Lindsey Dinneen is the owner of VidaDance Studio in Leawood, Kansas. With students ranging in age from 2 to 73, Dinneen’s company aims to bring the joy of dance into the lives of all members of her community. VidaDance offers ballet, jazz, tap, modern, hip-hop, and dance fitness classes. In business for three years, Dinneen shares how she’s used different funding approaches to help the business grow.
Why did you start your company?
When I was four years old, my mom had me watch a video of “The Nutcracker” ballet. I fell in love with it and decided I wanted to start dancing. I just never stopped!
I grew up in Virginia and was at a studio there that was really wonderful – Wonderful people and wonderful training. I went to Mercyhurst University and got my Bachelor of Arts degree in dance. During that time, I was also learning the business side of things with business and marketing classes. After I moved out to Kansas, I was teaching with a lot of different studios. I learned what I liked about how things were run and I also saw what things weren’t working as well.
It had been a dream of mine for years to open up a studio. I had a pretty unique opportunity to open up in a space that sat vacant for a long time. The landlord was willing to work with me to get me up and running in a low-risk way. That was three years ago and we’re going strong!
How did you fund the business at the start?
I got started with personal savings. That really helped with the initial startup costs and getting through the first few months without reliable revenue. Since then, I’ve established business credit from my bank and used a business loan and business credit cards.
How do you manage cash flow?
The way my structure works is similar to a gym membership. I know how much money is going to be coming in every month based on the number of students and the types of memberships they have. That’s pretty consistent, so I can rely on that amount every month.
There have definitely been times when I’ve had to use a line of credit short-term to make it through the month. I do have a good budget in place where I know what my monthly expenses are, so I can do a good job of matching revenue to expenses. But, there are times when what’s coming in is a little less than I expected for the month. Thankfully, I have the short-term options of a line of credit and a business credit card.
What’s the most challenging thing about running the business?
Cash flow. It’s something where I have good sense every month, but people come and go based on life’s circumstances, so it’s never guaranteed that I’m going to hit a certain number every month.
What’s the most rewarding thing about running the business?
Knowing that we really make a difference in people’s lives. We have a very holistic, healthy, and joyful approach to dance. Students come to us looking for a place where they can experience the joy and inspiration that dance can bring. We teach great technique, but it’s really about the experience the student has. To walk in the door and see all these smiling faces is great! It’s the most rewarding thing ever to see that we can affect people’s lives in such a positive way.
What’s the biggest mistake you made when you were starting out?
I hired and outsourced some administrative tasks a little too soon. The cash flow didn’t really justify that. That caused some stress. The lesson was that before making a new hire, I need to make sure my budget is 100 percent supportive of it.
What’s the smartest thing you did when you were starting out?
I’m really glad that I didn’t start with a business loan. By starting with my own savings, I was able to get things off and running without the pressure of any sort of debt. It was great to be able to know that even if the business didn’t go quite as well as I wanted, I didn’t have a ton of expenses that I had to pay back.
What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur?
The life of an entrepreneur can provide freedom in a lot of different ways. It’s amazing that we can create businesses to positively impact people’s lives.
Be sure to take your time when you’re starting. You’ll never be fully ready, but you have to take the leap at some point. You’ll learn along the way. I would suggest being as prepared as you possibly can by taking classes on skills like business and marketing and social media. You need to make sure that you’re constantly learning and growing.
What’s next for VidaDance Studio?
We have an opportunity to expand. We may be able to have a third studio space, which would allow us to expand our class offerings. We’re starting some new ventures with some other local companies to create a very original Kansas City “Nutcracker” that will premiere this December.