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Tag: dance studio ownership

5 Pillars of a Profitable Studio

Growing your studio doesn’t have to be stressful, right?

There’s got to be a better way; a better way to streamline marketing and sales, and get more students… right?

Yep, there is…

Hey, I’m Austin Roberson—Founder & CEO of Studio Studio, the all-in-one marketing automation tool for studios, and in this video, I’ll share with you my unique approach to growing your studio & scaling up fast.

Download Studio Marketing Masterclass

Maybe you’re in a place where you’re already successful, but you constantly feel behind…

Or perhaps you’re growing quickly, but so is your to-do list…

Or maybe you’ve got a different problem because, for whatever reason, you can’t seem to get more students than you had last year so every year ends up the same 😩

These 5 pillars will help you build the foundation for rapid studio growth, so that you can stress less, get more students, and scale up fast!

To your success,

Austin Roberson
Founder/CEO, Studio Suite

P.S. Will your studio scale or fail? Take this free Studio Growth Assessment to find out

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The Digital Dilemma in Dance Studios:  Purposeful Boundaries & Opportunities for Engagement

The Digital Dilemma in Dance Studios

With increased consumer engagement rapidly expanding in the digital sphere, how do we create purposeful boundaries and opportunities for engagement in our dance studios? The line between the personal and professional can often be blurry in this sphere, and it’s caused a serious digital dilemma. If we embrace the strategic potential of the platform versus resisting change, it can result in exciting and meaningful growth for our businesses.

THE DIGITAL DILEMMA:

The ability for us to “be connected” all the time is certainly a recognized dilemma in our society. While it is amazing to have the ability to remotely check-in, it is also putting a strain on our mental health and emotional well-being. Purposeful boundaries are necessary in order for us to continue thriving in our businesses, our creativity, and our personal lives.

In the New Year, try the following:

  • Schedule Phone-Free Times Each Day
  • Schedule Email Checkpoints to Refrain from Constantly Refreshing Your Device
  • Make Your Time Spent Online Intentional: Try to Refrain from Mindless Scrolling.
  • Set Boundaries (and Enforce Them) re: Social Media Engagement. Business Questions should be handled via email or through the office.
  • Make Sure You Maintain and Enjoy Non-Digital Activities
  • Keep Dance Classes a Digital Distraction-Free Space (for students + instructors)

 

THE DIGITAL STRATEGY:

 

  • 1-page intro to recital sheet in every student’s digital welcome packet at the start of each season
  • A detailed timeline of when to expect information, including specific dates/times for emails so they can easily search to reference materials
  • The dissemination of information by class, so families are not overwhelmed or confused by too much information at once
  • A digital, all you need to know recital guide for parents and students
  • Recital Q+A Events: In-Person and on Instagram

BUILD THE HYPE 

The recital is something to celebrate, and we plan events to make the experience an inclusive conversation piece in our programming.

While we only work on choreography in classes during the months of March, April, and May, we start promoting the Recital and its surrounding events in January with our Theme + Costume Reveal.

Other ways we hype up the show include:

  • Conversation Components to involve the family outside of the studio. For example, if your show is based around books, create a family reading list. If your show features character concepts, consider age-appropriate worksheets for a series of monthly themes.
  • Shared Choreography Rehearsal Videos so families can rehearse their routine(s) at home. This increases the students’ accountability, involves the parent in the process, and generates respect for the rehearsal process, as well.
  • A Recital Pep Rally featuring photo booths, themed stations, merchandise sales and seminars (how to make a bun, packing your backstage bag, etc.)
  • Complimentary group photos that are taken at dress rehearsal and posted to social media prior to the performance days.
  • Studio Branded step and repeat for use on show days
  • “I Rocked Recital!” Buttons that are distributed to every student prior to the Recital Curtain Call at every performance.

CREATE YOUR RECITAL PLAYBOOK 

In order for your clients to benefit from a smooth and easy recital experience, you have to enter the season calm and in control. The recital is a major undertaking, and with appropriate planning, you’ll be able to enjoy it as much as your students!

  • Set a timeline and stick to it. With our timeline, everything is finished a month prior to the show.
  • Train your staff on the general aesthetic of the show. Every routine and every recital should fit the overall brand of the studio.
  • Implement systems (e.g. hiring a stage manager to deal with the production components)  and/or vendors (like TutuTix!) to make your life easier.
  • Delegate! Everyone should know their role and assignment and expected place/location- from paid studio staff to parent volunteers. Make sure they are trained and prepared for their assignments.
  • Create consistent workflows for check-in, pick-up, stage entrance, stage blocking, and stage exit.
  • Expect the unexpected. With live theatre, everything will not go according to plan. When the unexpected arises, creatively problem solve, stay calm, and keep your focus forward.

Looking for more great ideas to navigate the Digital Dilemma at your studio? Check out the following articles:

The Dance Exec Returns: “Expert Advice from Chasta Hamilton” series is brought to you by Stage Door Dance Productions and TutuTix.

 

Chasta Calhoun's Stage Door Dance Production & TutuTix Series

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6 Best Practices for Interviewing Job Candidates

6 Best Practices for Interviewing Job Candidates

When I first opened my studio over 20 years ago, I had a big learning curve when it came to all things human resources-related—interviewing, hiring, firing, payroll, benefits, and everything in between!

One of the biggest lessons I learned right away is that hiring great people for my team was a lot of WORK, especially when it came time for interviews. It was not always easy to discern who would really be a good fit for the team and it took way more preparation than I thought! But just like with dance, practice makes progress, and I’ve made a LOT of progress.

I’ve also discovered that I really enjoy providing meaningful career opportunities for others. Watching people flourish in their roles at the studio is one of the most fulfilling aspects of running a business! And it all starts with getting the right people on board in the first place, which means making sure the systems behind the interview process are in top-notch shape. With that in mind, I created this list of 6 Best Practices for Interviewing Job Candidates, and I hope it will serve your studio as well as it has mine!

Implementing these ideas has had a profound effect on my hiring choices and continues to inform my decision-making when it comes to bringing new people to our team. Keep reading to see my 6 Best Practices for Interviewing Job Candidates.

Here are my 6 Best Practices for Interviewing Job Candidates:


  1. Consider a pre-interview screening

Before you begin a series of interviews, think about implement one more step: the pre-interview submission.  This could be done by asking the applicant to complete a short questionnaire via email, having them leave a voice message, or upload a video introduction.  Any of these methods will allow you an additional screening before taking the time to meet someone in person.

  1. Use the first interview as a simple getting-to-know-you meeting

Don’t expect to get too much done in the first face-to-face interview.  What do I mean by that? Well, use that meeting a little like a first date: ask basic questions, read the candidate’s body language, and do a gut-check on whether you think they would be a good culture fit for your studio.

  1. Always interview at least twice, probably more

I am a big proponent of “hire slowly, fire quickly,” meaning that if I’m going to invest the time, money, and energy into hiring for a position, I want to be very sure that we’re bringing in someone who will be the right match for that role.  Rushing the process only risks potential problems. For example, an initial interview, lunch or coffee interview, and a sample class interview are part of my go-to process for hiring new teachers.

