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What is a Dance Studio Business?
The dance industry in the UK is worth an estimated £92 billion. For some people, dancing is their profession and livelihood; for others, it’s a much-loved hobby. A dance studio can teach different types of dance to people of all ages, with children’s classes spanning ages 2–18 and adult classes becoming increasingly popular.
A dance studio is a place where people of all ages can go for dance classes and where dancers learn or rehearse. A dance studio has usually been built, renovated or equipped specifically for the purpose of dance. A studio usually consists of a smooth floor covering that is sprung, to give an extra degree of flexibility and to absorb the impact of intensive dance exercises and moves. However, certain dance styles, such as tap dancing, may require a different type of floor. A dance studio also typically features floor-to-ceiling mirrors, so that the dancers can see themselves as they practise, and an in-built music system.
If you are thinking of opening a dance studio business, you may opt to provide professional instruction and training for a variety of dance types or a specific type of dance (such as ballet). You may offer private lessons, dance classes and workshops to a variety of ages or skill levels or a specific skill level (such as advanced dancers).
A dance studio may have a variety of different rooms so that multiple classes can take place at one time. The main dance room should be a large space so that multiple dancers can stretch and practise and learn dance moves or routines at one time. Different types of studios will attract different students, will have different dance functions and capabilities and will have different costs attached.
A dance studio can have many functions and can offer a different experience to its students, for example:
- Professional dance training.
- Competitive dance training.
- Dancing classes for children.
- Dance/Fitness classes.
- Fun dance classes without the aim of professional training.
- Short-term classes, for example, an engaged couple learning a dance for their first dance.
- Private dance tuition.
- Group dance classes or workshops.
There are many different types of dance, and you can choose to specialise in a particular dance form or offer varied dance training.
The most popular forms of dance in the UK are:
- Street dance.
- Contemporary dance.
- Belly dancing.
- Irish dancing.
- Salsa dancing.
- Line dancing.
- Hip Hop dancing.
- Tap dancing.
If you have the necessary knowledge and skills in a variety of dance types or hire dance teachers who specialise in different types of dance, offering a variety of classes teaching a range of dance styles can be extremely rewarding. However, it can also be beneficial to specialise in a particular type of dance, such as ballet or ballroom, and build a strong reputation in your chosen niche.
Many dance studios choose to focus on either children or adults, rather than teaching both. This helps you to define your target market. You could also choose whether to teach a variety of levels, from beginners to advanced dancers, or focus on a particular level of dancing.
There are many different tasks associated with running a dance studio business. These tasks can vary depending on the level of training you provide (e.g. whether your dancers are training to be competitive or professional dancers) and how involved you are in dance training and administrative tasks.
Some of the responsibilities you can expect include:
- Teaching students how to stretch, warm up and move safely.
- Teaching, instructing and demonstrating dance moves.
- Using different teaching methodologies and strategies.
- Creating dance pieces and performances.
- Choreographing routines and choosing music.
- Conducting private and group lessons.
- Keeping track of your students’ progress and performance and providing feedback to your students (or their parents if you teach younger children) and recommendations for improvements.
- Preparing your students for dance examinations and assessing your students.
- Keeping your dance knowledge and skills up to date.
- Engaging, encouraging and motivating students.
- Ensuring your business complies with all health and safety regulations and legal guidelines, including fire safety and electrical safety.
- Dealing with customer queries, handling payments and creating invoices.
- Marketing and advertising.
- Completing business and administrative tasks.
If you are thinking of starting up a dance studio business, previous dancing experience and a high level of knowledge and skills in your chosen dance style are recommended. Most importantly are a passion for dance, strong teaching skills and patience. Dance teachers want their students to fall in love with dance, just as you did, so being able to encourage a love for dance and include your students in your passion makes it more likely that your students will find a passion for dance and stay at your studio long term. Mental and physical stamina can also be beneficial, as running multiple dance classes in one day (often with students of different ages and abilities) can be demanding.
However, once your dance studio grows and your student base increases, you don’t have to teach the classes yourself and can hire dance teachers to teach your students and oversee your classes.
Types of Customers
Dance is practised by people of all ages and demographics and various ability levels. Anyone can enjoy dance and take part in dance classes, regardless of age, ability, dance experience and fitness level.
Although dance is a universal art enjoyed by many, individual dance studios usually have a typical customer base.
Multiple factors can influence the types of students that are likely to attend your dance studio, including:
The style of dance you teach
This will be a significant factor in the types of students you attract. When many people are searching for a dance class, they usually have a specific style of dance they want to specialise in, e.g. ballet or street dance. Even if your dance studio teaches a variety of different dance styles, it is unlikely that you will offer classes in every dance style. Consider the types of customers your chosen dance style or styles are likely to attract when considering your typical student base.
Whether you focus on children or adults
Very few studios teach both children and adults. This is because the teaching methodologies and training styles vary so significantly depending on the age of the students. Consider your skills, experience and interest when determining what ages to teach. You should also consider whether teaching children or adults is likely to be more profitable and popular.
The level of teaching you offer
You may choose to offer a variety of classes at different levels (particularly if you teach children). Alternatively, you could specialise in a particular level of teaching. For example, you may only offer advanced dance classes to experienced dancers or you may offer multiple beginner classes, for example, to those who are looking to take up dance primarily for fitness or socialising. Keep in mind that you will need significantly more advanced dance skills, training and knowledge yourself to teach advanced dancers, rather than beginners.
