Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Raissa Simpson, Founder of PUSH Dance Company, located in San Francisco, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
PUSH Dance Company, better known as PUSH, is a non-profit arts organization whose values include providing socially and culturally relevant dance education and performances to students and audiences. Much of our organization's work develops project-to-project based touring, residencies, workshops, and performances through dance and digital technology.
Tell us about yourself
Being labeled an "artist" can be somewhat of a misnomer because I think people often think you struggle with money or you're constantly stuck in an imaginary world. However, from being a dance artist, I've learned a great deal about life and business skills, such as:
- Time management and how to respect other people's time.
- How to live within my means and on a budget.
- Self-correction and how to innovate an idea
Arts entrepreneurship is about being a dreamer and a pragmatist. One way I got started was by attending workshops on topics like grant writing and marketing. I would often ask the course provider if we could exchange emails/LinkedIn if I had follow-up questions. This practice of networking, or what I like to call canvassing, has really helped me to build my business skills.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Starting small and getting bigger is a true accomplishment in my mind. Every dance piece or program idea is a seed that you plant. You let your ideas grow over time and at your own pace. Failure can also be a very galvanizing experience because to learn; you have to make mistakes. Dance artists mess up steps all the time but capitalize on making mistakes by anticipating the next step before it happens. This approach of visualizing the future leads to finding solutions and more sustainable business practices.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Arts entrepreneurship is a growing industry which means there's really no set blueprint on how it should be done. You can't compare your journey as an artist to someone else's business. They might be a commercial artist with a booking agent while your business is steeped in community collaboration and social activism. I try to form certain measurables for myself in order to understand the impact my art is making on society.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Get out of your own way. Sometimes we can be our own worst critic.
- Say "yes" to everything, work out the details, and set your boundaries later.
- But with tip #2 comes valuing your art well by making sure you're compensated for your time.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Make bold choices inspired by the growth of your values and mission.
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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