Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Liana MacFarlane, Owner of Sherwood Dance Academy, located in Sherwood, OR, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

We are a dance studio in Sherwood, Oregon, giving dancers a safe, nurturing place to dance, learn, laugh, make friends, and thrive. We offer classes in Acro, Ballet, Jazz, Hip Hop, and Tap to dancers ages 2 to infinity. We believe that the connections between staff, dancers, and parents make us a family. These connections, as well as the safety and positive influence we provide, make the studio a home away from home. We support one another by encouraging each individual's strengths, and we celebrate our accomplishments with joy and pride. As a non-competitive studio, we focus on the art of dance, not the sport of it.

Tell us about yourself

I first joined Sherwood Dance Academy in 2005 as an instructor. I worked through the ranks until my husband, and I eventually purchased the business in 2014. Something changed in me and my relationship with the studio when I became the owner. That's when I started forming a mission and values for the studio. Our mission at SDA is to empower students and the community through dance. I am motivated each day by taking our dance classes beyond the dance steps. Dance is simply the vehicle by which we empower our students. The goal of our studio is not just to produce dancers... it is to help shape beautiful humans.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I feel no bigger accomplishment when I see the studio's mission coming to life. In the ultimate embodiment of our mission, our dancers are learning to lead with compassion and kindness. They think of others and also care for themselves with confidence. When dancer dreams, they know they can make their dreams a reality. And they have a whole dance family cheering them on in their journey to achieve that dream. Through years of being in a space that focuses on building and supporting the community, the dancer takes joy in helping others. They love being a part of something bigger than themselves - a beautiful, caring dance community. The kindness and support given to them will be reciprocated and passed on to others.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Once I had a child (who is now 5), I found it difficult to balance family and business. If I focused on my son, then I felt like I was failing the business. If I focused on the business, then I felt like I was failing as a mother. It's been an ongoing process trying to find that balance and knowing I'm doing the best that I can.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Start with writing down your core values. Have every decision you make in your business filter through your values first.
  2. Never stop learning and growing. As soon as you or your business become stagnant, the world will continue without you.
  3. You have to take care of yourself. It's easy to get consumed by taking care of your business and family. But if you don't spend time taking care of yourself, you'll become a shell, and then you're no good to your business or your family.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

My favorite quote is, "Your greatness is not what you have, but what you give." - Alice Hocker.

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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