  1. Ask open-ended questions

Remember that asking questions that begin with “What,” “How,” or “When,” can be great openers into deeper interview questions, such as “How would you handle this type of situation?”  Other great questions can come from prompts like, “Tell me about a time when …” or “Describe your experience with …”

  1. Find out what the candidate knows about you

Ask what research the candidate has conducted on you or your studio; someone who is very interested in the job and does their homework will probably have a few things to say!  I always like hearing from candidates who share what they like about the studio or have questions about our programming, because it shows their curiosity.

  1. Take good notes—and not just about their answers

Remembering every little thing a candidate says in an interview is probably not necessary, but I do like to be able to review my notes days later and get a sense of my instincts at the moment.  For instance, I’ll make note if the person was extra-prepared (or not enough), if they dressed appropriately, if they were on time, and if any of their behavior during the interview requires further questioning.

Once upon a time, I thought owning a dance studio was all about dance … but of course, it’s about so much more!  And one of the most rewarding parts is hiring amazing people for your team. It isn’t always easy finding those people, but with these best practices in place, you can feel more confident than ever that the right candidate is just an interview away!

Looking for more tips for hiring an excellent staff? Check out the following articles:

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

More Than Just Great Dancing

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Coaching Your Team to Success: Top 6 Ways

Coaching Studios Success

When coaching studio owners, one of the most common topics we discuss is people. Specifically, dance studio faculty and staff. There are so many factors to consider when hiring people, onboarding them, integrating them into your studio culture, and holding them accountable for a job well done.

One of those factors that I think sometimes doesn’t get enough attention is the coaching required—the ongoing advice and guidance studio owners must give each individual team member so they can personally learn and grow, and so the business can achieve its goals. As studio owners, we are responsible for establishing this essential communication loop throughout an employee’s tenure with us.

Amazing results come from employees who are motivated and committed to doing their best work, and who feel supported by their leader. Leadership is about serving as much as it is about directing, and part of that service is coaching. Through your coaching efforts, the personal connections and “lightbulb” moments that happen are invaluable!

Keep reading to help your team members achieve more with my Top 6 Ways to Coach Your Team to Success. 

Here are my Top 6 Ways to Coach Your Team to Success:


  1. Vision-casting … and recasting – As the studio owner, your eye is consistently on the big picture. Your team, on the other hand, is consistently in the trenches of day-to-day details. And so communicating to them about what the big picture looks like—what “winning” on the team looks like—is one way to coach them to success. Through casting the vision, you’re doing more than painting that picture; you’re reminding them of their impact on the business’s higher purpose! My recommendation is to find ways to recast this vision at least once a month.
  2. Productive meetings – Meetings can be fertile ground for coaching if you approach them in just the right way. Plant the seeds of preparedness, follow-through, and followup by planning meetings that have an objective which involves everyone invited. Consider sending out an agenda beforehand to make the objective clear, and ask for specific contributions. Coach your staff to listen actively, share ideas, and when necessary, debate with grace.
  3. Encouraging teamwork – As the studio owner, it’s important that you publicly compliment your employees’ strengths and encourage peer leadership. Coach them to think of their fellow team members first when they have a question or need help solving a problem. You are teaching them to depend on each other when needed and form bonds along the way, rather than go it alone or always come to you for answers.
  4. Personal check-ins – Schedule one or two times during the year to personally check in one-on-one with your employees, not just to evaluate their job performance and give feedback, but to get to know their lives and personal goals. As a coach, you want to feel connected to your team members in a way that gives you insight into what motivates them. This way you are equipped throughout the season to educate them, lift them up, and cheer them on.
  5. Praise and corrections – Coaching your team to success doesn’t have to be all wellplanned and thought-out; it might happen spur of the moment! Be prepared to praise an employee immediately upon witnessing a desired behavior, like an outstanding phone call or closing of a sale. Those “high-fives” build major confidence. When you hear about something that didn’t go right, be sure to offer coaching to the employee quickly to correct the problem but privately to maintain trust.
  6. Continuing education opportunities – A leadership book club. Dance-related trainings and certifications. Business seminars. All of these things create opportunities for learning outside of the studio bubble. Coach your employees to take an interest in continuing their education—however big or small the opportunity may be. (It’s worth studying your budget to see how much you can invest in them too.) By nudging your team members to seek out and appreciate their own personal growth, you are showing them how valued they are at your organization.

Your responsibility as a studio owner doesn’t start and end with the basics of hiring and firing; your true leadership comes from your ability to see potential in others and capitalize on it so that everyone wins. Coaching takes time, effort, energy, and communication, but the dividends it pays are often far beyond what you put in!

I encourage you to start putting these six tips to use at your studio. Already working on it? I hope you’ll share in the comments below what your most rewarding coaching moment has been so far, and how you hope to grow your coaching skills from here. I wish you much success on this unique journey of leadership!

 

Looking for more great studio staff coaching ideas? Check out the following articles:

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

More Than Just Great Dancing

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Work Life Balance as a Studio Owner: Can It Be Done?

work life balance

Being a studio owner and achieving a work life balance can seem flat-out impossible!  But what if we are just thinking of the word “balance” in the wrong way?

I’ve come to the conclusion that we have to change our definition of the word.  Instead of “balance” meaning equal attention at all times, I propose that we adopt the mentality that “balance” means the right amount of attention at any given time.  In other words, we could stop striving for the seesaw of our lives to be level.  We could strive instead to make sure it functions well; that each side can go up and down as needed.  That, to me, is more like a balance that reflects real life!

For example, there will be times where you simply need to be all-in with your family.  Maybe you have a vacation planned, a new baby, or an emergency. And there will be times that you’re all-in with the studio because it’s peak registration or recital week or an employee quits.  Just because you are all-in with one area of your life doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong! There will always be some give-and-take, and the balance may shift accordingly.

So what can you do to achieve just the right (proportionate!) balance in YOUR life day-to-day?  Keep reading to learn more about my 4 Tips to Achieve Your Best Work Life Balance.

Here are my 4 Tips to Achieve Your Best Work/Life Balance:


  1. Know that flexibility is required
    Devoting time to your work at the studio and having family time means that being flexible has to be part of your DNA.  To find your best version of balance, it helps to be able to think on your feet and adapt when needed.  A balanced day doesn’t always have to abide by a strict schedule! It’s very likely that no two days will look alike, but they can all have a sense of balance if you remain flexible.
  1. Establish your boundaries
    Achieving balance often requires having a few, firm guidelines for yourself when it comes to boundaries.  For example, you may need to set limits on the times you will read and respond to emails so that you aren’t stuck to a screen during family time.  Or you may have to set non-negotiable studio work hours for each week, where your family knows that interruptions are for emergencies only. Using boundaries effectively gives me great peace of mind, especially during busy times.
  2. Open yourself up to change|
    During different seasons of life, know that you may have to get comfortable changing what your work/life balance looks like.  When your kids are young, you may require more time at home with them instead of at the studio. Or if your studio experiences a growth spurt, you may find that you need to dedicate more hours there on certain days of the week.  Establish points of the year to re-evaluate what a successful work/life balance means to YOU and then take action to achieve it. It’s OK to change it up as needed.
  3. Be in the moment
    If you’re finding balance in your life in proportionate ways, quality will always trump quantity!  Think about your intentions behind the time you do have, with your family or your studio.  Let’s say you have an employee who rarely gets face time with you … when you see that person, make a point to connect.  Ask how things are going, get feedback from them about their work, and let them know you care. Your intentional efforts to use your time wisely will reflect positively in every area of your life.

