Business: Santa Barbara Centre for Aerial Arts
Location: Santa Barbara
Established: Fall 2006
What prompted you to start your business?
I was prompted by the innate belief that my passion can be translated into something tangible. For years, Aerial Dance was a way for me to balance the left and right side of my brain, something I did for the sheer pleasure and release it brought me after a hectic quotidian schedule. When it became clear that I wanted nothing more than to make this a full-time endeavor, I knew it was time to sit down and build a solid platform that delineated my vision for this new chapter in my life.
What did you learn or gain from the SET class that helped you in businesses you started after graduating?
I once heard an incredibly successful business man in the twilight of his career offer sage advice to entrepreneurs: don't grow, change. He was speaking of the traditional adage that more is more, that expansion somehow makes a good business great. I took to heart his urging instead to be a fluid business owner--to evolve as your environment evolves-- and it has truly shaped my approach to all of my business endeavors.
I can think of no greater way to gauge the effectiveness of a business idea than to sit down and write a solid business plan. And to me, that's what SET does best. Being handed a sizeable binder filled with wonderfully concise tools on how to tackle the business plan writing process, and then tasking you with the actual execution of it, was an effective balance of support and accountability.
What specific goals have you set and achieved as a business owner?
These days I approach my goals from a forest and trees perspective. My trees might be the addition of a new class or the purchase of an integral piece of equipment. My forest goals have included performing overseas, and building an additional studio to accommodate our growing number of students. I find that by consistently tackling your tree goals, the forest seems so much less daunting, and very achievable. This has been a big year for us, we've added five more classes to our roster, built a new reception area and dance studio so our aerialists can spread their wings without poking each other in the eye, and are heading to France for a summer performance. Whew, I'm exhausted just writing that down!
Do you have any upcoming performances?
La Petite Chouette Aerial Dance Company (Santa Barbara Centre for Aerial Arts' profession dance company) will be performing "The Violet Hour" on Friday, May 17th at the Lobero! The company members will use apparatus like static trapeze, lyra, corde lisse, and aerial frames and kites to moody and sultry jazz. There will even be a post-performance soiree with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres in the theatre's outdoor courtyard where the audience and meet and greet the entire cast.
What advice do you offer others who might want to start their own business, and what advice do you have to stay in business?
Be honest. About your desires, expectations, and timeline, and be thoughtful about setting realistic goals for your business. As for how to stay in business: a fresh perspective and fluidity is key.