Dance instructors have the skills and experience necessary to offer dance lessons. To do this, however, they need to have a venue – and they need to know how to start a business and successfully manage it. Below we briefly explain some of the steps involved in starting your own dance school.
- Start planning your business
To make sure your dance school will be a success, you need to research the following aspects of the business:
What are the startup costs and the running costs?
As far as startup costs are concerned, you have to budget for a deposit if you intend on renting premises. You will probably need some furniture, a computer, etc. You also need to budget for marketing costs to help your new business get off the ground and software to help you manage your dance studio.
Running costs will include things like electricity, rent, and insurance. If you intend to appoint staff, budget for their salaries. Draw up a list and make sure your expected income will be able to cover all these expenses.
How much will you charge your customers?
Once you know what the running costs of your dance school will be, you need to make sure you charge your students enough to cover those costs and pay yourself a modest salary. This is difficult because you don’t know how many students you are going to have. Be conservative in your planning. Try not to overestimate your monthly income during the first six months and make sure you have enough cash reserves to carry you through that period.
Where will your dance school be located?
The location of your dance school is important. Ideally, it should be close to the kind of people you will be targeting with your classes and they should definitely not be too poor to pay for these classes. It’s no use you have hundreds of prospective students but they can’t pay you. On the other hand, it’s also no use if you open a dance school in an upmarket neighborhood where most people are retired and not in the least interested in your type of dancing classes.
- Choose a name for your dance school
This is more important than you might imagine. A name like Grandma Sally’s 1930s Style Dance Studio might not go down well in an area where there are thousands of teenagers and young working adults who want to learn the latest dance moves. Your school’s name is what immediately sets you apart from the rest. It’s also the start of targeted marketing.
- Get a domain name and a website
Also, search for a domain name that goes well with the name you want to use for your dance school. The internet is part of most people’s lives now, and this is where many of your prospective customers are probably going to look for a dance school. So having a catchy domain name and a nice little website to begin with nearly goes without saying.
- Decide on a business structure
This is where that cousin in the legal business will come in very handy. You need to decide whether you want to operate as a sole proprietor, partnership, LLC (Limited Liability Company), or corporation. All of them have their own benefits and drawbacks, particularly when it comes to paying taxes.
Spending an hour with an expert might save you thousands of dollars in the long run. He or she will also be able to advise you on where you have to register your business, whether there are any licenses or permits involved, and things like getting a Certificate of Occupancy, music licensing, etc. The same person should be able to help with drawing up a service agreement (the contract between you and your students) and getting affordable business insurance.
- Set up the studio space
This is probably the most exciting part of starting your own dance school. Whether you will start small or intend to go big from day one, you now have the chance to put your own stamp on the space from where you operate. Things like mirrors, flooring, ballet barres, lighting – and even the color and texture of the walls all form part of your business image.
Think of where you had your first dance lessons. What did it remind you of? What did you like or dislike? Where can you improve on that?
- Start marketing your dance school
We’ve already discussed how important a website is. But apart from that, there are many other ways to let people know about the exciting new dance school in their neighborhood. You can e.g. run an ad campaign in one or more local newspapers. Other options include paid ads on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram; starting an email list; creating a strong social media presence; and participating in small business events in the area where your school is located.
- Train your first group of students
Before the official opening ceremony, it’s a good idea to first teach a group of students that will perform during that ceremony. Even if you have to throw in a couple of free classes, make sure they represent your finest work.
- The opening ceremony
Your opening ceremony doesn’t have to compete with the Oscars. Just make sure you invite a few local community and business leaders who can help you to reach a wider audience. Then impress them by staging a performance where your first group of students dance their hearts out. If this is a success, your marketing efforts will be much easier going forward.