Discovering your ideal work/life balance won’t be a one-time thing; you’ll continue to figure out what works well (and what doesn’t) as you move forward.  I invite you to share in the comments below what your own experience of balance is like right now … and how it has changed over time.

Remember, it’s OK to give yourself permission to find balance in your own unique way!  Your life as a studio owner will sometimes be unpredictable, but using these 4 tips can help you stay on track to juggle it all with grace.  I believe in you!

Looking for more tips to help with work life balance? Check out these other articles and resources:

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

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I Need Help! (Part Two) – 5 Tools to Implement for Business Growth

5 Tools to Implement for Business Growth

Business growth: it’s something every studio owner desires!

Whether it’s more students, more staff members, more space, more financial freedom, or more time at home, at some point or another, we all want MORE for our studios.

Growth can be great! It means your business is healthy, and healthy things grow! But business growth usually doesn’t come without a few growing pains. As your studio expands to accommodate more people or more space, or as you step out to spend more time at home, you’ll probably notice that some of your existing systems don’t work as well anymore. I often tell the dance studio owners that I coach, “Every time something your business doubles, all of your systems break.”

If you are in a position where you are seeing your numbers rise and your systems aren’t quite keeping up, take advantage of this opportunity to make some key updates in the way you organize and communicate before the new year starts. Keeping up with your studio’s growth—and then staying ahead of it—will allow you to maintain its health. Don’t ignore the warning signs that you need to make improvements. Warning signs might include things like customer confusion or dropping balls on details and follow up.

If these types of things are happening to you, it’s probably time to dig in to some new resources that will help improve your systems!

Keep reading to learn about my 5 Tools to Implement for Business Growth.


Here are my 5 Tools to Implement as Your Business Grows:

  1. A rhythm calendar

The “rhythm calendar” is a tool that helps everyone on your team see what tasks need to be done and when, for the entire year.  It may be an actual printed document which follows your studio’s calendar or it may be kept in a project-management software system like Asana or Basecamp. Either way, it’s a roadmap to keep you on track all year. It’s also a “living” document that covers the responsibilities in every area of your business, so expect it to change over time as your studio grows and changes.

  1. The right software

From accounting software to studio management software, you may need to consider implementing a new product or some more training on an existing product to stay on top of your studio’s growth.  Is what you’re currently using causing more headaches than it solves?  Are you actually using your software tools?  If technology isn’t your zone of genius, schedule an appointment to talk with your accountant or dance studio software representative to ask questions and get a refresher on which solution may help your business the most.

  1. A trial class system

Take the time to look back and see how many trial students you’ve served so far this year, and what their conversion rate to enrollment has been.  If your conversions are below 20% (or you don’t know this number to begin with) it’s probably time to get a real system in place.  A great starting place is to have one employee on your team act as the champion of this trial classes, from scheduling to follow-up.  Or you get techie with it. I recently installed a product called the Trial Class System by Studio Owners Academy and we have already had over 30 trial students. Now that’s a win this time of year!

  1. A file sharing program

As your student numbers grow, your team of staff members will likely grow too, meaning more people need access to more information.  Make your work more efficient by getting those files organized in one place.  A program like Google Drive, G Suite, or Dropbox will store your electronic files in the cloud, allowing you to choose who to share files with (and to limit access if needed).  No matter what system you use, it’s important to get everyone on the same page for naming documents. There is no sense in created great documents if you can’t find them later:)

  1. An email system

From automating marketing campaigns to sending out monthly newsletters to your existing customers, email still rules as one of the top ways to communicate.  Programs like MailChimp, iContact, or Drip allow you to break up lists into smaller groups according to interest and to create branded, professional-looking information to send out to them on a regular basis making your studio look organized and reliable.

As your business grows, your systems must grow, too! Remember: whatever time you put in to update your systems NOW will save you heaps of time in the new year.

Do you have questions on how to grow your studio business (or to how to manage the growth you are having?) Let’s talk! Connect with me on social media @mistylown. I’d love to hear your questions, concerns, or stories of success.

Love, Misty


 

Looking for more dance studio staff insights? Check out these other articles and resources:

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

More Than Just Great Dancing

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I Need Help! (Part One) – Hiring Additional Studio Staff

Hiring Additional Studio Staff

Top 2 Tips For Smart Hiring

Overloaded. Scattered. Forgetful. Late. Have you ever felt that any of these words describe you as a studio owner? I once did. Other studio owners tell me often that they too, have been consumed by their work and feel like they are constantly in need of help. The one thing that made a difference for me? Hiring the right studio staff for my team. An amazing group of employees is a huge game-changer. I call mine the Dream Team.

The process of hiring can be one of the most daunting tasks for a studio owner. You feel a lot of pressure (from yourself!) to make a good decision; one that at best, could benefit your team for years to come and that at worst, could create a toxic environment. Hiring someone who is a good fit for your business is truly win-win: you get the help you need to run an organized and efficient studio, and your new employee obtains a job at a meaningful place to work.

Before taking the first step in your hiring process, be sure that you know what it is that you’re hiring for. I recommend writing up a job description: include the job title, responsibilities, and the qualities desired in your ideal candidate. This job description will be for your internal use only, so expect that it might change somewhat once you’ve found a great person to hire and want to adapt the position to their strengths. For now, the description is simply your guideline. Having it prepared gives you a starting point for the way you need to advertise the job opening, and for the types of questions you might need to ask during interviews.

Once your hiring needs are clear, it’s time to prepare a job listing or advertisement. This is the information you’ll post online, such as on Indeed or Craigslist, or through other hiring avenues, such as your local university or community newsletter. Be sure to tell your current staff members that you’re looking to hire; I often find that getting referrals from my employees is far more successful than any other method. Birds of a feather do flock together after all!

After your job description and job listing are complete, it’s time to focus on the big task ahead: the hiring process itself. Your diligent attention to the details can make all the difference! Normally I have a whole list of tips and ideas for you for each topic, but hiring is different. There are really only two rules you need to heed for hiring.

Keep reading for my “THE ONLY 2 TIPS FOR HIRING” so that you can build your very own Dream Team:

Here they are! THE ONLY 2 TIPS FOR HIRING you need:


  1. Hire slowly
My first tip is to never be in a hurry to hire! I’ve certainly learned this the hard way. Rushed hiring almost always results in a poor match between you and the new employee because you didn’t have enough time to thoroughly assess their potential with your business.
Create a hiring system that includes several steps instead; this will help you evaluate candidates in different ways over time.  For example, your first step might include instructing applicants to introduce themselves by leaving a voicemail (we use Google Voice) or by uploading a video message. This will allow you to “meet” them virtually. Those who are articulate and enthusiastic can be invited to complete the next step, which could be a phone interview or an email questionnaire.
At this point your goal is simply to get to know the candidate better, so your questions might include topics like “What type of books do you read?” or “Tell me about a time when you helped make a positive change in someone else’s life.” From there, you would ask the successful candidates to meet for a personal interview, either with you or someone from your leadership team.

