Development Series, RA Dance Blog

So you want to set up your own dance school: Here’s what you should know.

Setting up your own dance school can be a scary thing, but once established you can find that the school runs smoothly and you are earning money from doing something you love to do. I felt that for my own interest and for many others it would be great to have a page that was dedicated to setting up your own school. So here goes, all this information is from other sources, as I have no first-hand experience of this.

Ballet Teaching

I’ve broken this down into 7 categories in an effort to make it clearer as to what type of things you will need to have a successful dance school. I’ll attempt to write these in a chronological order, but for many they may find another order more helpful, so here goes.

Personality – One of the most important things before you’ve even set up the legal side of the studio is to make sure that this is something you want to do, you’ll be dedicated and passionate towards the work you accomplish. Once you’re completely set that this is definitely something you think you’d like to do it may be helpful to contact a local dance school and see if they need an assistant, or to get some work experience in the environment. This will test your passion and solidify or strengthen your decision to set up your own school. From there your personality can help in classroom, being friendly and bubbly can help get people through the door, and stay there. While creating a family atmosphere in a dance studio it is also recommended to keep an eye on the business side of the studio, if someone isn’t paying the fees it can be hard to tell them to pay or stop coming to class, but to have a successful business that is necessary.

Qualifications – Although dance qualification are not necessarily needed to teach dance they are highly advised. Having a qualification through a dance organisation means your students can enter exams and have their hard work can be acknowledged by an awarding body. Each style will have different qualifications and each awarding body can do these differently, have a look and see which one will suit your studio best. On top of this, if working with students under 18, you will need an enhanced DBS check, the price of this can be variable depending which organisation you go through and can take around two weeks to come through. Once it’s come through it’s recommended that you subscribe to the DBS update service, this is around £13 a year and means organisations can check it anytime you give them the right details. This means you don’t need to pay the price for the service every time you think it should be updated, most say every 3 years, as it’s updated automatically. Having a First Aid Certificate that is regularly updated is also useful when working in the dance industry as you are then prepared for the worst.

Self-Employment – This category is a bit of a mixed bag, but the main conclusion from it is to register the dance school at HMRC. There are many different categories in which a business can be set up, the most applicable for a dance school, are Sole Trader, Partnership or a Limited Company. The tax terms and debt payments vary between each different type of business set up. Setting up as a Sole Trader has no initial costs to register, and allows you to employ people, but any debt that it accumulated by the business is also debt to the person in ownership of the business. In the eyes of HMRC, there is no distinction, so personal assets can be used as payment for the businesses debt. The tax returns for Sole Trader and Partnership set ups are done by self-assessment, but all profit it taxed as income, meaning once you hit the threshold for tax you can find 40% gone due to tax. While it is likely a local dance school won’t gain massive profits if it is really successful this may come as a shock that nearly half is gone at the end of the day.

Licenses – There are two main licenses that a dance school should have, a music license and public liability insurance. A music license, specifically a PPL, will legally allow you to play music at your venue, many venues may already have this but it is better to have your own, this license is around £100 a year. On top of this public liability insurance will cover you for claims made on the business, for instance if someone becomes injured in class and tries to sue you. The costs of this can vary but around £120 a year is a decent rate, you can get these in packages with membership to other organisations which can give you added benefits.

Space – Having a good dance space can make or break a dance studio. Location can be key to this decision, having a spot near to your target clients can help immensely. Studios with good lighting and ventilation can aid with the safety and quality of your surrounds, as well have having access to toilets, and water. A space that is cleaned often, that has an appropriate floor, often wood floor can give splinters that can damage shoes and bare feet so these types of floor are good to avoid. Making sure the space is big enough, but not too big to mean the class feels empty, will also help with atmosphere and the quality of work your dancers produce.

Marketing – A good name that allows for growth can help in the longevity of your dance school, if it’s adaptable you can offer other styles in the future of the school. This can go hand-in-hand with having a logo that represents what you do well and appeals to the audience you want. This can be used to promote your business on social media, websites and newspaper ads. Ongoing costs of promotion will be inevitable to expand your business during the start up period, but it is encouraged to continue promotion even once the school is well-established, this will ensure the school can continue. Promotion can be done in many ways, social media allows you to post pictures of what’s been going on in your classes as well as publicising showcases and workshops that can invite prospective clients to view your work and take part in class.

Merchandise – This is an area that is entirely optional. Once the business is established it may be a good idea to have a set uniform, something that shows off your dance school name to advertise the business further when people are seen coming too and from the premises. Other merchandise could any dance wear, shoes for class, costumes, you may even want to produce posters or have a photographer take photos or video of a school show. Other trinkets, like dance themed jewellery and accessories may also be popular, but with most things these come at a cost. You need an appropriate place to store the items as well as a way to let your clients know you’re selling these items.

These are just a few things that I’ve picked up through research that should/could be done as you embark on setting up your own dance school. I hope it helped. If you’ve anything else to add, feel free to add in the comments!


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