Last summer i found that i wasn’t enjoying the biggest aspect of my work anymore and wondered how administration had become so important when i used to be a professional dancer. Running a small self employed business to enable me to work with dance. I still am a professional dancer in title and can find the funny side now when people ask what you do during the day, as if the classes magically organize themselves. The realization was prompted by these questions and so tightly packing my schedule that i didn’t have enough time to eat until late at night, let alone do all the calls that were expected of me. It left me wondering about the moment the meaning of my job changed and whether its a sign of the times that it takes more for a small business to run than in the good old days.
Constant touring during my early years as a dancer also made the administration side a lot simpler to handle. If I covered arranging tour dates, my own promotion, the accounts and dance training there was a sense of fulfillment and my working day while full was done. Adding projects, collaborations and starting a tango school in Utrecht meant that suddenly there was a lot more to do and not enough money in the business to pay for more staff. Its a difficult time for any small business, do you take the gamble and pay someone now knowing that if they are good at what they do they will boost business income within a short time frame. Or do you keep going as you are due to inability to imagine or trust a setup with more than one person. Now my work includes the following list and realistically its far more than one person can do well by themselves.
- Answering at least 30 emails a day to keep on top on the inbox.
- Book keeping and accounts
- Creation of projects and concepts
- Practical teaching, performing, DJing etc
- The preparation in training, music preparation and choreography not to mention the ongoing work put into creating clear lessons with an emphasis on thought out didactic clarity making way for a transparent and accessible learning process. Argentine tango is not a difficult dance to learn, it just takes practice.
- Maintaining and developing the STUDIO Cielito. More than a dance space its been created to give affordable space for dancers, movers and theatres makers. More again in the idea of mutual promotion of many different types of organisation that fall under the cultural banner, through space sharing and collaboration.
- Maintaining a high level of promotion through up to date websites, use of social media, flyers and design to name a few.
Is it time to gamble?
I went with making the running of my business more efficient and clarifying the processes that would enable someone else to take over the things i am less good at or prefer not to do given the chance. So maybe a gamble is in the future but there is also a possibility to close the gamble gap through efficient procedures and planning, further education in weak areas like growing in the awareness and people skills needed to make a more informed choice about possible people to bring in as staff later.
With this realization and decision, i began a process of working behind the scenes to simplify and clarify the way my business was running and how i wanted it to move forward into the future. Many small business’s will recognize that often when starting small its good to have a clear business plan, branding and promotion plans. But while these are important, they get lost in the process of building and getting out there with your product or service. Its only later when a business is either failing or so successful that the administration work load is excessive due to inefficiency and often outweighing the income to support it. I am just in this process now, my business is successful but the amount of work behind the scenes is crazy and doesn’t translate into as many clients as it should. Getting rid of the haphazard way of doing things while implementing procedures and planning that can enable me
to work more efficiently each day. Also making the processes clearer for handing over to someone else. Due to lack of time i have also had to reduce the amount i am doing in the coming months to give time to this back end process. For any small business not at one of the extremes and presently overworked (not sure this exists, smile), i would strongly suggest to do the business planning while you are small and more simple to manage. Continually update your plan with new projects and services, letting it grow as you grow. You define yourself through it giving you more clarity in bringing possible clients to your business.
At risk of sounding self absorbed, the last thing is probably the most important thing and that is to work on is myself. The more i know myself, my skills, my weaknesses and my special gift. The better i can determine who to bring into my team, searching for someone who have a special gift that strengthens mine, filling in for my weakness’s and more importantly adding their own strengths. This could be one person or multiple people creating more of a team feeling. While the present is clarifying, the future is open for the imagination and opportunities that may present themselves.