Learning from others – Branding your Business a Success

An accomplished dancer, Cricket is also  a graduate of the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University.

How hard is it to just stop talking and listen?

When you let go of your  opinion of yourself, it is easier to learn new things.   You may be the master instructor hired for an event or a new director hoping to make dance happen in your area.  Doesn’t matter which one you are, your greatest tool is not in what you will ultimately say, but rather in what you are willing to listen to, and learn from.   Your opinion of yourself isn’t important in this setting – you’re just the organizer.

No one really wants to listen to someone brag about their awards, their studio; their this-  their  that.   Boring..  It is much nicer to listen to someone who has a story to tell that benefits everyone; or  new dance steps to teach.  You need to always be learning from your students.  Listen and watch.  If your students are too worried about social staging, something is happening that you need to take action on.

SOCIAL STAGING “Only there to be seen.  To be in the communities eye.  To be perceived as important.  Popularity contest”.

I’m like everyone else,  I enjoy working with well rounded dancers.  Dancers who have other outlets that keep them whole, be that swimming, baseball, gymnastics, internet shopping .  I do understand that young minds need to be learning – but too much of one thing can have a reverse reaction –  and present you with a non-learning environment.  Things can become so mundane and repetitive, that students don’t  really want to learn.

Students need outlets that allow them to explore growing up naturally. They need those breaks from dance and especially the high pace (or stress) of  competitive events.   Too many events crammed together are like eating too many cookies from the cookie jar.  You have to stop putting the kids on over load.

Families  matter in the dance world.  It’s important that families be allowed to  back away from situations that occur at competitions, events, and  at their home studio, that really don’t involve them. Less people involved the better.   Knowing what occurrences are part of someone’s  social staging,  and which occurrences are actually problematic – takes skill, time and patience.   Hot headed directors are  problematic.   Some thrive on gossip and social staging.  Those type frighten me, and I’m an adult.  Just think how the kids feel.

How do parents know?  How do they learn?

You don’t come with all the knowledge of how to  differentiate between  problematic  occurrences  just because you open a business and/or were contracted to host an event.  No one expects you to have all the answers. You shouldn’t act like a busy know-it-all.   Same is true with the consumer who is looking at your business.   Learning is a process, for both those running the events, and those putting their money on your stated experience.  You are going to make some mistakes.  The first mistake is to “not listen to sound  reason”.

“If a person has ran their business into the ground, I don’t know that they would be the best source for advice on how to be successful.  They might teach you what not to do, but I wouldn’t let them handle my books”.

In dealing with the many facets of dance education and competitive endeavourers, emotions do tend to play a part in both arenas.  It’s how you react to them that makes the difference.  We are living creatures, each with our different ideologies and philosophies about life.  Just because you put your name on the side of a building and call it open for business doesn’t mean it will be a success.  You might feel successful for a while,  because your new brand had a modest rise in the market;  but is your business  a fad or a trend?

If you are social staging and neglect to build  a solid plan for your business, you are In for a shock.   If you are not capable of continuing the same level of growth and meeting  all quota’s – it could become a monetary sticker shock.   Some businesses decide to stay small because of these factors. They know  they will still be there when the new wears off “you”.   Believe me, the new will wear off.   But, if you think you have it – go for it. But,  If you are already in a flooded dance market, you might want to think twice.  How solid are you?  Partnership got your tongue?

Strictly business  “You  open a business  to make  money”.    Once you hang that sign, you own it!  That includes the over head.

The art world has a lot of creative people in it.  Some are the real artists, some are the students, who want to be artists.  Many times you will see the students attempt the business route.  That is okay- but not always successful,  maybe because they lack  the financial and dance education necessary to be successful.  On the other hand, being creative might mean  you can teach and have  strong dance education skills, but can you handle the books; the monetary side of the business?

When you really get ingenious, and you explore the education and financial aspects of  owning a  business,  and are willing to listen, learn, and not repeat the mistakes of others – you might have a chance of success.   Take the word “dance” out of your thinking and concentrate on  what it really takes to make a “business” successful.

Strictly business.   You need to have some form of training to understand  what  defines a dance  niche. It helps if you have  had some form of formal dance education.   I say this because “education” is different than just teaching someone a dance.  Education deals with the raw fundamentals of techniques, control, discipline, and structure.

Finding that dance niche in a flooded market is hard.  That flooded market could spill over onto your sandy shores and wash you away.   One studio may offer competitive drill style, or contemporary lyrical.  Another may offer local  recreational dance, and still another belly dance and specialty events for newbie’s.    The niche is knowing that you have to be good at what you do in “business”.  Build your business away from the sandy shores of others.  Establish it on a solid rock foundation, high up on the hill.

Hiring and keeping good quality teachers is another area of concerns for business owners.  Partnerships often struggle with this area.  Who really controls what?  Who is really responsible in the end?  My money – your money, who’s is it?  Are you hiring kids? Family getting in the way?  Partners won’t work or pay bills?  Partners in the classroom who really can’t teach?  That leads me to a new topic:  branding your product – your business.

Brand:  a name and/or trade mark intended to identify and differentiate the product of one seller or group of sellers. Brand mark:  the part of a brand that appears in the form of a symbol, design, or distinctive color or lettering.

Studios rise and fall because they pump up the parents into believing their child will succeed just because they are on their team and wear their brand.  Throw a jacket at them!   Brand Mark!  Unfortunately,  sloppy and/or manipulative business managers   use this social staging (branding) as a means to manipulate the market, and thus all they  end up doing is creating a  “non-creative or watered down dance environment”.  The confusion they create for the consumer is hard to weed through, and amounts to  nothing more than just flat out  deception.  It’s like going down the cereal  isle in the super market.  It’s NEW!  It’s packed with sugar!  Until the next guy comes along, hopefully selling a more wholesome product, with a better brand name.

Green beans or spinach?  Humm…..

Families are left scratching their head and wondering “do any of these people get along with each other”?  “Is this really how dance is”?   No, that is not how dance education should be.  With an emphasize on “education” .  You go to class to learn.  You are equals with others in your class.  What a concept.  In the real world, out side of a dysfunctional setting, studios do get along, and work together.   Dancers work together and train each other.  You have to respect all levels.   You have to let go of that self-importance.  Listen and learn from others.

Dance education is what it is.  It’s education, not competition.  There is a difference.



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