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Split screen of a pole dancer spinning on a pole with text "what everyone things I spend my day doing" and the other side with a hand managing a computer mouse and two screens with text "what I actually spend my day doing"

Are you working IN your business, or ON your business?

One of the best things my dad taught me was the difference between working IN and ON a business. Are you teaching most of the classes in your studio? Are you the receptionist? Housekeeper? Main “fix-it” person? Then you are most certainly working IN your business. You are an employee. There are some up sides to this – mainly saving on payroll. But there is a large downside. You NEED someone to work ON your business. What does that mean?? Someone needs to work on the actual “business” side of things: manuals, operating procedures, marketing, programming and other big picture items.   For a business to grow and flourish, these things must be done.

I assume at this point you may be thinking one of two things:

“Sure Lisa, easier said than done. I’m a small studio – how can I afford to pay a lot of instructors and receptionists and still make money??”

Well, look at it this way . . . . if no one is working on marketing and growing the business, then eventually you won’t have any money at all. We’ve all heard “you have to spend money to make money.” Well — it’s true! YOUR TIME HAS VALUE! If your time is being spent completely in the studio, then other things are getting ignored. IMPORTANT things that will make you more money. You could make far more money in the long term by spending several hours a week attending networking events than by teaching. The people you will meet at networking events will in turn tell more people about your studio, resulting in more clients and more income. Same with things like operations manuals, procedures and customer service. If you don’t have these things in place, your business can start to unravel and that is bad for your bottom line. You need to know who owes money, the best way to collect it, which clients are not returning and why, what new classes clients are looking for, what things are trending, etc. I know, these are NOT things that we were passionate about when we opened our studios. We just want to dance! But if dance is all you wish to do, then it would be better to JUST be an instructor.

“I am teaching most classes, being receptionist AND doing all the things you mentioned to run my business, so it’s all good”

Is it? It may be now, but I promise that at some point you will either be EXHAUSTED, injured or burnt out. OR you will drop the ball on some of the business side of things. I know that when I get super busy that’s when the mistakes happen. It’s when I get calls from my receptionist asking why I forgot to post a credit for someone, or why a class isn’t on the schedule. OOPS!   That’s when I know that I need to step back and ask someone else to clean the bathroom or teach a class, because clearly I need to get back to running the business.

If you are still teaching most of your studio classes, then I challenge you to take baby steps. Ask yourself, what can you delegate and what are the things that YOU should do to grow your business or make it a better business? If you need to hire another instructor, you can either spend some time training them yourself, or ask them to go get certified. If you need a receptionist, think about trading them classes for working. I think this is a great option for early on, however as you grow you may want to think about just paying them outright. I find that you can ask more of someone that you are paying than if someone is working in trade. Once you have a receptionist, really optimize their time at your studio. Let them get some cleaning done for you. Have procedure for them to make flyers, post classes, contact clients. This will free up even more of your valuable time. Time that you can spend making sure your website is updated, your client newsletter is done, your social media outlets are working for you and more.

Working ON your business isn’t glamorous. Long days in front of the computer isn’t always what we signed up for, but trust me, when you walk into your studio on a busy night to just check on things, it’s the BEST feeling to see a receptionist welcoming students, an instructor teaching class, and all you need to do is talk with your students and hear how much they love your studio.

Lisa Adams
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