Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lauren Morris, Founder of MOVE Inclusive Dance, located in Nashville, TN, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
MOVE Inclusive Dance is a dance studio specifically designed for people with disabilities of any kind. We have classes for individuals of all ages and ability levels.
Tell us about yourself
Most of my life’s fondest memories happened on a wood grain floor, dancing my heart out. My dance studio was my favorite place to be. It brought joy to my life that nothing else could. One day, when I was around the age of 13 and on my way home from dance class, I asked my mom why there weren’t any dance studios for people with disabilities. My mom replied, “I don’t know. Maybe you will open one someday.”
Seven years later, I was in my senior year at the University of Southern Mississippi, studying dance education. During my capstone course, I was required to create a presentation on anything related to dance. Upon remembering the conversation I had with my mother many years before, I decided to give mine on the benefits that dance has for people with Down syndrome.
After the presentation, one of my professors said to me, “You should start a program like that.” And I thought, “Maybe I will someday.” By 2018, I had built a career in the dance and fitness world. I felt proud of my accomplishments, but there was still something missing from my life. Again, the idea of creating an inclusive dance program resurfaced. But this time, I took action.
I began my research, looking for similar programs, but I found that options were limited. I contacted professionals and went on coffee dates with strangers, seeking to gain a deeper understanding of this community. In all my conversations, I found that people were willing and eager to help! They wanted to see my dream become a reality because they believed just as much as I did that, the world would benefit from this program.
Their encouragement gave me the confidence I needed to finally make this life-long dream a reality, and now, I can’t imagine my life without my students and the community we are building together.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Hearing success stories from our dancers! The end goal at MOVE is not to create wonderfully skilled dance technicians... although that's amazing if we do! The real goal is to help our students live life more fully.
Recreational dance has so much to offer that transcends out of the studio into their everyday lives. Through our program, they become better problem-solvers, critical thinkers, communicators, and so much more! That's what it is all about for us.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Founding and/or running a nonprofit organization is one of the most fulfilling jobs you could ever have, but that doesn't mean it's not a draining one, too. It's easy to forget why you started at times.
When those moments come, I put the work away, and I just sit back and watch a class or talk to the parents in our lobby. Seeing the smiles on their faces and hearing their stories always bring me back to the core of why I started in the first place!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Just jump. Now. You will never be fully ready, and you will always wonder "what if"...
- Network your butt off.
- Remember your why. Write it down if needed! You will need to come back to this when the going gets tough - see above ;)
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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