What is it and who is it suited to?
Planning and preparation
Rules and regulations
How much can I earn?
Tips for success and useful contacts
Once you’re happy with your idea, you need to raise awareness of your business. Core to your marketing campaign will be the name you choose for your dance school. Get it wrong and you will find your start-up much harder to promote. Likewise, if your name is too similar to that of a competitor, you may have the same problem. (For more advice on choosing the right name for your dance business, visit our Naming your business channel).
Consider where your business might be in five or 10 years' time and try to choose a name that allows for expansion. For example, although Lianne Weston-Mommsen and her business partner Cheryl Dodd exclusively offered early years ballet classes when they launched their dance school in September 2010, 18 months on they are able to expand into more unisex dance styles, because they chose a versatile name in ‘Starz Academy UK’.
Weston-Mommsen advises: “Go in expecting to succeed and with a very definite angle of what you want it to become. We wanted to go in with professional looking marketing and a full syllabus. That made us recognisable sooner than it would have done if we’d started small.”
Starz Academy UK has also benefited, Weston-Mommsen insists, from having joint founders. A partnership can allow you to split your workload between the creative and the business – with one founder focusing on teaching classes and writing syllabuses, while the other manages the books, admin and marketing.
The advent of social media provides scope for you to undertake a fair amount of online promotion for free. Similarly, there are various listing companies that you can provide your school’s location to, so that it ranks well in online searches. Most will not charge for this. (Start with Google's own free platform, Google Places).
One marketing strategy, which may help to drive initial customers to your dance school, is to offer discounted classes through a daily deals site, such as Groupon. These can be controversial but Inspiration2Dance founder Viktoriya Wilton believes that, “if you’ve tried Groupon and failed, it’s because you didn’t manage it very well.”
She used the site to offer six-week beginners' courses in a variety of dance styles and found it a successful way to get new customers and create momentum for her business. She advises that entrepreneurs can control demand for their deal through, “managing numbers yourself, by asking customers to book their dance type on your own website.”
Another way to raise awareness of your business – besides traditional PR and marketing – is to plan showcases, presentations and specialist workshops, where prospective customers can see what your existing students have learnt (and maybe even have a go themselves). After all, you can shout about your dance school all you like, but, as the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.