How to start... a dance business
It's never too early to learn healthy habits or about making exercise fun! The startup scene is seeing more and more child-focussed businesses doing exciting and innovative things - and it's great. One such business is Junebug Cheers, a cheerleading-based dance class for children founded by June Nwadialor. Let's find out more!
Location, location, location
I decided to base Junebug Cheers in the Clapham and Balham area, as my initial research indicated that there was a demand for something like this in that area. There were plenty of after-school clubs, offering a variety of dance classes and dance styles, but none of them were cheerleading dance classes - and so I saw a niche and took advantage of the gap in this market. Plus, I knew the kids would love it!
Deciding to start up
My husband and I were discussing how popular cheerleading was in America, and how it's catching on here in the UK, and I wanted to be a part of that. I'd had the idea for a while and wanted to make the transition from an idea to a viable business. I'm very active and enjoy keeping fit, but in doing this I also need to enjoy it, so I prefer to take a fitness class as opposed to jogging in a park somewhere. So with Junebug Cheers I wanted to do something that was more on the recreational side of cheerleading as I'm aware there are plenty of cheerleading squads that compete in national heats. The emphasis on Junebug was on keeping fit whilst also having fun!
Qualifications, licensing, and experience
I would say it is definitely preferable to have dance qualifications when running a dance business, especially if you're the one to be taking the sessions. It helps because not only do you learn about different dance styles and routines, you also learn different teaching styles - important especially with a large group, as everyone learns differently. I am a business graduate and tend to work behind the scenes where Junebug Cheers is concerned. I have hired a dance teacher who runs the classes - she is a dance graduate and has a vast range of experience teaching dance to both children and adults. No license is required. However, you do need public liability insurance.
I think as a dance teacher you need to love what you do. You can always tell those that love what they do, and those that just do it. Being flexible also helps! Once you have that with the correct training and guidance its almost inevitable that you will be great.
We try to make the dance classes as much fun for the children as possible, so we have hula hoops and cones which we use at the start of the session, allowing the children to play various games to get them warmed up. Then, depending on the routine, we may also use Pom poms. I tend to order my equipment from specialist suppliers who supply schools with their PE equipment. I hire a dance studio at La Retraite High school in Clapham.
I made a list of some schools in the Clapham/Balham area. I had some flyers made and went to each school and handed out these flyers to the parents picking up their children after school. The flyer had details of a taster session that they could attend to sample what we had to offer. Most of the parents that attended the taster session ended up signing up for the rest of the term. After that, I knew it was going to take off!
In order to get this started I had a budget of £2000, and that included the website design and development, advertising, studio hire (I had to pay for one month in advance), dance equipment, uniforms for the dance teacher and also uniforms for the children.
I continued to attend various schools to hand out flyers, but also marketed through social media. I set up a Twitter and Facebook account, and reached out to my target market from there. As soon as we had enough numbers we held a taster session for the children to get an idea of what the sessions would be like. We still offer a free taster session to all first timers.
The first few weeks
The first few weeks were nerve-racking and busy! Although people say they will join, until they come back the following week and sign up you're never really sure. So it was always nice each time you saw someone new turn up with a flyer to the session, or each time you get a call asking for a child to be booked in for the term.
Any tips to someone else that wants to start this business?
Be strong and be persistent, especially if you want to get into a school. The school's main priority is to protect the children and so you need to make sure have all the correct documentation, i.e company registration, CRB checks and insurance before you approach them. Many schools tend to stick with what and who they know, making it difficult to break in. This is why persistence is required, but it's definitely doable.