study business or marketing at university, I have no MBA or education in the area but I have still managed to start, grow and run more than one cash-flow positive business so I’m thinking I’m kinda doing alright at the whole thing and could probably share a lesson or two. So here it goes, this is the story of how I started my first business part time business with a student loan…

  1. I set a goal and visioned my end result, daily.
  2. I started creating material (teaching material at the time) even though I hadn’t started teaching in my own classes. I had many times, part time, taught martial arts for a school I had trained in for years so that experience kinda served as my laboratory for my own material.
  3. I designed my logos (now I see this as a later step in setting up a business but at the time since I was developing a martial art my logo played an important part around the philosophical representation of my system so I did it early). I also set up some of my branding.
  4. I registered my business name under law.
  5. I found my first location, payed the bond and signed an open lease.
  6. Researched and purchased insurances (public liability, public indemnity & accident insurance)
  7. Registered with a relevant industry body for professionalism. They also offered discounts products/services when you became a member.
  8. I started spreading the word about what I was doing. Building relationships andnetworking with those that always wanted me to open a school such as past training acquaintances etc. I informed them of my upcoming launch.
  9. I purchased some new equipment and also some second hand equipment to get me through my first few months until I could buy new items. I also had uniforms/logos ordered and made up from the same supplier.
  10. I designed brochures and a website. I couldn’t afford to pay for my brochures to be delivered into the letter boxes of surrounding suburbs so I personally hand delivered nearly 10,000 flyers on my own by foot and bicycle. I also personally made my own website and maintained it.
  11. Held a free training launch night and signed up over 20 people in my first launch.
  12. Held regular certification events and a seminar for additional value to my clients and additional revenue for my business.
  13. I introduced the sale of preferred training equipment to my clients, again for added value and increased business revenue.
  14. I planned an expansion of my business and decided to open my second location. Again I payed a bond, signed an open lease and repeated the process with this school location.
  15. I managed student attendance and monitored memberships closely across my schools, keeping a close eye on my expenses vs revenue, i.e., my balance sheets.
Teaching Students Martial Arts
Me (right) teaching students some of the basics of the curriculum…

This business, the first “official” step in my entrepreneurial journey would serve to teach me many, many lessons about my life, my strengths and weakness and most importantly, my personal habits that I need to be aware of that ensure both my successes and failures. It taught, among other things, lessons about;

  • The importance of having a daily business/working routine
  • Being aware of when you need to step up your game or keep doing what your doing when things are going well
  • Challenges business owners will face when dealing with customers/clients
  • How easy it is to make money when you actually put in the effort
  • How much I love being an entrepreneur

One of the biggest challenges people face when looking to start a business is… starting the business. I vividly remember when I finally made the decision to start my business. I had wanted to for a long time but the decision was in one single moment. I had had enough of my current working situation and having my hands full across so many areas with little freedom to make money on my own terms, so I made the decision to start it. Plus, I alway knew I was passionate about my self defence system, the birth of my schools had to be done. It was a must.

If you have been wanting to start a business but haven’t yet taken action… what is holding you back? What’s the worst that can happen? It fails? So what! Start another one! Learn lessons! That’s what being an entrepreneur is about. Otherwise, stay in your day job.

…I didn’t think you would choose the day job. Go get some!

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