The Financial Complications of Running a Pilates Studio

Opening a studio is a dream for many serious Pilates practitioners. If you have a vision for a space, or maybe want a creative channel for your own Pilates practice, an independent studio or franchise can be a great way to make Pilates into your career. However, there are several financial responsibilities to consider before embarking on a small business journey. If you think opening a Pilates studio is in your future, consider the financial structure of your potential business – from who you will hire and contract with to whether you want an independent studio or a franchise.


One Studio, Multiple Businesses 

Pilates studios – and most fitness centers – are often a constellation of various businesses, employees, and contractors. When you own a Pilates studio, there are several financial decisions to weigh. Here are a handful of considerations and their financial implications:

  • Do you want to open a franchise or start your own business? Independent business owners will have a different financial structure than franchisees. Often, a franchise will have some type of corporate support, either through a required payroll system or service curation. There is also a different process of opening the franchise. By contrast, independent Pilates studio owners have complete control and oversight over financial decisions, software use, and offered classes/services. Note that franchises often have a higher success rate than startups, but there is less flexibility and creativity for the owner.
  • Do you want to offer more than Pilates? Increasingly, Pilates and yoga studios are providing a retail section or a small food counter to increase revenue. If you decide to do this, will you provide those services yourself, or will you hire another small business to fill in? If you hire a small business, you’ll need to distribute a 1099. If you hire an employee, you’ll need to provide a W-2.
  • Do you want other Pilates instructors to fill in? Think about who you want coaching your classes. Do you want employees teaching a specific class structure, or do you want to be a space for freelance Pilates instructors to come and go with individual clients? Each option has its own tax and wage structure.

These three questions should help guide prospective studio owners to their ideal businesses. Before making any moves, weigh the pros and cons of each question. Most independent Pilates studios will have a wholly unique approach to talent acquisition and payroll structure. Consider how much freedom you want in class and financial decisions.


Finding Tools to Manage Finances

Regardless of your answers to the above questions, most Pilates studio owners will need to invest in some type of tool to manage the studio’s finances. With different types of workers, multiple businesses operating in a single space, and a unique payroll structure, you’ll want to invest in a multi company payroll software that supports various 1099 and W-2 employees. If you want your Pilates studio to offer auxiliary services, one-on-one coaching, freelance instructor opportunities, and more, know that there are software tools available to support that mission.

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