How to Start a Dance Studio | 9 Key Steps for Success
So, you’ve decided to take your love of dance to the next level and start your very own dance studio. You might be a lifelong dancer who wants to share a love of dance with a wider community, or you might have always dreamed of starting your own business and being your own boss.
Whatever the case is, you need to know how to turn your ideas into concrete steps to bring your dance studio to life. That’s where we come in!
At DanceStudio-Pro, we know what it takes to start up a dance studio and have helped plenty of dance studio owners establish themselves in the industry with sustainable business practices with our world-class dance studio management software. We’ve come up with nine steps to follow to create your very own thriving dance studio:
- Gain teaching experience.
- Begin networking.
- Create a business plan.
- Choose your studio location.
- Purchase equipment and software.
- Hire necessary employees.
- Handle legal affairs.
- Get the word out about your studio.
- Begin teaching dance classes.
These steps will help build your business from the ground up so you can be confident and prepared when it comes time to teach your first classes. Without further ado, let’s jump in!
1. Gain teaching experience.
You probably won’t want to start up your own dance studio without any experience of what it’s like to be a studio manager or owner. Ensure you have sufficient teaching or managerial experience beforehand so you know what you’ll be getting into.
In addition, reach out to any dance-industry friends or other owners you know and ask questions like:
- How many hours do you typically work in a week?
- How long did it take you to feel established with your business?
- What are the biggest challenges you face in your role?
- What do you enjoy most about your role?
- What advice would you give to someone starting their own studio?
Keep track of all your observations and advice received during this time to incorporate as you start creating your own business plan. If you find that an owner/managerial role is not your cup of tea, no worries! At least you know now it’s not the direction you want to go.
However, if you have a great time in this observational stage and find you’re as excited as ever to start your own studio, proceed to step two.
2. Begin networking.
Reach out to industry professionals you respect and admire who can guide you in the right direction as you start your studio journey. These professionals can offer advice, resources, and a helping hand later on when you start promoting your business.
Look beyond your own local dance studios to connect with studio owners from all over to start building your network and seeking the best advice. You might feel shy at first reaching out to a total stranger, but remember: the dance community is generally made up of friendly, open people willing to lend a hand because everyone has the same goal of bringing more people into the dance world.
You can reach out to these experts via social media, on their website, or on a networking platform like LinkedIn. Open with a friendly, professional greeting and get right to the point: you’re starting a dance studio and you’d appreciate their advice. The worst they can do is not respond, but if they do respond, you’ll gain valuable insight into the dance industry from someone who’s already navigated the waters before you.
Further, you’ll appreciate having a network of dance industry friends to rely on as your business gets off the ground and you need help getting the word out.
3. Create a business plan.
Now that you’ve completed your pre-planning, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty and write your business plan.
A detailed, thorough business plan will act as a roadmap to guide you throughout the rest of the planning process for bringing your dance studio to life. Here’s what you need:
An executive summary is an outline of your entire business plan that appears at the beginning of the plan. This is where you summarize your business’s mission, your personal motivations for starting your own studio, and where you see it going in the future. Although the executive summary appears first in your business plan, it’s a good idea to write it last once you’ve figured out all the details of the other sections of your plan.
Provide a high-level overview of your business with each of the following characteristics:
- A brief synopsis of why you decided to start the business and a quick introduction of yourself as the owner
- The classification of your business (partnership, corporation, etc.)
- The services or products you will provide and the audience you’re catering to
- How many employees you’ll have
- How your business will differentiate itself in the marketplace to make a profit
Products and services
Here’s where you’ll get specific about what you’re offering with your dance studio. Will you host private and group lessons? Will you serve all ages or specific groups such as just ages 18 and under? Will your studio include a shop to purchase dance equipment, costumes, or accessories? Figure out what exactly you’re offering and provide a breakdown of your goods and services here.
In addition, focus on how these offerings will serve your target audience better than your competitors. Be direct about how your dance studio will reach an underserved population or fill a specific niche in your local market.
In this section, prove your expertise in your field by providing a comprehensive overview of the current state of the dance industry, including customer demographics, the past and projected future of the dance market, needs in the market, and competitor descriptions. Include any necessary data and statistics to paint a clear picture of how your studio will not only fit into this market but thrive in the dance space.
Marketing strategy and implementation
Now that you’ve identified the needs in the market, explain how your studio will provide for those needs through your sales and customer acquisition strategy. How will you bring on new students and keep them coming back to your studio? Will you use paid social media ads, a website, ads on local radio and TV stations, billboards, or flyers? Nail down these details early on to put a plan together to accomplish your marketing goals.
Additionally, discuss how you plan to retain these customers to grow your business. How will you keep customers engaged and satisfied with your services? Answer these questions in the strategy and implementation component of your business plan.
Management and organization
Summarize how your company will be structured, including how many employees you expect to hire and who will be on your management team. Describe the individual qualifications needed for candidates for each role and their specific responsibilities.
Financial plan and projections
Finally, provide information about the financial framework of your dance studio. Evaluate business costs and future projected earnings based on market trends. You might also include income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements in this section.
Your business plan is the guiding force that will allow you to successfully establish your new studio, so be sure to take your time to get it right.
4. Choose your studio location.
Next, you can start searching for a home for your new dance studio. Consider the following when choosing a property:
- Location: Is the building in a central location to major populated areas? Is the surrounding area pleasant, with other businesses or shops nearby?
