Bright Biz Idea

November 2016 | Bright Biz Idea | Have Baby, Will Bourrée

by Christina Raymond

Smart studio owners are always looking for ways to reach an untapped market. Babywearing dance classes—in which the dancers take class with baby on board, via a front-pack or sling—provide parents with the earliest possible introduction to your school as well as a heartwarming experience.

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August 2016 | Bright Biz Idea | Social Media Gurus and Sunshine Directors

Many school owners, when they think of hiring non-teaching support staff, want someone to run the front desk. However, in the 21st century, operating a dance studio requires not only a website but also a social media presence, marketing skills, and, often, offerings beyond dance classes, such as birthday parties and competition teams. Studio owners who limit their employee roster to teachers and receptionists may be missing out on creative ways to boost revenue. Read on to explore how some studio owners are delegating important roles, freeing themselves to focus on teaching and their school’s overall health.

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July 2016 | Bright Biz Idea | Making Merry, Making Money

If Houston Ballet’s Nutcracker Market is any example, things really are bigger in Texas. The annual fundraiser generated $6.5 million in gross revenue in 2015 and contributed $5 million to the company’s Foundation, which supports the general fund, academy, and scholarship programs.

Now in its 36th year, the Houston Ballet (HB) Nutcracker Market is a regional tradition that draws more than 100,000 visitors to the massive NRG Center. Along with shopping nearly 300 merchant booths filled with home decor, toys, crafts, and gourmet food, attendees can enjoy a preview party, fashion shows, and raffles.

A Nutcracker-themed market can be a fantastic fundraiser for local companies and small studios too, even when done on a fraction of the HB event’s scale. HB Nutcracker Market CEO Patsy Chapman and associate director Daisy Perez share their experience and tips for making any marketplace a very merry event.

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May-June 2016 | Bright Biz Idea | Clothing That Fits

“What will my child need?” may be the most common question studio owners are asked by new students’ parents. What style and color leotard? A ballet skirt or not? What about tap or jazz or hip-hop?

Some studio owners send customers to retail stores or fill clients’ needs from a stash in a supply closet. Others create small boutiques in the lobby or run full-inventory retail stores as part of or separate from the studio. Still others partner with dancewear suppliers that serve their clients and offer incentives to studios. Here, we take a look at both sides of that equation, with both dancewear companies and the studio owners who partner with them chiming in.

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March-April 2016 | Bright Biz Idea | Isadora, Martha, and You

Ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, and hip-hop—every dance teacher knows these are dance school staples. Many schools also offer something they call “contemporary,” often a blend of styles. Modern dance, or contemporary dance that derives from a particular codified form of modern, is less common among dance curriculums, but it can be an asset to students’ overall dance education. Let’s consider some key questions to ask as you consider how to expand your school’s offerings with modern dance.

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February 2016 | Bright Biz Idea | Dance School Startup

Looking for financing advice and mentorship, Van de Nes approached Lesley Holmes, a local businesswoman and the mother of two daughters who trained with Van de Nes. Brainstorming sessions ensued. The women bounced around ideas for financing the estimated $150,000 it would take to open the studio, including renovations of a 2,500-square-foot space to include three classrooms, an office, and a lobby. One of the brainstorming sessions led to a breakthrough idea: a Founders’ Club consisting of families who would earn benefits if they made an up-front investment in the studio.

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January 2016 | Bright Biz Idea | Build a Brochure

The trifold brochure is the little black dress of printed pieces: a marketing staple that can be both elegant and useful. More spacious than a postcard or business card, less wordy than a booklet or website, a brochure can unfold alluringly, offering a tasty arrangement of essential information and photos. Then it folds up neatly to be stuffed into a handbag, a reminder, later, of how fun it would be to sign up little Carlos for boys’ ballet.

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November 2015 | Bright Biz Idea | The 21st-Century Office

Dance school owners often start out as jacks-of-all-trades, doing everything from answering the phone to cleaning the mirrors. As the fledgling school grows, however, it becomes impossible for one person to handle all the tasks, especially the administrative ones, and owners who try to do so will limit their businesses’ growth. Adding staff helps to relieve the owner’s workload, of course, but it’s not the whole answer. To maximize efficiency and profit, you’ll need to adopt technology that makes certain tasks easier and takes a smaller bite out of your budget.