 

A second, off-site personal interview (for example, over lunch) or a teaching audition would be an appropriate next step for those candidates who are still in the running after the first personal interview. Having your candidates pass through each of the benchmark steps allows you to get to know them under different conditions, and if at any point they no longer seem like a good fit for your studio, you can thank them for their time and move on.

  1. Hire for character
My second tip comes from 20 years’ experience building an excellent studio culture: hire only those people who have the character qualities you know you need in your business. There’s no better match for your studio than someone who already demonstrates that they hold similar values to yours.
Remember that the culture of your business depends heavily on its people, and so any new hires need to fit well within your culture. The difficulty is that your candidates (who want a job!) can easily profess to hold such values, but as well all know, actions speak louder than words.
A continued benefit of the “hire slowly” advice above is that you have several opportunities to see the candidate’s character qualities in action, and in different conditions. For example, do they send you a thank you note after an interview? That certainly displays their values. Are they kind to the waitstaff when you meet for lunch? Another values-check. When they teach a sample class, are they prepared, organized, pleasant, curious? All part of their personal values.
To be fair, some candidates may be excellent “politicians” and may say and do things to get the job and not show you their true selves. Though I find this is rare, I think it is important that you pay attention to your gut feelings about someone. Let your instincts guide you, whether the feeling is positive or negative. Remember that you can’t necessarily teach great character, but you can train and mold the skillset of the right candidate.

Hiring employees is truly one of the hardest and best parts of being a business owner. The people on your team are the ones who bring your vision, your mission, and your culture to life. It’s no wonder we feel such a heavy responsibility to get it right!

I’m confident that these two tips can boost your hiring process up a level, and that they will help you find the support you need. Share with us in the comments below how you plan to take action with your next new hire. And you can always find me @mistylown on social media if you’d like to discuss more about how to hire your Dream Team. I wish you much success as you revitalize your hiring process!

Misty Lown is the founder, president and energized force behind More Than Just Great Dancing™. Misty shares her methods of creating a professional environment where people learn and grow from the life experiences lived in the dance studio. Sharing information, providing helpful observations, and giving feedback to parents, teachers and students is an essential part of the learning process that Misty delivers with More Than Just Great Dancing™.

Looking for more dance studio staff insights? Check out these other articles and resources:

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

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Dance Studio Owners: 5 Ways to Find a Mentor

dance studio owners - finding a mentor feat

Dance studio owners know that running a studio is a rewarding and joyous experience; there’s truly no other life like it! From the moment you open your doors, your mission is to make an impact on the world through dance. But even with the greatest of missions, there will still be times when things get tough—times when you question yourself or don’t know where to turn for help.

When those moments happen it can be helpful to talk with your peers, just to have someone who understands really LISTEN to you. But do you know what is even more beneficial? Seeking out a mentor—someone who can not only listen, but also inspire you to be your best, solve problems, raise your perspective, help you develop better leadership strategies, and coach you through big decisions.

Finding the right mentor can sometimes take a bit of work, but the payoff is awesome when you’ve found someone you respect and trust. Having had a few different mentors over the past two decades, I can honestly say that each one brought a unique and timely perspective to my life when I needed it.

Before you search for a mentor, think about what you want to achieve from the relationship. Do you want to work with someone who has knowledge of the dance industry, or would you prefer to have a mentor who comes from a different professional background? Do you want to meet on a consistent schedule, or keep things open-ended? How much time do you hope to spend with your mentor?

The answers to these questions will help prepare you to find a mentor who is the best fit possible. All it takes is a little planning, and a willingness to put yourself out there and meet new people.

Keep reading to learn about my 5 Ways to Find a Mentor:


Here are my 5 Ways to Find a Mentor:

  1. Approach someone who has a business you admire

    One of my local grocery stores, Festival Foods, has some of the most excellent customer service and community engagement I’ve ever seen and has been an inspiration for me since I started in business. While I was shopping one day, it occurred to me that I could learn a lot from the way Festival Foods runs its stores.

    It didn’t take long before I was able to set up a meeting with its founder, Dave Skogen, who soon became my mentor and friend. Think about your local business neighbors; what business owner could YOU establish a relationship with?

  1. Network in local business groups

    Networking to find a mentor in your community can be as simple as joining the right groups, such as your city’s chamber of commerce or local arts council. In those places you’ll find business owners just like you who are looking to connect and develop deeper business relationships.

    Try attending the next breakfast meeting or mixer, and begin getting to know who’s who. Remember that you all already have one pretty big quality in common: you want to better the community with your product or service.

  2. Check your mutual connections

    While it’s convenient to have a local mentor, long-distance can work too! Check the connections you have through social media, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, to see who might be a potential mentor-match for you.

    Perhaps you’ll be inspired to reach out to an old boss or a friend-of-a-friend who could become a mentor to you through phone calls, Skype meetings, or email. Ask your family and friends if they know of someone who seems like a good business-match for you. I have an accountability partner from Canada that I exchange emails with on a monthly basis.

  3. Look into a business coaching program

    Business coaching programs can steer you on the right path to finding an effective mentor, either through the program’s leader or its other members.

    A coaching program that is dance-studio specific (such as my studio affiliation program, More Than Just Great Dancing®, Clint Salter’s Dance Studio Owner Association, Suzanne Blake Gerety’s DanceStudioOwner.com, or Austin Roberson’s Studio Owners Academy) could be a great fit, or it might be worth considering a broader business program (such as Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership’s All-Access).

    Once you find a program you like, see if you can talk with a representative about your wants and needs in mentorship, or ask to experience a trial period before investing in a full membership.

  1. Meet a mentor through SCORE

    Formerly known as the Service Corps of Retired Executives, SCORE is a business mentorship program through the U.S. Small Business Administration. SCORE mentors are volunteers who are current or former business owners and executives.

    A volunteer can be matched to you by location or industry. Based on your goals and timeline, they can offer you mentorship in person or via email.

Having a mentor by your side through the highs and lows of business ownership is truly invaluable! While there’s no exact formula for finding the right mentor, these 5 ways will give you some excellent traction to get started. Remember that you are developing new business relationships through this process: take the time to introduce yourself to prospective mentors, ask a few engaging questions, and follow up with a thank you message.

In the comments below, tell us how you plan to proceed with finding a mentor—or share with us how you connected with your current mentor. I also invite you to connect with me @mistylown on social media to continue the conversation about how having a mentor makes a difference in your life. I can’t wait to hear more about your mentorship experience!

Looking for more insights for dance studio owners? Check out these other articles and resources:

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

More Than Just Great Dancing

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Should I Step Back From Teaching to Focus on Studio Business?

Studio Business

Should I step back from teaching to focus on studio business?

There are only 2 questions you need to answer to make this decision.

I meet a lot of studio owners in my travels, and there seems to be one thing that unites us—we all have a similar backstory. Somewhere along the way in life we fell in love with dance. We became dedicated to creating a career out of dance; we were passionate about the power of dance to change lives; and we were resourceful at using our skills and connections to make a difference in the lives of others.

I believe that studio owners are unique in this way, and this passion for sharing our love of dance is what drives us to succeed. But as we grow in our studio careers, we realize that the job of running a studio is about so much more than dance. We discover that we need to learn how to lead people, manage accounting, develop programming, understand new marketing trends and more. As your studio grows, the business needs can begin to rival the artistic side for your time and attention.

