Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Olivia Robertson, Owner of SODANCE Vernon, located in Vernon, BC, Canada.

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

Our business is a dance studio geared towards instructing dancers of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds in a variety of styles of concert dance.

Tell us about yourself

I started dancing before I could walk, as dance has been in my family for generations. I grew up dancing and training in a variety of genres, including ballet, tap, jazz, theatre, contemporary, modern, lyrical, and hip hop.

Once I graduated from high school, I knew that I wanted to stay involved with dance and focused on building my credits as a choreographer, director, and producer because as much as I always enjoyed performing, I absolutely loved the behind-the-scenes aspect of putting on a show. I knew that I was an accomplished performer but wasn't fulfilled until I was working in the actual creative direction of putting on a show.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment as a business owner has been creating a business that has strong enough systems in place that it provided me with the flexibility to continue my education while also owning and operating the business.

I completed six years of graduate school while running my business full time, and now also have a Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology which I get to use every day as I work with other business owners in this field to improve their businesses and create a healthier work-life balance for themselves as entrepreneurs.

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

Learning how to take a break and recharge my batteries has been the hardest thing for me as a business owner. It is extremely easy to get into the trap of working 12 hours per day, seven days per week while thinking about your business the other 12 hours of every day.

You need to feel okay to step away, recharge and know that this will actually be more beneficial to your business and your personal life than working all the time.

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

My first tip to new business owners would be to really research your market to make sure that there is a need for what business you're looking to start up! There are huge saturations in some areas, and from what I've seen, this can be a major reason why businesses fail.

My second tip would be to understand what staffing needs your business will need to grow and scale. With the current market trends, it can be hard to find skilled workers in certain areas. If your business is going to be dependent on having many of these skilled workers in order to scale, you might need to rethink your business plan.

My third tip would be to have a solid business plan with some serious metrics. After starting a business, you'll likely have some initial inertia, and then your business will likely level off (whether it be a certain number of clients, a certain revenue, or some other metric). You need to have a plan in place to determine how you're going to grow past that plateau or, if you're happy with that level of revenue, how you're going to sustain it. Not having a solid 1, 3, and 5-year business plan that you're consistently evaluating is a surefire way to waste years of your life treading water on paper while you feel like you're drowning.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Being a business owner is both an extremely rewarding and taxing experience. You need to have incredible self-discipline to get up each day and make your plan of action and to constantly be looking forward to the next 3, 6, and 12 months at all times. It's not easy work, but it can be extremely rewarding if you have the structure and discipline to follow through on what you set out to accomplish.

I've been able to create a life that has the flexibility that I need to immerse myself in new projects that I wouldn't have the opportunity to do if I was working a typical 9-5 job. While most people will probably think you're crazy for not pursuing a structured day job with more stability, it's really nice to have the ability to be in control of your own destiny too!

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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