What better time to take a fresh look at how you and your team could improve and streamline your business? Use this checklist to inspire you to take your dance business to the next level in 2023.
Q4 wraps up in a couple of days, which means your dance business survived a year when everyone was still recovering from pandemic upheavals. You navigated the fluctuating new “normal” beautifully, and you owe it to yourself to take some time to soak in all of your accomplishments during an exhausting, fast-paced year.
Every new year brings growth opportunities, which is why now is the perfect time to focus on creative forecasting and goal setting for 2023. Here are nine areas you can explore, along with links to more in-depth information.
Review 2022’s highlights and identify the pain points of your business with your staff.
Ask them for their feedback on any long-held policies, procedures and traditions to evaluate whether they are still working to their full, intended purposes. Your team may have interesting insights to consider and it shows you value their input. This can help retain talented employees and get the new year off to an optimistic start.
Determine what you can delegate.
It might seem like you are the only person who can handle all of the responsibilities, but as the owner and leader of your business, you need to be the captain of your ship. You should be delegating or outsourcing any task that you could train someone else to do (bookkeeping, social-media posts, website updates, cashiering). Your time can then be focused on what you excel at as owner—creating the big-picture vision of what will bring new money into your business. Robert Hartwell, founder and artistic director of The Broadway Collective, told Dance Business Weekly that adjusting from doing it all himself to delegating to his staff is an ongoing process. However, he’s learned that when he delegates authority and not just tasks, his team feels ownership: “Allow them to shine; allow them to do their thing.”
Evaluate whether you should raise your prices.
To build a sustainable and profitable business, a strategic pricing increase could help your bottom line. Consider implementing a “good, better, best” option to sway customer opinion toward spending a few more dollars: “We might have a $150 dance bag that a dancer shows her mom, and the mom might say, ‘That’s too expensive.’ But then we bring out the $80 version and she says, ‘Oh, OK. You can have that one.’ Having the more expensive option on hand changes the perception,” says Gilbert Russell, owner of Brio Bodywear in Ottawa, Canada.
Investigate whether you’re getting the best results for your marketing spend.
Fine-tune your marketing efforts when you track how you are advertising and whether your intended audience turns into paying customers. “If you spend money on paid advertising, but all your new students are coming through referrals, then don’t waste your money,” says Barbara Weltman, an attorney and small-business expert. “You also want to figure the conversion rate from an initial response (perhaps a phone call in response to an ad) and attendance at a free class, if you offer one, into a paying student.”
Identify a new business relationship to nurture.
Finding other symbiotic small businesses or nonprofits can have big benefits for dance businesses of all kinds. Perhaps you’re a dance retailer wanting to partner with a dance photographer, or a dance studio that leases space to other small businesses for video shoots or events. Yasha Jacob Michelson, for example, ended up opening a coffee shop in the space adjacent to his MiMoDa Studio in Los Angeles so he could also provide food and drink services for his growing event rentals.
Contemplate whether your business could benefit from a larger or cheaper space.
If you decide it’s time to look at other spaces, work with a real estate broker who represents you, not the landlord. And, don’t feel pressured to accept the industry norm for lease length. If it’s time to renegotiate better terms, start the conversation at least a year in advance, recommends Dale Willerton, co-author of Negotiating Commercial Leases & Renewals for Dummies. That way, if you get an unexpected rent increase, you can explore other options without the pressure of a deadline crunch.
Schedule time to learn something new that will help you run your business.
There are many free small-business webinars and resources at the public library or through the U.S. Small Business Administration, as well as TEDx Talks on YouTube. You can also find reasonably priced courses—online and in-person—offered through your local colleges’ adult continuing education programs or Small Business Development Centers. Become a smarter businessperson and learn about new trends and tips, even if it’s just for an afternoon.
Consider whether franchising might be a beneficial business strategy.
It’s certainly not for everyone or every kind of business, but franchising is one great way to grow a business through multiple income streams. As the franchisor of Tutu School, Genevieve Weeks owns the trademark and operating system for her children’s dance studio. Franchisees who purchase the business agree to run it according to the rules and boundaries Weeks set up, in exchange for taking on a ready-made, successful business model. Weeks sold her first franchise in 2013, had 34 locations in 2019, and now has 76.
Dream big about your revenue (and salary) goals.
There are many success stories of dance business owners who pull in six-figure incomes. Carole Royal, owner of Royal Dance Works in Phoenix, AZ, has several excellent tips:
- Understand that your time is money.
- Be up front and unapologetic about charges.
- Charging the right price lets you deliver the quality you believe in.
Hannah Maria Hayes has an MA in dance education from New York University and has been writing for Dance Media publications since 2008.