Hayley Byrd has spent many years turning her intimate knowledge of the dance industry and her passion for teaching into a successful dance studio. Now, she’s turned her attention to sharing her knowledge and advice with other studio owners worldwide. The Dance Teachers Tribe is a membership service offering tailored advice, support, training and resources to teachers and studio owners who need help growing and maintaining their business.
Having danced from an early age, Byrd discovered her love of teaching as a teenager, and headed to full-time training at 16 with a career as a dance teacher in mind. She completed her ISTD qualifications with Swindon Academy of Dance in the UK and quickly entered into a partnership with a friend to purchase an existing dance studio – Elite Dance. When her friend decided to step back to concentrate on her family, Byrd bought her out. Ten years down the line, her personal experiences as a business owner in the dance industry has led her to establish The Dance Teachers Tribe.
“I’ve really learned by making mistakes,” Byrd admits. “I think when you’re a dance teacher, they teach you how to teach the children, but nobody teaches you the business side of things at all. I just think there needs to be help out there for dance teachers, aside from private business coaches, and I really wanted to create a space where teachers can go and find everything they need to keep them going. The Dance Teachers Tribe is a place of support. I know there are lots of general Facebook groups, but I wanted this to be something that’s a little bit more private, where members can be really honest and open.”
Byrd has been transparent about the challenges she’s overcome personally. “At one point, I almost lost my studio building,” she says. “I’m open about it because I want everybody to know that we all struggle, and it’s difficult for all of us. I share the tools that I use, and if I can help anybody else to avoid the struggles that I had, that’s my goal. I’d like to help as many people as possible not to make the same mistakes I did.”
Byrd is also keen to emphasise the personal nature of the membership service she’s offering. “I’ve been very lucky to have a business coach in the past,” she admits, “and not everybody can afford that luxury. But I think when you work on your own, it can be quite lonely, so to have someone you can go to and say, you know, ‘What do you think of this?’ or, ‘I’m feeling a bit anxious about this, what is your take on it?’ I think is really important.”
Feedback on the service so far has been extremely positive. “We’ve grown so quickly already, and I think especially in lockdown people have really appreciated it,” Byrd describes. “We introduced a seven-day studio health check to encourage people to find the areas they could improve on at this time. There’s lots that we can’t do in lockdown for our businesses, but there’s lots that we can. Everyone has been sharing their ideas with the group, and it’s been really lovely.”
Byrd even used lockdown as an opportunity to organise a large-scale event which she hopes to repeat annually. “We hosted a Guinness World Record attempt in aid of the NHS COVID-19 appeal, and almost 200 dance schools took part, with 1,500 participants,” she says. “We were just shy of the record – which was 2,000 dancers – but it was an incredible experience for all involved.”
Byrd believes part of the reason The Dance Teachers Tribe is unique is because she is still a teacher herself. “I think a lot of the other dance coaches and business mentors are brilliant, but I am still an active studio owner, and I’m still teaching children and I always will be,” she explains. “I have no aspirations of ever selling my school or moving on from teaching, but I have a real passion for helping people. I think it’s really important that we share our failures as well as our successes, and I think a lot of other coaches share all the amazing things that have happened to them and not the tricky things.”
Membership to The Dance Teachers Tribe is month-to-month, so you’re not locked into a long-term contract, and you can cancel or pause as required. Signing up is quick and easy via the website. If you’re struggling even a little with your business, Byrd believes she can help. “I’ve been where they are,” she says, “and I’ve turned it around in two years. It’s completely possible. We’re all struggling at the moment with lockdown, and it’s easy for studio owners to feel snowed under or a bit at a loss. Growing a business during lockdown is completely possible. People just might need some support and help to do that.”
Find out more or sign up to become a member of The Dance Teachers Tribe at doneforyoudance.co.uk/danceteachertribe.
By Emily Newton-Smith of Dance Informa.