Never focus on your competition. Focus on innovating and coming up with great new ideas to market your business and sell your product or service in ways that consistently delight and surprise your ideal customers.
Lindsey Dinneen creates and shares beauty, joy, and light through positive expression as an entrepreneur, writer, leader, teacher, and mentor. She is a success and lifestyle coach at Life, But Better, is the owner of VidaDance Studio, and the Artistic Director of the non-profit VidaDance Company. She is the founder/producer of a major annual arts event (National Dance Week Kansas City) and is an Adjunct Professor at Johnson County Community College’s Continuing Education department. In her spare time, Lindsey enjoys spending time with her husband, snuggling with her dogs, exploring her beloved Kansas City, and meeting friends for coffee or happy hour.
Where did the idea for VidaDance come from?
I began dancing at the age of four after watching a video of “The Nutcracker.” As a teenager, I worked at my home studio, learning the ins and outs of running a business. In college, I majored in dance, and took business classes on the side. After graduation, I immediately started dancing professionally. It was no surprise then, that a few years later, when given the opportunity to start a studio, I would jump on it. Dance is in my blood, and owning my own studio gave me the ability to realize a dream goal that had been in my heart for years.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I work a regular 9-5 job in addition to running the studio, so I have to use my time very wisely. Typically I start the day by checking the studio email and answering anything I can before going into work. I have an administrative assistant who answers the phone and emails while I’m at my job, and then in the evening, I take over any other tasks that still need to be done. I use the Pomodoro timer method to help me be productive, especially on big projects like planning out the studio recital, or launching a new marketing campaign.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I’m a dreamer, and I’m also a doer. I love taking time to daydream and goal-set, but even more than that, I love breaking down those goals into manageable mini-goals that will take me closer to completion. I start with a vision of what it’ll look and feel like when I achieve my goal. Then, I work backwards to assess the steps that will be required to achieve it. Usually, the first step is something simple like writing an email or calling someone who might be able to help or offer advice. After that, it’s just about following the stepping-stones. I think it’s important to have a clear timeline and specific date for when you want to accomplish your goal. Otherwise, it’s easy to put off tasks for another day.
What’s one trend that excites you?
A trend that excites me in my industry in particular is that of an emphasis on welcoming people of all demographics, abilities, and body types in dance classes. It’s taken the dance world a long time to get to this point, but I’ve always believed that dance is for everyone and is meant to be enjoyed and celebrated by everyone who wants to try. It’s exciting to see more inclusion in our industry.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I really enjoy learning, but with my crazy schedule, it was difficult to fit in time to sit down and read a book. I’ve developed the habit of listening to audiobooks and podcasts on my commutes so that I can continue to grow during “down-times.” I learn about strategies and tools to better myself as an entrepreneur in every area from marketing to sales to accounting and everything in between. Also, voice-to-text is a lifesaver in the productivity department.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Trust yourself and do what you know is right for your business. Listening to experts is important, and you should never stop learning and growing, but adapt the advice to fit your business. Never focus on your competition. Focus on innovating and coming up with great new ideas to market your business and sell your product or service in ways that consistently delight and surprise your ideal customers.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
It’s a ludicrous myth that “when you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” That is complete and utter nonsense. I absolutely love what I do, but I’m working every single day, and I’m working hard. I believe that’s a good thing. It shows me that I am always learning, challenging myself daily to be even more excellent, and that my work is paying off in big ways. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that once you find your “dream job,” that everything will be amazing and you’ll love your daily life. You definitely will find fulfillment, but it’ll still be hard work—and that’s good.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Express gratitude. I start every day by expressing my gratitude either out loud or in a journal. It puts me in a great mood from the start and reminds me that no matter what I have to deal with that day, there are always things to be thankful for. I also thank my employees all the time simply for showing up and doing their jobs, because I couldn’t do what I do without them, and I am sincerely grateful for them. It’s been said that people who feel appreciated go above and beyond, and I’ve found that to be very true.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
It can’t be overstated that the single best way to grow your business is by treating your clients with excellence, grace, and respect. When you take care of your clients, they keep coming back, and they refer others. Word-of-mouth is truly the best way to grow a business. Always put your clients first. That doesn’t mean that they’re always right, but it does mean you treat them extraordinarily well. We have a very high retention rate for our industry because this has been our best strategy for growth from day one.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Like success, failure looks different to different people. For me, failure at one time looked like not being able to give my all to my students. It came at a time when I was a running the business as a one-woman show, without any other teachers or staff for support, while also working a full-time job. I was exhausted constantly. I was working 14-16 hour days, and dreaded teaching only because I knew I wasn’t able to give my best. I waited too long to get help and felt the effects physically, emotionally, and mentally. Eventually I recognized that I needed the support of others, and hired out all the teaching positions and general administrative duties. That was a vital decision for both me, and for the business.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
As a dance studio owner, I can tell you that our industry would love a complete, all-in-one, user-friendly software system that could do everything we needed to effectively run our businesses. It would need to include tools for class scheduling, employee scheduling, customer relationship management, lead capture, automated follow-up, inventory records, invoicing and payment processing, registration, recital planning and more. There are many software systems available, but none that I’ve found that are as robust as we need (while also being affordable and accessible to people who aren’t necessarily tech-savvy).
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I spent a couple of days in Memphis recently to support one of my former students (now a professional dancer with my professional dance company) who had the opportunity to compete to be on PBS’s Celebration of Music TV show. It was exciting and fulfilling to be with her in person, as she could pick only one person to accompany her backstage. I love to cheer on and support everyone who is actively pursuing their dreams and goals, and to get the chance to do so like that was the best use of $100.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I am so grateful for Wellness Living, which is our current software solution for customer relationship management, automated follow-ups, payment processing, class scheduling, student registration, and more. I couldn’t effectively run my business without it!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I’m a big fan of the classic book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. It’s an older book, but it’s a classic for a reason. Dale’s advice is sound and ageless, and his wisdom is practical and applicable to both your personal and professional life. I would recommend every single person read it, and preferably as soon as possible. I wish I had a discovered it earlier in my career!
What is your favorite quote?
My favorite quote is quite straightforward! It’s simply, “Onward and upward. Good things are coming.” It has been the quote I come back to consistently, especially when times are tough, and it seems like nothing is going the way I had hoped. Coming back to “onward and upward” reminds me of several important lessons:
• I have the power to choose positivity in this moment
• My life’s trajectory is moving forward and higher
• Nothing is going to hold me down and back
• I will continue to do good things with my life as I grow
• I expect that good things will be coming to me
It is a re-centering motto that serves to lift me up and ensure I look forward to my future.
• Never stop learning. Adopt a growth mindset and creatively fit in learning opportunities where you can every day.
• Don’t focus on your competition. Only focus on delivering the best value and experience to your clients and prospects.
• Express gratitude all the time, every day. Find things to be thankful for in the people you interact with, and the beauty all around you, and even in the situations you didn’t choose.
• Take care of yourself. Be kind to yourself. Recognize when you need to outsource or say no to something. Guard your mental and physical health fiercely.
• You have the power to choose how you feel under any circumstance. Choose positivity, and remind yourself that good things are coming.