Turning your childhood passion into a successful small business

What may have been considered initially as a passing hobby or short-term indulgence as a child, converting a childhood passion into a successful small business in adulthood is quite an undertaking.

As co-founder of a dance studio in Melbourne, HD Entertainment, it was my love (and obsession) with dance from an early age that became the solid foundations in creating a viable and thriving small business in my adulthood.

As a determined and creative eight-year-old, having wonderful mentors and teachers set the scene for what was to become a successful career as a dance and then a small business owner. Watching and learning from teachers who authentically loved what they do in a business they own, had a profound effect and influence on me.

Whilst I dabbled in a string of jobs around dance, it wasn’t until I met my now business partner, Hooman, that we joined forces to create a sound small business that had depth and longevity. In small business, we often find ourselves on our own, deep diving into a world of challenges and decision making. However, to have a business partner, who is like-minded in work ethics, drive and creativity, creates a wonderful foundation for success. And for me, I was lucky enough that Hooman also became my husband!

While it may seem quite glamorous to convert a childhood passion into a full-scale business, it is important to take stock of the practical machinations of small-business success.

You must support and educate yourself with complete knowledge of the industry that you are looking into and that includes focus on the quality of service you are providing. You need to work out how can you make it stand out and as unique compared to similar products and services currently in the market. 

And do your research around the target market for your particular product or service so you completely understand your potential clientele and then have systems in place to help streamline tasks. I knew that there was a significant market for people over 50 who wanted to learn how to dance, so could I explore and satisfy that obvious gap in the market?

And it is also important to continue to learn and grow as the industry evolves. Be innovative and creative in the way you tend to your small business so your customers can be captivated by that spark and stay with you in the long term.  We have students who have been with us for many years and that is a testament to our commitment in reinventing their offering so they keep coming back for more!

As a small-business owner, I think it was important to firstly work for other businesses so you learn a lot of what NOT to do.  Understanding and learning from their errors can finetune your approach to small business so you don’t make those same mistakes.

In our small business, contractors form part of our staff but we consider them a valuable part of the team. But there will always be the challenges around availability and reliability if they are contractors and not permanent staff but our business model suits contractors. We are generally lucky and have had great dancers and dance teachers work with us, but there has been the odd occasion where certain things come up that you have to deal with, you may sort it out quickly and easily or cease working with them.

That’s definitely one of the harder decisions to make within business. But for a business to grow, you often can’t do it alone. 

It’s all about choosing the staff which are the right fit for your small business and that, in itself, is always a challenge. I think it’s a balance between their competency and their attitude – someone might seem like the perfect fit at the beginning, but as you move along you might find that the way they conduct themselves doesn’t suit your small business. 

As I look back on my eight-year-old self, dolled up in sequins and ribbons, I feel quite humbled that this child had the tenacity and perseverance to dig deep when opportunities arose or better still, created her own opportunities to be the successful businesswoman I am today. It may take time, but its all about finding the right balance of talent, grit, uniqueness and creating that team which builds you as person and as a successful small-business owner.