When you open your first dance studio, you’re going to face many of the same sources of small business stress as other business owners. It doesn’t matter if it’s a restaurant, retail store or service provider, every company will face one or more of these problems at some point. However, the good news is that there are usually ways to effectively manage your small business stress so you can get back to perfecting pirouettes and picking recital tunes.
1. Huge Workloads
As a small business owner, you’re not only an instructor, but a marketer, accountant, human resources rep and much more. If you’re lucky, you have a spouse or friend who is willing to help out when you’re in a pinch, but there will definitely be times when you’re swamped with all the things you have to do. Unfortunately, your budget might not allow you to hire office help, so you’ll need to get creative. The first step toward solving this problem is to perfect your time management skills. When you have a dozen things to accomplish, it’s critical to have a set schedule. Set aside three hours each week for marketing, three for accounting, one for answering emails or whatever time you need. If you’re still pressed for time, consider falling back on the barter system. You may not have the funds to hire someone, but you have a service you can offer. Trade dance lessons for a marketing campaign or work with a local high school to offer student office training.
2. Tough Clientele
The first rule of business is that the customer is always right, even when they’re wrong. You’ll likely encounter a few hardcore dance moms who are impossible to please. On top of your existing small business stress, tough clients can be a breaking point. To solve this problem, establish firm rules and policies for your studio. You should have these set from the day you open, but feel free to adjust the rules as you go. If you find that parents are dropping their children off late, next season implement a policy dealing with tardiness. If you’re steadfast with your rules, parents will eventually learn not to question your authority in these areas and you’ll have fewer problems overall.
3. Fierce Competition
The Bank of America Small Business Community explained that creating a unique brand is crucial for a small business to stay afloat. To succeed, your dance studio needs to offer something better than your competitors. It can be more one-on-one time, flexible class times, unique genres or even lower prices. Setting your business apart from competition in some way will help you to retain customers and build a stronger brand name.
4. Expedited Growth
You probably want to expand your business, but doing so too soon or too quickly can be detrimental to your studio. A blog post from The New York Times explained that borrowing too much money or expanding into unprofitable markets can backfire and lead to financial ruin. To combat these temptations, establish a detailed business plan, including a timeline for growth. Regularly reevaluate whether you’ve been meeting goals or if you should wait before taking the next step. Get an opinion from a financially savvy friend before making any big expansion plans.
5. Accounting Issues
Finally, a business can fail if the owner isn’t cognizant of finances, even if everything else is functioning smoothly. The New York Times noted that many small business owners expect that a third-party accounting firm will give financial advice, but in reality, most of these firms handle taxes and nothing else. As a studio owner, you’ll need to wear the chief financial officer-hat. This means you’ll need to ensure the business has a cash cushion, is operating efficiently and is charging enough.
Be proactive in this area and head off problems by staying organized and aware of your studio’s finances. You should have allotted time each week when you focus solely on financial issues. Even if you’ve hired an employee to handle bookkeeping for you, make sure you always remain aware of your studio’s financial status, maintain access to all financial records, and ensure that there are checks and balances for anyone handling your studio’s finances. At the end of the day, you the studio owner must make the hard financial decisions required to ensure the success of your business.