Authored by Sylvia Cochran in Performing Arts
Published on 11-23-2009
Learning how to start a dance studio is a mix of engaging in a most likely profitable venture and finding an outlet for a lifelong passion or hobby. At the same time, there are a number of caveats to consider when thinking of joining the world of performing arts instruction.
Decide On the Scope of Your Instruction
Will you actively teach groups of aspiring dancers or will you prefer to offer one on one instruction? Are you going to focus on children or will you also offer classes for adults? These considerations greatly influence the methodology you might choose for getting started. Even if you are not willing to nail down the exact scope of your enterprise – or if you foresee branching out eventually to associated ventures – it is advisable to start small.
The biggest mistake to make when learning how to start a dance studio is signing a lease on a facility. Even though you do need a dedicated venue for your activities, this is the single most expensive decision that could adversely affect your cash flow for the foreseeable future. Instead, advertise at local schools and also community centers.
The latter are oftentimes for rent and you might even get started as an adult education hobby instructor. Once your clientele is built, it is easier to gauge just how much space you really need and then consider the cost of available facilities. Who knows, you might find that using a community center is the best way of generating new clients and keeping facility costs down to a bare minimum!
Operating a dance studio – even if it is under the umbrella of a community center – opens you up to a number of liabilities. There are broken bones, sprained ankles, pulled muscles and of course the more subjective but still negative feeling a student may have about your instruction.
Parents may sue you for not advancing their children to the next level of instruction; adults may refuse to pay their dues because they failed to earn a coveted spot in a local dance company lineup and anyone who suffers an accident during your classes is sure to look to you for remuneration – even if it is only for copays.
Before throwing open the doors to your dance studio, discuss the venture with a commercial insurer. Seek out bids on coverage and consider the extent of the coverage you may need. This is also a good time to make an appointment with an attorney to draft a contract between you and prospective students, which explicitly lets you waive any liabilities for injuries or death suffered by others when dancing at your studio.
While following these basic nuts and bolts of how to start a dance studio can get you started, the long term forecast may require you to draft a business plan, seek out a small business loan and secure a facility. Next will come the purchase of mirrors, merchandise for clients to buy, and also the connection to local dance competitions that help you break into the circles of competitive dancing.