Social media sites – especially Facebook – are useful tools for dance studios, as they can aid in marketing and communication with students. However, there have also been many instances where teenagers and sometimes parents abuse the sites, using them to hurt other people or businesses. Because of the potential harm that can be done on Facebook and other social platforms, many studio owners choose to create social media policies for their businesses. These guidelines can be beneficial, but there are a few considerations to take into account when creating dance studio policies that regulate social media use.
Focus Social Efforts Through a Main Page
The first factor that you’ll want to take into account is who will be authorized to post news and announcements on behalf of the studio. Sometimes businesses can get into sticky situations when instructors post unauthorized information on their personal pages regarding the studio. Dance Teacher magazine recommended that you establish expectations that all student and parent communications occur through the main studio page. If teachers have something they want to share, have them forward you the information before posting it live. This way you’ll be able to monitor and approve all posts.
Establish Criteria for Acceptable Posts
One of the benefits of social media is that your followers can chime into conversations with their own thoughts and ideas. This is a great way to get students and their parents engaged with the studio, but sometimes people will post mean or derogatory comments on a public page. To address this issue, you’ll want to explain to students your expectations for posts on the studio main page. Any remarks, photos or videos should be appropriate and reflect well on the studio. Be sure to explain that you reserve the right to delete any harmful or unnecessary comments.
Be Careful Regulating Personal Posts
While you can control what third-parties are posting on your studio’s social media pages, it’s important to realize that what gets said on private accounts is a different matter altogether. Some studios include stipulations in their dance studio policies that bar students from defaming the school on their personal social media accounts. However, Dance Studio Life explained that there have been lawsuits filed to keep businesses from enforcing these types of regulations, as they are often construed as limiting freedom of speech. Be careful how you word expectations about posts on personal accounts. It’s generally best to phrase these rules as suggestions instead of hard policies.
One essential piece of any start-up, including a new dance studio, is a detailed business plan. But, sometimes its hard to find examples or guidelines for specific industries, exactly like what you would need to write a business plan for dance studios. If you’re thinking about opening your own dance school, you’ll want to get this roadmap down in writing as soon as possible. DanceStudioOwner.com recommended completing a dance studio business plan a full year before your opening.
So what exactly is this document? The words “business plan” might conjure up images of a thick manual, filled with financial charts and growth projections. While those things may be included, the task doesn’t need to be quite so daunting. A business plan is essentially a roadmap of the route you intend to steer your new studio down. It should project three to five years in advance and detail how you want to grow your business.
Use this guide to familiarize yourself with the essential parts of a dance studio business plan so you can get on your way to opening the school of your dreams.
*Editor’s Note: Since the publishing of this article, TutuTix has created an example Dance Studio Business Plan that you can download, review, and use to build your own business plan!
Think back to high school or college and you might recall that teachers always said a good essay needed a strong, attention-catching opening. That’s exactly what your business plan’s executive summary should be—especially if you intend to use your business plan for more than just personal inspiration. The U.S. Small Business Administration explained that this section should concisely detail where your company is, where you plan to take it and why it will be successful. It’s easy to get carried away writing an executive summary, but remember that it’s just an overview. You’ll go into detail in the body of your plan, so keep this section brief. Many experts recommend that you write this text last. The summary should appear first in your final report, but it’s important to give it a lot of thought and consideration so your words pack a big punch.
The next essential part of your dance studio business plan is the company description, which is essentially a glorified elevator pitch. Talk briefly about what your studio will entail and what market you’re targeting. You may want to give a concise overview of the services you plan to offer, but don’t go to in-depth, as there’s a later section dedicated solely to the topic. Your company description is the place to note what advantages you have over your competitors, whether it’s expert staff, prime location or your own dance prowess.
If you haven’t hunkered down to research your competition, this is the time to do so. The market analysis section should include details about the size and scope of the dance industry in your region, as well as its growth rates. Find out how many studios are in direct competition with you and approximately how many students they serve. This is the best place to include a thorough competitive analysis and your plan to enter the market. You should also figure out how many customers you can realistically serve and define your pricing structure. There are many other market factors that can be included in this analysis, so check out this article from the SBA for an in-depth list of topics.
Services and Products
After all the technical market speak, you’ll be relieved to reach the services and products section. This is where you get to detail your plan to offer the best classes in the area. Outline the benefits for your students, how your services meet customer needs and how you’ll develop your curriculum moving forward. The Finance Resource also recommended including an explanation of any secondary sources of income, such as dance apparel or recital ticketing.