Your reputation, skills and experience
This is another important factor that many students will look at when choosing a dance studio. They may look at your customer reviews or decide based on recommendations from other dancers. Prospective students may look at your dancing and teaching qualifications, your dance experience and your skill level. They may also look at the accomplishments of your current and past dancers.
Unless you offer specialised dance training to advanced dancers, many prospective students will be looking for a dance studio that is conveniently located to them (e.g. easily accessible on public transport or within commuting distance). Consider the location of your studio when determining who your typical student base is likely to be.
Your price points
Certain types of dance require more intensive training, meaning these students may be willing to pay higher prices. Additionally, prices tend to be higher for advanced dance classes and private dance lessons. Children’s classes may also be cheaper than adult classes.
In many cases, dance students can be separated into three pricing categories:
- Budget: This type of student is looking for the most affordable classes. Price is likely to be the most important factor when they are searching for a dance studio.
- Mid-range: This type of student is looking for a combination of quality and affordability. Although price is important to them, they will also look at other factors, such as your reputation and qualifications.
- High-end: Price is not an important factor for this type of student. They want the most experienced, highest qualified instructors, with the best studio and equipment. They are happy to pay a higher price for the best dance instruction.
Equipment You Will Need
Your equipment is an essential requirement, as without it you will not be able to operate your business. There are many different types of equipment you may need, although your equipment needs can vary, depending on the style of dance you are teaching.
Below is a list of equipment typically required by a dance studio business:
A sprung floor is recommended for a variety of dance styles. It is a floor that absorbs shock and creates a more supportive platform. It can help to improve performance, reduce the stress on your joints and muscles and reduce injuries. Sprung floors use metal springs, woven wooden panels or layered moisture-proof membranes, usually accompanied by dual-density elastomer blocks beneath the surface, to create flexible, springy floors. This can help with shock absorption and can return energy to the dancer, There are different types of sprung flooring, depending on the dance type. As well as the shock absorption, you should also ensure your flooring absorbs sound, is scratch resistant and is non-slip.
Floor-to-ceiling mirrors help your dancers to see their movement and technique as they are dancing and recognise any errors and corrections they need to make. Opt for thicker mirrors to reduce the likelihood of them smashing or cracking if a dancer bumps into them or hits them.
An advanced music system
Music is such a huge part of dance and helps your dancers with their timing and bringing the dance to life. You will need a top-tier music and sound system, including a music console, multiple speakers and an amplifier.
If you teach ballet, barres are an essential purchase. A barre is a stationary handrail that provides support for people during various types of exercises and dance training. You can opt for permanent barres that are mounted to and supported by your wall, or a portable barre, which is mounted to a free-standing support structure. A portable barre is usually adjustable to different heights. Some types of barres come with two parallel handrails to suit dancers of different heights. Barres should be constructed near the waist level of your dancers.
Your students may be expected to purchase uniforms themselves or the cost of a dance uniform may be included in their tuition costs. If your students dance competitively under your studio name, depending on the dance style, you may need costumes, props and accessories. Costumes can likely be reused for different students and different dance pieces. Students are usually expected to purchase their own dance shoes (e.g. for ballet or tap dancing), but you may choose to partner with a supplier to offer your students discounted prices.
Heat packs and ice packs
Heat packs can help to soothe sore muscles, ease stiffness and relax the body following exercise. They keep the blood flowing to certain areas of your body and help to soften and relax the muscles and mobilise the joints. Many dancers use heat packs between exercises or dance classes to help keep their bodies limber. Ice packs work in the opposite way and restrict blood flow to prevent muscle soreness, inflammation and swelling. Professional and competitive dancers often use ice immersion (ice baths) to promote muscle recovery. While you likely won’t have an ice bath in your studio, having ice packs gives your dancers the opportunity to ice their muscles when they need to. Ice packs can also be used in the event of an injury.
Great dance technique includes strong balancing skills. Beginner dancers and young dancers usually have weaker balancing skills, as they are not used to engaging many of the necessary muscles. A balance board can help your dancers to improve their balance and build up their dance muscles between classes.
An exercise ball is typically used to build core strength and build abdominal muscles. Exercise balls can also be used for stretching and to help improve your dancers’ balance skills. Exercise balls can be used in between lessons and for warm-up activities.
These forms should be completed by new students during the registration process. They should include their personal details, emergency contact information and known health conditions and injuries. You could also choose to include their dancing level or previous dancing experience. You can create client forms yourself and print them out at a minimal cost.
A reception area
Depending on the size of your dance studio, you may opt for a reception area that can be used for scheduling classes, taking payments and any business or administrative tasks.
Some equipment you may need in your reception area includes:
- A reception desk and chair.
- A laptop or computer.
- A telephone.
- An appointment book or scheduling software on your computer.
- A cash register and Point of Sale (POS) system.
- Business cards and appointment cards.
A waiting area
You will need a waiting area that is separate from your dance space. This area can be utilised by prospective students who are waiting to tour your studio or waiting for an audition, students who have arrived before class begins and parents who are waiting for their child’s class to finish.
Your waiting area may require equipment such as:
- A water cooler.
- A coffee machine.
- A vending machine with healthy snacks.
- Magazines, newspapers or books.
