Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in dance education but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Christopher Zacharias, Co-Founder of Icon Dance Company Inc., located in Calgary, AB, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
ICON Dance Company is a dance studio in southeast Calgary that provides dance lessons and dance education to all ages of participants. We primarily service dancers in the south of Calgary, but we offer our service to anyone in the city.
Tell us about yourself
We are Jen and Chris Zacharias; as siblings, we grew up dancing, and in 2018 we made the decision to open a studio of our own. In 2019 we completed construction and opened our doors to the community of Legacy and the City of Calgary. We always loved teaching but felt we needed a place of our own to really make our mark on the dance community. We have days where it can be tiring, but we have always felt motivated by our students and dance families. They are a constant source of energy, inspiration, and acceptance. The satisfaction of seeing the accomplishments of students and faculty pushes us to continually strive to be the best we can be.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Our biggest accomplishment is opening the business itself. It was a dream many years in the making, and we didn't think we would ever see it come to fruition. It was a perfect storm of good fortune when we found our location, and the pieces fell into place. We also feel we are very proud of surviving the Covid-19 pandemic and the shutdown of businesses that occurred during lockdowns. We were very concerned about our continued success as we saw students dropping classes and deciding to remain home without continuing their dance lessons. Since the lift of restrictions, we have seen a large increase in registration and participation. Having come through one of the toughest times to own a business, we feel extremely lucky to be still operating as a studio now.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
We think every studio owner would tell you the best part of the job is teaching, choreographing, and working with the students. We don't think we would be alone in saying the hardest part of every business is the paperwork and the uncertainty of what your future business will be. There are mountains of paperwork, banking, and tracking payments. At ICON, we have been fortunate enough to have an incredible support team who has helped guide us and teach us the best way to achieve success.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be sure you have support from multiple sources, be it family, friends, partners, or colleagues. The first few years can be eye-opening and difficult, so the more you surround yourself with people who are able to help you, even in small ways, the better off you will be.
- Keep track of the money you spend, the money you use, and the money coming into your business. The more organized and coherent you are about your financial situation, the more you will be aware of what you are able to do. Be realistic with your financial goals. Nobody runs a successful business instantly; it takes hard work, dedication, and a lot of sacrifices.
- Don't forget to have fun! Stress will overtake you a lot of the time, but if you are starting your business doing something you love, it's important to come back to that whenever you are feeling overwhelmed. Don't be afraid to take a moment to yourself to ground yourself back to reality when you feel yourself taking on too much.
- Don't start a business right before a global pandemic. It will multiply all problems 10-fold and make the fun part of business much harder, though once you survive that, it seems you should survive anything!
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
We wish the best of luck to anyone trying to attain their dream. Business ownership is not an easy endeavour; it takes an enormous amount of time, energy, and a little bit of your sanity. At the end of the day, if you put in the work, you will see the reward, even if small at first.
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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