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October 2015 | Bright Biz Idea | Primed for Success (Part 5)

In this business series we’ve taken a comprehensive look at the process of launching a dance school: the business plan, the facility, branding and advertising a studio in the digital age, and forecasting cash flow. In the fifth and final installment, we’ll focus on strategies for maximizing enrollment.

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September 2015 | Bright Biz Idea | Primed for Success (Part 4)

In this installment of our business series for aspiring school owners, we explore the basic elements and purposes of a cash flow projection. Forecasting income and expenses might not be the most exciting part of starting a school, and for some, it may be the most intimidating part of the process. But without a clear (and realistic) understanding of those figures, it’s impossible to know what it will take to open a dance studio and make it profitable.

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August 2015 | Bright Biz Idea | Primed for Success (Part 3)

Consider how frequently you use the internet—including search engines, online review sites, and social media—to find or research businesses. To develop and maintain a customer base in today’s market, dance studios need to have a strong, credible online presence. In this installment of our series for aspiring school owners, we explore best practices for naming, branding, and advertising a new studio in the digital age.

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July 2015 | Bright Biz Idea | Primed for Success (Part 2)

Next in our business series on opening a dance school, we cover the search for a location and facility. The questions that follow will guide prospective studio owners in the process of picking a location that works for their students and a facility that’s right for their business goals. We’ll hear from several studio owners about how they found their facilities and ways they saved money on start-up costs.

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May-June 2015 | Bright Biz Idea | Primed for Success (Part 1)

This month, Dance Studio Life kicks off a multi-part business series on opening a new school. We’ll take a comprehensive look at each step in the process, exploring best practices and hearing from studio owners about the successes they’ve enjoyed as well as the challenges they’ve faced.

In this initial installment, we examine four questions every prospective studio owner should consider when brainstorming a vision for her school. These questions will aid in identifying the purpose, goals, and defining qualities of a school—all of which are key elements of a mission statement and business plan.

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March-April 2015 | Bright Biz Idea | Dance & Diversify

For small-business owner Hillary Parnell, business is anything but small. The owner and artistic director of Academy for the Performing Arts (APA) in Apex, North Carolina, a suburb of Raleigh, Parnell has grown her school from a 4,000-square-foot dance-focused facility to one with 10,000 square feet and multiple programs.

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February 2015 | Bright Biz Idea | Calendar It!

As school owners know, running a business can be extremely time-consuming and overwhelming. A profitable business does not happen by chance; being successful takes dedication, hard work, and innovation. There are formulas, tactics, skills, and practices that business owners must implement to increase their profit margins; however, these take time to develop. Goal setting and long-range planning of curriculum, class offerings, camps, master classes, and events are essential, but there are steps school owners can take on a monthly basis that will boost profits and lay the groundwork for sustainable revenue. The simple but effective actions outlined here will create a solid foundation for your school’s long-term health.

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January 2015 | Bright Biz Idea | Dance on the Go

Dance teacher Marisa Rotter’s weekly schedule reads like a tour of the Minneapolis suburbs. If it’s Monday it’s time to go to Farmington. If it’s Tuesday she’s shuttling between Burnsville, Apple Valley, and Northfield. On Thursday it’s back to Farmington.

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December 2014 | Bright Biz Ideas | Happy Hip-Hop Birthday!

Boost profits and fun with kid-cool dance parties By Megan Donahue Birthday parties can be big business, but not every child is interested in princesses or pirates. For the high-energy boys and girls at your studio and beyond, consider an addition to your birthday party list: hip-hop. Downtown Dance Factory (DDF) in New York City…

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November 2014 | Bright Biz Idea | Coffee Klatch Meets Ballet

Hosting Project Ballet Coffee Hour is one of Ana Marsden Fox’s favorite things to do. The executive director of State Ballet of Rhode Island (SBRI), Marsden Fox stands off to the side as everyone settles in, beaming at their eager faces, her excitement palpable.