Some dance teachers opt to film their students, particularly in the lead-up to a competition or examination, as it gives the students an opportunity to see themselves dancing and recognise any mistakes or areas for improvement. Choose a camera that also records sound so your students can see how their movement works with the music.
A CCTV system
Because you will be storing expensive equipment, CCTV can protect your business from potential break-ins and theft. CCTV can also protect your business in the event of an accident, an incident or an allegation. You can choose the specification of the equipment and how many cameras you require.
A website is a way for potential students to find your business, see information about your studio, your qualifications, skills and experience, see photographs of your studio and discover the types of dance tuition you offer. Your website can act as your online portfolio, showcasing your current and past students’ achievements, testimonials about your studio and any awards your dancers have won. Ensure your website includes your contact information and your location. You should also include an about page, a contact page, a blog and testimonials. It can also be beneficial to state your pricing.
A fully stocked first aid kit
Because dancing is such a physical activity, accidents and injuries can occur. Some injuries may be minor and you will be able to treat them yourself using items from the first aid kit. Other injuries may be more serious and require medical treatment; however, even in these situations, a first aid kit can be useful as it allows you to offer initial treatment.
Some items you may require in your first aid kit include:
- Plasters of varying sizes.
- Different-sized gauze dressings.
- Crepe rolled and triangular bandages.
- Safety pins and sticky tape.
- Disposable gloves.
- Cleansing wipes.
- Antiseptic cream and distilled water.
- Eyewash and eye bath.
Ensure your first aid kit is checked and restocked regularly.
You will need to keep your studio clean at all times. Not only does this make your business seem more professional, but it also ensures you are complying with health and safety legislation. A clean and dry floor can also help to protect your dancers. You may choose to hire a cleaner or do the cleaning yourself. Some cleaning equipment you may require includes a sweeping brush, hoover, mop, cloths, disinfectant, and antibacterial and cleaning products.
Some other equipment you may require includes:
- A business phone.
- Business cards.
- A Wi-Fi system.
- A measuring tape (for fitting students for their costumes or uniforms).
When you are creating your business plan, an important consideration you will need to make is your expected start-up costs and running costs. Calculating your expected costs allows you to determine your initial investment requirements, your pricing strategy and your profit goals.
There are multiple costs associated with setting up and running a dance studio. Some of these costs will be one-off initial costs that you will need to pay when you are setting up your business. Other costs will be ongoing costs you will need to pay regularly – usually weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually.
Some of the typical costs associated with a dance studio business are:
Your studio premises
Your studio will likely be your biggest expenditure. You will need to rent your premises on a monthly or annual basis. Rental prices can vary significantly, depending on the location and the size of the premises. City centre locations and newly built premises usually have the highest rental costs. Rental costs are often calculated per square metre. They can range significantly, from £500 to £15,000 per square metre annually. Your rental costs may also be higher if you are renting an already established or equipped studio. Alternatively, you could opt to purchase your premises upfront or take out a mortgage.
Refurbishment and installation costs
Unless your premises previously operated as a dance studio, you will need to refurbish or convert your venue to install the equipment you need for your dance studio and to make your premises fit for purpose. Depending on the size and layout of your studio, you may need to reconfigure the layout, for example, by removing walls and changing the configuration of the space. The task of converting your space and installing your equipment can be extensive, time-consuming and costly if your premises is not initially well-suited to working as a studio.
Your equipment is an important purchase. Although equipment costs are not usually high for a dance studio, ensuring you have the correct equipment is essential. Consult the list above to determine the type of equipment you require. The cost of your equipment can vary significantly, depending on the specification of your equipment and how much equipment you need. The bigger your premises is and the more professional your studio is, the more equipment you will likely require. You may opt to purchase less equipment initially and then expand your equipment as your business grows. Equipment for a dance studio typically costs between £2,000 and £50,000, with your flooring likely to be your biggest expenditure.
Maintaining, repairing and replacing equipment
Repairs, maintenance and replacements are ongoing costs you will need to factor into your budget. Although some of your equipment will come with warranties, repairs and replacements are inevitable – particularly because your equipment will likely experience excessive usage. Regularly cleaning and maintaining equipment and ensuring it is used correctly (e.g. not wearing outdoor shoes when walking on sprung flooring) can extend its lifespan, but potential repairs and replacements should still be factored into your budget.
These are the day-to-day costs associated with running your dance studio. Some running costs are paid monthly, and others are paid quarterly or annually. Your running costs can include electricity, gas, water, council tax and insurance. To maximise your profits, try to keep your running costs as low as possible.
You may opt to work as the sole dance teacher (particularly when your studio first begins operating) or you may opt to hire dance teachers and other employees, such as cleaners and administrative staff. You will need to pay any staff you employ at least the national minimum wage of £9.50 per hour and account for other expenses such as holiday pay, sick pay, maternity/paternity pay, National Insurance and any company pension contributions.
When creating your brand identity, consider how you want your dance studio to be perceived and what your brand story is. Consider the type of dance studio you plan to set up, the dance styles you will teach and the types of students you have chosen to focus on. Branding can include creating your business’s visual identity, design and aesthetic, your business name and logo and your website. You could hire a professional to help you with branding or do some or all of the work yourself. Branding can cost between £500 and £10,000, depending on the level of work required.
