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The Business of Pole Dancing


The Business of Pole Dancing

My name is Michelle Shimmy and I am a professional pole dancer. I opened my first pole dance studio, the Pole Dance Academy, in 2009 with my sister Maddie. We now have three studios in Sydney.

Prior to opening the studios, I was a corporate lawyer in a top tier law firm in Sydney. I had been pole dancing for about three years and I was absolutely crazy about it. At the same time, I wasn’t happy with life in the corporate world and I was increasingly feeling dissatisfied with my career choice.

One day whilst complaining to a friend on the phone about how unhappy I was in my job as a lawyer, my friend suggested I open a pole studio. At first I thought she was mad. But she had planted the seed, and not long after my sister and I began making plans to open a studio.

We had zero business experience. We had no idea what we were doing. We had heard the statistics about 50% of businesses failing in their first two years, and we did not want that to happen to us. So we worked hard (insanely hard) and built our business up to where it is today.

Here are 5 things I wish someone had told me before I started my own business.

1. Do your homework

The lawyer in me has always believed that you should prepare for the worst and hope for the best. The preparation you do before you open will stand you in good stead once you open for business, particularly because once you open, you’ll be so busy running your operations that you won’t have as much time to consider these topics.

Part of doing your homework includes writing a business plan. Do a SWOT analysis of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Be brutally honest with yourself, particularly about your weaknesses and threats. How will you deal with them?

Do thorough market research. Before opening, my sister and I created surveys and we hit the streets, to get to know our market. It was tough work but it gave us a good understanding of how people felt about pole dance in the area we wanted to open the studio in.

Prepare for success, but be sure to include in your preparations an exit strategy or a contingency plan. If things don’t work out the way you want them to, what will you do?

2. How will you eat?? Or DRINK??