Forum: Ask a Studio Owner

Ask a Studio Owner
Starting Up My Own Dance Class
By sydchris Comments: 64, member since Thu Feb 21, 2013
On Mon Nov 20, 2017 10:49 AM

Hey all! I recently moved to a new state after being a dance teacher for 4 years. I also received my Associates Degree in dance. I love the studio I worked at and find it hard to come across a new studio that I like working at just as much. My goal in the end is to own my own dance studio! I decided that it is time to start working towards that goal instead of waiting around. But I want to start small. Very small. Especially because I have a job already taking up most of my time.

I would like to start up a small dance class that focuses on keeping things low-key and fun geared towards parents/kids that arent ready/do not want the big studio life yet. I just want it to be easy and fun! I love teaching dance so it will be a fun side thing for me!

This would be a tap/ballet class for the ages of 3-6, may change that but this is what I am thinking. I have only done one thing so far and that was to ask a studio about studio rental and rates. Now that I have done that, I am not sure where to go from here. What are some things I should know? Or do you have any advice?

Some things I may need help/ideas with are:

How will parents pay? (checks, cash? My old studio used the site jackrabbit but I don't think I would be big enough for that).

What type of performance should I do at the end of the year if it is just once dance class? I know parents want to see what their kids have been working on. But I can't really create much of an event with one dance class.

Is there any business side of this that I should know about? Do I need some sort of license or something special that I may not know about?

How do I get people interested in a small, for fun dance class?

Any other tips? I really have no idea where to go from here or how to do it! I want to make sure I do it right. Remember; I want to keep things small and easy going.

5 Replies to Starting Up My Own Dance Class

re: Starting Up My Own Dance Class
By hummingbird Comments: 10444, member since Mon Apr 18, 2005
On Tue Nov 21, 2017 08:44 AM
I think this is a very good way to start a studio.

You'll need some spread sheets to keep track of payments if you're not going to use a studio package like Jackrabbit (there are other less expensive options though) Join a studio owners group so that you can bounce ideas of other people in the same situation as yourself, there are lots of them on Facebook that will get you started. If you're not taking credit cards yet then you're going to be using cash or cheques but as soon as you can make the swap to plastic, it'll make your life so much easier!

At the moment I would just plan for one performance a year with a couple of parent watching weeks as well.

No one needs a certification to start a dance school, it's crazy but it's true. Your local town might need you to have a business licence, this should be easy to find out about. You will need insurance for your business, for yourself and third parties.

If you're starting off with young ages get round your local preschools, kindergartens and playgroups, offer them free workshops and take leaflets and vouchers when you go to them for the kids to take home.

Once you have clients remember that if they're happy with your service they're your best advertising tool as well.

Let us know how it goes.
re: Starting Up My Own Dance Class
By Theresamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 34925, member since Wed May 22, 2002
On Wed Nov 22, 2017 11:06 PM
I'd look for a Parks and Rec, or Community Education center. Usually, parents that are just looking for for fun, no commitment, low pressure activities for their kids will go there first. They'd handle everything, in terms of payment, and business management and all of that.

I'd also STOP emphasizing the low key/lack of commitment part, because all it really succeeds in doing is making you sound like YOU don't take the class very seriously, and that's not a projection you're looking to make to people that you want to give you their children, and some of their hard earned money.
re: Starting Up My Own Dance Class
By delinquent Comments: 1136, member since Thu Jul 08, 2004
On Sun Dec 17, 2017 11:24 PM
There's a very real possibility that in spite of all the money you put into it, and no matter how perfectly you do everything, your business will still fail. I wish someone had told me that, instead of oh just be positive or just try this or have you tried that?.

The only dance schools that are successful across the board are generational ones (those that were opened and run by someone's mother or grandmother etc), professional dance schools (and many of those have closed their doors), or married women who have their husbands income,have won the lottery or are single and have a two incomes of their own to support themselves with as they TRY to start their business, and even then you'd have to have tons of successful connections to have a shot.

Many children just do not do dance anymore. At all. It's not a thing like it was 20 or 30 years ago in spite of all the tv shows. And as always it can just be luck. It could work for someone who's put in no work, and never work for the person who does. I've known others who tried to open their own places and they failed too or watched other schools who had horrible or even dangerous training succeed like crazy. It's maddening.

I've done everything right. Then I tried everything I considered wrong. Nothing worked. I felt and still feel like a total failure. It's been 10 years of failure. The most students my dance school ever had was 15 kids. I prayed to just get up to 30 students so I could afford to just work 1 job intead of 3. I bankrupted myself and destroyed my health for my dream. I worked over 100 hours a week so I could spend more money on advertising and afford to keep my cheap rental space and afford a roof over my head and food . I did EVERYTHING everyone says to do. FOR YEARS. NONE OF IT MATTERED. I kept trying. I still failed. I can and have trained dancers who got into professional ballet companies they were some of my scant students. But that didn't bring me enough other students to pay the rent. Newspapers wouldn't run my ads or press releases even when accouncing one of my students got into a prof company (found out later from a former staffer the paper was paid by the closest prof ballet school NOT to run stories on competition)

PS Rec departments today will NOT work with you on this. They may rent out space (for insane rental and enormous insurance fees) but will not advertise for you or do any of the work. I started out working FOR a rec department with tons of repeat students. I had 100s of students there. But when I wanted to go on my own and charge a regular class rate? No one followed me. And these were not poor people btw.

It's hit or miss. You could end up like me and others who've tried and tried with an excellent dance program and still failed to keep doors open or even hold a single class. Or, you could get lucky and succeed. I wish you luck.
re: Starting Up My Own Dance Class
By Pacusa Comments: 3, member since Tue Dec 19, 2017
On Tue Dec 19, 2017 01:51 PM
Hi, Congratulations on deciding to start your own class and eventually a business. First and formoest i would make sure that you are not starting a class or business in the same backyard as the current studio you work at. I would consider going to a YMCA or community recreation program so they can take care of all of the office work while you focus on building a student base. from there you can experiment with different ways you would like to do things (classes, policies, etc..) before diving in on your own. You would be able to schedule an informal performance right at your location and keep the cost down. I would also consider going to a conference such as Dance Life which is a business seminar for studio owners. You will be able to here many stories of what worked and didn't work from successful studio owners, and you will learn alot. I had my studio for over 20 years and loved it and was successful. You do not have to be a generational studio to have great success. Good Luck
re: Starting Up My Own Dance Class
By delinquent Comments: 1136, member since Thu Jul 08, 2004
On Thu Dec 21, 2017 08:59 AM
The YMCA and Rec departments will not work with you. You work for them. You'll have students there, but you will have to do it their way. They just want to please their clients, even if what the clients want is bad for the students. Ie they will expect you to do a recital every 8 weeks, and you'll have to start at the beginning every 8 weeks so that any new students don't feel left behind. They will hire someone else if you don't do this. I've been there, done that. And if they even suspect that you're using "their" dance program to branch out on your own and poach students, they will bad mouth you all over town. Because that's what everyone tries to do when they get so sick of the impossible constraints they expect you to turn out 'real dance' with. Because it only takes 8 weeks to train real dancers,it's not that hard. Etc etc. They could care less about real dance training, they just want to keep the money coming in every 8 weeks. Almost most YMCAs will not rent space to you. And if you teach dance there and somewhere else they may fire you because your real dance classes elsewhere are competition to their crappy 8 week classes. And no, they won't change their program to 12 or 16 weeks or anything marginally close to enough time to actually teach anything significant.

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