Interview with Elizabeth DeRusha, Artist Entrepreneur

Elizabeth DeRusha is arts entrepreneur who is currently working as the proud owner of Edge Dance Studio. She opened the studio in Plano, Texas during the summer of 2012.

1. What role, if any, does a business plan play in building and launching an arts company (as a business pursuit)?

Elizabeth: Having a good business plan is extremely important. There are so many things to consider when buying or starting a business and it can be overwhelming. Working through a business plan will help ensure that you haven’t overlooked important details.

2. What three pieces of advice would you give aspiring artist entrepreneurs about planning?
Elizabeth: 1. Research – When working through a business plan you will come across things that you don’t know or don’t understand. If you don’t know, don’t be afraid to ask. Take a class, find a professional for advice or research it yourself. 2. Understand all aspects of the business – Having actual work experience in all areas will allow you to see many day-to-day things you might not be prepared for otherwise. 3. Plan for the future – What will you do when you get to the point that you can’t do it all yourself? Our studio has an amazing staff and we trust and rely on them each day.

 

3. What do you believe are necessary qualities, if there are any, for artist entrepreneurs to possess or develop?

Elizabeth: You have to really love what you are doing. Starting or buying a business can be very straining physically, emotionally, and financially. You should be doing it for more than just the financial reward and be able to push through the harder times.

 

4. What challenges did you face when opening Edge Dance? Have those challenges lessened in your second year of operations?

Elizabeth: I purchased the studio from another individual. We kept the location but changed the name and we run our business very differently. Gaining trust of the current students and families was probably the most challenging. After our first year in business, so many of them tell us how much they appreciate the opportunities we have given them, and that they are so happy that they stayed with us and accepted the changes that we made.
5. What would you say about the need for organizational skills when running a small business?

Elizabeth: Organizational skills are paramount. I am one of the most organized people that I know, but many of the day-to-day problems we have with the business could be avoided with better organization.
6. What is the business structure of your company?

Elizabeth: Edge Dance is a LLC.

7. In regards to your dance studio, which aspect brings you the greatest amount of joy?
Elizabeth: Seeing the growth and accomplishments of the students and staff!

8. What has been your proudest moment so far as an artist and an entrepreneur?
Elizabeth: This year we had so many firsts…first Company Recital, first Theatre Production, first competition and first Spring Recital. All of these firsts have made me extremely proud!

9. How have your family, friends, and other supporters encouraged and inspired your success?
Elizabeth: My family has been really supportive with helping me take care of things that I have been too busy to do this past year like helping with things around our house that need attention. Family and friends are great for feedback on new ideas and for encouragement when things get difficult.

10. If you could do anything different when opening another arts venture, what would it be? What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from opening Edge Dance?
Elizabeth: Only having the business a little over a year, right now I wouldn’t change a thing. We are constantly evolving so that we can be constantly improving, which takes a lot of trial and error. I think the biggest lesson that I have learned is how beneficial it is to take time off. I constantly want to work…all day and all night. I love owning the studio! It has been extremely rewarding, but I am finding that I can accomplish so much more if I will make myself take a little time away. It helps me feel refreshed, and I return with new ideas and I am recharged and full of energy to put them into action! It’s sincerely harder than it sounds!

Interview by Penny Shumway    

Penny Shumway is a junior honor student in Southern Methodist University’s Communications Studies and Arts Entrepreneurship programs.

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