Have you spent your entire life (or close to) pursuing your love of dance? Have you been scratching that itch to teach and are looking to take that passion to greater heights? For many, opening a dance studio represents the fulfillment of a lifelong dream; however, it takes more than just a love of the art form to make a business venture work.
Here are 4 things every prospective dance studio owner should know:
If you’re not careful, the enormity of this kind of undertaking is libel to swallow you whole. Owning your own dance studio requires several key ingredients in order to be successful, including business acumen, attention to detail, patience and, most importantly, the willingness to see your vision through to the very end.
Becoming the owner and operator of your own dance studio space is an investment of time and money that can pay huge dividends long-term but the road to reaping those rewards can be tricky to navigate at times. Here are four crucial things that any future dance studio owner should know before they dive into the deep end of small business ownership:
Get a Business Plan Down on Paper
Local businesses don’t become successful by accident. In fact, the ones with the most staying power and oftentimes the most profitable of revenue margins had a clear idea of what their business strategy was before they took that first physical step towards ownership. The moral of the story here? Don’t wing it. Before you embark on this entrepreneurial journey, make sure you’ve got a plan in your back pocket first.
Creating a formal business plan can not only help you figure out what kind of dance studio owner you’re going to be but also attach some much-needed realism to the process as a whole. You need to know how much this business is going to cost you beyond paying rent or a mortgage. This can include expenses for marketing purposes, website design and/or maintenance, signage, a back-office software solution, equipment, insurance and much more. Once that’s done, you’ll be able to determine, in broad strokes, how exactly your studio and brand is going to make money.
If this sounds like an intimidating process, don’t worry – there are plenty of great resources out there just waiting to be tapped into. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s website is a great place to start, giving you a detailed breakdown of everything you need to know about starting, maintaining and growing a business. A quick Google search on a particular topic or even talking with other like-minded entrepreneurs in the dance industry will also yield lots of additional information.
Don’t Go Crazy Spending or Hiring
Figuring out both your expenses and pricing structure is important when creating a business plan but sticking to that blueprint is equally crucial. It can be very easy to get distracted by exciting spending and/or hiring opportunities, so staying focused on your ultimate vision can be the difference between success and failure as a dance studio owner.
There are a lot of upfront costs when it comes to taking on a teaching space, which means that spending within your means is vital to survival in the short-term. Whatever financial means you have at your disposal shouldn’t be overly strained in the beginning; in fact, there should be extra care taken not to exceed those limits. If it’s not essential to your business and/or not accounted for in your budget, consider taking a rain check on that purchasing that fancy new piece of equipment that everyone’s raving about.
The same goes for hiring additional staff members. Don’t be afraid to start small and only take on the personnel that you absolutely need. That way, your staff will be able to grow from a smaller, stronger nucleus into a bigger enterprise over time and your bottom line will appreciate keeping the fiscal stress to a minimum.
Think Outside the Box When it Comes to Your Space
As mentioned earlier, the studio space itself is going to be the biggest cost you incur in this business venture. However, the “studio” in question doesn’t need to adhere to the most traditional sense of the word. In fact, some of the most memorable classes out there are the ones that take the dance experience outside those confines, often galvanizing the creative sides of participants and instructors alike as a result.
You might want to consider renting different, non-traditional spaces and making them your home for classes and activities in the short-term. Community centers, legion halls
Let’s take this entire concept a step further – who even needs a studio space at all? If your business will be setting up shop in a bigger city and catering to a (mostly) adult clientele, pop-up classes that don't use the same location twice - oftentimes taking place outdoors - could be an attractive option, especially if you’re looking to get your brand in front of as many eyes and ears as possible. This takes clear and careful coordination with all involved (the "where" question should be answered far in advance) but, as a buzz-worthy recurring event, it's definitely an intriguing approach.
Never Stop Learning
Finally, we come to a tried-and-true piece of business advice that goes far beyond the dance industry. Whether you’re new to the game or a seasoned veteran who has held down a dance studio for several years, the message remains the same: you should always be learning.
Interact with your clientele and make sure they’re getting the best experience possible. Take their feedback and turn it into actionable items that improve the well-being of your brand. Do your research about the industry as a whole, know what's trending and use that data to your advantage from a marketing standpoint. Get to know your competition and strike up working relationships that could benefit your studio in the long run. Most importantly, when mistakes are made, use them as building blocks for the future and don’t obsess over them to the point where they influence your business negatively instead of positively.
If you’re looking to become a dance studio owner in the future, know that it's a business endeavor that takes plenty of behind-the-scenes work. You need to think about things like creating a business plan, spending at a realistic level and even getting creative with the resources you have. Becoming your own boss is a wonderful, life-affirming experience and, if you strategize well in advance, a decision that can pay huge financial dividends as well.
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