Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Tehila Nierenberg, Owner of DanceWorks by T, located in Chicago, IL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am a dance teacher (with 20 years of professional dance training all over the world) who ran a dance studio in Chicago for a community on the north side. However, I have moved to Israel and aim to continue teaching dance among the communities there.
Tell us about yourself
I first started working as a dance teacher assistant when I was in 5th grade at a studio called Performing Arts Limited in Chicago. Shortly after that, mothers from around my neighborhood continued to ask me to give their daughters dance classes. After a few casual classes, I started giving official classes in 8th grade to girls younger than myself. Throughout high school, I built up DanceWorks by T, converted my space into a real dance studio, produced recitals, etc. I took two gap years after senior year to focus on college, where I obtained a degree in business with a specialty in marketing. The knowledge I gained from these degrees really helped my business management later on. I reopened the dance studio in the height of COVID (oh joy!) The dance studio grew by leaps and bounds, so I hired substitutes, other teachers, a website developer, a secretary, and an accountant as well. Everything I worked hard to create was always for the students I taught. The way I see them grow, how their confidence and perseverance soared, is why I do what I do. Young girls may slink into ballet as quiet and almost timid children and leave as graceful, poised, and strong girls who can take on the world. Their smiles when they achieve something they doubted they could achieve and the laughter among their other "dance friends" from other backgrounds, schools, neighborhoods, etc., push me to keep teaching. DanceWorks by T unites communities of strong youth through dance.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment would have to be the sheer number of accomplishments of my students. Their wins are my wins. When they push their limits and accomplish, I feel the same accomplishment with them!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest thing that comes with being a business owner would have to be difficult customers. People who make issues or are just plain disrespectful are never easy to work with.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- You have to believe in your product/service. If you don't, it will be very hard to sell, and your market will have trouble buying into you.
- Do market research into your competition to see what they're doing and stay updated on the market. Never copy competition because nobody likes a copy better than an original. But it can't hurt to try to learn from them.
- You need perseverance. People will likely comment on the odds of your not succeeding, events (COVID, etc.) may come up that throw your business for a loop, or the competition might just be tough. Whatever the case, if you think you can, you can, and if you think you can't, you can't.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
A person's business takes on their personality. That being the case, if you want to have happy, returning customers, you need to exude that positive energy to them. You can't just fake being happy and paste on a smile. You must actually be happy! Your business should make you happy anyways; if it's not, it might be time to reevaluate what's going on with your business and how to adjust things so that you will be happy. At the end of the day, attitude is everything.
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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