Start an acting classes business by following these 9 steps:
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your acting classes business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
STEP 1: Plan your Business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How long it will take you to break even?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening an acting classes business?
Here’s how your annual start-up costs might break down:
Workspace -- Zero to $10,000 or more per year. This range is so wide because you might be able to start your business in your own home, with one or two clients, if your zoning laws allow. However, as your business grows, you’ll need more space. Also, depending on your type of acting business, you might require a stage or room for camera and lighting. Ask around if you can rent a stage for a few hours a week from a community theater, school, church group or similar source. You might also decide to rent a storefront, which can cost anywhere from $250 a month or much more, depending on location.
Promotional material -- $500 or less. Platforms like your website and social media can be very inexpensive or free. Make sure you have video clips of your own acting or directing performances or videos of those you’ve coached in the past. These clips can run on your website or YouTube for little to nothing.
Special equipment and gear -- Depending on your type of instruction, this can cost zero to $15,000 or more. Such equipment can include videography services, audio production facilities, microphones, amplifiers, and similar specialty equipment used for training in voice-over work or providing demo reels to clients.
Licensing and professional services -- $1,000 or less. Explore such regulatory matters as obtaining a business license, tax identification number, and liability insurance. You should also have an initial discussion with an attorney and accountant to make sure you start your business legally and in the most efficient way.
What are the ongoing expenses for an acting classes business?
Your largest ongoing costs will be for your space and for employees, if any. You could also make investments in the services of ad agencies or public relations firms to continue to attract students.
Who is the target market?
Your clientele will vary, depending on the niche you’re filling. One end of the clientele spectrum could be parents parents who would like to get their child involved in a fun, after-school activity. Often times, parents enroll their children in acting classes in an attempt to get their child involved in an activity that will help with boosting the child’s courage and self-confidence. Sitting at the other end of your clientele spectrum may be more passionate students who are looking to enter the world of career acting or those who have already ventured into the professional acting scene.
How does an acting classes business make money?
You revenue will mainly come from the fees that you charge your clients. You may charge your clients for individual sessions, or you can have them sign up and pay for a set number of classes, each of which build upon the skills they learned in the previous class.
How much can you charge customers?
This veteran actor and acting coach suggests that an eight-week session of improv classes that meet three hours a week could logically cost $400-$500. However, this is in New York, and your local area might not be able to support that rate. This page also gives fee guidance for other sorts of acting training including individual consultations, voice lessons, auditioning training and other niches. Also consider what your market will bear in term of the fees you charge.
How much profit can an acting classes business make?
The closest classification from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is for post-secondary art, drama and music teachers. For this group, the mean salary was listed as $81,050. On the other end of the spectrum, here’s an industry source that references an average annual salary of $38,000 for an acting coach. The profit you might make is highly variable, depending on your location, industry reputation, and many other factors. It will also depend on the classes and services offered and your ability to sell your services and grow your business.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Listen to your students and the questions they raise and obstacles they meet in advancing their acting careers. Their queries might suggest additional classes. You can also using your talents to offer workshops to teach presentation or speaking skills to business professionals. You may also consider branching into the talent agency business or representing movie extras or other niche groups within the industry.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is very important. Read our detailed guide on how to name your business. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.
After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your acting classes business is sued. There are many business structures to choose from including: Corporations, LLC's, and DBA's.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Check out the Top Business Formation Services from our friends at StartupSavant.
You should also consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Find the right bank for you, read our review of the Top 5 Banks for Your Small Business
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
In most states, it is necessary to obtain an acting coach license. Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate an acting school. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
Certificate of Occupancy
If you’re operating an acting school out of your own home, you will need a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.
- If you plan to lease a location:
- It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
- Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to an acting school.
- After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
- If you plan to purchase or build a location:
- You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
- Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your acting school will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
STEP 7: Get Business Insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
How to promote & market an acting classes business
An active presence in such social media platforms as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram is important. It will help you attract students. Also keep in mind that, depending on your location, you and your business might be worthy of press stories. Don’t just rely on the media coming to you -- continually pitch story ideas. For instance, several weeks before the annual Oscars presentation, you might suggest a news story in which you critique the acting talent of the nominees.
How to keep customers coming back
Interact with local actors using social media. For instance, join local Facebook groups for actors and contribute to posts. You can mention that you’re an acting teacher, and occasionally announce a new class or other happening, but don’t come on too promotional.
Once you have satisfied students, create new classes and ways to continue their participation. For instance, if you start with a general acting class, you might add a class or workshop on how to put together a reel and promotional package, or on upgrading auditioning skills.
Also, make sure that you ask your current students for recommendations so that you continually build a student body.
STEP 9: Establish your Web Presence
A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
Start An Acting Classes Business In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Is this Business Right For You?
Credibility is critical, so it’s imperative that you have a connections in the entertainment business. You do not need to be famous, but you need to have relationships with others in the industry, so they can verify that you have the knowledge needed to teach others the art of acting. If your specialization is in film acting training, you should be a current or retired film or television actor, director, casting director or have similar industry experience. If you’re teaching commercial acting, you should have experience as a commercial actor, director or on the ad agency commercial production side. Your reputation in the acting community and how you promote your credentials will be critical to your success.
What happens during a typical day at an acting classes business?
Your typical day might include many of the following responsibilities:
- Promoting your services and seeking clients. This involves posting to social media, pitching story ideas, making yourself available for media interviews, etc.
- Scheduling videographers, lighting techs, make-up artists, assistants, and others who might help with classes
- Conducting classes, workshops, or one-on-one coaching sessions
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful acting classes business?
Your reputation is critical. Prospective clients must be aware of your experience and expertise in the acting profession before they’ll register for your classes. This means that you not only need to have a background in the industry, but the ability to showcase yourself and present your accomplishments in a way that will attract clients. You should be adept with social media and be able to find ways to promote yourself and your services in the media.
Finally, your teaching, training and/or coaching methods must be seen to be of value to students so they’ll continue to take classes and recommend your services to others. If your students do not improve their skills, they will attribute it to poor teaching. If this happens, it is likely that they will not continue taking classes from you, and they will not share positive thoughts about their experiences with others that consider taking your classes.
What is the growth potential for an acting classes business?
The entertainment industry is constantly growing. In fact, in 2016 the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted a “faster than average” growth rate of 10 percent for actors between the years 2014-2024. This means that there is and will continue to be a demand for acting coaches in the years to come.
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Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting an acting classes business?
Consider starting small. You might first work one-on-one or with a very small group from your home or a low-cost commercial space. You might even work in a park (weather permitting) or other free but fairly private public spaces. As your teaching and coaching business grows and your reputation spreads via word of mouth, you can move to a larger space, invest in equipment, and take on more students.
How and when to build a team
Chances are you’ll start solo, but add to your team as needed, as the opportunity arises, and as revenue allows you to do so. If you’re working with young children, you might need part-time aides, perhaps high school or college students, to help keep order. You might hire a videographer to film your students efforts and even additional crew members such as lighting or sound professionals, depending on your commitment to professional production.
You might also consider building a team by collaborating with other teaching professionals who offer services you don’t: voice coaches, stand-up comedians, etc.