As the SBA explained, customers are the “lifeblood of your business,” so you need to figure out how to reach them! In your marketing and sales section, explain how you intend to bring new students into your studio and retain them as customers. You may also want to include a growth strategy if you plan to target other markets, such as adults, in the future.
Finally, you’ll want to create a section dedicated to your funding plan and financial expectations. Many entrepreneurs write business plans to help raise capital, so this portion may be key to your cause. A strong business plan can be an invaluable selling point when you’re looking for investors or seeking a loan. You’ll also want to create a section with your financial projections – it can be lumped with your funding plan or in a separate component. At the end of the day, your studio will be a business, so it’s essential to have a solid plan to bring in revenue, pay your bills and continue to grow.
If there’s other information that you want to include in your dance studio business plan, you can either create a section for it or place the data in an appendix. Once you’ve written down all your dreams and plans, proofread and edit the document. Chances are that you’ll find something you missed or want to add. If your business plan is just for personal reference, you can stash it away. However, if you’re presenting it to investors, you’ll want to edit it another time and have someone else look it over as well.
Whether you’re expanding your dance studio business in a bigger location or simply unable to renew your lease, moving your business is a complex process. There are so many things to consider – budget, location, accessibility – that your head may be spinning. If you find yourself in a tizzy as your moving date draws closer, use these four tips to help make the transition as smooth as possible.
1. Give Yourself Ample Time
The more leeway you allow yourself during the relocation process, the fewer problems you’ll run into. You may think that one or two months is more than enough time to get everything in line, but that’s usually not the case. In a teleseminar with DanceStudioOwner.com, Dale Willerton, founder of The Lease Coach, explained that you should allow six months to negotiate a lease and get all your ducks in order for the move. When in doubt, start earlier than you need to. A little extra time never hurt anyone!
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate
You’re probably not a seasoned pro when it comes to real estate, but that shouldn’t stop you from negotiating the terms of your lease. The Small Business Association recommended that small companies aim for a one- or two-year lease in a new location. Be fair and confident when discussing your rent and don’t forget to bring up the issue of rent increases. Willerton noted that, unfortunately, many landlords don’t take dance studios as seriously as they would a doctor’s office, so make it clear that your money is just as green as any other business.
3. Talk about Tenant Allowance
Many studio owners regard tenant allowances as a mythical concept – discussed often, but never seen. If you’re dealing with a property that has a high vacancy, don’t be afraid to bring up the subject. You’re probably going to need to replace floors and install mirrors in your new space, and tenant concessions will be your wallet’s best friend. Establish yourself as a valuable tenant and you’ll be surprised at what allowances you’ll receive.
4. Communicate with Your Customers
Finally, keep open lines of communication with your dancers and parents throughout the process. Your move should be beneficial to your customers as well as your dance studio business, otherwise you risk losing students. Let the parents know when and where you’re planning to move and be sure to explain the benefits of the new location.
When you take those first steps toward opening your own dance studio, you officially become an entrepreneur. Starting your own business is a confusing, complicated and sometimes scary process. The good news is that there are tons of people and organizations that want to see your succeed! Here are five invaluable resources for female entrepreneurs in dance.
1. The U.S. Small Business Administration
The SBA is a great place for any small business owner to seek information or guidance. You’ll find articles and white papers on just about every business-related topic imaginable on the SBA website. From creating a business plan to applying for loans, the site covers it all. The federal organization also has a number of resources dedicated solely toward furthering female entrepreneurs. Check out the Office of Women’s Business Ownership for details on local offices, grant opportunities and business seminars.
If you could benefit from a business mentor, the SCORE Association can help you out. This organization provides free advice on starting, running and growing your company. They’ll also set you up with a business mentor who you can talk to online or in person. Once you get involved with SCORE and get your studio off the ground, you can become a volunteer and help other aspiring entrepreneurs achieve their goals.
3. The National Association of Women Business Owners
The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) is one of the largest organizations for female business owners, with more than 7,000 members across the country. The NAWBO resource center offers great information on topics ranging from funding to marketing and more.
4. Ladies Who Launch
The focus of Ladies Who Launch is to create support communities for female business owners. It has a number of online and local groups that let entrepreneurs to plan, brainstorm and problem solve together. The Ladies also host expert discussions, intensive workshops and other useful seminars across the country.
