Start an art lessons business by following these 10 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 art lessons business. 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 art lessons business?
How much it costs to open your business hinges greatly on where you will be conducting lessons. For instance, many people teach out of their home if they have enough space to do so, and this will completely eliminate the need to pay for an additional monthly rental payment. If you do rent out a different space, consider renting a small apartment that is inside a house. This lets you have the benefit of a separate space for far less than leasing commercial property, and while prices vary based on region and size, you can likely rent such a space for less than $1,000 a month. One artist reported that renting and renovating such a space costs her $5,000 initially, but that this included a fair amount of painting, cleaning, and plastering, all of which she paid professionals to do on top of things like security deposits to secure the location. Beyond paying for a space, however, your only real costs are the costs of your materials, and while this varies based on what you'll specialize in, you should be able to get started for less than $500. You can create a webpage for free if you desire, though most of your true advertising will be done via social media such as Facebook and Instagram, and such advertising can be completely free.
What are the ongoing expenses for an art lessons business?
Arguably, the best thing about this business is the lack of true ongoing experiences. As mentioned earlier, a great number of art teachers teach from their own homes, so your only real expenses come from materials and mileage, both of which are completely appropriate for you to charge clients for. Thus, your only true out-of-pocket costs may come in the form of traditional advertisements you choose to make and the fee for any professionals you continue to employ, such as an accountant for your business. This means that, with enough clients, this can be a very profitable venture.
Who is the target market?
In some ways, younger children will be your best clients. Their minds are simultaneously open new ideas but receptive to direct instruction, and they are less likely to be overly critical of their own work. This is not always true of teenagers and adults, which can sometimes disrupt your lessons.
How does an art lessons business make money?
Obviously, a business focusing on art lessons makes money by charging clients for the art lessons. The exact amount you charge will vary based on subject, lesson time, venue, and whether it is a completely private lesson or not.
How much can you charge customers?
In time, you will figure out the best price that works for your individual area. However, a good rule of thumb is to charge between $40 to $100 for an hour of one-on-one instruction and between $25 to $50 for an hour, per student, of small group instruction. If you are willing to travel to clients, you should either charge extra upfront or simply bill them an additional amount for miles driven or traveled. Finally, you should consider a business model where you offer several weeks of lessons and charge a lower rate (between 25%-50% lower) per hour; this makes it financially more attractive for people to be your clients for a longer time, and ultimately benefits your bottom line.
How much profit can an art lessons business make?
Depending on your amount of clients, this can be a very profitable business. If you imagine a “standard work day” of teaching for eight hours and charging students a lower end of $50 an hour, then the job can easily net over $100,000 a year, with very little overhead and the ability to control your own hours and do what you love. The freedom of your schedule means you can also supplement your business income by selling your own art and/or teaching at local colleges (which is another way to effectively advertise yourself as well).
How can you make your business more profitable?
Make sure that your business name is catchy and that your social media pages are engaging and vibrant. Keep your home or other studio space warm and professional. Never forget to show your students how much their skills are growing in-between lessons; this develops your rapport with clients even as it validates their decision to hire you to help them develop their skills.
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 Art Lessons Business 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 art lessons business 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.
Open net-30 accounts
When it comes to establishing your business credit, net-30 vendors are considered the way to go. The term "net-30," which is popular among vendors, refers to a business credit arrangement where the company pays the vendor within 30 days of receiving goods or services.
Net-30 credit terms are often used for businesses that need to obtain inventory quickly but do not have the cash on hand.
Besides establishing business relationships with vendors, net-30 credit accounts get reported to the major business credit bureaus (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Equifax Business Credit). This is how businesses build business credit so they can qualify for credit cards and other lines of credit.
Recommended: Read our guide on the best net-30 vendors so you can start building business credit now, so you never have to worry about cash flow in the future. Keep in mind that poor cash flow is the #1 reason businesses fail!
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 Art Lessons 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 more 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.
Certificate of Occupancy
An art lessons business is generally run out of a studio. 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 studio 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 art lesson 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 studio 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 art lesson business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
In order to play music in a business setting, permission must be acquired from the composer or license holder. Typically, it is possible to obtain a “blanket” license allowing a businesses to play music owned by a large catalog of artists and recording studios. Such licenses can be obtained from Performance Rights Organizations, such as ASCAP or BMI.
An art lessons business should require clients to sign a services agreement before starting a new project. This agreement should clarify client expectations and minimize the risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions, service level expectations, and intellectual property ownership.
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 art lessons business
As mentioned above, some of the best ways to digitally market your business include Facebook and Instagram. These allow you to engage with your wider community and also to show off the work of your students, which is one of the absolute best forms of advertising. A web page is good to have, if only as a formality so people can quickly find your contact information and look up other key info. Depending on your community, advertising via the newspaper and radio may be a viable way to reach customers as well.
How to keep customers coming back
One way to retain customers is to model your lessons after more academic classes. That is, you may teach certain subjects in Beginner, Intermediate, and Expert levels, so someone who starts at the lowest level and sees their skills develop will keep coming back for the more advanced classes. You may borrow a tip from the corporate world and offer people some kind of discount or other benefit if they successfully refer a new client to you. Finally, always be an advocate for your clients: proudly display their work offline and online and try to engage with them as people, not just clients. This helps establish the personal touch they are looking for.
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.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use.
Recommended: Find the best phone system for your business; check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2021.
Start An Art Lessons 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?
Obviously, this business is ideal for veteran, practicing artists. It is also educational in nature, so it is good for those who have formal or informal experience with being a teacher or teacher's assistant. Finally, it's a job that is best for a “people person,” as your entire business model revolves around prolonged contact with strangers, so being able to engage and connect with them immediately is crucial.
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 art lessons business?
In no particular order, your daily activities will involve correspondence with current and prospective clients, organizing and cleaning your studio space, and conducting the lessons themselves. Spare time is typically spent finding new ways to advertise your business and otherwise grow your customer base, all while honing your own artistic abilities when you can.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful art lessons business?
While there is no formal education required to conduct art lessons, your own exposure to different instructional styles and artistic methods can be a big help. Thus, a bachelor's in an art-related field and even a Master of Fine Arts can be useful. Additional valuable skills include good old-fashioned networking, as you can lean on existing relationships within both the artistic and educational communities to help find new clients and get started quickly.
What is the growth potential for an art lessons business?
There is modest growth potential for your business. Art as a field is projected to grow slowly but steadily over the next decade, and communities will always have new would-be artists of varying ages for you to instruct. This is one business where the increasing popularity of both visual social media such as Instagram and the market created by things like Kickstarter and Etsy may lead more clients to your door who one day hope to achieve popularity and profit from their artistic skills.
Not sure if an art lessons business is right for you? Try our free Business Idea Generator and find your perfect idea.
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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 art lessons business?
One insider tip is to hire professionals to help set everything up. This may range from people helping you renovate a space to an accountant helping you set up your business. Another tip is to use those first months to figure out what your area wants and potentially tweak everything from lesson times to prices. Finally, don't be afraid to ask happy customers to spread the word about you and your business, as this is one business where word of mouth is still the most effective form of advertising.
How and when to build a team
Most artists offering professional art lessons do so on their own, as this makes things easier to manage and guarantees that you get all of the earnings. However, if business is booming to the point that you cannot see everyone who regularly wants instruction, you may decide to create a team. Keep in mind that if you are working from your own home, you may now need more space, and that renting a separate facility will greatly increase your monthly overhead.