As a dance instructor, you’ve probably thought about starting your own dance studio. It’s the dream, right? The challenge becomes, how do you start a dance studio with little to no money? Here in this post, we’re going to break down what it means to open a dance studio, and how you should approach the task if you’re not made of money.
To start a dance studio, be a great instructor first
The only way you can genuinely understand dancers is to be one. It would be near impossible for somebody to wake up one day and just decide that they wanted to start a dance studio with no prior knowledge of the dance industry. Starting your own dance studio is a natural progression in your career if you are already teaching dance independently.
A dance studio is worthless without students, and the only way to effectively attract students is by building a reputation. As you teach more classes and more of your students go off to do amazing things with their careers, more people will see you as a valuable person to train with. In the professional dance world, reputation is everything. The best thing you can do if you want to open a dance studio in the future is to build your reputation as much as possible now.
Start with a following, then grow it
Having a good base of students already built up before you actually start a studio is a must. The chances that people are just going to walk into a new dance studio with no students yet and start signing up for rehearsal is next to nill. So how do you generate a client base without a studio?
Running a successful operation as an independent instructor is a key factor in being able to well with a studio. Building a client list is something that takes time and effort, but it shouldn't be a task that’s taken lightly. The first step to building a client list is holding consistent classes in place people can remember. The only problem is, finding space to teach dance can be tough when you’re on your own, and expensive.
Finding the perfect space to teach before you start a dance studio
Luckily, you have some options when it comes to short-term dance studio space. The first place you want to look is any facility that might rent space in your area for a reasonable price. A good place to start would be your local community center or the YMCA. Finding rental space as an independent dance teacher doesn’t have to be hard.
Gaining Dance Studio Management Experience
By far the best way to prepare yourself to own a dance studio is to manage one first. Even if you’re an independent teacher, make it a point to gain managerial experience at a dance studio. Dance studios are almost always looking for help, so finding a job at one shouldn’t be difficult.
While you’re working at the studio, you’ll gain experience in dealing with customer issues, handling payments, and working with a team. It’s almost guaranteed that you’ll be working many different positions during your time there, and you should see this as an opportunity to learn about the many different roles in a studio.
Plan on working at a dance studio as a manager for at least a year before starting your journey working toward opening your own. With the knowledge that you’ll gain, you’ll be able to avoid many common mistakes that can happen when you start any business.
Do your Research
You can have the best dance studio in the world, but if you open it in the wrong area, then you can’t expect it to get too much business. You need to do a considerable amount of research before you start a business like a dance studio. Start with the other dance studios in your area and then work out from there. Competitor research is a great way to start to see what is working in particular areas so that you can capitalize on market trends.
You need to be confident that the location you choose will be convenient for the clients you’re going after as well as yourself. Do as much research as you can before you start and make sure that you record everything you find in a way that you can use it in your business plan later.
Create a Business Plan
Now that you have collected all of the pieces, the next step is put it all together in a business plan. Creating a business plan for a dance studio will be very similar to many other businesses, so don’t think you can’t get help from resources like the Small Business Association, or other local resources.
When you’re writing your business plan, try to remember that it’s for your benefit first and foremost. You need to have a strong understanding of how your business will operate if you’re going to run it effectively. Beyond that, banks and other organizations are going to want to see your business plan before they even consider giving you a loan or other types of services.
Do it All on a Budget (Bootstrapped)
The great thing about the path that we have just mentioned is that it will cost you next to nothing! The idea is that you’ll be working the whole time leading up to opening your business. While you might have to take a small loan out for the down payment on a space, the whole idea of this approach is you only move forward when you’re ready.
Bootstrapping is the idea of building a business out of itself, you could theoretically put a plan like this in motion tomorrow with no money. While it’s definitely not the easy road, it is a road that you can start walking right now.
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