5. Dance Studio-Specific Organizations
There are several studio-specific organizations out there who focus on training and supporting studio owners as they navigate the business of studio ownership. A few of these are More Than Just Great Dancing, The Dance Exec, and DanceStudioOwner.com (full disclosure: TutuTix often works with the folks at More Than Just Great Dancing and The Dance Exec on various projects – we think they’re awesome!). These organizations are a great help for studio owners who need the help and advice of someone who’s been in their shoes.
You can always find a helping hand in your own community. Reach out to your local chamber of commerce to see if they have any workshops or resources for new business owners. They might also be able to connect you with other business owners in the area who are willing to offer advice and guidance.
I live in a place affectionately called the Frozen Tundra. It’s not exactly the Arctic, but Green Bay Packer fans claim the whole state is pretty close to that from about mid-December to mid-March.
No matter where you live, don’t let the colder weather or busyness of the season lull you into taking your foot off the gas in terms of seeking new enrollments. Don’t fall asleep at the wheel! Registration incentives, pre-planning for upcoming classes and events, and getting creative with marketing ideas are just a few of the tools you can use.
Winter is a GREAT time to plan for Spring dance studio enrollment boosters. Here are 6 ideas to get you started:
FB contest for tuition credit. Last week we started a unique FB contest that has gotten a lot of traction. The promotion is a picture of our “Give the Gift of Dance” basket. It’s basically a dance class starter set with a value of $130, but sells for $95. The contest component is that everyone who shares it and comments that they did so below the picture is entered to win a $100 studio tuition credit. We got 68 shares the first day! What’s better yet? Many people not only mentioned that they shared, but they commented what they loved about the studio.
“Summer in Winter”! Winter is the best time to plan for new summer classes. Tie up loose ends on guest artists now! Strong planning now means the ability to begin taking enrollment for summer by the end of February.
Line up Spring community performances now. Now is the time to line up community performances for the spring. Community performances are a great way to showcase what is great about your studio, pass out information and teach kids how to use their gifts and talents to serve others.
Call the local dance teams. High school dance team is a big deal around these parts. Instead of trying to compete, we partner with them several times a year. We offer free rehearsal space for teams as needed. We also offer a special “cleaning” session with one of our teachers that can be purchased. Once you establish a relationship with a team, it’s an easy transition to promote an audition workshop or classes in the dance team style.
Move your fall enrollment date up. Our registration date for fall used to always be June 1, however, when I had children of my own I realized that all of the good preschools held their registration for fall in February! While I haven’t quite been able to move our registration up that far, we have moved it to April, which has helped enrollment tremendously. The parents encourage enrollment in groups by talking about which classes they will take next year while they wait for classes to let out.
Keep taking students! Sounds simple, but the impact is powerful! There is NEVER a time at Misty’s Dance Unlimited where someone is not able to enroll. We take school year students until Jan. 31. Beginning Feb. 1, they can sign up for summer classes. Now imagine if I still cut off enrollment in December with the costume order (which I used to do!). Last year we took 20+ enrollments in January. Many will become long-term students. If I hadn’t accepted their enrollments, some might’ve waited for fall…but most would’ve kept looking for another studio.
Looking for more great dance studio enrollment tips? Check out:
Many studio owners choose to list their businesses in an online dance studio directory in hopes of gaining more students. It’s a relatively easy marketing tactic, but like anything else, there are pros and cons to these directories. If you have some extra time and advertising dollars, here are some considerations to take into account before listing your studio on a dance website.
The most obvious benefit of listing yourself in a dance studio directory is the exposure you can gain. When new students are looking for dance classes, they’ll probably start with an online search. If they come across dance studio listings, you’ll want your business to be in the mix. Put simply, you won’t get new students if they don’t know you’re there!
Con: Paid Membership
One of the downsides of being in an online dance studio directory is that the best sites require a paid membership. Most directories charge a moderate yearly fee for a basic listing and have options for premium memberships. For example, DanceClassFinder.com, one of the highest directories in search engines, charges $60 per year for a standard membership or $120 for a premium account. If you have a few extra dollars in your marketing budget, this could be a good investment. However, when your dollars a little stretched, you can always search around for free listings. These might not get as much traffic as bigger sites, but like people always say, you get what you pay for.