Advertising and marketing
Advertising is an essential practice to ensure the success of your business. Advertising and marketing will help your dance studio to attract clients and can help you to maximise your profits. It is recommended that you spend between 1%-3% of your annual turnover on marketing. For example, if your annual turnover (or your desired annual turnover) is £70,000, you should spend between £700 and £2,100 on advertising and marketing. You may need to invest more money when you initially set up your studio or when you are trying to grow your business.
There are multiple coverage options available for a dance studio business. Some types of coverage are optional, whereas others are mandatory.
Your coverage options include:
- Public Liability Insurance.
- Employers’ Liability Insurance.
- Professional Indemnity Insurance.
- Personal Accident Cover.
- Business Interruption Cover.
- Property Insurance.
- Building and Contents Cover.
Prices can vary depending on your insurance provider and the level of coverage you choose. Prices typically start at £10 per month.
Typical Pricing for Customers
Once you have calculated the typical costs associated with setting up and running a dance studio, you can then create your pricing strategy.
You will likely have different pricing, for example:
- Private lessons vs. group lessons.
- Beginner training vs. advanced training.
- Regular training vs. examination preparation.
You may choose to offer your students a discount if they sign up for a certain number of lessons, for example, if they pay for the whole course, term or year at one time.
There are other factors that can influence your pricing strategy, for example:
- The dance style you teach.
- The age of your students.
- The level of dancing you teach, e.g. beginner, intermediate, advanced.
- Whether you teach professional or competitive dancing.
- Your reputation.
- Your training, experience, dancing skills and knowledge.
- Your location.
- Your studio and equipment.
Safely Running a Dance Studio Business
Safe practices in your dance studio can help you to protect the health, safety and well-being of you, your employees, your students and any visitors to the studio.
Some ways you can safely run your dance studio business are:
Install a sprung floor
Concrete or wooden flooring puts additional stress on your dancers’ muscles and joints (particularly in the feet, ankles and legs) and can cause micro-injuries, which over time can develop into more serious injuries. Installing sprung flooring can help to protect the health of your dancers and reduce the likelihood of injuries.
Follow the Code of Professional Conduct and Practice for Teachers of Dance
The Code of Professional Conduct lays out the fundamental principles that all dance teachers should follow including:
- Behaving with integrity in all business and professional relationships.
- Striving for objectivity in all business and professional judgements.
- Not accepting teaching work that you are not competent in or qualified for.
- Carrying out all work with due skill, care and proper regard for the expected technical and professional standards.
A code of conduct gives you and your employees a definitive guide on how you should work and behave and clarifies your studio’s values and principles.
Obtain qualifications and training
Although formal qualifications and training are not legally required, they can help to make your business more successful and help to ensure safe practices.
Some qualifications you could choose include:
- A relevant university degree in dance or performing arts
- A Level 3 qualification in Performing Arts Dance.
- Level 4, 5 or 6 Diploma in Dance Education or Dance Teaching.
- Certificate in Ballet Teaching.
Reduce the likelihood of slips and falls
Your students will be performing potentially dangerous dance moves and stretches that could result in serious injury if they slip or fall while performing them.
Reduce hazards, particularly floor hazards, to reduce the likelihood of slips or falls, for example:
- Remove any trip hazards, including equipment and belongings on the floor.
- Always clean up any spills on the floor immediately.
- Ensure there are no loose wires or cables on the floor
Properly maintain and set up equipment
Any equipment you use must be properly maintained, correctly set up and safe to use. You must protect yourself and any visitors to your studio from accidents or injuries caused by equipment. You should also perform regular equipment inspections to ensure your equipment’s safety and help extend the lifespan of your equipment. Maintenance includes regularly checking for faults, regular cleaning and ensuring equipment is functioning correctly.
Carry out risk assessments
Risk assessments are a legal requirement for businesses with more than five employees. However, even if your business has fewer than five employees, risk assessments are still recommended to ensure the safety of you, your staff and your customers. Risk assessments can help you to identify any potential hazards and risks in your business and how these can be reduced or eliminated.
As part of your risk assessment, you should:
- Identify hazards.
- Determine who could be at risk.
- Evaluate any potential risks.
- Implement relevant safety measures.
- Record the results of the risk assessment.
- Review the risk assessment regularly.
Implement cleaning policies and procedures
Strict cleaning procedures must be in place on your premises. This includes cleaning, disinfecting and sanitising all floors and equipment between classes. You should clean regularly throughout the day and perform a scheduled general cleaning of your studio.
Keep a fully stocked first aid kit
If someone in your studio has an accident or sustains a minor injury, it may not be serious enough to warrant medical intervention. Instead, you may be able to offer treatment yourself. Having a first aid kit that is checked and replenished regularly and is easily accessible is recommended.
Health and safety training can help to ensure safe practices in your dance studio and can ensure that you and any staff you employ are aware of and adhere to safety procedures. Some training you can complete includes First Aid, Health and Safety for Businesses, Fire Safety Awareness and Assessing Risks.
Complying with legal guidelines is essential when setting up and running your dance studio business.
Some of the legal requirements you should be aware of include:
Obtain a criminal record check
If you will be teaching children or vulnerable people, you will need to apply for a criminal record check to check your suitability to work with vulnerable people.
The type of check you require depends on the country you live in:
- England: Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
- Wales: Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
- Scotland: Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme.
- Northern Ireland: AccessNI.
