Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Princess Johnson, Founder of Royal Expressions Contemporary Ballet, located in Greensboro, NC, USA.
What's your organization, and who are your members?
Royal Expressions Contemporary Ballet is a nonprofit 501(c)3 dance company that provides dance productions, training, and outreach programs for the Greater Greensboro, NC community.
Tell us about yourself
I've danced my entire life. As a preacher's kid, I was over the dance ministry and was tasked with choreographing dances as early as eight years old! In high school, I was in a dance company, and the thought of continuing life without dance was hard to imagine. I majored in dance and business in college with very little studio training, but I never quit. After graduation, I learned about nonprofit dance companies and came back to Greensboro to start Royal Expressions.
As someone who benefited from outreach dance programs, it was important for me to give back to my community and make dance accessible and affordable. Every day I do my best to bridge the gap in access to dance for Black and Brown children by raising money for scholarships and creating partnerships in the community to offer dance programs. I also love being able to be creative every day, especially on days when I'm creating dance lessons and choreography.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
In the past, I would probably say bringing world-renown ballerina Misty Copeland to Greensboro, but now I think my biggest accomplishment would be building a team of people who are just as passionate and care about the business as much as I do. We are close-knit, love to have a good time, and are like family. It doesn't get any better than this!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
It can feel lonely being the leader of a team. You have to feel the stress and tension of the downs as they come. You often have to protect your team from carrying that burden so they can stay focused on the mission.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Don't rush! I often say I'd have been better off if I waited to start after I raised at least $100,000. Take your time planning and setting up things for a strong, successful launch. Don't be afraid of loans. Getting a loan was always scary for me, but loans can exponentially speed up your growth. Yes, they are a huge risk, so do your research and find the right loan for you. There are some very low-interest rate to no interest rate loans for small businesses out there.
Be prepared for highs and lows. Embrace the highs, relish them, and celebrate them, but always prepare yourself for the tough times. Stow money away to help you bridge financial gaps and be aware of trends so you can prepare for them. Know how to read your financials: Income Statement, Balance Sheet, and Cash Flows and understand what they mean. Never stop learning, and don't ever be afraid to ask for help or invest in help.
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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