Pro: SEO Boost
Another important reason to list your studio in a dance directory, whether it’s paid or not, is that you’ll get a boost in search engine optimization. When your business has online “citations,” you’ll show up higher in search engine results, and online listings that include your studio name, address and contact information count as a citation. If your studio is a little low in the rankings, it might be worth your time to submit your details to a few free directories to boost your SEO.
Con: Hit or Miss
There are lots of different online directories out there, so you might find that the one you choose doesn’t get the attention you were hoping. Many sites boast that thousands of students visit their listings each day, but keep in mind that those visitors are located all over the country. Directories can be hit or miss, so don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Make sure you’re marketing in your local community, as well as online. It might be worthwhile to also list your studio in the directories of local businesses, such as a chamber of commerce, community center or regional dance publication. These types of companies often get a lot of queries from parents and are a great way to get referrals.
Many small businesses have found that traditional advertising mediums like newspapers and flyers are becoming less effective in the digital age. If you’ve noticed that your dance studio advertising isn’t garnering the attention you’d like, you might benefit from a little bit of social media marketing. Facebook has a number of useful tools to help businesses create and optimize advertisements. Use these tips to make the most of your paid dance studio ads on the site.
Prepare Your Text and Images
Just like with other advertisement, you’ll want to put some time and effort into picking photos and writing text for your Facebook dance studio ads. Social Media Examiner explained that every ad should contain an offer or promotion, a call to action, relevant contact information and, if it fits, what sets you apart from the competition. Try to keep your text as concise as possible and use an objective tone so you don’t sound spammy.
As for photos, you’ll want to use images that are 600-by-315 pixels for optimum visibility. Crop or resize your favorite eye-catching pictures to get the attention of Facebook users. Don’t be afraid to use the test option to try out a variety of images and find which ones are the most engaging. Keep in mind that your ad photos can only be 20 percent text, or Facebook won’t approve them to run.
Resist the urge to set a large budget for your first few ads. The Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce recommended allocating just $10 per day to start. You may not see huge results, but you’ll figure out how the system works and what you can expect from each ad. Run a few small campaigns to start out and eventually you can give more funding to your most successful advertisements.
Find What Works
Don’t get discouraged if you fumble around with your ads at first. There are lots of different options that you can use – sidebar ads, newsfeed posts, target markets – and you won’t understand them all from day one. What’s important is that you take advantage of the analytics available and learn from each campaign. One of the best features that Facebook offers small businesses is the ability to target local users with your ads. Simply select your town, state or nearby communities under the “audience” option, and your ad will be shown to people in those locations. Try different combinations to figure out which areas garner the most engagement. You’ll slowly figure out what works best in terms of content, format and funding, and before you know it, you’ll see increased interest in your studio.
Do you find yourself staying long after closing to file paperwork and answer emails? Does your “downtime” at home consist of scheduling social media posts? If the administrative workload at your studio is running you ragged, it might be time to consider hiring a dance studio manager or office manager. Many studios are hiring additional staff to help out with the day-to-day responsibilities that generally fall to the owner. Here are four considerations you should make if you’re thinking about a hiring full- or part-time dance studio manager.
1. Consider Automating or Outsourcing
The first thing you should do when you’re feeling overwhelmed with administrative tasks is to make a list of all the things you’re behind on. Dance Advantage explained that once you have a list in front of you, it will be much easier to determine if you need a new employee or if you could simply invest in some automation software. If your troubles are related to accounting and bookkeeping, you might need to invest in new accounting software. You could also consider outsourcing to an accounting firm. If you spend too much time wiping down the mirrors in your classrooms, you can hire a cleaning service to come in once a week. Once you have an idea about the distribution of your workload, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision about hiring a dance studio manager.
2. Weigh the Costs and Benefits
An office manager will definitely help to reduce your workload, but you’re going to have to write another paycheck each week. Dance Studio Life noted that most studio managers expect to receive between $10 and $20 per hour, depending on the size of the office and the responsibilities involved. Try to weigh the time and stress you’ll save against the cost of another salary. If the cost is within your budget, a studio manager might be the way to go. However, if the money would put a strain on your finances, you should probably look into other solutions.