- Price: Does the property fall within your budget? Will you have to take out any loans?
- Convenience: Is the location easy to get to, with enough parking spots? Is it close to where you live, or will you have a long commute?
- Aesthetics: Does the space offer enough room for classes and other activities? Are there amenities such as a break room or kitchen for staff?
Narrow down the list of acceptable options in your area and choose the one with the most positive qualities.
5. Purchase equipment and software
One of the best things you can do to set yourself up for success with your new dance studio is to invest in the right equipment and studio management software early on. Top-quality equipment will save you from endlessly having to replace broken or worn-out items, and your dance studio management software will be the backbone of your management strategy.
Dance studio equipment
Purchase all of the necessary equipment to fully deck out your studio, including floor-length mirrors, durable flooring, barres, and a stereo system. Additionally, purchase any managerial equipment such as a desk, computer, and tablets to use for taking attendance or payments.
Dance studio software
In addition to fulfilling your physical studio needs, take the time to research and invest in high-level dance studio software. Powerful dance management software like DanceStudio-Pro will allow you to manage every aspect of your studio in one digitized system. With a system like DanceStudio-Pro, you can:
- Manage student information and class schedules. You can keep a log of all important student information such as attendance, medical information, and their progress in classes. Your dance studio software can also manage the scheduling of all classes and assigning instructors to classes.
- Get students registered and ready to learn. Online registration forms make it easy and convenient for students and parents to sign up for classes.
- Automatically charge students or parents for tuition payments. Automatic payment systems take the stress of tracking down missing payments off your hands.
- Streamline communications through robo calls and texts. You can use your studio management software to segment message recipients into different groups and send out mass reminders and updates.
- Create a custom mobile app for your studio. With your mobile app, your students, teachers, and staff can access class schedules, dance tutorials, and other information from your studio all in one convenient location.
Your dance studio management software will provide the digital infrastructure you need to simplify and organize your management procedures and store all the information you need in one spot from the beginning.
6. Hire necessary employees.
As a new business, you’ll want to keep your payroll small so you can be profitable, but hiring one or two additional instructors can help spread out the workload and ensure smoother sailing as you get started.
You’ll want to think about bringing the right people on your team who will accurately carry out your vision and contribute to a positive studio culture.
First, look for people you may already know who would be a good fit at your studio and interested in the position. These could be dance friends or other people you’ve worked with in the past that you mesh well with. You can also post job openings on online job boards like LinkedIn or Indeed, as well as your personal social media accounts.
When you’re interviewing potential candidates, make sure they have some level of experience in the dance industry, but also that they’ll be someone you get along with and trust.
7. Handle legal affairs.
Before you can open your dance studio, if you’re not running your business as a sole proprietorship or partnership, you’ll need to incorporate your business with your state government. It’s recommended that businesses that anticipate hiring employees incorporate with the state government before hiring anyone so owners can have protection from personal liability.
Also, before you start your studio operations, verify your business is up to code with any necessary certifications and licenses. Check your state and local codes and regulations for the specifics of what paperwork you need to fill out to be able to operate your business.
Further, you’ll want to get a system in place for having students or parents sign liability waivers in case of injury. Digital waiver creators like Smartwaiver can help you create liability releases in minutes that can be used again and again to ensure you’re covered against any financial or legal liability.
Lastly, be sure to purchase business insurance to protect yourself and your business against any unexpected events. You’ll want to look into both property insurance and general liability insurance.
8. Get the word out about your studio.
Put your marketing plan into action to start getting some students signed up for classes at your studio. Whether you’re conducting a major social media push or a local radio and TV ad campaign, make sure your marketing message is clear and gets people excited and energized to get involved.
Consider revolving your marketing messages around a major kickoff event for your studio. Your kickoff event can be a socially-distanced open house at your studio or a virtual tour of the space for prospective students. You can also use the kickoff event to provide a sneak-peak of what your lessons will look like by teaching attendees a quick piece of choreography.
Also, reach out to your wider dance network to let everyone know your studio’s ready and open for business. Focus on creating buzz and offering a taste of what people will get if they sign up for a full set of dance lessons.
9. Begin teaching dance classes.
At long last, you’re ready to begin teaching your in-person or virtual dance classes. Create a class schedule with a diverse set of dance styles and class types. Use your dance management software to keep your classes in order and input all the new student information that starts coming in.
Most importantly, remember to have fun and celebrate—opening a dance studio is a major accomplishment, and you should be proud of yourself!
Conclusion & additional resources
So, that’s all our best tips and practices for getting your dance studio up and running. Once you complete these steps, know that you’ve got a solid foundation and a strong team in place to last you through any rough patches.
For more information on how DanceStudio-Pro can help you succeed in managing your dance studio, check out these resources:
- Best Dance Studio Software for 2020. Want to know more about what dance studio software can do for your business? Check out this guide to all the top features.
- Student Management Features. Keeping track of student data is one of the biggest tasks your dance studio software can manage for you. Check out the specifics of this feature here.
- Dance Studio Apps. Interested in bringing your dance studio into the world of mobile apps? Learn more about DanceStudio-Pro’s app service here.
Laura Cole, CEO of DanceStudio-Pro
For more than 15 years, Laura Cole has focused on strategic planning and project management for SaaS organizations. Laura became the CEO of DanceStudio-Pro in 2020. Laura is a wife, mom, yogi and volunteer.