When this happens, you might feel like you’ve come to a crossroads. I know I did! This is where you have to start making decisions about the best place to direct your focus in this new season of life.

Should you step back from teaching to focus on studio business?  Continue reading to see the only two questions you need to answer to make this decision.

There are only two questions you need to answer when deciding if you should step back from teaching:


  1. Where is my zone of genius at the studio?

    Your zone of genius is the place you want to be! This is where your talent and your passion intersect, and it may very well be in the classroom. If you wake up in the morning and can’t wait to teach—and you are a skilled teacher—then this is a strength area you can’t ignore or suppress.

    If this is you, I would encourage you to stick with teaching because you flourish there! Your zone of genius might be in other areas too, so take note of those now before moving on to Question 2.

    I am not shy to admit that although I am an excellent teacher, choreography was never my real zone of genius. I can do it, but I really have to work at it and have others on my team who are more naturally gifted in this area. Me? I prefer to “choreograph” the business side of things; creating new programs and marketing efforts to promote our work in the community.

    When I was scheduled to teach several classes a week, the preparation time alone would cause me angst because it felt like it was taking time away from the areas of my business I was much better at handling (not to mention time away from my growing family).

    With that realization, I made the decision to step back from teaching (to only one class per week) and focus on my leadership skills. Eventually, I stepped out of teaching altogether to focus on my family and running the business.

  1. Who can I equip (or hire) to work in the areas that are NOT in my zone of genius?

    If your zone of genius is in teaching, then it’s essential that you are surrounded by a team of people who are talented in the other areas of your business. For example, you may need an office manager who can take on more customer service and administrative responsibilities, or you may need a bookkeeper to make sure your accounting stays clean and up to date each month.

    If your zone of genius (like mine) is in an area other than the creation of dances and preparation of lessons, then it’s probably time to step out of the classroom or to consider a reduced teaching schedule. Talk with your staff members to see who is interested in accepting more opportunities to teach, or begin the hiring process to bring new teachers on board.

    If you are currently the primary teacher at your studio, consider stepping out of the classroom gradually—over a year or two—to make the transition smoother for your students and their parents. My transition out of the classroom was a five-year process that took me from teaching 27 classes per week to four, and then eventually to none.

I should pause and note here that even though I no longer teach weekly classes, I am still responsible for the quality of our classrooms and the artistic choices that end up on our stages. No matter which side of the business you decide to focus on, you still have responsibility for oversight of the other side of the business—even if you are not in the daily details of that aspect.

As a business owner, you will always have different hats to wear at your studio.  But because of your personal history and passion for the art of dance, it can be a challenge to know whether “teacher” should still be one of them.

If you’ve ever thought about whether or not you should still be in the classroom, reflect back on your answers to the two questions here. Harmony can be found with both “the business side” and “the teaching side” of your studio; they are both vital to your studio’s success, and you will naturally have more strengths on one side than the other. I encourage you to play to those strengths and stand in your zone of genius as much as possible!

Connect with me @mistylown on social media or email me at mistylown@gmail.com if you’d like to talk about where your zone of genius is, or to share your own experience of staying in or stepping out of the classroom. I wish you success as you determine which direction to dance in next!

Looking for more dance studio owner insights? Check out these other articles and resources:

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

More Than Just Great Dancing

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Dance Studio for Sale: If You Want to Sell Your Studio, What Will Buyers Ask You?

dance studio for sale

Over the years, I have bought a couple of businesses and I recently even looked into buying a national franchise and negotiated for close to a month before I decided not to buy. But it wasn’t until last year, when I decided to offer my dance studio for sale, that I realized how many questions get fired at you when you’re in the selling seat.

Even though I had been a buyer and had asked a bunch of questions, when the tables were reversed I was sometimes rather taken aback by what was asked!

In a nutshell, I started a preschool dance school and built it to a couple of locations, had a solid, loyal student base and after nearly 2 years decided I needed to sell it for a range of reasons, primarily because I had competing opportunities and limited time. Luckily, I had approached my dance studio from the outset in a very organized and systemized fashion.

Questions Potential Buyers Asked Me

About Venues

  • Are the venues locked in place and secured for the next 6-12 months?
  • What are the rentals, and where’s the paperwork outlining the agreement that the set days and times are secured for this dance studio?

About Teachers

  • Have you told your teachers that you’re selling?
  • If yes, how did they react? If not, why and when will you?
  • Have your teachers asked you if they can buy the studio?
  • Why don’t they want to buy it?

My note on this: I decided to tell my teachers as soon as I’d made the decision to sell and I offered them the business. They weren’t in a position to buy it, so, after they were made aware but declined, I looked further afield.

I waited a few days to see if the teachers changed their minds. Then, I approached other dance schools and dance teachers to see if they might like to buy the business.

About Students

  • How many students are there?
  • What is the life cycle of a student?
  • What profit is made per class per student less costs?
  • What is the gross and net profit per year per student?

About Financials

  • What is the detailed P/L (profit and loss statement)?
  • Is this studio profitable? Is this studio in the red?
  • What’s the largest cost/s?
  • What are the fixed costs and variable costs?
  • Does this business have any outstanding debts/liabilities?

About Parents and Students

  • Do they know you’re selling?
  • Have you told them?
  • How have they responded?
  • If you haven’t told them when are you planning to?

About Other Dance Schools

  • What other dance schools are offering similar classes?
  • What price are they charging per term for similar classes?

Money seems to be the focus

Interestingly, I noticed that most of the questions related to money – profit, turnover, price per student, profit per student and all the financials. People also wanted to know about the staff and whether they would stay on. The teachers in my business were a critical piece of the puzzle since I myself wasn’t teaching in the studio; in some studios this might not be so important.

What I found amazing was that no one was really that interested in the brand, the goodwill, the dance programs I’d created or the social media following. The main value they saw in the business was in the monetary side of things, student numbers and staff retention.

What the selling experience taught me was that unless your business systems are tight and your financials are solid it will be very hard to sell a business based on reputation, name or quality programs alone. That being said, those aspects are really important to the success of the studio and therefore the profitability, so they are still important.

I have attributed this to the fact that a lot of dance teachers who acquire other dance schools will make the assumption, rightly or wrongly, that they already have their own programs, reputation, and branding. Therefore, they don’t need to worry about yours as they will just bring the acquisition under their already existing umbrella.

At the end of the day, selling a dance studio is the same as selling any business and a buyer, like a property buyer, wants to know that what they are buying has value and profit.

Ensuring that your business systems, financials and all fees are paid is going to be key when and if you need to sell your dance studio.

emma bell

 Emma Franklin Bell is an entrepreneur, author and mentor. In 2014, she sold 2 small businesses in the children’s entertainment space. She has written and published a book, and mentors dance teachers on the strategic direction of their business. She is based in Australia.

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3 Best Practices For Coaching Your Dance Studio Staff

3 Best Practices For Coaching Your Dance Studio Staff

By now your studio’s season is officially in full swing and your classes are humming along. Your students and their families are getting used to their new dance schedules, school commitments, and carpools. Your staff members have also settled into your new routines around the studio and you are starting to find your “new normal” with the fall schedule. It can be such a satisfying feeling as a studio owner to finally feel like the pieces of your puzzle have fallen into place!

