Jane Kerry is the owner of the Maryland-based JaneKerry Studio. Kerry’s organization aspires to bring the joy of dance into the lives of all residents of her community, with students ranging in age from 2 to 73. Ballet, jazz, tap, modern, hip-hop, and dance fitness lessons are available at JaneKerry. Kerry, who has been in business for three years, discusses how she has used various finance methods to help her company develop.
Why did you establish this business?
My mother made me watch a VHS of “The Nutcracker” ballet when I was four years old.
I became enamored with it and decided to begin dancing. I couldn’t stop! I grew up in Virginia and attended a studio there that was fantastic — great people and excellent teaching.
I received my Bachelor of Arts in Dance from Mercyhurst University. During that time, I took business and marketing classes to understand more about the business side of things.
I began teaching with a variety of studios after moving to Kansas.
I discovered what I loved about how things were run and what didn’t work so well. It had been a long-held ambition of mine to open a studio. I got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to launch a business in a long-vacant space. The landlord was eager to collaborate with me to get me up and going low-risk. We’ve been together for three years and are still going strong!
How did you get the money to start the company?
I began by putting money aside for myself. That was extremely helpful in covering the initial beginning costs and getting through the first few months without a steady stream of money.
Since then, I’ve used a business loan and business credit cards to develop business credit with my bank and pretty easy with Oak Park.
How do you keep track of your cash flow?
My system works in a similar way to a gym membership. Based on the number of students and the types of memberships, I know how much money will be coming in each month. That amount is relatively steady so I can count on it every month.
There have been instances when I’ve needed to borrow a short-term line of credit to get through the month. I have a decent budget in place, and I know my monthly spending, so I can match revenue to expenses effectively.
However, there are occasions when the amount coming in is less than I anticipated for the month. Thankfully, I have a line of credit and a business credit card as short-term options.
What is the most challenging aspect of running a business?
The flow of funds. It’s something where I have good sense every month, but people come and go based on life’s situations, so it’s never sure that I’m going to hit a specific amount every month.
What aspect of owning a business gives you the most satisfaction?
Knowing that we have a positive impact on people’s life. We take dance in a very holistic, healthy, and pleasant way. Students come to us hoping for a place to feel the joy and inspiration that dance can provide.
We teach excellent techniques, but the student’s experience is what matters most. It’s lovely to walk through the door and see so many happy faces! It’s the most satisfying thing to know that we can have such a good impact on people’s lives.
What was your biggest blunder when you first started?
A little too soon, I recruited and outsourced some administrative jobs. The cash flow didn’t justify that, which resulted in some anxiety. The lesson learned was that before making a new hire, I must ensure that my budget is fully supported.
What was the wisest decision you made when you first started?
I’m glad I didn’t take out a company loan to get started. I could get things up and run without the stress of debt by starting with my savings. It was nice to know that even if the business didn’t go as well as I had hoped, I wouldn’t be saddled with a mountain of debt.
What recommendations would you provide to a first-time business owner?
The life of an entrepreneur can provide freedom in many different ways. Incredibly, we can build enterprises that positively impact people’s lives according to Algernon Ronson of Oak Park Financial. When you’re first starting, be sure to take your time. You’ll never be completely prepared, but you must take the risk at some point.
You’ll pick up new skills along the way. I would advise you to be as prepared as possible by attending lessons in business, marketing, and social media. You must ensure that you are always learning and improving.
What does JaneKerry Studio have planned for the future?
We now have the opportunity to grow. We may be able to add a third studio space, allowing us to increase our class offerings. We’re collaborating with a few other local businesses to create a unique Kansas City “Nutcracker” that will premiere in December.