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Let's talk about the dirty word or money in the small business world....

Miss Ava summarise DanSci's financial and sales performance over the last few years. How does she see the business developing in the future?

To create DanSci Dance Studio I had to convince the bank to cough up a pretty hefty, un-secured loan. The business is based on our amazing facilities which are obviously costly and I didn’t have the knowledge to know if any grants or funds were available. However, I felt passionate that Exeter should provide a professional dance space as we have such talent in the area and it would mean that that our local area could offer the same provisions as other towns such as Bristol and Plymouth.

It was a long shot going to the bank but at the time I had a fantastic relations manager who not only recognised that I noticed this gap in the market but put in the research to introduced me to the government’s Funding for Lending Scheme. This was the first piece of good news as it gave me a positive sign that the business ideal I had always dreamed of was in fact plausible! The scheme allowed a one per cent discount on the life of the original loan of £25,000 from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking meaning we could invest this amount back into the dance studio.

The initial loan secured the 10 year lease of the property and a large part of the build out. As these things often go with an old property which has been disused for a long period there were several un-foreseen problems which quickly ate in to any contingency money. The loan was increased by a further £10,000 to enable us to finally open the doors to trade at the end of 2013.

It is incredibly scary starting a new business with such a hefty loan hanging over you. It means there is never a moment to relax as it is essential to meet re-payments in order to simply keep trading. On the positive side of this, it has given me the push and urgency to keep focussed on continued growth. At no point could I just sit back and ‘hope’ the business would grow.

I am personally more interested in the creative side of the business and really have to force myself to sit down and understand the figures. We opened in 2013, our gross profit for 2014 was a little over £7,000 which is fantastic for a small business in its first year however, in real terms the Net Profit was minus over £25,000. I am not letting this discourage me. The figures are not the numeric value of my business worth, they are just numbers. My limited mathematical skills remind me that numbers can grow as long as you understand where the business is growing from!

To own a dance studio is a dream come true. I have been dancing since I was four and to see children and adults finally having somewhere in Exeter to practice their passion in professional facilities is very rewarding. I just need to insure I am continually learning and investigating the ways the business can increase. Already, this year we are putting on more and more classes, and welcome new faces through the door every day.

Since opening we have refocused the timetable offering the classes and dance styles are customers are requesting. We have delved head on into the world of social media, creating a whole community of local people with the same passions and values. It has been imperative to monitor the areas that are or are not working and act quickly. It is very exciting to see the new DanSci dance team winning gold medals and give opportunities to people to perform who may not otherwise have the opportunity. For all this to happen I need to make sure I have one eye ball on the finances at all times. I try to remind myself that I am now accountable for the dreams of others and not just myself.

There have been many dark days where I have wanted to just throw it all in, get paid for the hours I work but 18 months down the line DanSci Dance Studio is still here. I have more staff for support and ideas, I have been lucky to appear on National TV and Radio telling our story and enthusing others with the confidence, that if you have an idea and the passion you can make it work.

Networking and collaborating with other local businesses has been mutually beneficial and I have also found some amazing new avenues to generate growth for the business which were not considered in the original plan. I am so excited that the ball is already rolling on the development of products and dance packages on offer, work has started on a line of merchandise and DanSci is creating more work for the fabulous instructors who have supported the business. Now that DanSci Dance Studio exists the opportunities of how the space can be unitised is endless


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