It’s completely fine (and encouraged!) for you to celebrate the success of starting off the new season right. But don’t let that satisfaction turn into complacency when it comes to your leadership: your team is on the front lines of service every day, and they need your active support, direction, and motivation to keep moving forward and offering up their best selves.

It’s probably been at least a few weeks – maybe more – since your new-season kickoff meeting with your team, which means it is the perfect time to re-cast your expectations and set the pace for the year ahead.

Keep your staff members feeling excited to come to work and on the right track by implementing these 3 Best Practices For Coaching Your Dance Studio Staff This Fall:


  1. One-on-one check-in meetings
    Different from an annual performance review and with less formality, a one-on-one check-in meeting with each employee in September or October can give you the opportunity to receive feedback from them on how the season has started: what’s going well and where they need help. I recommend scheduling 15-30 minutes per staff member with the intent to do more listening than talking. If they need prompting to start the conversation, use just two guiding questions: 1) Which parts of your job are the most rewarding right now, and which are most challenging? And 2) How can I help you achieve your best work with both? Your team members will appreciate that you’re hearing them out, and you can use the information you learn to better support and direct them in the moment and in the coming weeks. It may even become a habit that you want to do these one-on-ones more often with your team, to keep your finger on the pulse of the studio and prevent fires before they start!
  2. Inspect what you expect
    By the time fall classes are in full swing, your staff members have probably already attended at least one staff meeting where you laid out your expectations for them as employees of your studio. For example, your front desk team probably knows that they are expected to follow-up with all trial class participants in a certain way. For the sake of this example, let’s say they follow four steps: they ask for the sale on the day of the trial class, making a follow-up phone call within two days to those who didn’t sign up, after which time an email is sent, and if there’s still no registration, the child’s information is put into a “general interest” email campaign. You know your front desk team knows and has practiced all of these steps, but are all the steps being completed (and correctly)? The only way to find out is to “inspect what you expect”: take the time to observe the process once in a while, and ask your team how it’s working for them. You may find a part of the process needs a little tweaking, or that a staff member needs a refresher on how to handle certain types of situations. Help redirect your team before any small glitches become waves.
  1. Praise the progress
    Make sure your team knows that you notice their hard work! As humans, we all have the desire to feel like we belong, and to feel appreciated. When you see or hear a staff member do something awesome, say something! Say your receptionist does an exemplary job converting a trial class participant into a student, and you happened to overhear the interaction – don’t just say “well done!” in the moment, also praise their work in a private email or in front of the team at the next staff meeting. That positive interaction offers the staff member a well-earned ego-boost and encourages them to repeat their efforts. I know it sounds almost too simple, but think about yourself: isn’t it a great feeling to be recognized when you do a good job at something and have set an example for your peers? And doesn’t it make you want to keep doing the thing that earned you the recognition in the first place? Yes! Case closed! Your team members need to hear that kind of special, personal affirmation from you when they are doing great work. It shows you care, and shows you notice them – and not just for showing up each day.

Fall is THE perfect time to ensure that your studio’s season is set up to run smoothly for the busy months ahead and to take care that your team has started the year on the right foot. Implementing these 3 Best Practices will help you coach your staff members to success! Tell us in the comments which practice helps you and your team the most, and connect with me on social media @MistyLown to continue sharing your leadership journey. I wish you AND your team a wonderfully productive fall semester!

Looking for more great studio staff management ideas? Check out the following articles:

The “Expert Advice from Misty Lown” series is brought to you by More Than Just Great Dancing™ and TutuTix.

More Than Just Great Dancing

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Dance Staff Management Guide: Part One

dance staff

One element of the dance studio that can make or break your business is your dance staff. From executive roles to administration to instructors, every piece of the dance staff puzzle must fit perfectly to implement a smooth operation that reflects your culture, mission, and brand. This begins with the hiring process and leads into detailing roles, responsibilities, and expectations.

In order to keep your studio running the way you would like, you must consistently:

  1. Evaluate employees
  2. Offer feedback and training sessions
  3. Know when it is time for a staff member to move on to another venture.

Undoubtedly, staff management is one of the most challenging components of owning a business. You are bringing together an assortment of people with entirely different backgrounds. That group is then supposed to maintain and uphold the values and beliefs of your entire business environment.

Additionally, you are not dealing with employees in a competitive academic market (like, technology companies, for example). Most of the time, you are dealing with artists that may underestimate the underlying business strategies required for dance studios. Creating and maintaining a “dream team” staff takes time, energy, commitment, and frequently, mistakes, to ultimately create a team that pushes your business towards greater success.

Within your business, it is absolutely essential that you have explicitly detailed and defined roles of who is in charge of each facet of the business. At The Dance Exec’s Studio, the executive role is broken down into two divisions: Business Manager & Artistic Director.

The breakdown of your executive duties may differ (as may task assignments), but the duties required will be similar for all studios. This insures completion of tasks and organizational efficiency.

Business Manager

The Business Manager oversees the logistical and financial operations of the business. This includes: accounting, payroll, building maintenance and repair, cleaning of the facility, registration and enrollment, and all financial transactions. If a particular item is beyond the Business Manager’s skill set, it is their responsibility to arrange and oversee its completion (i.e. tax preparation or serious repairs). The Business Manager is the only person at The Dance Exec’s Studio that handles money.

Artistic Director

The Artistic Director oversees class scheduling and curriculums, staffing, parent and student issues, the competition team, the work-study program, recital planning, community partnerships, and marketing. The Artistic Director also oversees the Business Manager’s transactions.

In reading these descriptions, you can see that each role is detailed. If you attempt to manage all of these tasks independently, it is very likely that something will get “lost in the shuffle”. You should never let one area of your business suffer because it becomes “too much” work.

Running a dance studio is a very involved process, and you must guarantee that you have the help needed to make your business a true success. (Please note that help does not have to be employees. It can be an accountant, maintenance person, cleaning service, etc.)

Additionally, it is important to note that “too many hands in the pot” can be just as frustrating as not having enough hands. The executive roles and responsibilities are critical to the success of your business, and you should avoid carelessly distributing the roles to multiple staff that may not have accountability or investment in your brand. At the end of the day, studio owners cannot independently accomplish everything that is required of their business, so it is important to delegate tasks to people you trust.

dance staff

 

When you are venturing into the hiring process, think of the procedure as casting a show. Each role needs just the right person. If you cast the tenth best person for a part, your ticket sales and show reviews will not soar. The same goes for your in-studio hiring considerations. If you miscast a role with the wrong instructor, it will lead to more headaches for you and your business.

Take the time to make the right choices, but do not be afraid to correct an incorrect choice. Everyone makes mistakes, and this is certainly a learning process.

How do you go about finding your instructors? Many studios rely on online postings, local college programs, or former students.

Whatever search techniques you utilize, it is imperative that your ad postings be reflective regarding the quality of instructor you are seeking for your business.

What character traits do you value? For The Dance Exec’s Studio, we reiterate that prospective employees must be motivated, enthusiastic, professional, punctual, and organized. We also value educational and instructional experience, especially with children.

In our posting, we ask that interested candidates provide a cover letter, resume, and headshot. This request alone will assist in weeding through candidates that are not detail oriented enough to be a part of our business.

