Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Danny Kalman, Founder and Director of Movers and Shakers Salsa and Bachata Dance Academy, located in Los Angeles, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We teach salsa and bachata dancing! Our students are extremely diverse and come from all walks of life.
Tell us about yourself
I did NOT start dancing as a kid and never intended to dance professionally. It just happened! In college, I was exploring classes when I took my first salsa dance class. After that, everywhere I lived in the world, from Oregon to Jerusalem to Tokyo, I was always looking for salsa dancing just because it was fun. Eventually, I moved to Los Angeles to train to compete, simply because I loved it.
Bachata became popular and entered the mix as well after I had been dancing for several years. After investing a huge number of hours and finances into my own training, it made sense to start teaching. Even though I kept working on other businesses, dancing was the one that consistently was working, and I couldn't ignore that. Eventually, I got out of my own way and allowed myself to pursue dancing full time.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
"Starving artist" is a real thing, and I never imagined that it was possible to make a strong financial living as a dancer. After many years of running the academy, with consistency, commitment, and endlessly giving love and care to the students, I'm extremely grateful to have built a very successful salsa and bachata dance academy.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I'm always on the clock at times when I'm understaffed. When the phone rings, answering it is often the difference between bringing on a new student or not. It's really important to grow enough to be able to hire A-players and delegate.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Explore, explore, explore. What's available in the world? What fits you as an individual and why? You probably won't find all the answers (it's a life-long process), but do your best to build a business that aligns with who you are. I believe this is crucial for success.
- Have a strategy that can scale. When the bottleneck for growth is you, the business can easily consume your entire life.
- Avoid pursuing "shiny objects" for quick profits. To be able to push through when things get tough (which they always do), you'll probably need stronger reasons than making a quick buck.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
People say that if you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life. It's not true. Business = responsibility. It is true, though, that if you love your work and are excited by it and it has a deeper meaning, you'll probably be much happier.
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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