Comply with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (1988)
This Act protects the intellectual property of individuals and requires that anyone wishing to use this intellectual property must seek permission. The Act protects any dances that were created after 1st January 1978. You must ensure you do not intentionally or unintentionally sample, copy or use another person’s dance without seeking the appropriate permission.
Apply for a music licence
You will be regularly playing music in your studio and your students may also perform to music in dance competitions or dance shows. You will need to apply for a licence with Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) and/or a Performing Right Society (PRS) Licence. You can apply for both a PPL and a PRS online.
Comply with invoice requirements
You may make it standard that you send invoices to all of your students or their payors. Even if you do not make this standard practice, many of your customers will request an invoice.
There are certain pieces of information you must include:
- The word ‘invoice’ and a unique invoice number.
- Your business name and address.
- The client’s name and address.
- A brief description of your work.
- The total you are charging the client and when the payment is due.
- The payment method.
Comply with fire regulations
You must ensure fire safety measures are implemented in your studio, particularly because you are working with electrical equipment and potentially flammable cleaning products. There are multiple fire regulations you must ensure you comply with.
- Perform a fire risk assessment.
- Comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
- Implement any necessary fire safety measures.
- Implement emergency procedures and ensure these are clearly displayed on your premises.
Comply with the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998
PUWER regulations apply to you and any employees you hire. You must ensure any equipment in your studio is fit for purpose and is maintained and inspected regularly. You must also ensure that health and safety risks are minimised to an acceptable level, that you have the correct knowledge and training to use the equipment, and that protective measures are put into place. Equipment should also be used under appropriate conditions.
Comply with the Electricity at Work Regulations (1989)
The Electricity at Work Regulations state that any workplaces that use electricals must construct electrical systems in a way that prevents danger, maintain electrical systems to ensure they are safe, ensure electrical equipment is checked by a competent person annually and conduct Portable Appliance Tests (PAT). You must ensure that any electrical equipment and your electrical systems, i.e. the lighting in your dance studio, comply with this legislation.
Prepare a health and safety policy
The law states that every business in the UK must have a specific policy for managing health and safety. Your policy should state exactly how you will manage health and safety in your studio, who is responsible for specific tasks and how and when these tasks are completed. Follow the recommended tips from the Health and Safety Executive when creating your health and safety policy. You should make your policy easily visible to any visitors to your business.
Appoint a competent person
A competent person should be appointed to help your business meet your health and safety legal duties. You can act in this role yourself or appoint another person to fulfil this role. The competent person should have the skills, knowledge and experience to identify any hazards in your business and put controls in place to protect people from harm.
Comply with the Health and Safety at Work etc Act (1974)
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act lays out the duties of businesses in the UK regarding ensuring the health, safety and welfare of everyone in your workplace. As you are the business owner, you will be responsible for protecting the health and safety of your employees and any visitors to your studio.
Comply with the Manual Handling Operations Regulations (1992)
Manual handling regulations can help to protect you and any other people in your studio from sustaining an injury or illness as a result of manual handling tasks. The regulations apply to a variety of activities, such as the lifting or moving of any objects, bending down, reaching high and repetitive movements.
Comply with the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 2013
RIDDOR states that you must report all injuries, diseases and dangerous events that occur in your studio. Reports must be made to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) using an appropriate recording document. These regulations apply to any incidents that involve you, your staff or your students.
Comply with employment legislation
If you employ any staff, you must ensure you follow employment legislation, including the Employment Rights Act (1996) and the National Minimum Wage Act (1998). You must also comply with legislation relating to recruitment, working hours, sickness, discrimination, dismissals, and maternity or paternity pay.
Comply with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act (DPA)
You must comply with both pieces of legislation when storing or sharing personal information, such as your students’ personal information, contact details and banking information. You must also apply for a Notification to Process Personal Data Licence. If you process or store personal information such as personal details and banking information, you will need to apply for a licence with the Information Commissioner’s Office and renew your registration every year.
Appoint a first-aider
All workplaces in the UK must have an appointed first-aider. In the event of an accident or injury, you will then be able to administer the necessary first aid. Although a first aid qualification or certificate is not legally required, it is the easiest way to demonstrate your first aid training.
Although some types of insurance coverage are optional, Professional Indemnity Insurance is legally required. This protects you, your business and your clients from professional mistakes, negligence and breaches of confidentiality. Contact your insurance provider to find out which types of insurance are legally required.
Register your business
Your business must be registered with HMRC before you begin operating. You can choose to register as a sole trader or as a limited company. You will also need to register your business name and any other relevant information.
Register for self-assessment tax
This allows you to calculate and pay your own taxes each year. You will need to track your finances every month and submit any expenses as part of your tax assessment.
As part of your tax responsibilities, you must:
- Record all forms of income and expenses.
- Complete an annual self-assessment tax return.
- Register for VAT if you earn above the threshold (currently £85,000).
- Pay National Insurance contributions.
- Keep a record of your business accounts for the previous five years.
Positives of Owning a Dance Studio Business
Setting up a dance studio business can be rewarding in many ways.
Some of the main benefits of running this type of business are:
Creativity to devise and customise dances
If you are a creative person who enjoys creating dances, customising dance moves and devising the perfect dances to match the music and your students’ abilities, running a dance studio can be extremely rewarding. You will have complete creative control and can make a name for yourself because of your artistic and inventive dances.