3. Look for Candidates with Experience
When you’re reviewing candidates for the position, keep that list of responsibilities you made handy. It’s in your best interests to choose a manager whose experience lines up with your needs. If you’re behind on filing and paperwork, a candidate who has worked in an office setting would be ideal. Individuals with customer service experience will do a good job answering phones and emails. If you need help with more hands-on tasks like ordering costumes and creating rehearsal schedule, you might want to look for a candidate who’s familiar with the basics of dance. Hiring a manager with the right experience will be beyond helpful in the long run and ensures that he or she will be an asset to your business.
4. Create a Training Plan
Don’t overlook the fact that anyone you hire will need to be trained before they can be a seamless part of your studio. Unfortunately, no one will be able to walk in and immediately know what to do. Even if the candidate has worked in a studio before, no two business are the same, and there will be tasks he or she needs to be walked through. Take time to create a training plan before your new hire starts. The more specific your plan is, the quicker your manager will get the hang of things. You both will benefit from written policies, procedures and schedules. Dance Advantage also recommended explaining what the manager doesn’t need to do. If you want to be the point of contact for parent complaints or to be the only one posting to social media, explain that to your staff member. Sometimes he or she might try to be helpful and take on tasks that you’d prefer to do yourself.
Including a noncompete agreement in your employee contracts seems like the logical choice to protect your studio. However, if you scroll through popular dance forums, when it comes to the non-compete agreements for dance studios, owners and industry professionals say these legal documents aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. There are certain problems that come along with noncompete agreements, some of which undermine their effectiveness. If you’re thinking about implementing a noncompete with your instructors, use these tips to guide the process.
Do: Thorough Research
Before you jump on the Internet and start digging for a noncompete template, you’ll want to do a little background research. Find your state’s guidelines for noncompete documents – there might be certain phrases or clauses you have to include for it to be upheld. You should also look into any local court cases about similar circumstances to see the results. Dance Teacher magazine explained that noncompete agreements are notoriously hard to uphold in court, as ruling against a teacher would compromise his or her ability to make a living. Use this research to guide your construction of the document and develop a backup plan to protect your studio.
Don’t: Put All Your Eggs in a Noncompete Basket
While a formal document might give you peace of mind, there are other ways to protect your business from competition. Don’t underestimate the benefits of having loyal students and teachers. Dance Studio Life noted that when you rotate teachers every season or every year, you can prevent them from building up a base of dancers to take to a new studio. Students that have the same teachers for years in a row are more likely to develop loyalty to them. Try to interact with dancers and their parents so they feel connected to your school. Another good tactic is to simply be a good boss. If your instructors value your expertise and enjoy working at your company, they’ll be less inclined to start a rival studio. Inspiring loyalty in your students and teachers is a supplement, or even an alternative, to a noncompete contract.
Do: Seek Professional Help
As with any legal document, it’s best to have a lawyer look it over. If you can afford to have a lawyer draw up the document, it’s definitely a good option. You can probably find a template on the Internet to structure your noncompete around, but unless you’ve been to law school, there’s a good possibility you’ll miss something. Sometimes just a few wrong words can make the document invalid. If you take the time to seek professional advice when you’re drafting the agreement, you may save yourself time, money and headaches in the long run.
Don’t: Rule Out Other Options
There are a couple other legal routes you can pursue to deter the teacher turned competitors. Dance Teacher magazine explained that nonsolicitation clauses are much more likely to be upheld in court, even if the noncompete contract isn’t. These legal clauses keep your former employees from soliciting your students and staff to join their new studio. Nonsolicitation agreements are more likely to be enforced because they’re viewed as an effort to protect your business’ goodwill. Another option is to create a nondisclosure agreement, which prevents former staff from disclosing your proprietary information, like client lists or business history. This type of legal document can be helpful, but keep in mind that instructors can legally use information they remember and public resources to open their studio.
Choosing a name for your business is one of the most exciting and challenging parts of opening a dance studio. A company’s name is an essential part of its brand, so you’ll want to give the decision some serious thought. Use these considerations to narrow down your list of potential dance studio names so you can get on your way to opening the dance studio of your dreams.
Visualize Potential Dance Studio Names
Your studio name will be everywhere – on your sign, website, social media pages, advertisements and merchandise, just to name a few. Because a company’s name is often tied in with its logo, the Small Business Administration recommended that you think about how your potential names will look visually. Consider the length of each name, the punctuation you use and how it will fit with your logo.
