3 Business Lessons I learned In The Dance Studio

Bonnie Parsons Dancentrepreneur Blog

Read the unique business lessons SOS Founder Bonnie learned in the dance studio, and carried through to her entrepreneurial journey..

1. EMBRACE YOUR MISTAKES - THEY CAN BE A CATALYST FOR PROGRESS

Whether you're an absolute beginner or a seasoned pro, it’s inevitable that when you learn a dance new routine, you’ll make mistakes along the way. Everyone messes up – that’s a given – and it’s what makes us human. And the best part about making mistakes is that you learn from them, you grow, and you get better.

So I remind my students that when they step onto the dancefloor, you're going to make mistakes, but that's OK. Enjoy the process and have fun with it. It's not all about the end goal, although it is incredibly satisfying when you get there. And you will get there. While I can often be found loudly encouraging my students to make mistakes, I haven’t always put my own advice into practice...

When I founded Seen on Screen in 2011, I became a student again. I didn’t have an MBA or a business background, so the school of life was my only teacher, and I can be really hard on myself for any setbacks or mistakes made, which was a stark contrast to my mentality in a dance studio.  As a professional dancer, I’m trained to correct mistakes quickly under pressure, not to panic and to get back on track pretty much immediately. It’s a vital skill to have because how you deal with a mistake can make the difference between losing a job or keeping it. 

It wasn’t until I found myself telling a room full of Seen on Screen students not to freak out if they go wrong that I realised mistakes are a just part of the process to getting things right. And for them, a dance routine is probably just as daunting as some aspects of running a business was to me. As a teacher, not only am I encouraging my students to make mistakes, I'm turning mistakes into something positive so they can be used as a catalyst for progress.

Next time you make a mistake (in the studio, or in life!), embrace it as a gift to make you better. If you got something wrong, it was clearly a lesson you needed to learn so be thankful for it... don't panic, allow yourself some space to assess what happened, get back in the game and give yourself the time to practice until you get it right.

2. SHOW YOUR WORK

 When I was 19, I travelled to the States to pursue a career as a professional commercial dancer. I was lucky enough to train with some of the most influential, experienced and talented teachers in the world; first in New York, and later LA, where I attended a class by Kevin Maher, a renowned choreographed for the likes of Britney Spears, Justin Beiber, Mariah Carey and Jason Derulo. When teaching new routines, Kevin would often say ‘show your work.’

What he meant was, don’t be lazy or cut corners with your movement. Execute cleanly and completely to the best of your ability. Show off all your years of hard work and training by nailing every move, and make the routine look as fantastic as it was choreographed to be.

Fast forward 10 years, and I still hear Kevin’s words whenever I’m in the studio. They have even greater resonance now that I’m an entrepreneur, where the ‘work’ I’m showing is the business I’m building. And the realisation that our ‘work’ can be  viewed as a work of art, a masterpiece that you create on a daily basis, is a whole lot more inspiring than viewing our job as a means to pay the bills.

There’s something really inspiring about becoming a master of your craft, and being the best you can be no matter what your job role is. My background as a dancer taught me to aspire to be the best. Even if it felt like I was a million miles away from it in reality, I wasn’t afraid to go for it, and to remember to ‘show my work’ in everything I do.

 3. OWN YOUR USP

 Picture the scene: you’re standing in a dance studio surrounded by 200 girls all auditioning for the same job, but there’s only 10 places available.

How do you stand out from the crowd and make sure you’re the one of the lucky few who books the job? Now switch that dance studio with the boardroom. You’re pitching your business to a panel of investors. How do you communicate what makes your business special, and more importantly, convince them that it’ll connect with the customer in the real world?

As a dancer, you learn quickly that you’re not going to be right for every job, just as in business, you’re not right for every customer (or investor). The trick is to identify your niche, own it and scale it. What exactly is it you can offer that no one else can? What makes you different?

Most importantly, where do you believe you can truly excel, and be the best at what you do? Forget other people’s opinions and visualise your own success. After all, no one else has access to your life experiences or has seen the world through your unique perspective. If you’re true to who you are, and follow the path which is right for you - you’ll always come out on top.

 As we say at Seen On Screen: see it, dance it, own it!