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Chapter One
Back to Square One—Act One
Steve Sirico

I don't dream at night, I dream all day; I dream for a living. –Steven Spielberg

As Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz was told, “Follow the yellow brick road.” When dance studio owners do likewise, they will be on a similar journey. They’ll face a lot of twists and turns, ups and downs, laughs and tears, happy and sad moments. This just in—owning and operating a dance studio is hard work! The question is, will you keep pushing ahead until you reach the Emerald City?

Like most people who decide to start their own school, you have a reason why you decided to go out on your own, or with a partner, and start the dream of owning your own dance school. Maybe you envisioned making more money, creating your own works, starting a dance company or just not having to answer to anyone. Whatever the reason, no doubt you already have or will question the validity of your decision to do so from time to time. Each challenge and issue you face will be a test. How you react to these tests will be a BIG factor in the success of your business life. Remember that the Yellow Brick Road was full of fun, mishaps, and scary and trying tests. The question is, how will you get to your Emerald City? How can you find your way to your biggest and most-treasured goals?

Here are some pointers to help you navigate the road and to keep your head up!

The key to your success lies in your own hands
Where you are today and where you will be a year from now is all about your thought process, and how you act upon those thoughts. Remember how you felt when you first started—do you remember? If it has been a while, think back. Think of your dreams, aspirations, goals and more! Now fast-forward to where you are today. How has it worked out for you? If you are not where you want to be, remember, you can change it—if you want to. You can improve it—if you want to. Dorothy could easily have retreated after the first setback, but she did not. She kept finding new people to help her along the way. Has that happened to you? If not, keep looking! Tell everyone you meet about your passion and the direction you have for your studio. The right people will be drawn to you. The right teachers, students, parents and business opportunities will come your way—when you have your mind in the right place. Think not? Then you will get more of what you are already receiving!

When is the last time you told someone how you feel about your business? Were you just venting about how difficult it is, or how you are not happy about this, that or the other thing? If so, you may want to change your mindset! Instead of focusing on the bad, focus on the excitement you felt when you first started the business. The newness you savored, the uncertainty, the thrill of it all, and how your dreams and goals were right in front of you for the taking. If you have been in business for awhile, you will want to block out the negativity that can so easily cloud your thoughts, if you already are not making a conscious effort to guard against these thoughts. You must work at this—try it for a month and then for two and then for six and then make it a lifetime habit.

Keep in mind that the thoughts you focus on will determine who you are! If you think about how this student or parent did you wrong, you may well become bitter. If you think about how horribly your parents, staff or faculty treat you, you may grow disillusioned. On the other hand, if you think about how wonderful your school is and how great your faculty and staff are, you see all that is good. This helps to keep you in a good place mentally. Look, not everything will be perfect all the time. What is in life? After personally being in business for twenty-five years, I can tell you this: I remember the good—and not so good—times with gratitude for the lessons learned! Keep in mind that just because you were burnt once, it does not mean you will be burnt again. Stay true to yourself, and you will attract what you are looking for.

Impossible is Just a Word​
Everyone, at some point in his or her life, has dreamed of being somebody special, somebody big. Maybe you have fantasized about being the one who appears on Broadway, the prima ballerina or a sought-after choreographer? Or maybe you imagine yourself as one of the top dance schools or business leaders in the country. How many times have we dreamed of being rich, or successful, or happy with our relationships?

Often, we dream big dreams and have great aspirations. Unfortunately, our dreams remain just that—dreams—and our aspirations easily collect dust in our attics. This can be a sad turn of events in our lives. Instead of experiencing exciting adventures in self-actualization, we get caught up in the humdrum of living from day-to-day, just barely existing.

But you know what? Life could be so much better, if only we learn to aim higher and to act upon our goals!​

I would be willing to bet that, when you first started to entertain thoughts of starting your own school, the word "can’t" was not used very often. The most common obstacle to setting and achieving goals is the word “impossible.” Most people get hung up thinking, “I can't do that.” “It's too hard.” “It's too impossible.” “No one can do this.”

But if everyone thought that, there would be no inventions, no innovations, and no breakthroughs in human achievement.

On the other hand, some people suffer from dreaming totally outrageous dreams and not acting upon them. As a result, they have broken dreams and tattered aspirations. You need to act on your goals and dreams! Make the decision today to create an action plan to help you move forward. The key is to stop limiting yourself with self-doubt and self-limiting assumptions. Otherwise, you will never break past what you deem to be impossible.

Those who just dream of a goal, without an action plan and ways to implement that plan, end up disappointed and disillusioned.

If you had told people a hundred years ago that it was possible for man to land on the moon, they would have laughed at you. If you had told them that you could send an e-mail from here to the other side of the world electronically in a few seconds, they would have said you were out of your mind. But through sheer desire and perseverance, these impossible dreams are now realities.

Thomas Edison once said that “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”

Nothing could be truer. For one to accomplish his or her dreams, he or she must work hard and be disciplined. But take note that the 1 percent has to be a think-big dream, and not some easily accomplished one.

Ask any brilliant dancer and he or she will tell you that there can be no gain unless you can step out of your comfort zone. Remember the saying, “No pain, no gain”? That is as true as it can be.

So, as the Aerosmith song says, "Dream On"! Don’t get caught up with your perceived limitations. Think big and work hard to attain those dreams. Whether you are just starting your school or are a seasoned veteran, you have always had ideas and thoughts of what you wanted your business to look and be like. Don’t worry if you get sidetracked or lose your way a bit. Just make the move to start a new today, to follow the yellow brick road of your heart. As you step up the ladder of progress, you will find that the impossible just became a little bit more possible.

Set your thought processes in an upward motion. Think about all the potential out there and what a terrific business you have created. Be aware of the joy you bring into people’s lives, with a newfound knowledge of dance and its corresponding improved life skills. This is a great time to be in business, with opportunity all around you. Success is all about what you do and how you think. It is not about any outside circumstance or obstacle you may face. ​

 “The people who get on in this world are people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.” –George Bernard Shaw​

Go get 'em!

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