So you’ve decided that you’re passionate about dance and you want to start your own dance studio. But how do you start a dance studio on a budget? As with starting any small businesses, starting a successful dance studio will take a lot of planning, research, and dedication. It will take time for your studio to attract students and be profitable. But if this is truly something you want to see through, there’s no reason that you can’t succeed with your dance business. We’ve put together some helpful information from a variety of resources so you can get a quick look at all the details involved in your new venture. Good luck!
Consider Your Current Experience
You’re more likely to succeed if you’ve already had some experience in the industry. “The best way to learn about running a studio business is to work at one, preferably in different roles or jobs and over the yearlong cycle. You’ll soak up lessons from different owners, with distinct customer and market profiles…You can observe close up the ups and downs of running this type of business—typical problems and how they’re solved, how cash flows in and out of the business.” DanceTeacher
“Running a dance studio business requires you to be a highly disciplined person, have good organizational skills and be business oriented so that you won’t be running your business as a charity. Running a dance studio is not all about dancing; there are other aspects to the business such as taking care of the administrative aspect of the business.” Profitable Venture
Research the Market and Choose a Studio Type
Take a look at your area. “Market research will tell you if there’s an opportunity to turn your idea into a successful business. It’s a way to gather information about potential customers and businesses already operating in your area. Use that information to find a competitive advantage for your business.” Small Business Administration
Your research should be able to tell you if there are certain populations that are being underserved in your area. This, in turn, can help you “decide the type of school you want to have. Will you only teach certain ages, perhaps specializing in elementary school children or adults? Do you want to teach a specific style of dance such as ballet or tap? Will yours be a competition or performance studio? Will you offer training for professionals or be open to recreational dancers?” Dance Studio Insurance
Pick a Name for Your Studio
“It’s not easy to pick the perfect name. You’ll want one that reflects your brand and captures your spirit. You’ll also want to make sure your business name isn’t already being used by someone else.” Small Business Administration
Once you have a few possible names in mind, run them by friends and family to get their opinions as well. Take a little bit of time to do an internet search on your preferred names to see if they’ve already been taken. Your Secretary of State should also have a list of all business names registered in your state.
Write a Business Plan
A well-written business plan is a crucial element of your dance studio business. “Your business plan is the foundation of your business. It’s a roadmap for how to structure, run, and grow your new business. You’ll use it to convince people that working with you — or investing in your company — is a smart choice.” Small Business Administration
“Figure out all your costs, including those often overlooked: marketing, website design and upkeep, signage, studio-management software, equipment and insurance policies. Once you’re launched, you’ll often need to adapt this business plan, but the initial plan is a must-have blueprint to how you’re going to make money.” DanceTeacher
More specifically, your business plan “should detail:
- Your mission
- Projected financials
- Plans for obtaining funding
- Sample budgets
- Analysis of the market
- Organizational structure
- Legal structure (such as partnership or incorporation)
- Business licenses and insurance
- Equipment and supplies
- Interior design” Dance Studio Insurance
Consider Costs & Funding Sources
Entrepreneur Magazine estimates the startup cost of a dance studio to be between $10,000 and $50,000. With a thorough business plan already in place, you should have a good idea of what your specific costs will be. If you don’t have that much money on hand, you’ll have to look at how you can fund your business. Some possibilities may include:
- “Raising capital from properties, personal savings, and selling off your personal stocks.
- Applying for a bank loan
- Raising capital from business partners and investors
- Pitching your business idea and applying for funding from donor organizations and angel investors
- Sourcing for loans from your close friends and family members
- Raising money through subsidies and grants
- Raising money from venture capital” Profitable Venture
Find a Location
Choosing the best location for your studio is incredibly important. You’ll want to keep in mind such factors as:
- “The volume of foot traffic in the area
- The availability of competition
- Nearness to other businesses and services
- Accessibility of the area
- If there is parking space for your clients
- Presence of traffic and security” Profitable Venture
“Studio space is probably the biggest cost you’ll face. If you buy or even lease your own location, you’ll need to pay monthly mortgage or lease payments, and you may also need to invest in a build-out to adapt the space to your needs. Then there are ongoing bills for extensive utilities and upkeep.” DanceTeacher
At first, though, you may want to consider renting out space from larger facilities for specific time slots as opposed to leasing an entire studio. This will help to save you money as you work toward growing your business and attracting clientele.
Determine Staffing Requirements
“If you are qualified to teach, you can begin by offering a few classes that you teach yourself. As your business grows, you may expand to offer a variety of classes with a large staff of dance instructors… Even if you are running the school on your own, it is helpful to have at least one other staffer. That person can help with tasks such as opening and closing, cleaning, answering the phones, attending to students, and office tasks.” Dance Studio Insurance
In addition, you can also “ask around to see if local college dance students are looking for teaching experience or an internship—possibly for academic credit, depending on their university’s policies.” DanceTeacher
You’ll have to choose the legal structure (sole proprietorship, limited liability corporation, etc.) of your business, which “will impact your business registration requirements, how much you pay in taxes, and your personal liability.” Small Business Administration
You’ll also need to register your business with the federal government and likely, your state government as well. There are typically fees associated with registering a business name, but usually, these fees are not cost-prohibitive. Federal, and possibly state, tax identification numbers are another element of making your business a legal entity. Setting up a business bank account is a must to ensure that you’re staying on the right side of tax laws and other legal issues. You’ll need to find out what permits or licenses are required before you can get your business up and running.
Don’t forget about insurance. Take the time to shop around for quotes so that you know you’re getting the best price possible. “You need to insure your dance studio business in the case that something goes wrong. In the course of dancing lessons, there can be bodily injury to students or other people. There can also be damage to the property on the premises where you use for your dance studio. Your typical insurance policy should cover all these legal expenses in the case that they occur. You can contact an insurance broker to help you in choosing the best insurance policies that you can use for your dance studio company. They will help you assess your risks and give you advice on the best kind of insurance policies you need for the business.” Profitable Venture
Marketing & Advertising
If you’re going to catch the eye of potential students, you’ll need to do some marketing and advertising. Some of the first marketing steps you should take include creating a website for your business and social media accounts for the studio. You might also want to consider investing in print or direct mail advertising to get the word out to your community. Don’t forget about simple steps like putting signs outside of your business advertising that you’re now open or that you’re holding a grand opening or open house. Offering specials and discounts is a wonderful way to attract new students, too. Business cards, flyers, and promotional items like T-shirts also make it easy for you to expand your reach. You may also have the opportunity to partner with dance suppliers in the area to help your studio get more recognition.
While it’s definitely cheaper to take on all the marketing and advertising efforts yourself, this may not be a possibility. Of course, it may also not be possible to hire a marketing or advertising firm. If that’s the case, consider the possibility of bartering. “Bartering for services is as old as commerce itself, and when done in a business-like way, it can be a cost-saver.” DanceTeacher You may know people who can set up your website or help out with other tasks in exchange for free dance lessons. Just make sure you put all these details in writing so everyone involved knows what they’re giving and getting in the deal.
Pursue Additional Education
Expanding your knowledge base is always a good idea. Learning all you can about business administration is a great way to help ensure your studio succeeds. You’ll have no problem finding a variety of free, online courses about business management and other topics. However, if you’re looking for a course that specifically addresses dance businesses, Edie the Salsa Freak has put together an amazing Dance Business Management course that covers everything you need to know in order to be successful in the dance business industry.