Below is an excerpt from the book "It's Your Turn!" The Success Blueprint For The Dance Studio Owner. Get Your Copy Today!
"Nobody can be successful unless he loves his work." - David Sarnoff, CEO of RCA
Dance has been a part of my life from my very earliest recollections. I started on the long road at the age of three, when my mother enrolled me in a ballet class. Apparently, even at that age I seemed to know what I wanted, especially in my dance classes. I am told that I would become quite irritated with the other young dancers if they didn't focus and pay attention to the teacher. Evidently, I had also started on the long road to the entrepreneurial life! Looking back, I realize that I was extremely lucky to not only never have a doubt as to what I wanted to do for a living, but also to have the love and support from my family and teachers along the way. They helped me realize my dreams of becoming a dancer.
I worked as a dancer and choreographer in numerous parts of the world for many years. At one point when I was performing in Madrid, I decided to form my own dance group. We worked extensively in Spain. That was a great training ground for running my studio, because I did it all. I needed vision, guts, and marketing abilities, plus ideas for choreography and costume design. I hired and fired the dancers, I made up their contracts, and I had to make sure that everyone was paid and that all bases were covered each week. When I look back on that experience, I know that, at the time, I had no idea that I would end up running a dance studio for twenty-five years. But I was being prepared for that experience.
After meeting my husband and forming our adagio dance act, I still did not anticipate owning a dance studio. But after 12 years of performing in some incredible shows with some brilliant artists and travelling all over the world, we did from time to time talk about perhaps having a studio one day. We had, after all, taught dance classes in practically every city that we performed in-admittedly to professionals or advanced students. We didn't even consider that it would be any different teaching children and teens. So when the opportunity arose to buy Steve's former dance teacher's studio in Connecticut, we really didn't hesitate. In fact, we made such a quick decision that, at the end of three weeks, we were the proud owners of our dance studio! We cancelled our immediate performing contract, which was to appear in a show in Monte Carlo, and assumed that we could run the studio and still go away occasionally for performing engagements. We were still getting the calls from our agent. We actually did try to do that for the first couple of years, but eventually realized that, if we were going to be successful at running our studio, we were going to need to devote all of our energy to teaching and running the business. One thing that we both knew for sure was that we had a tremendous passion for dance, and we wanted to share that with our students.
Our vision was to have a professionally run studio where the dancers would receive the most excellent training. We imagined that all students were going to make it in the dance world-until we really sat down and took a look at the reality of what any dance studio has in the way of dance students. It became clear to us that only a very small percentage of our students were actually going to make it in the dance world. We vowed to train them in all aspects, to the highest level. We were extremely fortunate to have some fabulously talented dancers train at our studio, and we are tremendously proud of all of their achievements in the dance world. We have also had thousands of students who studied with us for a variety of reasons, who went on to diverse careers. Judging from the letters we have received over the years, we are absolutely certain that not only did we give them the very best in dance training, but we also gave them something equally important-a number of extremely valuable life lessons.
Remembering why we started our studio and reminding ourselves on a daily basis of how fortunate we are to be working at something we love helps us stay focused on the big picture. This is especially true on those days when we feel that we are being hit from all sides and truly wonder, "What was I thinking?" I'm sure anyone who owns a dance studio has felt that at one time or another! It is in those moments that you must look back at your accomplishments and understand that you have to take it just one day at a time.
Take a moment to look back:
Write down the most memorable moments that you have enjoyed at your studio.
Write down the moments you wish you could forget (we all have some!).
Cast your mind back to when you first opened your business. How many students did you have then, and how many do you have now?
Remind yourself of the way you ran the business in the beginning, and then look at the ways you have found to streamline.
Did you do all the teaching in the beginning, and do you have other faculty now?
Take a look at what your goals were then and compare them with what they are now. Have you progressed?
These are just a sample of the questions to ask yourself. If you answer them truthfully, that in itself should help give you the motivation needed to keep pushing forward. There are different ways to expand your business. We are all individuals, and what may feel right to me could feel awkward to someone else. The most important issue is to take a good look at your business and make some decisions about its direction. Whether you have just opened your school or have had it for fifty years, it really doesn't matter. The only difference is that the person who has been doing it for a long time has the benefit of past experiences. These experiences can do one of two things. They can push you forward or they can hold you back. How are you letting your experiences or lack of experiences direct your business?
I have never bought into the theory that to be a good artist, you need to be starving. On the contrary, I have always been able to produce better when I feel relaxed and know for sure where my next meal is coming from! There is no shame in making money or being successful-as long as it goes to a positive end. From the successful people that I have studied, I have learned one very important thing: if you love working at any particular job, you will become successful at it and the money will follow. When you love something or someone, you will devote whatever amount of time that it takes to get the desired result. It is good to look at what others have done, but ultimately you must tap in to your own inner resources to come up with the right answers for you. As Albert Einstein once said, "Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking." Finding time to really think about your business will give you the chance to come up with ideas and plans that reflect who you are and where you want to be. Choose a quiet place where you are undisturbed by any outside activities.