For many of us, being a dancer is only a small part of the bigger, lifelong goal. Ultimately, dancers want the chance to inspire a new generation of dancers, to train younger dancers to reach their goals, and to provide the opportunity for the youth to become more educated in the ways of dance. Additionally, the sustainability of building a career out of dance relies on having a strong clientele that allows you to keep dancing in the long term. All of these dreams can be fulfilled by owning your own dance studio. At Dance Work Balance, we have gathered information from dancers who have set up their own dance studio, and we compiled a list of some of the most valuable pieces of advice that may help you get your own studio up and running.
Being a dance studio owner is different from being a dancer
This one is fairly self explanatory, but one of the most overlooked aspects of running a dance studio. As the owner of a studio, you will spend a significant amount of time doing things that are peripherally related to dance, but aren’t actually dancing. Some estimates say that you will be working on all other aspects of your dance studio (running your business and promoting your business for a start!) by an order of magnitude: For every hour you spend dancing, expect to put in about ten hours doing all the behind the scenes logistics that needs to go into making your studio function.
Develop your interpersonal skills
Being a studio owner involves interacting with clients much more than you ever did working in the entertainment industry. In the end, you will be spending much energy trying to make sure that your clients remain with you over time. The first year of being a studio owner will force you to learn new modes of interaction. Although the younger dancers who are in the studio are under your wing, in the end, you still need to be willing to appease the parents or the adults who are part of the studio.
Spend more time listening than speaking, especially when meeting potential new clients. Make sure you get an understanding for what their intent is on joining the studio, or what they want their children to gain after being a part of your dance studio. What skills do they want to gain? What dance styles are they most interested in? Are they interested in pushing and challenging themselves, or do they just want a venue to dance?
Of course, you can’t teach every class there. Naturally, you’ll also have to think of the instructors who you hire in your studio to teach classes. This is another time for you to work on your interpersonal skills. Some of your instructors will be wonderfully responsive, great teachers, well loved by their students, and responsible. They are obviously not your problem! The issue will be the handful of instructors you hire who are irresponsible, who do not regularly show up on time for their classes, and do not respond to your texts, emails, or messages. It now becomes a difficult question of what to do: Can you inspire them to become a better employee? Or do you warn them a few times before letting them go? It becomes a difficult question in the middle of the dance season when their students still depend on them until the recital.
Related to your interpersonal skills, spend time networking.
Learn secondary skills
The two main important skills as a dance studio owner are obviously dance and business sense. But on top of that, there are so many other skills that you should learn to become a successful dance studio owner.
You will have to become knowledgeable in legal issues regarding your city and state with respect to running a business. On a related note, there are many differences in business taxes that are different from doing your personal taxes. They can be quite overwhelming the first year, but they soon become routine. Just expect to put aside extra time at the beginning!
To be successful in your endeavor, you’ll have to learn videography, photography, and marketing skills - something that dancers aren’t always knowledgeable in. Luckily, in the generation of the internet and YouTube, you can very quickly and easily find how to run a marketing campaign using a combination of your Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and every other social networking site available. You’ll have to learn the most basic features of photo editing software, you’ll learn the foundations of video editing software, and you’ll learn how to manage analytics like a pro.
Of course, music editing is an essential skill for any dancer, but you may have gotten away with not learning how to do it yourself. When you start running your studio and you have several groups of dancers who need their own cut of music, you may have to learn how to do it yourself. Software such as Adobe Audition isn’t free, but it’s wonderfully intuitive software. Alternatively, Audacity is the premier free, open-source audio editing software.
As stressful as it will be running your own dance studio, in the end, you will learn the business from the inside out. You’ll acquire a wide set of skills that are applicable across any other career. Your CV will be full with after running your studio for just a few years! Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Talk to other studio owners, they were once in your shoes.