Alex Changho Sees A New Generation Break Into The Martial Arts Industry

While generations clash between parents and children, the same clash is happening in small business.  Particularly in one industry that has deep roots in tradition: martial arts. “Just like teenagers have a different mindset than their parents… Millennial martial arts business owners think differently that their predecessors,” says Alex Changho, who works with martial arts business owners.

Millennials are generally defined as those who reach adulthood around the time of the year 2000—the turn of the millennium.  This includes those who are born between approximately 1979-2000. “I’ve helped owners who are in their 20s, and owners nearing 60. While they may have similar business goals, the way that they go about achieving them are completely different depending on their generation and mindset.”

Changho explains the difference. “Boomer and Gen-X school owners did something great for the industry. They really turned it into a viable business and career path for martial artists. They focused on the money, on creating systems, and turning what was a cottage industry into a real profession.”

That focus on business and revenue did create some challenges. “The focus on finances led to long term contracts and many different paid services being offered which worked well for that target market and that generation.  But, with Millennials now forming 60-80% of the target market (parents of children under 12), it’s necessary to shift practices to match their mindset, which affects their buying habits.”

Increasingly, young business owners are consciously choosing practices that may lower profits in the short term, but contribute to their communities and clients. They do this with the idea of long term sustainability and longer term revenue. This comes in the form of more services included for their students, higher quality products being offered, and more competitive rates.

This mirrors the practices of companies such as Apple, which is known for their concern for the environment; and Tom’s Shoes, which donates a pair of shoes for every pair purchased. However, this does not indicate that Millennials are less concerned with making money in their business. The Deloitte study does in fact show that earnings is a high priority for Millennials, but rather than the driving force, it is one factor of many.

In a Pew Research study conducted in 2014, only 15% of Millennials surveyed responded that “Being successful in a high-paying career…is one of the most important things.” In contrast, 47% responded that financial success is “very important, but not the most.”

“Millennials want to have a life that is fulfilling,” explains Changho. “They don’t see a work life and a home life. There is no work-home balance. They have one life, with different parts. They check work email while on the couch at home. They shop on Amazon while at the office. They want a career that is part of their identity.”

This leads Millennial small business owners to be much more conscious in how they run their businesses, because they feel it reflects upon themselves. As a result, Changho sees a shift in the martial arts industry towards a more client-centered atmosphere based on social interactions and relationships. “As people are able to connect with each other digitally, the importance of face-to-face interactions will increase. They may be less in quantity, but the time will be quality.”

This is because their business is truly a reflection of the owners, Changho says. He also believes that quality, face-to-face interaction will command a premium. “As so many other aspects of our lives can be leveraged or systematized, people will crave interaction. The automated car wash drove the price of the standard car wash down.  But, if you want a real person to detail your car, you’ll pay a premium. People will pay for quality human interaction, because it’s a relationship.”

To learn more about Alex Changho, you can connect with him on facebook at: