[Not what you think.]
Any good gardener will tell you that the key to a thriving plant is pruning shrubs regularly to helps promote healthier shrubs that produce more blooms.
"Cut it back so as to strengthen it and let it grow bigger and better."
I see this as perfect metaphor for simplifying our dance studios back to the core of our business and restacking those theoretical building blocks one by one - at least on paper - so that we can maximise efficiency, profit and purpose.
When I opened my dance studio at age 15, I offered Jazz classes in the local school hall for $5 per class. I had three age groups. Students paid cash at the door. My hall hire costs were $66, and I made $224 my first night.
Then I added different dance styles, sold t-shirts with the studio name on them, brought in a eski and started selling drinks, offered more age groups, added more days, started a performance team, wanted bigger and better concerts, needed fancier costumes, advertised more to fill more classes, hired other teachers, entered eisteddfods, offered private lessons, started doing exams, got our first premises.... I won't go on. You're all too familiar with that rabbit warren, having fallen down it yourself.
Simplicity isn't everything. For us to operate a highly successful dance school providing comprehensive performing arts education, it's never really going to be simple. But simplicity is a powerful compass point to guide us closer to our real goals - and help us not fall victim to a problem-solving-paradox (where we have to do things to solve problems that were caused by the "solutions" to previous problems).
Awareness of WHY we do every single little thing inside our business. "...but why?" should be our mantra, tattooed for eternity on our hand to remind us.
Perhaps Covid-19 has already forced a bit of bush-trimming on us. Cutting the fat. Eliminating the unnecessary. Decluttering the business model.
Some questions to think about in your journaling...
How can you revolutionise and disrupt not just your dance studio, but the dance education industry?
What wastes most of your time?
Which classes / services / products don't make any profit for your business?
What are your greatest skills as the director of your company? (And are they being well-utilised in your current role?)
What do you enjoy doing the most?
Honestly what (or who) is holding the business back?
Which elements of your business are you most proud of, and would happily show them off to someone you admire - and which are you currently a bit embarrassed about?
If you just ran recreational classes, what would that look like in terms of success, money, lifestyle?
If you just ran an elite training program, what would that look like in terms of success, money, lifestyle?
If you only offered pre-school dance, what would that look like in terms of success, money, lifestyle?
If you fired all staff and did everything yourself, how much could you do, and how much money could you make?
If you had to just hire one person... who would it be, and what would they do?
If you had to just hire two people... who would they be, and what would they do?
What are 5 of the worst parts of your job? Can you eliminate any of them?
Think of one change to your "ways" that could potentially bring in more new students, or increase retention?
What EXACTLY do your customers come to you for? Why EXACTLY do they stay?
If you no longer did [fill in this blank with anything at all], would 95% of your customers probably stay with you anyway?