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October 2014 | Bright Biz Idea | Frightful Fundraising

Building a winning competition team requires hard work, commitment, and cash. Competition expenses are formidable—there’s no way to avoid the fees, nor the costs of costumes and travel. But Marjorie Taylor, the artistic director of CMC Dance Company in Cicero, New York, has created an eerily effective fundraising event that makes competition expenses more manageable—and less “frightening”—for parents: a haunted house. Every October, the event attracts customers from all over the Central New York area.

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September 2014 | Bright Biz Idea | Nonprofits: Step by Step

4 directors on the realities and rewards of running a nonprofit school By Misty Lown What do a former IBM executive, a former professional dancer, a dance parent, and a community advocate have in common? Each is running a successful nonprofit dance program. They’ve moved beyond the first steps, and they know well the challenges…

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August 2014 | Bright Biz Idea | From Congregations to Classes

When Stacey Dimberio walked into Chester Park United Methodist Church in Duluth, Minnesota, in the spring of 2013, it was as if her prayers had been answered. Tammy Tropeau of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, became a convert early on: at age 19 she opened her first school in a defunct neighborhood church.

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July 2014 | Bright Biz Idea | Three Sources, One (Income) Stream

Dance studio owners face the ever-present challenge of managing cash flow and turning a profit—to pay rent, pay teacher and staff salaries, and, hopefully, to pay themselves. Nick Waynelovich and his daughter Kimberly Williams have not only found a way to build a profitable dance and performing-arts organization, they have developed two additional income streams that keep the organization on top of its bills.

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May-June 2014 | Bright Biz Idea | Time vs Money

To keep a studio running, an owner must constantly make decisions based on the perceived value of services. Is that master teacher worth her pricey salary? Will a costly renovation be worth the time and effort? How much of a return will a professional marketing campaign yield? But many owners neglect to consider the value of one critical ingredient of business success—their own time.

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March-April 2014 | Bright Biz Idea | A Brain for Business

Dance studios are seldom born in the minds of venture capitalists. Most are the brainchildren of people who want to combine their love for dance with a way to make a living (and, one hopes, a love of teaching). While the shift from dance artist to studio owner may seem natural enough, the leap from the right-brain realm of dance and choreography to the left-brain world of budgets and balance sheets can involve a painful landing. Running a business successfully takes training. Often, the choice to invest in that training means the difference between a studio that thrives and one that merely survives.

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February 2014 | Bright Biz Idea | On a Mission

What is a mission statement? At its simplest, it’s a written description of who you and your school are, what you provide, and how you provide it. Why does a dance studio need one? Because it not only tells clients and potential clients who you are and what you offer, but how you offer it, and why; and it keeps your entire organization focused on what matters most to you.

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December 2013 | Bright Biz Idea | Two for One

Neighboring dance studio owners go toe-to-toe all the time, about everything from dance competitions to capturing students to booking recital space. For Kathryn Barnett and Cathy Stucko, however, the unconventional and mutually beneficial solution to their separate problems lay in joining forces. Far from seeing each other as a threat, they merged their two studios into the singular Kathryn Barnett School of Dance and Allegro Dance Academy.

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November 2013 | Bright Biz Ideas | You Want It? They’ve Got It!

At the 2013 DanceLife Teacher Conference, the Phoenician’s foyer was a midway of light, sound, and excitement. Racks of costumes, booths hung with backdrops, shoes and software and bling—more than 70 vendors pitched products old and new. There were roulette-type wheels doling out prizes, tap-dancing salesmen (literally!), oodles of free swag, and energy in the air.

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October 2013 | Bright Biz Idea | Perfect Pitch

All dance schools and organizations need publicity at some point—a magazine or newspaper article, a story on the evening news, even a highlighted calendar listing. A little know-how and perseverance will go far toward helping you increase your visibility. Here’s how to get your PR machine humming.

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September 2013 | Bright Biz Idea | Conquering Competition Costs

Taking students to competitions is an expensive endeavor. Explaining the costs involved to parents is important, and ensuring that parents follow through on their financial commitments can be difficult. Three studio owners devised plans for making the interactions surrounding competition costs as painless as possible, and they might work for you too.

