One Business Owner’s Journey to Keep it Consistent During COVID Craziness
“Due to the impact of COVID 19 virus ALL NON- Essential businesses are to be closed UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE” as these words fell off of Governor Murphy’s lips I instantly wondered if he knew that DANCE was essential!? If he understood the depth of the service that we provide…
Most business owners have not planned for a crisis like this when designing their business plan. I’m sure most business owners have never asked themselves the question, “Can my business operate and be successful both physically AND Virtually!?” It is in times like these that we get a glimpse of what people and their businesses are truly made of.
It was just a month ago that my very physical and active business had to freeze due to COVID-19. For two weeks I was stuck trying to figure out the demanding question “What’s Next?” Do I cancel The rest of the season? Do we have a recital? But like the famous quote goes, “Where there is a Will, There's a way.” After researching and conversing with fellow dance studio owners who were figuring out the same issues, I decided that I would show up for my students and parents and go virtual. Without a doubt it was stressful to manage and transition 150 students and 7 teachers to this new reality of ours but it was indeed possible. Live stream warm ups, terminology quizzes, videos of choreography and pictures of Stars completing certain tasks are what fills our Band App, which is the home of our virtual studio. I originally thought that parents would think it was too much & not worthy of paying their usual monthly tuition but the opposite has occurred. Parents appreciated us going the extra mile to meet the demand of consistency during this trying time. During this self-isolation period maintaining some type of consistency is essential even if it seems impossible, whether it be in a business or at home. Below, I responded to some questions that help to give insight on my thought process as a business owner attempting to maneuver through these unique and intense times. The Show MUST Go On What were your initial thoughts after hearing the announcement? I was stuck wondering if the world was prepared to move virtually. Yes, we are all cozy with phones and computers but were we really ready to transform from our way of living to this new norm. What were you MOST concerned about during this process? Income. This is a situation that none of us could have seen coming. Although I'm pretty good at saving, the possibility of not producing a new teaching method could ultimately affect our business structure and finances. What was surprisingly easy for you? Getting our parents on board and into the new way of teaching. I wasn't sure if parents would see it as a waste of time or appreciate our efforts in being consistent in such a trying time. They were extremely excited and grateful. What was surprisingly difficult? The most difficult thing is still not being able to see my kids. In my line of business, it's the physical contact that makes the most difference. The hugs, the laughter, the feeling of such a positive and encouraging environment that we have created at Dare 2 Dance. What did you learn? That the quote “Children are our future” is beyond accurate. Just a few months ago I was getting on my Stars about the excessive use of Tik Tok and other social media platforms and never imagined that it would be the dominant means of communication during this quarantine. It's hilarious to me that I had to reach out to them for a tutorial so that I can set my account up. They are ready and prepared to take on this digital world and I believe we will be leaning towards them to see us through this new norm. Are you keeping anything from this new program after the ban is lifted? Yes, I believe that I will continue utilizing the virtual program to send footage to Stars to practice if they miss class for any reason and also to communicate with parents. To me it seems to work a lot better than email or text blast. What’s next? For the rest of the year? Finding a creative way to have our end of the year recital. With many venues panicking due to COVID, most studios in the country may have to push their recitals back to October and November. That's extremely stressful when you think about the costumes that were ordered in early December of last year and fear that students may not be able to fit them due to growth. It's my hope that we will be able to pull off a miracle and have the recital in a park by the end of August. I plan to rent a stage, lightning, chairs and whatever else I may need to give my Stars the experience they deserve. “It's true that in a time like this, you have to Use your imagination, think outside the box, hustle and stay Motivated because THE SHOW MUST GO ON!” Nyemah Gillespie Owner & Director Dare 2 Dance, LLC // Dare 2 Flip, LLC