You can offer tailored classes and training
Tailored training sessions and personalised classes not only make your day less repetitive, but they can also be very rewarding for your students. You can focus on specific areas they need to improve and work on any special dancing skills or talents they possess to make their dancing even stronger. Tailored classes show your students how much you care about their dancing and can help them to improve exponentially. If your dancers compete competitively or are training to be professional dancers, individualised training can make your business stand out and make it more attractive to potential students.
Be as involved as you want
Once your business is established, you can choose to be as involved as you want in the day-to-day running of your studio and the teaching of classes. You can choose to hire dance teachers who handle the vast majority of the lessons and oversee the training. You could also opt to hire administrative staff to handle the overall running of your business and any business and administrative tasks. You can be as involved as you want.
Strong business and personal relationships
Many dance studio owners want their business to have an inclusive, family feel encouraging socialisation and strong relationships and ensuring dance is fun. You will likely teach many of the same students for years, meaning you will inevitably create meaningful relationships with them. You will also create personal and professional relationships with the other dance teachers you hire.
See your students grow and improve
Training your dancers and supporting your students in their dance journey can be very rewarding. Dance can help your students physically, mentally, emotionally and socially, and you will be a key part of this journey. Seeing your students grow and their dance skills improve, celebrating their achievements and seeing the difference you have made in their training can be extremely rewarding.
Encourage your students’ passion
The dancers who attend your studio are likely to love dance. As the studio owner, you have the opportunity to nurture their passion and ensure their love of dance lasts a lifetime. Not only does this mean these students are more likely to stay with you long term, but they will likely also remember you as an important part of something they love.
Connect with other people in your industry
You will have plenty of opportunities to connect with other people in the dance community, including other instructors and students. You can spend time with like-minded people, learn new skills and gain knowledge from them and create both personal and professional connections.
There are many physical benefits to being a dance teacher and practising dance regularly:
- Increased flexibility, balance coordination and posture.
- Increased strength and muscle tone.
- Improved cardiovascular and circulatory health.
- Improved respiration.
- Improved mobility and reduced inflammation, pain and stiffness.
- Better brain health.
- Increased aerobic power and strength.
- Improved metabolic health and easier to maintain a healthy weight.
As a dance instructor, you may dance for several hours a day, multiple days a week. You should experience significant physical health benefits.
Mental health benefits
As well as the physical benefits, there are also many mental health benefits to dancing regularly, including:
- Reduces depression, anxiety and stress.
- Increases energy levels.
- Improves sleep.
- Good socialisation.
- Improves confidence and self-esteem.
Not only will you experience some of these mental health benefits yourself, but it can be rewarding to know that your dance studio is having a similar positive effect on your students.
Maintain your own dance skills
Practising dance every day will inevitably help you to maintain and improve your own skills and proficiency. You can stay up to date with new techniques, dance moves and dance styles and stay connected to the dance world. As a dancer and a teacher, you will have lots of opportunities to learn and grow.
Do what you love
Dance instructors usually love dance and consider it their passion. Genuinely enjoying what you do can make your business feel less like work. Not only can you dance every day and work in an industry you love, but you can also inspire other people to love dance as well.
If you enjoy being around other people and connecting with new people, running a dance studio business can be extremely rewarding. Most of your day, every day, will be spent with other people and you can meet lots of people in your local community and the dance community.
Control your workflow
You will have complete control over your workflow and how much you work. You can choose how many students you accept and how large your business responsibilities will be. As your business grows, you can opt to hire front-line employees, such as dance teachers, and take a step back from the day-to-day responsibilities associated with your dance studio.
A positive work environment
A dance studio can be a great place to work. You will likely be working with different dance teachers who all bring different skills, knowledge and experience to the studio. You will also be spending extended periods of time with your students, which enables you to build positive relationships and create a positive work environment.
Design your dream business
Regardless of what type of dance studio you choose to set up, you can design your perfect business. This includes the type of dance you teach, your students, the size of your business, the types of equipment you purchase and whether you teach professionally, competitively or for fun. You can also design your business’s aesthetic and branding to ensure it reflects you and the type of business you want to run.
Student loyalty and recommendations
As you will spend a lot of time with your students and they will place a high level of trust in you, you will hopefully experience customer loyalty. You will likely teach the same students for years and may also teach multiple students from the same family or friendship groups. Satisfied, loyal customers are also more likely to recommend your studio to others, which can help you to grow your business.
Potential for expansion
There are several opportunities for expansion, for example, you could begin offering different types of classes, hire more dance teachers, expand your typical student base, expand your premises or open another dance studio. Having the option to grow your business maximises your business opportunities and provides you with more opportunities for success.
Unlimited income potential
As your business and your reputation grow, you are likely to see increased demand and higher profits. You may then begin to charge higher prices. You could also expand your business and partner with other professionals in your industry. Your dance studio could have potentially high-profit margins and unlimited income potential.
Be your own boss
You can make all key decisions yourself and steer your business in whichever direction you choose. You can choose how involved you want to be, the type of dance studio you want to set up, the services you offer and the employees you hire. You can make the best decisions for you and your business.