In candidates’ responses to your posting, you should look for the following:

  • The prospective instructor should include a resume, headshot, and cover letter (per your request).  If anything is missing from their response, you should immediately eliminate them from your search because it shows they cannot follow very basic instructions.
  • The resume should be properly formatted and condensed to one page. The experiences listed on each person’s resume should be checked for accuracy (internet searches greatly help with this process). If a person lies or exaggerates on their resume, you should eliminate them from your list of potential candidates.
  • In the cover letter and resume, check for use of proper grammar and formality as indicators of professionalism and attention to correctness. Since professionalism is a character trait valued at The Dance Exec, it is imperative in making it to the interview process. This also indicates levels of a candidate’s seriousness and shows a glimpse into their personality.
  • Use the candidate’s headshot to determine if the request was taken seriously. Is the photo a professional headshot, or is it a snapshot or something pulled from Facebook?  If a candidate sends in a snapshot from Facebook of him/her partying, he/she is likely not a good candidate for your business.

Remember, whatever the prospective candidates have sent you, they are putting their best foot forward in their initial interaction.

If this does not appeal to what you want, then you should follow-up with a response that indicates that the candidate is not best suited for the position. If you find the applicant to be a decent but not great candidate, you can always state that your staff positions are currently filled. But, let them know that you will keep their resume on file for future openings.

If their resume is appealing to you, then you should promptly follow-up with an interview request. Offer a list of times that would work for you (obviously, offering a variety of times, if possible). If the candidate is interested, they will find time to meet with you. State in this email that if the interview goes well, the candidate may be asked to teach a demo class. Keep in mind that this is the candidate’s opportunity and attempt to put their best foot forward. Consider anything less than impressive as a red flag.

When the candidate attends their interview, there are several observations you should note:

  1. How early does the interviewee arrive for the interview? Did he/she take the time to find your location in advance? If an interviewee arrives late, they should not be interviewed or considered for the position. This shows a less than exemplary work ethic and poor planning.
  2. What is the interviewee wearing? Even though this is the dance industry, The Dance Exec’s Studio likes to see potential candidates taking the interview seriously. As such, expect candidates to dress in business casual attire.
  3. How is the initial interaction with the candidate? Is the candidate gracious and mature? If the candidate’s behavior would not work in a corporate interview, then it should be noted as a “red flag”.

During the interview process, The Dance Exec’s Studio prefers to ask standardized interview questions. This allows all candidates an equal option to answer, but, often the questions will distinguish the higher qualified candidates from the mediocre or weaker candidates.

Some examples of questions include:

  • If you had a choice between seeking and avoiding challenges in the performance industry, where would you place yourself? Please give an example to support your choice.

This type of question asks the candidate to place him/herself on an industry-related spectrum while also showing levels of ambition and motivation. Ideally, the candidate will back-up their ranking with a legitimate example that supports his/her self-perception.

  • What is the name of one of your close friends? What did (your close friend) think you would grow up to be? Tell us what you may have done to make him/her feel this way.

This type of question allows the person to give a personal reference. The story he/she chooses will give you insight to his/her personality as well as a back story. If the candidate struggles to think of anyone, it could be indicative of a weaker candidate.

  • Please tell us about a time you dealt with a challenging child in the classroom environment. Justify your rationale for handling the situation in such a way.

This type of question allows insight into how the candidate would handle conflict. Through their answer, you will gain insight to their thought process, diplomacy, regard to instruction, etc. Based on their answer, you will know if their method of conflict management ties into your culture and brand.

Based on these questions and questions you create on your own, you should gain a lot of insight into the interviewee’s personality and thinking process. With open-ended questions, you are allowing the candidate the opportunity to tell stories and engage you via examples and observances throughout their life. Such questions can make some interviewees feel uncomfortable.

Use this exercise to observe a candidate’s communication skills, thinking strategies, and behavioral gestures. Through this process, you should be able to identify confident, well-spoken, thoughtful instructors that could be an asset to your business.

In your interview, avoid asking “yes” or “no” questions. Try to steer the candidate towards open-ended questions so that the candidate has time to provide more details. Questions that can be answered with “yes” or “no” are often the easy way out and do not give you a complete representation of a candidate’s personality.

In your interviewing, make sure that you never ask questions concerning protected classes as defined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

If a candidate succeeds in the interview, invite him/her to teach a demo class with students. The Dance Exec’s Studio always pays teachers for instructing demo classes. The studio wants there to be an understanding from the beginning that this is a strictly professional work environment.

Ultimately, there is no greater way to judge a candidate’s qualifications than putting him/her directly in the classroom environment. During the demo class, make sure you observe the teacher’s preparedness, confidence, teaching style, charisma, and enthusiasm. After the class, ask for students’ opinions, and more importantly, value your instincts. After the demo, do not feel obligated to immediately let the instructor know your decision. Thank him/her for teaching the class and take the time to truly consider if this person is right for you and your business.

Whatever your decision, you must let the person know. A prompt response shows professionalism on your part, and people will have greater respect for you (even with a “no” answer) than they will if you neglect to respond. Through experience with dance studios, some owners do not place enough value on communication. With so many readily available communication devices (email, cell phones, etc.), there is no excuse for not responding to prospective candidates.

Ready for the next step?

Click here to read Part 2 of the Dance Staff Management Guide: The Dance Studio Employee Handbook

You can also skip ahead to:

Dance Teacher Evaluations and Replacing a Dance Teacher: Part 3

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Dance Studio Business Plan: See A Real Example

dance studio business plan

Writing a dance studio business plan is a BIG project. But an important one! This plan will lay out your studio’s hopes and dreams, as well as the step-by-step process for getting from Point A to Point B. A few questions to ask yourself as you get started:

Where are you now?

Where do you want to be in three years? In five?

Who will help you get there?

The point of a dance studio business plan is to clearly lay out the aspects of a new company: strengths, challenges, and all of the minor details that will make the business a success. This document is an opportunity for entrepreneurs and hopeful business owners to put all of their ideas on paper, so that colleagues and other advisors can review the plan and offer any advice or criticism before the business is launched.

As an example, TutuTix has created a sample dance studio business plan for our imaginary dance studio, TIPS (the TutuTix Imaginary Performance Studios).

Feel free to use our guide’s ideas in your own plan, and please send us feedback about ideas we might not have that work particularly well in your studio! You can download the example dance studio business plan for free by completing the form below:


The layout of a business plan follows a logical progression of topics that a company needs to have defined prior to opening for business.

That order of topics should look something like this:

Executive Summary

A concise description of your company, that acts as an overview of your goals and values. Keep it short but sweet! Why did you choose to build this kind of company?

Company Description

Here, you can flesh out your overview and touch on how your business will function. Talk a little about your customer base, marketing goals, and strengths of your company. Why are you the best? Is it because you have the best staff, the most experience, the best rates?

Market Analysis

Who are you competing against? How strong is that competition, and why do you think your studio can handle it? How will your business grow in this community over time?

There are lots of talented teachers and dancers who would be great studio owners. But in their current city or location, they would have a really hard time getting into the market and signing up students. That might be because of competition, lack of student interest in the area, or other reasons. How will your studio stand up to these tests?

Products and Services

Which dance classes will you offer? Will you rent out your space? Will you sell any retail items?

This section lists out your business functions: what do you offer, and how much will you charge? All of the items listed here will add up to be your studio’s income.

