By Annalise Knudson
It might seem difficult or even impossible for a college student to start their own business on top of student loans, going to school, and responsibilities at home or work, but Kevin Cancino knew he wanted to follow his dream of opening his own business when he was old enough.
Only 19 years old and a full time sophomore at Kean University, Cancino opened his own Tae Kwon Do studio.
Tae Kwon Do is a Korean martial art that involves combat and self-defense techniques. Cancino has always wanted to open his own business when he started Tae Kwon Do but never had the opportunity and drive he needed until now and hopes this business will help him pay for college.
“It’s a great sport to learn because you stay physically fit and have fun,” Cancino said.
His studio is called Newark ATA, which stands for the American Tae Kwon Do Association and has been opened since Oct. 2 in Newark, New Jersey. Cancino is the sole instructor for his classes. He currently has 30 members in his classes with ages from two to 13 years old and hopes to expand to ages to three to 45 when his business becomes more well-known.
He is certified to teach Tae Kwon Do under the ATA, the most recognized organization for the sport. He was required to work 1,000 hours as an instructor and know CPR, first aid, and other health training basics.
Cancino teaches multiple classes according to each student’s age. His groups are the “Tiny Tigers,” ages three to six, the “ATA Juniors,” ages seven to nine, and the “ATA Teen and Adult,” ages 10 and over.
Classes are held three days a week for one hour and are after school for the convenience of the students. He has planned to expand to six days a week for students with busy schedules and to offer more days as options.
Cancino has attended seminars hosted by the ATA as well as competitions in Tae Kwon Do. His classes compete against other schools worldwide and travel all over the country all year round. Even three-year-old students can compete.
The competitors chosen to participate in are usually local or serve the most value in points if the team wins. This allows them to go to state competitions and possibly become world champions.
Previously he worked at Parlin ATA for one year where he was an instructor. He feels that it is a fun job where he can help people.
He started Tae Kwon do when he was three years old because he was bullied when he was younger. He felt that this hobby would help him. He did not think he would become as serious about it as he is now. He has been practicing Tae Kwon Do for 17 years, longer than he has been in school.
Cancino pays for rent at his location and is paid through the ATA. He hopes that he can hire multiple instructors or possibly open more locations in the future and make it a family business.
At present, he is currently a Physical Therapy major as his back up plan for the future. He still wants to go to medical school and hopes to pay for it through his newly opened business and its success.
In addition he also advises other students interested in opening their own business is to start with a business plan, with realistic ideas and goals. He says it takes hard work and time to open a business and to make sure that it is an affordable plan to make, along with the help of a board of people.
Cancino has researched demographics of the location, the income of the residents, searched for loans, and estimated rent he could afford. He advertised his business with flyers, word of mouth, and visited local schools with their permission. Yet he always has advice for those with plans for the future.
“Follow your dreams no matter how outrageous they may be,” Cancino said.