Should You Open an Aerial or Pole Studio?

Been playing with the idea of starting an aerial or pole business? This could be a deeply rewarding journey, but there are some things to consider before diving in. I’ve identified five green lights to take this idea and run with it.

1. You’re devoted and your heart is in it

First things first – alignment. Running a business takes time, energy, and money. Your sheer love for teaching has to be in place if you plan to build a business around it. If you are not head over heels in love with your art form and willing to devote time, energy, and money to this project, you could be in for some serious regret. Plus, there is probably something out there that is *more* right for you – keep searching.

Bottom line, your heart has to be in it. That’s what’s going to attract people to you, and that’s what’s going to keep you going when 15 things go wrong in one week. And, that’s what is going to create a beautiful community that you enjoy raising and supporting. 

If it feels, on the other hand, like you can’t not do it, that’s a major green light. And fear/anxiety about how it will turn off is NOT a reason to shy away from this dream. Fear and anxiety are there because you care so deeply about this. I was once told that you have to go where your fear and your joy intersect. This is the place of immense promise and potential. Lean in. 

2. You’re organized, or willing to get organized

Running a business is complex. There are a lot of moving parts and a lot of tracking and planning is involved. If you are type-a and love spreadsheets, that’s excellent.

If not, all hope is not lost. You’re just going to have to be willing to buckle up and implement and stick to organizational systems and procedures – or have someone help you with this part of the business. 

3. You insist on high standards 

If you’re going to start a business, plan to do it right. Make it safe and make it quality. It’s okay for things to not be “pretty” – I operated out of a CrossFit space for years.

If you don’t have your ideal space, focus on what you can control, like high quality instruction and community. Whatever you’re doing, do the best you can. Don’t cut corners, don’t sweep things under the rug, and don’t let things get disorganized.

Provide high quality experiences for your customers on all ends of the business, from your website registration system to the classes themselves. 

4. You have alternate revenue and savings

I’m not going to sugarcoat anything. In-person classes, especially in pole and aerial, have limited income capacity. You can only have so many people in any given class, and there are only so many realistic time slots in the weekly schedule.

There are ways to structure your business to boost revenue, but I would not recommend starting a pole or aerial business without already having at least a part-time job in place and considerable savings. You don’t want to launch something beautiful only to close it down within months.

Expect to spend more than $10,000 on your start-up costs – it will be much more if you are creating a space from scratch, less if you sublease and work within someone else’s studio or gym infrastructure. 



5. You have a viable space in mind

Possibly the hardest part of starting an aerial business, less so pole. Do you have a viable space? If you plan on offering aerial arts classes, finding a space with the necessary infrastructure can be really difficult.

And if you do have a space in mind, can you afford it? Have you compared expected revenue with expenses? If you don’t own it, will the landlord allow you to make necessary modifications to the building for your classes?

It took me four years to finally land a studio space of my own, and it involved a LOT of luck, namely, a friend buying a building. However, I was able to teach (just with limited income) for four years in others’ spaces, so don’t give up just because you don’t have the perfect place in the beginning. In fact, subleasing is an ideal way to start a business and test its viability, in my experience. 

Notice that there is nothing here that says you need to know a lot about running a business. I simply don’t believe that you need to know everything, or even a lot, to get started. If you have a vision and are willing to work for it, you will be successful. It is okay to start your research now, and continue to learn as you go.

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