An important message to Dance Studio Owners:
There are false notions that if you try to expand your business or try to make it grow that you are selling out! Why are dance studios any different from any other business? I have found through the years from talking to a lot of dance studio owners there is always a dilemma of finding the right mix so that studio owners don't feel like they are selling out in some way. The most important thing that we, as dance studio owners, must find is the right mix to balance out the important things that we face day in and day out. First and foremost is to understand that we are running a business and that must and will take first place over everything else. I know that if you love to still teach and you are at your studio every day this can and will be a real challenge.
One thing that we have found is that you must devote time to the running of the business and not at 10:00p after a full day of teaching! I know that if you still teach a lot you know what I am talking about. Teaching, while still our passion is also tiring and if you do not give yourself a day to work on your business then you run the risk of everything on the business end suffering. Michael Gerber who wrote the book The E-Myth says that you must work on your business not just in your business. The tricky part is for those of us who still love to teach but understand the importance of the business side and know that a good part of time must be spent working on the business side. We have developed a real love of running a business and the challenges that we face but before we got there we did struggle. We never seemed to give ourselves enough time in the beginning. Finding the right mix for you will also be important. What has worked for us may not work exactly for you but you can change and modify it to suit your needs. We are still learning and changing as we proceed forward, but that's what business is really all about.
Even if you do not still teach it is important to get past the idea that growing your business is in some way selling out or seedy. It is healthy and wise to do so. It is also empowering to know that you have built something the way you want it to be and that it has grown under your leadership. A business should be there to serve you and if your business does not grow in some way it will probably die. That is why we coach our clients to think outside the box a bit and try to grow your business to a size that you are comfortable with and then continue to think of ways to make it better for your clients and you. Don't be afraid to charge a good price for your services as well. This cash flow will be vital to your success and sanity!
Here is a short list of things that we have implemented over the years and have found really makes a difference.
1. Have one day a week for business development day. If you are a one person operation just sit down in a quite place and have a meeting with yourself. Write down new ideas and goals you want to achieve. We always try to make some short term goals so that what we want is not always far away in the future. This can also be a day when you focus on just thinking of new marketing ideas. Any topic that will help you increase your student base, visibility in your the community or how to increase your income
2. Look at where your student count is today and decide exactly how many students you want to have in 1,2,3,4&5 years from now. If you are not really interested in having a big studio there is no problem with that. It's your decision just write down what you want and when you want it!
3. What do you charge and is it enough for you to make a decent profit? I believe that most dance studios undersell there classes. Most people will pay more than you think for classes. I don't advocate charging obscene amounts just to gouge people but you don't have to take a beating either. We have built in price increases for the past 8 years. We have raised our fees every one of those years in some way, nothing drastic just a bit here or there. Class cost, registration fees, costumes and show tickets. Over these years no one, to my knowledge, has left the studio because of the cost. Come to find out, we are still not the most expensive studio in our area but we are working on it! I like the idea of being the high priced studio because people associate expensive with the best! We will be doing an article in the future about price structuring to help you get the best price for what you do.
4. Write your goals down for the business and look at them every week. There are some you will hit, some you will exceed and some that you fall a bit short on. Just make it like a game. If you win great, if not then what's the big deal you get another chance. These goals are not just financial ones but artistic ones as well. Just make sure that you line up your artistic goals to match your financial goals. You want to have that harmony in both places so they do not conflict with each other.
This is where there can be this beautiful mix of business and artistry that come together, just the way you planned it!