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August 2013 | Bright Biz Idea | Dual Identity

Many dance studios thrive with multiple locations, across town or even in neighboring cities or states. But Reflections in Dance has taken multiple locations to a new level—try across the country. The studio, founded in 1982 on Bath Avenue in Brooklyn, opened a West Coast branch in Woodland Hills, California, a decade ago.

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July 2013 | Bright Biz Ideas | No Money, Many Hands

“You don’t have to have a ton of money,” explained Jonna Maule, owner of Company Ballet School and Performing Arts Center in Spokane, Washington, when asked why she chose to expand her school when she had only $1,000 in savings. “You only need determination and a dream. I wanted my students to see what you can do when you put your mind to something.”

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May-June 2013 | Bright Biz Ideas | New Take on Networking

When Meghan Dunn needed some new ideas and support for her studio, Velocity Dance Center, she didn’t turn to the dance community. Instead, by stepping outside of what might be considered the conventional avenues for a dance studio owner, she turned her struggling school into a successful business. And she did it in less than three years.

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March-April 2013 | Bright Biz Ideas | Business No-Brainer

Most studio owners are passionate about dance and teaching, not accounting or financial planning. “The dance side” of the studio, as we are wont to say, is what we love, and live for. “The business side,” however, is what we grudgingly plod through because it allows us to do what we love. From daily accounts receivable and accounts payable, to monthly account reconciliations, to marketing, to data entry, to preparing annual tax returns—the business side requires diligent attention if we want our studios to succeed.

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February 2013 | Bright Biz Ideas | Rehearsals Made Simple

A frustrated Allison Thornton was venting about her school’s scheduling and billing system for private and semi-private rehearsals and lessons. “Wouldn’t it be great if I could send all my students to a website where they could book and pay for rehearsals online,” she said, “and I wouldn’t have to worry about any of it?”

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January 2013 | Bright Biz Ideas | Sister Studios

I like to think I’m good at thinking outside of the box, but when I needed a part-time ballet master for my dance studio, I went beyond that. I went out of the state—to neighboring Rochester, Minnesota, and Janet Johnson of Allegro School of Dance and Music.

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December 2012 | Bright Biz Ideas | The Future Is Now

There are countless intangible benefits to being a dance teacher, including being a mentor, having a positive influence on students, creating, expressing yourself through movement, and introducing children to the joy of dance. But there are practical issues to contend with when choosing this path—a traditionally low-paying one that offers few full-time, benefited opportunities—as a career.

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November 2012 | Bright Biz Ideas | Tea Dances and Coffee Tables

Once the cabinet has been fully refurbished, it will await a buyer in one of four adjacent studios, alongside antique dressers, lighting fixtures, credenzas, and trunks. In the meantime, it will be admired by a steady stream of dance students. What? A dance studio/furniture store? In Manhattan? Yes and yes.

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October 2012 | Bright Biz Ideas | Ticket to Sales Success

For many studio owners, the most hectic day of the year isn’t the day of the recital or the first day of classes—it’s the first day that families can purchase tickets to the end-of-the-year show. Owners arrive at the studio in the morning to find a line of parents wrapped around the building, tapping their feet as they wait to buy their tickets. The entire day is given over to ticket sales, crowd control, and the hope that clients will be satisfied.

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September 2012 | Teacher in the Spotlight | Cosmin Marculetiu

Founder, executive and artistic director, International Ballet Academy of Norwell, MA; summer intensive director, Festival Ballet Providence NOMINATED BY: Julia Feeley, student: “I first met Cosmin two years ago when I was a student at José Mateo Ballet Theatre. He only taught our Friday classes, but he was everyone’s favorite teacher. For the next year…

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March-April 2012 | Bright Biz Ideas | Betrayed by a ‘Friend’

As dance teachers know, sometimes the best lessons are learned from direct experience. It’s a rule that holds true in the classroom, and unfortunately, it also applies to the financial end of the dance-school business, specifically fraud. Dance schools are not immune to the threat of embezzlement.

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December 2011 | Bright Biz Ideas | Thinking Inside the Box

From the classic Ronco Veg-o-Matic to the newfangled best-selling ShamWow, product designers and developers have one thing in common. They see a need—from turning lights off from your bed to washing your feet in the shower without bending down—that other products in the cluttered marketplace didn’t fulfill.

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