Negatives of Owning a Dance Studio Business
Although running a dance studio can be rewarding in many ways, there are some negative aspects of this type of business that you should be aware of:
The industry is declining
Statistics have shown that the number of 11- to 15-year-olds participating in dance activities has declined by 23.7% in the last decade and the number of 5- to 10-year-olds participating in dance has declined by 20.5% in the same time frame. A declining industry can reduce the amount of demand you have for your services. You may have fewer students and lower profits, making it more difficult for your business to succeed.
The industry is still recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic
The dance industry was one of the most heavily affected industries during the pandemic. The industry experienced a 44.5% reduction in gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020. Additionally, dance performances and events were cancelled, theatres closed, classes were cancelled, and many teachers and students quit dancing. In fact, an estimated 80,000 jobs were lost in music, performing and visual arts as a result of the pandemic, Three years later, the dance industry is still recovering from the pandemic, making it more difficult for new dance businesses to succeed.
Investment and funding are decreasing
Both public and government investment in the arts, including dance, is decreasing. Campaign for the Arts has highlighted a 50% funding cut to the arts in Higher Education and per-person local art cuts of 33% in Scotland, 36% in Wales and 50% in England since 2010. Furthermore, public investment in the arts has decreased by 35% in the last decade. Reduced investment and funding suggest that people are placing less emphasis on dance. Reduced funding will also result in fewer opportunities, fewer venues and less equipment.
It can be time-consuming
As well as the time spent teaching dance, you will also have a large number of business and administrative duties that you are responsible for. This could include advertising and marketing, arranging competitions and venue bookings, running your website and social media, dealing with queries, payments and invoices, and ensuring compliance with all legal guidelines. This can be stressful and time-consuming and take away from the time you can spend with your students.
High start-up costs
Starting up a dance studio business requires a high investment. The cost of your premises, refurbishment and installation costs and your equipment can be extremely expensive, meaning you will require a large amount of capital to set up your business. Not only does this mean you may need to source outside investment, but it also makes your business high-risk. Having a large initial investment also means it will take longer before you begin turning a profit.
Teaching can be difficult
Even if you have extensive dance experience, this doesn’t mean you will find teaching easy. Teaching requires completely different skills including good communication, empathy, patience and confidence. Running a dance studio business and teaching dance can be difficult, and sometimes stressful.
It can be physically exhausting
Although dancing every day can have physical benefits, it can also be physically exhausting. You will be engaging and stretching the same muscles over and over again and this can result in pain, strains, exhaustion or even injury.
A lot of skill, knowledge and experience are required
To run a successful dance studio business, you will need to be highly proficient in a variety of skills and will need to have high technical knowledge and knowledge of dancing and the dance industry and preferably experience teaching dance. It can be time-consuming to gain the appropriate skills and experience.
Unconventional working hours
As a dance instructor, you will likely need to run your lessons at times when your students aren’t working or in school. This could mean teaching sessions in the evenings, at weekends and during the holidays. Even though you can choose your operating hours, not operating during popular times can have a detrimental effect on your profits. Unconventional working hours can have a negative effect on your personal life.
Running a dance studio business may mean you don’t always have a regular income. You may have fewer students than usual or have issues with your venue that affects your teaching. Having an unreliable income can be problematic if you have bills and expenses to pay.
Some of your students may expect you to create instant results and immediately turn them into skilled dancers. They may be disappointed when they don’t immediately see improvements and may stop working with you or leave negative reviews, which can have a detrimental effect on your reputation and income.
Risk of your business failing
Starting up a dance studio business can be risky. Many new businesses fail which could result in you losing money or getting into debt. Your business could fail for several reasons, such as high local competition, an ineffective business plan or if the UK encounters another recession or period of financial difficulty.
Complying with legislation
There are many different pieces of legislation and legal guidelines you will need to comply with. Not only can this be complicated and time-consuming, but any non-compliance (even if this is accidental) can be punished with a fine or the forced closure of your business. Some types of legislation also require you to go through specific training and/or gain a qualification, which can be costly and arduous. This can be very stressful.
Dancing has many potential risks that could result in liability issues for you and your business. This could include accidents or injuries and the higher risks associated with certain customers, for example, if you teach children. Handling the risk of accidents and injuries can be stressful and any incidents that occur can damage your reputation and business.
Building your student base can be difficult
Successful dance studios often spend years building up their client base. This could mean you initially receive less custom and may have to charge lower prices, meaning your profits may initially be significantly lower. If you have invested a lot of money into your business and can’t make a profit when you first launch your business, this could result in your business failing.
As you are self-employed, you won’t receive benefits such as pension contributions. You will also be responsible for doing your own taxes and organising your National Insurance contributions. You will also have a lack of job security.
Planning Your Dance Studio Business
An effective and well-designed business plan is essential to the success of your dance studio. A business plan can help you to focus on the specific steps that will help your business succeed, plan your short-term and long-term goals, determine your financial needs and help your business to grow.
When creating your business plan, ensure it contains information such as:
- Your company information.
- Your company description.
- The services you will provide.
- Your branding, marketing and advertising plan.
- The structure of your business.
- The operational plan for your business.
- The financial plan for your business.
Some of the factors you will need to consider when creating your business plan are:
What style or styles of dance will you specialise in?
You may choose to teach a variety of different dancing styles, e.g. ballet, tap and contemporary, or focus on one specific dancing style. Consider your own experience, dancing skills and knowledge and that of any dance teachers you hire. For example, if you are a trained ballet dancer who previously danced in a ballet company professionally, you will likely set up a studio specialising in ballet. You should also consider which dancing styles are likely to be the most popular and attract the most students.