Think About Connotation
Have you ever seen a business with a silly or childish name and immediately written it off? Or perhaps a company that’s name made it seem pretentious? Your studio’s title will often be the first thing people see, so you want to make sure it has an appropriate connotation. The SBA explained that a business name should reflect the company’s philosophy and culture, appeal to its target market and find a balance between corporate and casual.
Do Internet Research
Once you settle on a short list of dance studio names, head to the Internet for a little bit of recon. The fact of the matter is that web presence can often make or break a new studio. You’ll want to set up a website and a couple social media accounts to start networking and reaching potential students. Take your list of names and see if your ideal URLs and social media slugs are available. If there’s another company that already using your name, consider how customers would be able to tell you apart. If you’re located in the same region and offer the same services, that name should probably be nixed. Your studio title needs to be unique in order to stand out.
Be Aware of Common Mistakes
There are a number of common blunders that entrepreneurs often make when naming their business. Two big no-nos are names that are either too vague or too specific. Entrepreneur magazine noted that companies are often tempted to squish two words together in order to stand out. But, the end product seems forced and unnatural. Similarly, you don’t want to pick a name so complicated that patrons can’t remember how to spell it. Lots of dance studios like to use puns in their names, but make sure it doesn’t cross the line into cheesy. When in doubt, ask a few friends and relatives for their opinion on your potential list of dance studio names.
Have you ever wondered how to market a dance studio using promotional products? Dance Studio Boutique noted that most people will keep a promotional product for around seven months and 62 percent of recipients are more likely to do business with the company. There are lots of high-quality items that are relatively inexpensive and easy to customize. If you have a little money left in your marketing budget, you can’t go wrong with customized promotional items.
Offer Registration Gifts
One way to put promotional products to good use to is create gift bags for new students. When parents and children register at your open house or enrollment period, offer them a goodie bag as a welcome present. You can include custom T-shirts, water bottles and key chains, or get more creative and hand out headphones and back massagers. Your new students and parents will love the free gifts and likely talk about your studio with their friends.
Build Brand Awareness
Giving parents and dancers items that are branded with your company’s name and logo is a great way to build awareness within the community. When students wear your studio’s T-shirts out in public or carry a custom gym bag in school, they’re putting your company name in front of lots of potential students. You’ll probably find that the investment is well worth the number of leads it creates. Dance Studio Owner also recommended donating personalized pencils to a local school at the beginning of the academic year or offering free promotional items at a nearby costume shop. The more people that see your name, the more inquiries you’ll have!
Motivate Your Students
Fun branded items are also a great way to motivate your students before a big performance or competition. The prospect of a reward will encourage your dancers to do their best. You can also sell merchandise to parents and fans at performances. Some studios also offer bigger promotional items, like jackets or duffel bags, to students who stay at the studio for a number of years or volunteer to assist with a novice class. These are all effective ways to get students excited about their time at your studio and increase brand awareness in the community. A small investment can often go a long way if you choose useful promotional products.
So you want to open a dance studio. First off, congratulations! Entrepreneurship takes courage and can be incredibly rewarding. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a fresh face in the industry, you can find success as a studio owner if you know what to expect, stay positive and embrace your dream. If you’re still contemplating whether the role of an owner is right for you, read these pros and cons for a little insight.
Do What You Love
Whether you’re an independent instructor or dance school alumni, one big bonus of owning your own studio is that you get to do what you love – every day! You’ll get to work with young dancers, stretch your artistic muscles and organize lots of recitals. When you’re first starting out, you’ll probably end up teaching a lot of your studio’s classes as well. If you’ve ever found yourself wishing you could spend all day in a dance studio instead of an office cubicle, this might just be your calling. However, if the thought of working with kids every day scares you, you might be on the wrong track.
Your Work is Never Done
If you’re transitioning from independent instructor to studio owner, you’ll be shocked at how much work there is to do. When you open a dance studio, you’ll teaching classes, handling finances, creating marketing content, organizing human resources, responding as customer service, event planning and more. The blogger behind Confessions of a Dance Studio Owner explained that she works longer hours than her instructors and always has items left on her “to-do” list. It’s a lot of work, but you also get control over many more things than when you work for someone else. You’ll have the final say on studio aesthetic, class sizes and schedules, fees, performance spaces, marketing, fundraising and more.
A ‘Mom-Friendly’ Job
If you love kids, both your own and other people’s, starting a dance studio is a good option for you. Not only do you get to be around young, vivacious students every day, you also will have greater flexibility with your own kids. No one will bat an eye if you bring your kids to work or let them sit in on your class. Owning your own studio will save you money on daycare and give you more free time during the summer.
