June 21, 2024

Thrive Insider

Exclusive stories of successful entrepreneurs

Deepa Mani, Artistic Director and Founder

Who are you and what business did you start?

I am the Founder and Artistic Director of an Indian Classical and Modern Contemporary dance school in Melbourne, started this small business 3.5 yrs back to connect people (both kids and adults) with their heritage, sense of self, inner creativity and wellbeing (physical and mental).

What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

My background has been in IT Management for the last 17 years focusing on Business -Transformation, Strategy and Architecture for Medium to Large-scale organisations. I am also a Trained Professional Indian classical and contemporary artist and it seemed very clear to start a dance school to pass on my knowledge to the younger generations in the broader community. I quit my IT and focused on putting things together to kick-start my business.

Describe the process of launching the business.

I am really thankful for my IT career because it gave me the tools and necessary skills to understand the Business landscape. I knew it was a service based industry and started to define my services and looked around for various costing models and came up with one that was reasonable to the training and knowledge I have acquired over the years. Then came the formality of registering my business (ASIC etc..) , started designing my website (IT knowledge helped me here), kicked off my social media channels,  pulled a business plan and strategy together on what my business looks like in the next 12 months and areas I needed to explore and started my networking. I was able to launch in 3 months in 2018 and was eagerly waiting for that FIRST student to join us.:)

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Consistent marketing has definitely helped me retain my position over the years. Being authentic and sharing the reality of the business and opening the door to my audience has been very fruitful. Sticking to the strong ethics has helped me sustain my business model on the service side , having a well-defined curriculum path for my students, process of engaging with students and their families as well client inductions have all attributed to retaining my customers.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Absolutely, tonne’s of information. Learned a lot around Marketing and PR strategy. Working with a different audience base and artists of different genres has expanded my cultural quotient. Working with children and adult students  has been a pleasure and rewarding at the same time. Working with different organisations to promote cultural diversity has been very rewarding.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

Wix for websites, Canva, Inshot, FB and Instagram for social networking. EDM’s for newsletters, Quickbooks for accounting, Zoom for online classes are a few that come to mind.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

 Mums and co, Lady startups, creative organisations, organisations supporting women entrepreneurs have been enriching and fulfilling.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

  • STOP Procrastinating. 
  • Have a simple Launch and build on it as you know it. 
  • Don’t try to do it all, outsource and allow other areas of knowledge to come into your life.
  • Have an open mind, listen and keep your ears and eyes open. 
  • Most importantly enjoy and celebrate quick wins and practice gratitude everyday

Where can we go to learn more?