Small Business Project Sarah Start Nichols College Business & Society MGMT 100-02
Introduction Name: Laurie Connors Company: Dance Techniques How we met: We met when I was five years old in my first dance class in 1998.
How did you get started in thisbusiness? “I danced most of my life, majored in dance and education at college, danced professionally for a bit, then moved back to my hometown to open my own dance school.”
Why did you start this business? “It had been a dream and I decided to go for it. The opportunity was there, as I saw a location where a studio had just gone out of business, it seemed to be fate.”
What kind of business structure isDance Techniques?• “It is a sole proprietorship.”
Why did you chose this structureinstead of another? “It was recommended to me by many in the field.”
How long have you been inbusiness? Dance Techniques was opened in 1994 and is in its 18th season.
What is your training/background inthe business? dance training at the Cathy Taylor school of dance “Laurie, received her early in Auburn, Ma. where she competed in regional & National (including Nationally televised) dance competitions. She was awarded a dance scholarship from Hofstra University where she received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Dance. While living in New York, Laurie taught at local dance studios and performed with Chez-Zam Dance Company. She also took classes with the Eglevsky Ballet & American Dance Theatre. Some of her repertoire included: West Side Story, The Most Happy Fella, & Giselle. Laurie had been a dance specialist at Worcester Arts Magnet School for six years. She continues to study dance and is an active member of Dance Masters of America, Chpt. #5 (New England) Laurie is certified through the American Red Cross in CPR and First Aid & is a Certified Aerobics instructor - Health in Motion.” – from dance-techniques.com
How does that compare to thecompany today? “Dance Techniques has added three other instructors that each add their own special traits to the company.”
What services and products do youoffer? Dance classes such as ballet, pointe, tap, hip-hop, jazz, lyrical, modern, and creative classes Adult and seasonal classes DT apparel such as jackets, shorts, sweatpants, winter-wear, bags, and warm-ups
What have been some successes? “I have been fortunate to see a lot of success. I have been in business for 18 years now and have seen many, many students grow and improve from toddlers to accomplished adults. I have made many friends and I feel very proud seeing the students graduate and mature. I feel as though I was able to be a part of their lives and a strong influence on them. Our studio has grown in size and location and word of mouth has been positive. We have competed locally and at Nationals. Some students have gone on to dance professionally, teach, become doctors, and most still have dance in their lives in some form.”
What have been some challenges? “Dealing with egos and parent input are always an obstacle. Everyone has different priorities and interpretation of the rules, so that is a challenge. Class placement to keep all the students challenged, yet confident is always important. Safety. Encouragement and knowing how much to push a student to do their best and over the more recent years keeping them interested, enthusiastic, and focused, along with discipline. Taxes and keeping records and accounts are a lot of work. Keeping the newsletter and website up to date and keeping everyone informed takes time. Deciding on costumes that are appropriate and reasonable for all. Deciding on sizes for costumes.”
What is the most challenging aspect ofrunning the business? Why? “When we purchased our building there was a lot of laws and building requirements that was probably the biggest challenges we had getting everything up to code and opening our doors on time when we bough our own building. We are in difficult financial times and it is difficult to collect payments. Also dealing with parents is difficult as they have difficulties seeing outside of their own childrens scenario.”
How did you overcome all thesechallenges? “I still work on these challenges daily. I keep on delinquent accounts - but sending multiple bills & reminders, via phone, email, & postal mail. I do my best to keep in touch with parents on their childrens progress positive or negative when needed.”
What are the critical success factorsfor this type of business? “Hard work, spending a lot of time - as owning a business is more than a 40 hour per week job - it is every day, working on curriculum, keeping current, continuing education, always planning, being organized, booking events early, keeping on schedule, returning phone calls and emails promptly, keeping to your true plan, and always making new goals.”
What are the fatal flaws in this typeof business? “Not putting in enough time or effort, ignoring conflicts or problems, gossip, not returning calls email etc., allowing accounts to build up, allowing others opinions to change your rules & or goals, inability to communicate.”
Do you plan to stay in business forthe extended future? “Yes. I hope to do this forever.”
What are some of your plans/goalsfor the future? “Perhaps have more performances at different venues, offer new classes and styles of dances to a more diverse crowd (perhaps add more adult classes, or short sessions for those unable to commit to full year).”
What is your favorite part ofowning a dance studio? “Knowing I achieved a dream so many people have. I enjoy being able to teach dance and see so many hundreds of people develop, learn and grow. Seeing the proud feeling of accomplishment in a students face and passing on the love of dance. Knowing I have touched so many lives is a great feeling.”
How important is marketing to your businessand what kinds of marketing do you use? “Marketing is very important. We donate gift certificates to local fund raisers, benefits, etc. We perform at local event whenever we get the chance, the annual town fair, our local bazaars, fund raisers, community service, such as dancing at nursing homes, schools, etc. We sponsor local sports teams, they advertise our name with a banner, in their programs, or on their uniforms. Advertising in the telephone book, newspapers, internet/web, facebook, students participate in outside shows, having an attractive sign and location. Word of mouth is probably the best - but your name here and there is always great too.”
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