Marketing Publishing Strategy

How will people find out about your business, and how will you recruit additional students after your first season? What does your brand mean to you, and what do you want it to mean to others?

Operational Plan, Legal, and Startup Expenses

You can’t start a business from scratch: you’ll need funds and some professional consulting to get your company off the ground. How will you pay for your startup costs? Do you have that money already, or will you need to raise money with partners? Is a loan from the bank your best option?

By the time you get to writing this portion, hopefully you’ve talked to colleagues who might be opening the studio with you, or you’ve found a legal and/or financial professional who can advise you on the best way to move forward. Taking on debt to open a business is always risky, so you want to find funds the right way and have a plan to pay that debt back.

Most importantly: don’t be afraid to adapt! After the completion of the business plan, go back through and make adjustments based on information you’ve learned along the way! Ideas can and should evolve when they’re laid out on paper, so be sure to look for guidance from other teachers and business owners when putting together your plan.

TutuTix E-Book

This business plan is included in the FREE TutuTix E-Book, “Dance Studio Ideas and More: The Official TutuTix E-Book.” You can download our e-book here.

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Maintaining Accountability as a Dance Professional

dance professional

How do you maintain your accountability as a dance professional?

Here are some thoughts for maintaining your relevance and staying refreshed:

  • Research New Ideas
  • Network with Other Professionals
  • Continue Your Education
  • Reflect on Your Career Progress
  • Consider Progress & Evolution
  • Have A Responsibility to Share

The responsibility to share promotes the practical application of research, network, education, reflection, and progress & evolution.

Find Your Outlet

As an example, with The Dance Exec, I enjoy the process of finding new content and information about our industry. I enjoy thinking through my teaching and choreography style to see what and how I can improve and evolve as an instructor.

It expands my network and worldview, and in turn, it makes me approach all of my work with a unique perspective.

What is your outlet for professional accountability? What do you do to make yourself the best professional?

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Starting A Dance Studio: Part 1 of the Studio Start-Up Guide

starting a dance studio

Starting a dance studio (or relocating a studio) is certainly not an easy endeavor. It is a decision that should be thoroughly considered, weighed, and understood. Varying personal factors that should be considered are: personality type, business sense, life stability, income requirements, investment resources, personal willingness to commit, and a passion for business and/or dance. Most people would not open a clothing boutique if they did not love fashion, and the same should be said for dance studio entrepreneurs.

In starting a dance studio (or expanding your current studio), you must find your niche location and market. This section of the guide will cover all of the factors involved in choosing and up fitting a space for your current or prospective dance studio. In terms of your success, location is everything!

Finding Your Ideal Property

To begin searching for commercial property, it is a best practice to consult a commercial real estate agent. The agent will represent you and will protect your best interests throughout the process.

In searching for a prospective studio spot, it is important to consider the following items:

1. Location

How much space (think square footage) do you need for your dance studio? How much space can you support with your anticipated student base and financial resources? Will the studio be a one-room facility, or will it have multiple studio rooms?

In planning for the studio, consider the following spaces:

  • Lobby
  • Office
  • Storage
  • Bathrooms
  • Retail
  • Hallways

When looking at spaces and considering prospective floor plans and layouts, as much space as possible should be dedicated to the actual studio areas. This is the primary selling point of your facility and will be the most used, income producing space.

Is the space you are considering zoned for your intended use?  A real estate agent or landlord can clarify an area’s intended use and zoning.

Lobby space should be kept to a minimum. The lobby does not need to be a large space for parents to loiter, as that encourages gossip and detracts from studio space.

Office space, bathrooms, and storage should be kept to a minimum, but be sure that they are adequate enough to accommodate your needs.

2. Parking

Does the space have adequate parking to accommodate the number of clients you hope to have at your studio? Be mindful that you will likely need a spot for every person at your studio at any given time, including: students currently taking class, students transitioning to the next class, and staff vehicles.

The bottom line is that you need a spot for every single person that might be in attendance at the studio. Extra parking is always a plus—people will never complain if there are too many spaces, but there will be complaints if there is not enough parking.

You may also consider having a student drop off area, so parents can drop off and pick up students without utilizing a parking space.  In considering this option, you want to ensure that someone that may take too long in the drop off area will not interrupt the overall traffic flow.

A well-designed parking/drop off area can be one less thing for parents to stress about when coming to your studio.

3. Safety

Since dance studios frequently involve children, it is absolutely imperative to consider the safety (actual or perceived) of your location. Ask yourself if you would feel comfortable leaving your own child in a particular locale?

You can run the best studio in the world, but if it is not a great, safe location, people will hesitate to bring their children. This could cost you business! And, while the price of a less than desirable location may be appealing, this is not an area to skimp on your budget; rather, you should invest in being in a better part of town.

When considering locations, investigate your neighbors and see if that fits into your ideologies and overall theme. A great place for a primary location might be in an area with a fun park, a children’s preschool, and a music center. You would not want to open your facility in an area that was surrounded by bars or other non-child friendly venues. Be alert, and think of how parents may view your location and presentation.

4. Visibility

The cost of a visible location is expensive, and ultimately you will pay more rent. But, you will compensate the cost through blatant marketing. If your location is centered in an area that supports a lot of drive-by traffic, your facility will constantly be on the forefront of your community’s mind.

Keep in mind that convenience is a primary factor for people joining a dance studio (or any extracurricular activity). Make sure your locale is near prospective clients and reflects the mentality of the neighborhood. Some dancers will come to you because you run an excellent program and train great performers. But, the bulk of your students (and, consequently, your income) will result from people that are taking dance because your activity is convenient to their home.  Make sure that where you decide to put your studio is near a solid base of prospective clients.

Consider what nearby, prospective clients want in a space.  Are you near a country club with high expectations for their children’s extracurricular activities?  Be sure that your space reflects the mentality of the neighborhood and fits in with your potential client’s expectations. If a competitor (dance studio, gym or otherwise) has a considerably nicer or more visible facility, how are you planning on competing?

5. Nearby Anchors

As mentioned in the safety segment, knowing the businesses that surround you can greatly impact your business, positively or negatively. Know the resources that will be surrounding you and how you can use them to benefit your business. Being near a popular landmark can help your business when providing directions. Also, if you are near a school or another complimentary business to your target market, this can be highly beneficial. People appreciate surroundings that are familiar.

6. Feasibility of Meeting your Opening Goals / Timeline

It’s important to consult with your landlord/contractor to ensure that they can meet your opening goals with construction permitting, up fits, etc. It’s important to initiate the beginning phases of starting a dance studio with the highest levels of professionalism and organization.

The Bottom Line

Your dance studio’s outward appearance will make a huge impression on your clientele. Take the time to provide the best possible environment and regularly evaluate areas for potential improvement. Make sure your facility is cutting-edge, safe, and the appropriate environment for your dancers to thrive.

Studio Start-Up Guide

Want to learn more?

Part 2 of the Studio Start-Up Guide deals with Dance Studio Floor Plans and layout design.

Part 3 of the Studio Start-Up Guide deals with Dance Gear and Decorations.

For those of you getting serious about starting a dance studio or looking to make some big improvements, you can also download our FREE E-Book, “Dance Studio Ideas and More: The Official TutuTix E-Book!”

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