Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in dance education but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Shivani Badgi, Founder of The Gurukul Performing Arts, located in Plainsboro, NJ, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
The Gurukul Performing Arts is a South Asian dance school specializing in Indian Classical, Bollywood, and Indian Folk styles. We practice Kathak, a traditional North Indian art form characterized by strong footwork, fluid movements, and storytelling. Our students range from 4 years old all the way to 60 years old, and we believe that students can start learning dance at any age.
Tell us about yourself
My mom put me in dance classes when I was a 5 year old, and it was something I immediately knew would be at the center of my life. She is a Kathak dancer herself and thought it might be something I would find joy in. I danced through high school and joined a college dance team as well. I was still unsure about what place dance would have in my life. Being from an immigrant family, I was taught to prioritize my financial stability since my family moved all the way across the world for that very reason. I explained to my parents that I still wanted to do art as my career and would find a way to make my path. I was fortunate enough that my parents and family were extremely supportive throughout the process. For me, one of the most special parts of being a dancer was sharing that art. I love working with children and people, so becoming a teacher was the natural next step for me.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
To an outsider, my biggest accomplishment would probably be growing my student base, performing at Carnegie Hall, or expanding to new locations. But for me, the beauty of the dance school is in the community we have built. The students are able to come into a space every week where they feel safe and comfortable. Because of the shared love for our art, I am able to support them as an older sister, a friend, and someone they can come to no matter what. The friendships and bonds each student builds with their fellow students and me are something that will be with them forever.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Balancing my roles as an artist, teacher, and business owner has been a learning process. Sometimes I want to do one thing, but the business owner in me knows that might not be the most “profitable” or the financial smart way of doing things. I continue to remind myself that staying true to my vision as a teacher and artist will be the best thing for my students at the end of the day.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Stay focused on your vision. Educate people on why you’re doing things a certain way and let them see where you’re coming from.
- You can’t do everything yourself. Allow yourself to take advice and help from people, but do what you think makes sense for your business.
- Keep learning! The more we grow and learn, the more that pours into our business.
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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