Will you specialise in a specific age group or level of dancing?
This is another important consideration you will need to make. You may choose to offer a variety of different classes for dancers of different ages and abilities. Alternatively, you could choose to focus on either children or adults or a particular level of dancing. Consider your previous teaching experience, your preferences and your skills and experience. Young children typically require a dance teacher who is fun and patient, whereas advanced students require a teacher who is highly proficient, skilled and knowledgeable and is able to push them to the next level.
What is your target customer base?
Once you have determined the dance styles you will specialise in and your chosen age and ability categories, you can then hone in on your target student base. Once you have identified the type of students your studio is likely to attract, you can then focus on how to reach these customers and how to attract them to your studio.
What is your brand?
Creating your brand is a key way to ensure you stand out from your local competition. Branding can help you to focus on your target customers, attract students and concentrate your marketing and advertising strategies. Some ways you can create your brand are by focusing on your business’s visual identity, designing your studio and your website and creating a brand story. Your business name and logo are also part of your branding so ensure you consider these when creating your business plan.
What are your advertising and marketing strategies?
Once you have determined your target customer base you can then tailor your advertising and marketing strategies. There are many ways you can choose to advertise your business. This can include partnering with other people in the dance industry, advertising in your local community, advertising on social media and using paid online ads. As part of your marketing strategy, consider the most effective way to reach your target audience and attract potential customers. For example, if you are opening a new children’s class for beginner dancers, you may advertise in local primary schools, in locations frequently visited by young children and their parents and in local parenting groups.
Where will your studio be located?
Your location will have a significant impact on the types of students you are likely to attract as students tend to choose a studio that is conveniently located to them. Keep in mind that different locations will have different premises costs.
What local competition do you have?
Analysing your local competition allows you to look at what they do well and what you think can be improved upon. Being aware of your competition is an important step to ensuring the success of your dance studio. You should also look at the types of dance classes your competition offers, their pricing and their typical customer base. Analysing your competition also allows you to investigate where most of your business will come from and how you can maximise your business. You should also look at your local competition to ensure there is demand for your studio. For example, if there is already a popular street dancing studio operating in the vicinity, it may not make the best business sense to open another street dancing studio.
What are your requirements for studio employees?
As your business grows, you may need to hire employees to fulfil various roles in your studio, such as dance teachers, cleaners and admin staff. This would allow you to offer more dance classes and accept more students. Hire employees based on the size and needs of your business and the requirements of your students.
What equipment do you require?
Consult the list above to determine your equipment requirements. The equipment you purchase from the above list will depend on the type of studio you are setting up, the size of your studio and your budget. Once you have determined what equipment you require, you can then calculate the initial costs of purchasing this equipment.
What are your start-up costs and running costs?
Consult the list above to help you calculate the approximate costs of setting up and running your business. Determine what equipment you need and the amount of equipment, as well as the cost of your premises and your staffing costs, to help you determine your start-up costs and what your initial investment requirements will be. You can then calculate whether you can finance your business yourself or whether you need to source outside investment, for example, from a bank or an independent investor. Determining your start-up costs and running costs can also help you to create a budget and predict when you will begin to turn a profit.
What is your pricing policy?
Once you have calculated your approximate costs, you can then determine your pricing strategy. You may charge per lesson, per course or per term. When determining your pricing strategy, consider your typical student base, your qualifications, skills and experience, whether you are training dancers to work professionally or competitively and the pricing of your competitors.
How will you finance your business?
Consult the list of start-up costs and running costs above to determine what capital you will require. Can you finance the business yourself or will you need to source outside investment? You will also need to calculate when you are likely to begin turning a profit. If you require outside investment, you could consider a bank or other financial institution, a business loan or an investment partner.
What is your sales forecast?
You will need to determine how many students you can feasibly accept into each class and how many classes you will be running per day and per week. This will enable you to create a weekly, monthly and annual sales forecast. As your business grows and you hire more dance teachers, your sale forecast will change.
What is your strategy for growth?
Your strategy for growth is the actions you will take to realise your goals for expansion and any potential challenges your business could face and how you will avoid or overcome them. Being aware of any potential challenges can help you to prepare for them and hopefully avoid them. This can help to make your business more successful.
Potential challenges could include:
- A failure to attract new students.
- Low student retention.
Some potential strategies for growth are:
- Hire experienced dance teachers.
- Enter your students into competitions and put on dance shows.
- Offer examination preparation and dancing qualifications.
What are your business goals?
Determining your business goals is an essential part of creating your business plan. Your business objectives highlight the targets and goals of your dance studio and help you to create a one-year, three-year and five-year business plan.
Your business objectives should be SMART:
- S = Specific
- M = Measurable
- A = Achievable
- R = Realistic
- T = Time-bound
What is your business summary?
Your business plan should include a detailed overview of your business, including the type of dance studio you are setting up, your location, the size of your business, your employees, your typical student base, your equipment and your business goals.
Have you complied with all legal requirements?
Consult the list of legal requirements above to check you have complied with all requirements and regulations and that all your paperwork is accurate. Failure to comply with legal requirements could have a detrimental effect on your business or could result in a fine, the forced closure of your business or, in serious cases, prosecution.