Here’s our Top Ten Things You Need To Know About Running A Dance Business
It’s been a dream of yours for many years now!
You love to dance!
Dance is your passion!
But how do you make a living doing what you love?
For us, it was about taking the bull by the horns and just going for it! By getting stuck in and learning from experience, we’ve grown from 1 class in St Albans to running classes, parties and events across the globe.
Here are some tips we would tell our “younger selves” if we could get in our delorian and go back in time:
1. Things don’t happen over night!
Don’t ever wait for the “floodgates to open” because they don’t! It’s not about one particular thing that you do that gets people flocking to your classes! It’s a slow, gradual process which creates a long-standing grounding for your business. Yes, you may have an influx from advertising or friends bringing a whole group of friends, but never rely on just one way of getting people to your class – they don’t call it the “marketing mix” for nothing! ;)
2. Make sure you are covered!
What would happen if someone was injured in your class? What do you do when the fire alarm goes off? What would you do if someone was taken ill unexpectedly? All these things need to be considered and have plans that can be carried out without hesitation. Public Liability insurance goes without saying and can be obtained at a discount via EMDP (Exercise Movement Dance Partnership), fire drills at each venue you work from should be read and fire exits checked, and when was the last time you took a first aid course? EMDP are a fantastic body that can help dance teachers with many of these aspects and point you in the right direction for what you need. Fantastic resource.
3. Look good!
Unfortunately, people do judge a book by it’s cover, so ensure you “look good”. Not just by presenting yourself in a professional manner personally, but by having a great brand, a professional looking website, and consistency. You don’t have to pay a fortune for a “logo/brand” – as long as your information is presented in a professional way, with consistency, then you are pretty much there. Use the same fonts, stick to particular colours and you can create your own “brand”. And don’t pay a fortune for a website – you can create your own site for hardly any cost using WordPress or Wix – if you have no techy skills at all (and you don’t need much), ask a student or someone to help you.
Business cards are very low cost via companies such as Moo and Vistaprint and most of them help you with the artwork. Plus you can create amazing leaflets and posters via these companies too. Check out your local printers – they usually offer competitive prices as well.
Focus especially online – most people find what they are looking for via google – so make sure you have the best online presence possible.
Communication is absolute key! Now that you have your “brand” and look and feel, who are you going to talk to? Invite visitors to your website to leave their details in exchange for something useful from you, i.e. sign up here to receive monthly tips on how to lead a healthier lifestyle, or sign up here to win a free term of classes, or sign up here to be in with a chance to win a free party.
Capturing potential and actual customer’s data is soooooooo important. You can ask various questions and find out more about them, enabling you to discover what your customers want and how you can offer these services to them.
Regular communication keeps you front of mind and shows that you are an active and interesting business.
And don’t forget social media – we LOOOOOOOVVVVVVEEEEEEE social media – it’s been amazing for Popdance.
5. Don’t try and do everything at one
One of the biggest headaches we had when we first started out was trying to do everything at once. It just can’t be done. Or it can be done, but not very well! Take each thing, one at a time, and deal with it and deal with it well. The satisfaction of crossing things off a list rather than pulling your hair out trying to figure out which one to do first is not good for anyone. A useful tip a good friend of ours gave us that changed the way we worked was to segment your time. Do things in blocks, i.e. have one block spent on just parties – marketing your parties, dealing with current parties, how to improve your parties, spend another block just on your website, is it up to date, does it get over everything on offer to your customers, is it easy to navigate, and a block for blogs/marketing/social media etc. doing things in blocks gets your brain into that mode rather than making a phone call here, dealing with a party there etc.
6. Make friends
Network, get stuck into social media, join relevant facebook groups, chat to parents, have launch events, invite people to your classes – the bigger your network, the more connections you make, the quicker the word spreads about classes, parties and events you are running :)
Make friends with other dance teachers – work together – cover each others classes, run events together, market each others classes – working together makes a massive difference in costs, help, support and time.
We would also totally recommend that you have a mentor! Whether it’s a friend, or a friend of a friend, or someone who you can talk to about what you are doing, your ideas, your concerns – someone who will tell you how it is and can point out things that you can’t see. Sometimes we are so caught up in what we are doing that we can’t see what it looks like from the outside – this has been invaluable to our business.
We never really liked planning! When we first started, we weren’t really sure what we were supposed to do and how we could predict what kind of money was going to come in. However, once you start, it does fall into place. Things like: what do you want from the business? What do you want the business to offer people? How are you going to do it? What do you need in order to do it? How much will it cost? What do you need to charge in order to recoup those costs and make a profit? How many people do you need per class? How much is studio hire? How much does it cost to download the tracks you need?
Grabbing a sheet of paper or getting it all down on a spreadsheet and then filling in the figures is a mighty fine place to start. Then, as weeks go on, you can “forecast” what you know you will be spending and what you predict you will be getting in.
And answer that famous question: Where do you see yourself in 5 years time? And plan, in small steps, how you are going to get there.
8. Remember the money!
We all love what we do so we often forget about the money side of things! Even though we love what we do, we all still need to make a living! So it’s really important to keep a handle on it and know what you are paying for, are you getting value for it, is it working, and are you getting enough return for the work you are doing. Don’t forget that things take time, but also think about whether you need to take out that ad that you are not sure is working for you, would you be better to spend that money on online ads, or facebook ads where you can really target your audience.
9. What do your customers want?
Ask them. In the flesh, or via things like surveymonkey (a free online survey – very simple to use) – ask for feedback via email and/or your website – make it easy for customers to let you know about their experiences with you. Never be afraid of criticism, it’s how we learn and how we grow. It’s also an opportunity for you to put things right if you do get an unhappy customer. You will find that customers who have had a great service from you when things go wrong, become advocates for your business and tell people how fantastic you are. We would rather customers tell us if they are unhappy, rather than leave us and tell everyone else why they are unhappy!
10. Never ever ever give up – as said by Winston Churchill
Be consistent, turn up every day online, create excitement and a buzz around what you are doing – if you show your passion about what you do, then it become infectious. Building a brand and a reputation takes time and effort. Reap what you sow! Believe in yourself, adapt, change, plan, consider and face up to things. If you are not making what you want to be making financially, make plans to change that – what do you need to focus on to achieve your goals. That could be focusing on just one area of your business, for instance, more after school clubs – make that your focus for a while.
Above all – Dream big!
Did you find these “10 things to know about running a dance business” useful? We love feedback – and we would love to hear your thoughts and feel free to share your tips – email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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