I’m the President and 50% owner of Wing Tsun Illinois with my business partner. I do everything between teaching classes at our school to making marketing materials and handling all the administrative tasks of the business.
I had always believed the martial art that we teach, Wing Tsun Kung Fu, made a huge impact on my life and had the capacity to make a positive impact in many peoples lives here in the United States. Unfortunately, the art is not popular here in our country and the schools that are left were not successful in growing. I identified that having good business practices was the main key to the failure of our art to be able to reach more people, and so in 2020 I joined my business partner in an effort to create a business that was capable of bringing this martial art to the Chicagoland area and beyond.
The art that we teach, Leung Ting WingTsun Kung Fu, the manner in which we teach it, and the dedication of our team to passing this art on. Most people immediately notice the friendly atmosphere that we have created in the school as well as the high skill of our instructors. The training method we use develops our students reflexes so that in a real situation they will not have to remember any movements but the responses should be automatic.
I would say the high points are almost every day that I teach classes. We have already accomplished so much by being one of only a few WingTsun schools that have a storefront, and when I see that storefront filled with people that are really engaged in learning I can tell that we have something truly special here. Nothing is more rewarding to us than seeing a student grow to become better in skills and also in their own personal lives.
The low point I would have to say would be the ongoing Pandemic. I was a Health Physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory before I decided to start this business. As a highly educated person, I did a lot of research as to what the best ways to run a martial arts school would be and how to maintain a high quality of training while having great business practices. Unfortunately, when I joined the school in the beginning of 2020, Covid hit. As a new business owner, all the advice from people who had run successful martial arts businesses was effectively useless as it was based on social gatherings and special events. I had to learn and struggle to find a way to become profitable and it felt like our time, effort, and money were being thrown into a bottomless pit. We are still recovering from that.
I have learned that there is a very special skillset and mindset to being an entrepreneur. You have to have good organizational skills, but also the ability to change and scrap all your plans at a moments notice. I have had many friends in different professions such as accountants, scientists, bankers, lawyers, mechanics, and programmers. When it came to asking them for advice about my business, most of them couldn’t even fathom the question I was asking them. Making the move from being an employee to an employer was, and still is, an area that I am struggling with.
I was desperately seeking advice and there was no one who knew what I was going through. I found SCORE mentioned in a book for businesses and I decided to reach out.
I like that Gary is very experienced in business and helps me to define the direction that I should move in. As a new business owner, it’s very hard to figure out where you should be focusing your efforts.
Be prepared to be your own boss. It sounds simple, but in fact is the most difficult task. When everything goes downhill you are the one responsible and it may not be due to your product or service, but your own shortcomings as a person. You have to be able to grow and accept that you have much to learn. Also, I would say make sure you have a good team of people to help you (Lawyer, Accountant, Business Partner, etc.) Finally, read all the SBAs materials and contact SCORE before you get started and not when you’re struggling to survive!
I would definitely recommend SCORE to a fellow business owner, in fact I already have!