Creative entrepreneurs need more than passion to make it on business stage
Singers, dancers, musicians and actors often go into business because they are passionate teachers, not because they are good at business.
Many of these entrepreneurs have honed their personal skills to high levels but are often inexperienced in the business world and would far prefer to spend their time teaching than working on finances, marketing or system development.
Phinemm Nelson, 44, owner of Vocalise Academy, was in this situation in the early days of her business.
“Running the studio was exhausting, I felt like I was chasing my tail and working to pay for expenses,” said Ms Nelson, who came to teaching after a career as a cabaret singer.
Enter a new profession – business coaches with an exclusive focus on performing arts.
Chantelle Bruinsma, 34, is the founder and CEO of Studio Expansion, a company that is on a mission to redefine studio business and leadership. Based in Sydney and with clients across Australia and overseas, Ms Bruinsma knows the challenges that studio owners face from personal experience. Her performing arts studio, which she opened aged just 19, was nearly a complete failure. “We were undercharging, we had no strategy for marketing and everything was completely manual.”
Instead of giving up, Ms Bruinsma put herself through what she now fondly considers a “self-taught MBA” before relaunching her business and expanding student numbers to over 600 in just over six months.
She started sharing her learning with others and has since had over 1000 people complete her flagship studio expansion program. Ms Bruinsma knows that good teaching is crucial for studio directors but also not enough.
“For the majority of studio owners, it is a passion career,” she said, noting that up to 95 per cent of the studio owners she works with are female. “Systems and models to support them financially are secondary … until it gets hard.”
For Ms Nelson, who offers vocal, music and performing arts classes to people of all ages, the changes have been transformational: “I now design my time to fit around my family.”
“For the majority of studio owners, it is a passion career.”Chantelle Bruinsma, founder and CEO of Studio Expansion
“Instead of working up to sixty hours per week within the studio, I only teach for around four hours a week and spend fifteen to twenty hours working on the business.”
Ms Nelson has plans to open a third location in addition to her Sydney studio (Leumeah) and a second studio closer to her new home in the Southern Highlands. Operating multiple venues is not something she would have thought before learning from Studio Expansion and it’s next-level program: studio evolution.
“I would not have been able to contemplate not being present in the studio the whole time,” she said of her early days.
“By focussing on culture, value and self-development, I can now totally trust my teachers to be the face of the studio.”
Ms Nelson does not hesitate before summing up Ms Bruinsma’s influence on her career. “Her program has changed my life.”
Ms Bruinsma is a proud mentor when speaking of watching Ms Nelson’s development as a studio owner and business woman.
“Phi is now running her dream studio on her own terms. We did not give her a magic pill but the foundational systems to empower her team and enable her studio to thrive without her,” Ms Bruinsma said.
“Witnessing this new freedom in Phi’s life and the positive effect on her students makes my heart sing!”
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Source: Thanks smh.com