Business survival guide for line dance instructors

Article written by Billy Curtis (C) March 2020.

This is how I have approached the Coronavirus pandemic with regard to business and to my livelihood. Some of the techniques I have used may, in turn, help some of you through this difficult time. For the purposes of this plan I have taken the position of a line dance instructor, under threat of losing their entire income.

REMEMBER: This is not simply about the money you are losing, but is more so about survival and ensuring your business future. Your classes will be back, you MUST stay focused on this fact and allow yourself to get excited about it.

THE PLAN

This may not initially appear to be relevant to many of you but its principles will be applicable to most. This example is based on a sudden stop in income with no funds available. In my 30+ years of being a musician I have had plenty of crisis moments where I have needed to survive. So this is based on how I have approached the problems and most importantly, solved them.

Accept the worst – very important! The mind is a powerful thing and controlling it at times of crisis can really hold you back from moving forward. Accept the worst (within reason), in this case, accept the financial loses, accept that your income has stopped, it is gone. Now breathe and take that first step forward with this in mind. The secret is being mentally calm and focused.

Your goal is to survive a period of time, in this case we are looking at 3months according to the powers that be, however, with an ‘accept the worst’ attitude, I am doubling it and focussing on 6 months in my mind. Anything less will then be a bonus.

TIP: Do not let your emotions confuse your reason, it’s understandable that you have and will lose a lot but, action is what this is about - when you start looking clearly at things, then it often becomes easier to swallow. This is business, so set aside how you feel about it for a moment.

STEP ONE: WORK OUT YOUR MONTHLY TARGET AMOUNT

1. Get a clear picture of your finances to find a NET amount – there are a couple of ways to do this:

a) list out all outgoings, the total is the minimum amount you need to survive per month, OR

b) work out the net amount you earn from classes and events per month. To do this make sure you deduct your expenses i.e. hall hire, licenses, insurances etc. from the amount you receive in, this will give you the actual amount you make in profit.

Either way you need to reach a NET amount figure. Everyone’s net figure will be different but let’s say for example, my imaginary line dance instructor called Eric earns a NET figure of £1,200 per month from his classes of around 90 dancers per week.

2. Now, take that net figure and be brutal, chip bits off and save where you can, cut back on certain bills where possible i.e. downgrade packages, cancel subscriptions you do not need etc. be brutal and get the very minimum amount you can survive on. In this example let’s say Eric worked out what he could do without and managed to chip off £200 from his NET survival amount.

3. Take this magic number and imprint it in your mind, this is the target amount you must generate every month. So, Eric’s target amount is £1,000 per month.

STEP TWO: CREATE AN EMERGENCY KITTY/FUND

Assuming you have no funds to fall back on then the first step is to create a ‘kitty’ or ‘emergency fund’. This is important for many reasons and will take immediate pressure off. It will allow you to work a month in advance, so you earn this month for next months living. It will also allow flexibility in cash flow as you are finding ways to bring in money which will not necessarily be consistent. I cannot stress how important this is.

The kitty should be at least your monthly target amount, in Eric’s case £1000.

Creating this kitty can be done in lots of ways, you may already have some to start it off but the bottom line is you will need to find that amount. Why not try selling something you no longer need or book in private online lessons etc - brainstorm ideas but whatever you do, get it in place as a priority.

EXAMPLE FUNDING IDEA: We will discuss more ideas for creating a kitty but for now let’s look at this one; YOUR CLASSES ARE COMING BACK! SO LET’S PLAN YOUR RE-LAUNCH PARTY! Without doubt for YOU and YOUR people the first social/event back to dancing is going to be one hell of a party. The idea is to plan this event now, you cannot yet set the date or tie down the venue, but you can sell and promote it. In most cases I would suggest splitting over 2 events to allow for those that can’t make a specific date etc. and to cover all your dancers as some of you have 100s per week. However, the main thing is, organise your re-launch party. Sell advance tickets for this very special event. Let’s look at Eric, he has told all his students the idea and like typical line dancers they are thrilled to help out, his promotion simply says, ‘2020 re-launch party, date to be confirmed’, with 90 students plus a few of their partners he manages to sell in advance 100 tickets for this special event at a cost of £10 each. It is a special event! He now has £1,000 as a kitty to re-build his business on and one hell of party to look forward to where he will be able to hug everyone as they arrive :)

**Personal Note: I know how you might feel about this but so many dancers want to help their instructors in this current situation, allow them to show you their support by being open to receiving it, you will without doubt repay their support tenfold.

WE WILL BRAINSTORM THIS STEP ON THE LINE DANCE SUPPORT FACEBOOK GROUP for those that might need the help. Please let us know if you do, if it helps read the personal note above again.**

STEP THREE: REACHING YOUR MONTHLY TARGET

This is the tough bit, having a kitty at this point takes pressure off and allows you to focus on STEP 3, but STEP 2 is the priority if you do not yet have enough funds to keep yourself a month ahead.

The plan is simple, find every way you can to add money to your kitty, it will change all the time, but the plan is to keep it above the minimum target amount (in Eric’s case £1000). You will then always have peace of mind for a month at least.

There are a million ways to bring money in, and probably more than that. It’s those that are possible for you that we need to find. Get a pen & paper (or an Excel document!), and write two lists using the titles below:

1. My Line Dance Business – List of ideas to generate income from your existing business and ideas to help stay connected with your people, make sure you mark the ones that generate money, there has to be a balance. i.e online classes*, private video lessons*, facebook live updates, group messaging, raffles*

2. Other income possibilities – List of ideas to generate income from other sources, mark the ones that can be done from home as these you will most likely work on first, think of everything from government help to things you can do over the internet, i.e. taking surveys for cash, writing blogs etc. list everything, grass cutting even! Think about what you are good at doing. What are your skill sets? Write everything down no matter how small.

Pen, paper, brainstorm, add to list, brainstorm, add to list, brainstorm, add to list, brainstorm, add to list, brainstorm, add to list…. you see where I am going with this, right? Come back to the list, take a break, keep going back and adding to it, talk to friends, ask them what you are good at, write it down.

Choose the items from both lists that are the most achievable now, building the kitty takes priority at this moment so work out from the income ideas how much each is likely to earn you. If it’s a rough guess keep it on the lower ‘safe’ side. Choose the biggest earners to start, research the best way of putting in place and just do it. The ONLY way is to just get on with it.

TIP: Do not rush into your first ideas! Think it through, test the water where possible and get feedback from your people. Your time is valuable.

TIP: Re-appraise your plan and stay on top of your financial position at least once a week. See what works and what doesn’t work, just keep chipping away but most importantly, do not give up!

This step we will look at in more detail using the Facebook group (LINE DANCE SUPPORT GROUP), this is where a community can help, many heads are better than one.

FINALLY

CONNECT WITH YOUR PEOPLE: The connection you have with your customers/dancers is what you have now, you must keep that connection strong, support them and they will support you back. Online classes is one way to do this, a private Facebook group or similar is another way, also maybe doing a live video stream once a week to update them all with the latest news and updates, this will be useful for you too. The most important thing is taking care of what you have, these are your people and it is from them that you will gain strength, just stay focused on that fact, period.

You CAN do this, just stay calm, focused, allow yourself to get excited about the future, embrace the change that is happening now and I assure you, from my personal experience, change will embrace you back.

"This is not an end, it is a beginning to something bigger"

Article written by Billy Curtis (C) March 2020.


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