Pursuing your passion for dance and transforming it into a viable career is nothing short of a life-changing experience. Being an entrepreneur is exhilarating but it’s a process that also comes with a lot of extra responsibilities and challenges. Avoid feeling overwhelmed with these simple guidelines for opening your own dance studio.
Read more about how you can open a dance studio in 5 easy steps:
Starting a dance studio business is a topic we’ve discussed on this blog before and for good reason. Organizations that not only offer dance classes or lessons but also rent out space to competitive troupes and event coordinators can quickly become a thriving, vital force in any community. With the proper business strategy and execution, your dance studio can be all you want dreamed it would be and more!
Are there potential drawbacks and pitfalls to starting a local dance business? Absolutely, but those challenges are not unique to that industry either. According to a 2017 statistical run-through, the high failure rate for small businesses of all kinds has less to do with a lack of work ethic or innate business acumen; instead, lots of local organizations go under because they fall prey to easily correctable/avoidable mistakes.
I want to do everything I can to make sure you don’t stumble over those same obstacles, and that’s where this list comes in. Regardless of your background as an entrepreneur, these tips and insight aren’t just vague theories masquerading as thought leadership – I want to give you the tools to create action items that will get you and your dance studio to that next level, especially if you’re starting from that figurative ground floor.
Let’s jump right in and get your dance business going with this step-by-step guide:
Write a Business Plan
What do you need, in terms of resources, to open a dance studio? How much does it cost to rent a dance studio space? How is your organization going to be different than others in your local recreational marketplace and bring even more added value to community members? These questions and more are answered by creating a business plan.
Unfortunately, the importance of crafting a solid business plan continues to be lost on a shocking number of smaller enterprises in North America. The lesson is simple: Don’t think you can wing opening your dance studio business without planning it ahead of time. Making grand assumptions or resigning yourself to “figuring it out later,” in any respect, is a recipe for disaster. Yes, it’s hard work, but your entire business venture will be even harder if you don’t do any planning.
The best way to get started is with an outline. Start with your business from a mission and values perspective, then go into more detail about the services you’ll offer (classes, lessons, drop-ins, all of the above, etc.) and how that will work injunction with your desired space (renting a dance studio versus outright ownership, sharing the facility with other dance professionals, etc.).
Once you have a workable framework, it’s time to write your business plan in full. Throughout that process, make sure you’re always going back to your organization’s essence and your goals, both short and long-term. With that in mind, be mindful of all your direct and indirect costs (staff salaries, renovations/maintenance to your dance studio space, etc.) so you can have an exhaustive idea of overhead, as well as the kind of fees you need to charge.
Do Research and Competitor Analysis
Investopedia ranks a lack of marketplace or competitor research as one of the main reasons why so many small businesses bite the dust over time. Don’t fall into that trap and put your organization at a disadvantage before you have a chance to establish a presence. Do homework and get a clear picture of the local recreation options in your municipality.
This goes back to the question of uniqueness and standing out in your community as a dance studio that delivers an experience that customers won’t find anywhere else. That determination can only be made if you have a strong notion of what other customer experiences are out there, what those organizations do well and, more importantly, what they don’t do well.
Once you complete an initial research and competitive analysis sweep, you’ll be able to use that insight to develop a marketing strategy that will clearly communicate how your dance studio business is head and shoulders above other players of the same ilk. That foundation will, in turn, set you apart from the competition in a positive way.
Spend Enough Time on Your Website and Social Media
For every business owner who’s just starting out, getting your web presence right is crucial. Most potential customers your dance studio will investigate their options thoroughly online before making any purchasing decisions. In other words, they already know a lot about you before they even set foot in your physical studio space.
With so much riding on your website and social media accounts, don’t phone it in with this step You need to make sure that any site you create (or, if you already have one, update from top to bottom) is visually appealing, clear and concise where messaging is concerned and – this is REALLY important, so write it down – responsive on mobile. If people cannot browse your site from their smartphone or tablet, your reach and growth potential will take a nosedive.
In that same vein, you need to be optimizing your web presence for local SEO. That means keyword research, using Google or another service provider, should inform every piece of text that makes it onto your webpages. Be clear and concise while also exciting your audience enough to return to your site on a regular basis.
You also have social media, a tool that remains one of the best ways to cultivate, engage and grow a target audience – even with little to no money behind your efforts. The key is to post and share often, become a trusted voice in your industry and use that momentum to build a buzz around your brand.
Not sure if your social media content is up to snuff? Check out our blog for simple, easy-to-implement tips that you can use today!
Legitimize Your Business Legally
After doing your due diligence with business planning, marketplace research and web optimization, it’s important you apply that same attention to detail to the legal and financial documentation that will make your business a legit outfit.
There’s lots of reading and information gathering involved during this stage, both from online resources and professionals in your industry. The former might be tougher to navigate but, as a starting point, you can’t really go wrong with the U.S. Small Business Administration’s management and growth guide. Pay special attention to the “Launch Your Business” section, which contains valuable information on permits, tax scenarios and registering your business with the government.
Beyond strictly online tools, make sure you also talk to financial and small business experts who work in your community. Most bank branches already have someone dedicated to local organizations and serving their best interests, so set up some knowledge transfer appointments with one or several advisers – they can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
Dazzle Customers with Strong Initial Offers
At this point, the lion’s share of the prep work for your dance business will be in the rearview mirror and it’ll be time to (finally) get to the exciting part: opening your studio’s doors to the public. To generate a strong initial buzz, you’ll have to turn some heads with your initial service offerings.
There are many ways to get more eyes and ears on your brand, especially in those early days when it’s so important to stand out in your community’s recreation marketplace. Some options at your disposal include:
- Hold an open house event, where current and potential customers can mingle and check out your studio space without being tied down to a financial commitment;
- Get a local celebrity or trusted public ambassador to endorse your business – that recognizable stamp of approval will be a valuable piece of social proof; and
- Offer discounts or free bonuses (merchandise items, gift cards, etc.) to the first wave of people who sign up.
As a longer-term consideration, referral programs can provide a huge engagement and revenue boost for your business, all without costing you anything in terms of setup. Again, we circle back to the importance of social proof; whether it comes from a known public figure or from the participants and families who love your different sessions, potential clients will trust positive word-of-mouth more than any other piece of marketing.
Collect Feedback and Adjust Over Time
Once your dance studio is up and running as a business, remember that it’s not a static entity – you should take the proper steps to ensure that your services continue to grow and evolve over time. Using the data at your disposal to develop insight into customer preferences and general behaviors will only make your organization stronger and more appealing over time.
This also involves collecting participant feedback, good or bad. We all know how powerful good reviews can be as a promotional tool but sometimes how you deal with negative reviews online can be just as fortifying. Don’t respond antagonistically and definitely don’t leave any complaints unanswered; instead, take the time to reach out to those people and really listen to their story. If they feel like their words are being heard and taken to heart, they may reverse their opinion about your business altogether.
At the end of the day, opening your own dance studio is no easy feat. Lots of preparation steps give way to additional responsibilities once the space is ready and community members start signing up for classes, activities or drop-ins. That said, it’s also an exciting and extremely fulfilling line of work to get into. If you’re passionate about the art of dance and have faith in your abilities as an entrepreneur, these tips should set you on the path to success.
Check out more great tools that can take your dance business to the next level by downloading our FREE marketing eBook now!