Start an aerial arts studio 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 aerial arts studio. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Check out our How to Start a Business page.
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 much can you charge customers?
- 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 aerial arts studio?
Costs for starting this type of business vary, but generally include a building that's specifically designed for aerial arts (it must be modified with braces installed for trapeze, rope, and fabric/silk use). Overhead anchor points may also need to be added to the existing interior support beams. This may range between $5,000 and $25,000 depending on the building and existing infrastructure.
Gear includes padding per station at $800 each. Hardware, like carabiners, swivels, ropes, anchor slings, lowering devices and other related equipment will run you $400-$800. Fabric will run you $120 to $150 per person.
Insurance typically costs between $400 and $800 annually and includes general liability coverage. It's expected you will have all students sign a waiver of liability to limit your insurance needs. All instructors must also carry their own aerial instructors liability insurance.
Instructor pay varies, but is generally between $30 and $60 per hour.
Marketing for the business may run between $1,000 and $10,000 or more depending on whether you purchase space advertisements, run radio or T.V. spots, or do local advertising through fliers and business cards.
What are the ongoing expenses for an aerial arts studio?
Ongoing expenses are minimal and include regular maintenance of the rigs and equipment, along with instructor salary. Expect to pay several thousand dollars per year for a small to medium-sized studio.
Who is the target market?
The target market is fitness enthusiasts, yoga practitioners, Pilates practitioners, and individuals who are interested in learning circus arts and want a career in aerial or circus arts.
How does an aerial arts studio make money?
Aerial arts studios make money by charging a fee for classes. Many instructors and facilities charge a per-hour rate for classes and may have different rates for members and non-members.
How much can you charge customers?
Typical fees for aerial classes range between $15 and $25 per hour, with some studios charging up to $60 per hour for classes. You can also charge a flat fee for specific programming. For example, instead of charging $15 per hour, you could charge a flat fee of $150 for five 2-hour classes per month of instruction.
How much profit can an aerial arts studio make?
Profit for a studio depends on your hourly rate or flat fee program and where your studio is. You may achieve a 10% profit margin, but many studios operate on much thinner margins.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Make your studio more profitable by offering supplementary classes and mixing other disciplines into your core aerial arts programming. For example, consider offering aerial yoga or aerial Pilates. You may even want to partner with local yoga instructors to bring in more students.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Aerial Arts Studio Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your aerial arts studio is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
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?.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
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.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
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: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.
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
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate an aerial art studio business. 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.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Release of Liability
To avoid liability and potential lawsuits, an aerial art studio businesses should have their clients sign waivers. An example of an appropriate waiver can be found here.
Recommended: Rocket Lawyer makes it easy to create a professional release of liability form for your studio when you sign up for their premium membership. For $39.95 per month, members receive access to hundreds of legal agreements and on call attorneys to get complimentary legal advice.
Certificate of Occupancy
Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require 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 a aerial art studio business.
- 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 aerial art studio 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.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
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How to promote & market an aerial arts studio
Promote your business by partnering with yoga studios, local, state, and national fairs, circuses, and fitness studios. Send out flyers in your local neighborhood and offer a free class to locals.
How to keep customers coming back
The key to making this business work is to keep people safe and keep their confidence up. If they see that they can do something that looks as complex as this, then they'll come back. You can achieve a sense of efficacy in your students by making your programming progressive. Each new class should move your students into progressively more difficult situations.
Obviously, you want to keep them safe, but classes also need to be increasingly challenging without being overwhelming.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
Start An Aerial Arts Studio 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?
This business is perfect for anyone who is athletically inclined and has excellent spatial awareness. In addition to athletic ability, a business owner needs to understand the basics of running a profitable business. While long hours aren't typical, flexibility in scheduling is. Most students will have to come either before or after work or on the weekends. So, a business owners has to be willing to train students during "off peak" times of the day.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at an aerial arts studio?
Aerial arts instructors have busy days. Before students arrive, they often train privately for their own benefit and to put together a program and schedule for students. Instructors spend a lot of time making sure rigs are safe, inspected, and maintained. They also ensure student safety by spending time going over safety procedures with students.
An instructor may have one-on-one classes or small group classes. Beginners, intermediates, and advanced aerialists are often grouped together in different classes, but some instructors do choose to teach mixed classes.
Several routines are performed during a class, with beginners focusing on basic moves that will prepare them for more challenging maneuvers later on. Instructors often have to deal with first-timers' dizziness, muscle aches and pain due to the unusual nature and use of the ropes and fabric used during class.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful aerial arts studio?
You must be an expert aerial artist if you want to be actively involved in teaching it to others. Usually, this takes many years of practice. Most business owners are actively involved in the business. However, if you know or can hire expert trainers, it's possible to simply run the business side of things with input from your instructors.
What is the growth potential for an aerial arts studio?
Growth potential for this business is usually small, but can be quite large depending on your ambition. Most instructors choose to maintain a small business so they can focus on quality instruction. However, some studios maintain several locations and build networks with other non-competing studios to further expand reach.
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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 aerial arts studio?
Start with your local community. Find a demand for your services first, and then offer a few free classes. Gauge interest. Partner with yoga studios to offer aerial arts for more advanced yoga students. Finally, consider partnering with other health and fitness providers, including gyms, to kickstart your business.
How and when to build a team
Most studios don't need a large staff. If you are an instructor, it can be just you. Otherwise, consider hiring between 2 and 3 other instructors for a small studio and between 5 and 10 instructors for a large studio.