Common Challenges You May Face When Starting Up Your New Dance School

Common Challenges You May Face When Starting Up Your New Dance School

 

This week we have taken a look at the common challenges faced when embarking upon the tricky ambition of starting up your own dance school.

First, lets get the obvious stuff out of the way. What do you need to start a dance school?

  • A venue
  • Students
  • Music player/ speaker

Fundamentally this is all you need. A space, some music and some students. Crack on and get teaching!

 

Wait though…

 

There is so much more to owning your own school than even an experienced dancer might realise. Let’s take a look at the absolute must haves for starting up a new, legal and safe school.

  • Qualifications

This is the most important point that cannot be stressed enough. There are a LOT of unqualified dance teachers out there who may have done a dance course or lots of dancing in their lives. Unfortunately, a fantastic dancer does not a teacher make. Remember, parents are putting the safety of their child in the teacher’s hands. You must have the proper training and qualifications to be able to keep any child safe. It is also very likely that an unqualified teacher does not have valid insurance. Which leads us nicely onto the second point…

  • Insurances & Licences

Any business must have valid and appropriate insurance. A few to consider when starting your school are:

  • Public Liability – a minimum of £2,000,000 should be sufficient for most schools, especially start-ups that should have less risk - however consider the type of dance you are teaching. Higher risk such as cheerleading may  require a different level of insurance.
  • Employee Liability – do/will you employ other teachers or staff? They must also be insured to work for you.
  • Music Licences –A General Music Licence should be OK for use within a dance school. But you need to look further into the other licences (PRS, PPL etc) if you are performing or dancing in multiple venues. It can seem like a minefield and you really need to do your research!

 

  • Venue Requirements

 So, you might not yet have the funds to get an all singing all dancing studio with changing room space, sprung floors, mirrors, waiting area, refreshment or café space, office and reception BUT, there are some serious fundamentals that you have to consider:

  • Ceiling Height

Office space can be tempting as it is fairly inexpensive compared to private space but imagine a 15 year old student averaging 5 feet 7 inches leaping and jumping around a room with a roof the same height as in the office over the road. This isn’t going to end well. You NEED a good clearance for dance. Above average ceiling height is vital and unfortunately drastically reduces your options for rental space. This can be one of the most stressful factors to consider when looking for your venue.

  • Basic Facilities

You have to provide toilets and running water to wash hands and a safe dance studio space as, once the parent has handed their child over to you, you are completely responsible for their safety. But outside of these 2 main factors, you can work without changing rooms (it isn’t ideal or easy but it is possible). Make sure your students arrive in uniform to class and they will only then need to change their shoes, so even if you have boys and girls in class, this isn’t a problem, they can change shoes together inside the studio.

  • Acoustics

Something to consider also is the acoustics of the room, too echoey or too dull and you will struggle with your music sound. Your music is what helps to inspire the students so they will want to feel engulfed in a great sound, not struggle to hear the beat or rhythm. But if you do find the perfect space and it has terrible acoustics, there are lots of things that you can do to improve them from adding soundproofing tiles to installing blinds to windows to reduce echo. 

  • Equipment

Depending on what you are teaching, do you need any equipment such as exercise bands, ballet barres, dance/fitness mats? Have you set aside a budget for this equipment? Have you considered if you need everything to be portable or if you have storage space for your equipment? Logistically how is it going to work on a daily basis?

 

One thing we haven’t yet mentioned is your syllabus! WHAT are you going to teach? If you are a qualified teacher, the chances are that you are affiliated to an association and will follow a set syllabus (BATD, RAD, IDTA, ISTD, BBO etc.). But you might not want to teach syllabus work, so what are you teaching? You will need to dedicate a LOT of time to set your own classes, understand what you are aiming to achieve and know when you achieve it. Even if you are a performance school only and do not work towards exams, you will need to set your routines, choose your music, book performances and so on. This takes a lot of hours and will continue to take your time throughout your teaching career.

 

Finally, the admin, oh the admin! Just like any self-employed individual, you have to keep up with your admin. Recoding things such as;

  • Fees taken
  • Refunds given
  • Uniform sold (are you providing uniform or not?)
  • Rent, rates, bills
  • Fuel and other expenses

Top Tip: Do NOT leave it 3 months and then try to find all of your receipts and remember all of your incomings and outgoings. It will lead to a very stressed dance school owner if you don’t keep on top of your paperwork!

This all seems very stressful, intricate and hard work, but once you get your head around the list of ‘to do’ items, you will soon get into the swing of it and then on your first day, at your first official class, you will be able to simply enjoy doing what you love – teaching dance to your students and seeing the joy on their faces that you have created!

We wish you all the best in your new business and hope you achieve a successful and happy school!

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