Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Robin Campbell, Founder of Dance Dojo, located in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Salsa and Bachata have become the most popular partner dances in the world, introducing people to the warmth of Latin culture and giving them a new way to kick some stress, have fun and meet new friends.
Dance Dojo helps new salsa and bachata dancers become awesome social dancers through super structured step-by-step online courses. The average person who wants to learn to dance and have fun meeting new people that's our customer. You might be surprised to know that 80% of our students are guys. Our biggest market is the USA, and we have students in 113 countries.
Tell us about yourself
I grew up breaking (breakdancing) in Victoria, Canada, and we always used to get down to Latin funk. I always loved that Latin flavor in the music, so I told myself I'd learn to dance salsa one day. Soon after I graduated from business school, that day came. I also became obsessed with the idea of creating a business I could manage from my laptop so I could travel the world. They called it a "lifestyle business" back then. After being laid off from two tech startups back to back (Summify and Tapstream), I figured that was the universe kicking me in the ass to finally start my own project. It was time. I wanted to combine my two worlds into one - dance and the internet.
I was trying to figure out the business model. I read "The $100 Startup" by Chris Guillebeau, which featured Nev Lapwood from Snowboard Addiction, a dude who was doing exactly what I wanted to do but with snowboarding. I called up Nev and asked him what he'd do if he was starting from zero. That solidified the model for me - online courses. It seems obvious now, but online courses weren't really a thing back then. So I called a meeting with my salsa instructors in the Hastings St. Starbucks in downtown Vancouver and pitched them the idea. They agreed, and the rest was history and hard work.
What motivates me? I like what Mark Manson wrote in "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck:" you have to choose your problems. For me, that's easy. I'd rather struggle to figure out what to do and how to do it than be in corporate shackles with two weeks of holidays, someone telling me what to do, and stupid meetings. So I guess it comes down to freedom. Doing something you actually care about and creating something from nothing that allows you to live the life you want feels fucking cool.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I'd say it's just proving to myself that it can be done, that I can do it, that anyone can do it. All it takes is a decision, persistent effort, and adjustment. The comfort zone expansion that comes with building a business is huge. I also decided to start on Youtube, and that's been an amazing experience, with 50k subs and growing. It's really rewarding to put something out there with the intention of helping and see it actually help people.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The mental side. It's all about beliefs. If you think you can, you probably will. If you doubt yourself and don't think it's possible, you'll never achieve it. It's a constant battle to level up your mind, manage your habits and build a machine that gets the result you want. Nobody's telling you what to do. You have to get your ass out of bed, make the to-do list and then take action and do the list without anyone cheering for you. Developing the discipline; that's the hardest part.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- You're never ready; just start. The opportunity cost of not starting now is huge. You learn so much and grow so much in the process.
- You don't need to be smart; just start. All you need to do is learn what to do and do it. I wasted so much time following others, thinking I needed to somehow attain their level of intelligence before starting. Then finally, I realized none of them were necessarily smarter than me; they just started and learned as they went.
- Surround yourself with people who want to build businesses, create and win at life. Their energy, habits, and mindset are contagious and will help you develop yours. You become your environment. If you can't meet someone physically, follow them online, read their books, and watch their videos. No excuses.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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