Teaching at Home vs. Commercial Space
Found in: About Business
Mary R., Michigan
Susan’s post about having a commercial space, then moving home and then going back to a commercial space prompts me to ask for input from teachers who have moved their studios out of their homes. Would anybody be willing to share particulars of their lease? How much? How long? and is it worth it?
Louise H., Michigan
I opened a commercial Kindermusik studio in 2003 (before I knew about SM). I was on a visible street and my numbers increased dramatically. The space wasn’t as roomy as I needed and I moved to a different location the next year, which wasn’t as visible in the community. My Kindermusik numbers have slowly dropped over the past 4 years, and this spring I gave up my lease and moved into a church.
I teach Simply Music in my home. I would love to be in a commercial space too, for many of the reasons you mentioned. However, I think you have to decide if the benefits of getting new students outweighs giving up some of your profit for your building space (it is tax deductible, though!).
For me, I prefer to keep all that I make and deduct that part of my house as a teaching space. If you do lease, most landlords want a 3 year commitment. You may find some that will negotiate that part. You also have to pay an extra fee that covers snow removal, lawn mowing if necessary, garbage pickup and taxes, in addition to your rent and utilities. And you will have to have insurance with a $1,000,000 liability. And what about a phone line? Cleaning supplies? Mats for the floor? Seats for students waiting? All the little things start to add up.
Are you prepared to handle a sudden increase in students? We all think that is what we want but if it happens suddenly you may find yourself working far more than you would like. And you will feel some pressure to work more to pay the extra costs you will incur in a commercial space. Also, what if your student load decreases? Where will the extra money come from to pay for your space?
Can you put the extra money you would spend on a lease remodeling your house in a way that has a separate entrance and bathroom? Again, improvements can be tax deductible.
If you do decide you want to lease, decide how much you can afford to spend and stick to it no matter what! Most landlords have room to negotiate, even though they may give you the impression they can’t. Shop around and be choosy.
Laurie Richards, Nebraska
For me, here are the pros and cons:
- More professional environment
- More space = bigger classes
- More parking
- Signage gives me visibility
- My family is not inconvenienced at all during lessons
- Personal space (at home) stays personal
- Outside maintenance is taken care of
- Extra rent/uitility expense
- Not as convenient (although I am only 3 blocks away, so not bad)
- Three-year commitment
For me it is working out well so far. This is something I’ve always wanted to do, so it’s very exciting. I guess it all depends on where you’re at, what works in your life, finances, etc. It never hurts to check out all your options to see what is workable.
Shannon W., Texas
I thought I would just add my thoughts on the home vs. commercial space dialogue. I am very fortunate to have a separate studio building on my property, adjacent to my house. But you would not believe how it drives me crazy to have my materials split between my house and my “Office-studio.” I am forever moving them back and forth just depending on where it is most convient to practice. So, just that alone drives me crazy. I would like to not have to keep moving my entire office every time I finish lessons and head home to practice. I just always seem to need one more video, or book, that I left in behind. I did, however, get a rolling cart, to try to keep my home things in one place so I can ease up on the misplacing things and to facilltate moving between locations.
I wonder how you all with commercial space move your stuff between locations? Surely you practice at home, but then need to return those materials back at your studio. So my point is, while I have an awesome studio with a separate waiting room and a bathroom—a definite must, my ideal would be to have my studio with the same setup be a part of my house, with a separate outside entrance. This would be the best of all worlds. I could still be “home” during non teaching times, and near my young kids, (or within earshot), but I would keep my students out of my personal home space. (I don’t have to worry if the entire rest of my house is clean or being rampaged by wandering kids.)
Over time, this would keep costs down and allow me to pay rent towards my own house payment. However, this is only because I have young kids and because I don’t need to have large numbers of students, or teach every day. I too will agree that mainstream visuality is a must to building your numbers. I couldn’t keep my Kindermusik going becuase I my location was too “hidden.”
I too agree that a commercial space legitimizes your business and boosts confidence with clients. I could combat this with more advertising, but that would be my tradeoff. I would love a visual driveby location advertise for me. I think it all depends on if you have to be closer to home, you may have to advertise more, but it would be convenient to you. If you stay home, try to get a separate room and bathroom, and possibly a separate entrance to your studio. A separate waiting room is nice too. If you want to be a bigger business, you may need to go into town and get commercial space and signage.