Be Prepared for Mama Drama
With all the wonderful enthusiastic kids come demanding parents. The majority of your parents will be happy as long as their dancer is happy, but you’ll definitely encounter some “mama drama” that will make your head spin. As a teacher, you can pass off serious squabbles to the studio owner. As a studio owner, all those issues land right in your lap. Before you open your own studio, make sure that customer service is something you’re ready to commit to. Parents are paying customers and have the right to make their concerns and suggestions heard. It’s not the most glamorous part of the job, but mitigating conflict in your studio is crucial to its success.
Still Not Sure?
If you’re still on the fence about whether you should open a dance studio, Dance Teacher Magazine suggested that you would benefit from working at one. Being an apprentice at a successful dance studio is the perfect way to learn about the different jobs and responsibilities an owner faces. This is also a good way to learn about the “business” side of entrepreneurship, which many dance instructors are shielded from. A mentor can help you figure out whether ownership is the right path for you. However, as a professional courtesy, you should avoid being an apprentice at a studio that would be your direct competition.
When you open your first dance studio, you’re going to face many of the same sources of small business stress as other business owners. It doesn’t matter if it’s a restaurant, retail store or service provider, every company will face one or more of these problems at some point. However, the good news is that there are usually ways to effectively manage your small business stress so you can get back to perfecting pirouettes and picking recital tunes.
1. Huge Workloads
As a small business owner, you’re not only an instructor, but a marketer, accountant, human resources rep and much more. If you’re lucky, you have a spouse or friend who is willing to help out when you’re in a pinch, but there will definitely be times when you’re swamped with all the things you have to do. Unfortunately, your budget might not allow you to hire office help, so you’ll need to get creative. The first step toward solving this problem is to perfect your time management skills. When you have a dozen things to accomplish, it’s critical to have a set schedule. Set aside three hours each week for marketing, three for accounting, one for answering emails or whatever time you need. If you’re still pressed for time, consider falling back on the barter system. You may not have the funds to hire someone, but you have a service you can offer. Trade dance lessons for a marketing campaign or work with a local high school to offer student office training.
2. Tough Clientele
The first rule of business is that the customer is always right, even when they’re wrong. You’ll likely encounter a few hardcore dance moms who are impossible to please. On top of your existing small business stress, tough clients can be a breaking point. To solve this problem, establish firm rules and policies for your studio. You should have these set from the day you open, but feel free to adjust the rules as you go. If you find that parents are dropping their children off late, next season implement a policy dealing with tardiness. If you’re steadfast with your rules, parents will eventually learn not to question your authority in these areas and you’ll have fewer problems overall.
3. Fierce Competition
The Bank of America Small Business Community explained that creating a unique brand is crucial for a small business to stay afloat. To succeed, your dance studio needs to offer something better than your competitors. It can be more one-on-one time, flexible class times, unique genres or even lower prices. Setting your business apart from competition in some way will help you to retain customers and build a stronger brand name.
4. Expedited Growth
You probably want to expand your business, but doing so too soon or too quickly can be detrimental to your studio. A blog post from The New York Times explained that borrowing too much money or expanding into unprofitable markets can backfire and lead to financial ruin. To combat these temptations, establish a detailed business plan, including a timeline for growth. Regularly reevaluate whether you’ve been meeting goals or if you should wait before taking the next step. Get an opinion from a financially savvy friend before making any big expansion plans.
5. Accounting Issues
Finally, a business can fail if the owner isn’t cognizant of finances, even if everything else is functioning smoothly. The New York Times noted that many small business owners expect that a third-party accounting firm will give financial advice, but in reality, most of these firms handle taxes and nothing else. As a studio owner, you’ll need to wear the chief financial officer-hat. This means you’ll need to ensure the business has a cash cushion, is operating efficiently and is charging enough.
Be proactive in this area and head off problems by staying organized and aware of your studio’s finances. You should have allotted time each week when you focus solely on financial issues. Even if you’ve hired an employee to handle bookkeeping for you, make sure you always remain aware of your studio’s financial status, maintain access to all financial records, and ensure that there are checks and balances for anyone handling your studio’s finances. At the end of the day, you the studio owner must make the hard financial decisions required to ensure the success of your business.