Starting a Business: How a Migrant Danced Her Way to Entrepreneurial Success

Starting a Business
  • Starting up a business in Australia or anywhere else in the world is definitely not an easy task. But that doesn't mean that you should give up right from the beginning.
  • You will face a lot of business challenges and problems, but you will also need to remember the motivation to start a business in the first place to inspire you to not give up.
  • Read the story of Kristine Borisova who established her own business in Australia - and succeeded. 

starting up a business in australia

Tell us a bit about your business?

LIKE Dance Studio is a St Leonards based dance studio. We teach kids from 4 y.o., teenagers and adults. Our model is based around creating concert programs.

What this means for our students is that they are constantly involved in a new exciting projects and they get a great exposure to various styles of dance, including modern, hip-hop, jazz, contemporary, ballet, acrobatics, etc.

Really, there is no limit to the dance styles, as it all depends on the concept/idea for each routine. We also use powerful music and a lot of character training. 

What was your motivation to start a business?

LIKE Dance studio was started by me and my family. Both our parents are former entrepreneurs in Latvia (former republic of USSR). In the meantime, I had also acquired a strong interest in running a business. My sister and I are both dancers, and our mum is a musician by profession.

After migrating to Australia, my sister danced at several studios in Sydney and was unable to find what she was looking for. She was looking not just for a place she could come for dance classes, but a place where she could meet like-minded people, sharing their passions and working on something together.

This is how we all decided to build something new by starting up a business in Australia, which hopefully can be different and unique.

What were the major business challenges you experienced when starting a small business in Australia?

There were a few business challenges on the way. One of the major mistakes we made was assume that we can use the principles for running a business overseas and apply them in establishing a business in Australia. In reality, we had to learn a lot on our way.

One of the key challenges faced by all startups is cash flow. Because of the very limited finance in the beginning, we tried to do everything ourselves, including learning about all the regulations and procedures for starting up a business in Australia, researching and deciding on the location, liaising with the local council on the construction and development matters, initial marketing, as well as admin, accounts and payroll.

We still believe it has been the right decision to be as much involved as possible, but we did not expect how much time it would take and also how much it would cost. So basically, we ran into some financial struggles. Also, without knowing the market, we have made some serious mistakes in terms of advertising channels, which just dragged us into further financial strain.

What tips can you give other SavvySME members that are thinking of starting a small business in Australia?

  • Take your startup budget and multiply it at least by 3
  • Have a plan in case you will run out of cash
  • Bear in mind that most likely it will be a while till your business starts making money. Can you financially sustain it for the next year? 2 years? 3 years?
  • Invest time, money and great effort to find the right people who will work in your business. These first few contacts with the new clients will be a "make or break" for the business. It is a lot harder than it seems, but it is extremely important to get the like-minded people, who will share your passion and deliver the same message to your clients.

What made you decide to take the jump and focus on your business?

The very strong belief in what we are doing. You cannot be half-hearted about your own business. You have to truly believe in it and take it seriously. I am more involved in the overall running of the business, but my mum is extremely passionate about it, which is quite contagious. 

She lives and breathes LIKE Dance, which can be felt through every conversation, every contact a client makes. This passion is what drives us every day.

How did your family and friends react?

Well, it was easy with the immediate family, as they are also in the business. In relation to the extended family, there were a few skeptics about the idea. But overall, I must say that we got a lot of support.

How has your life changed?

Apart from the obvious fact that it has become a whole lot busier.. Firstly, we have all gained a great sense of responsibility in front of each other, as well as in front of our staff and customers.

Because this industry is very creative, we attract very strong and passionate personalities. We have a great responsibility to provide a stimulating work environment for our teachers, trainers and choreographers.

We have a great responsibility in front of the parents of our younger students, to provide an environment that is fun and, at the same time, full of new challenges and growth. We have a great responsibility in front of our audiences who come to our shows, to continuously surprise, inspire and improve.

So basically, every step that we take, every decision that we make has to be well thought through, planned and delivered, as it may have an impact on our business. Our own personal priorities have all been pushed aside.

What success have you experienced since starting your own business?

Since we have opened the doors of the studio in January 2011, we have created 4 different concert programs, including "The Snow Queen" and "Once upon a time in America." We are now working on the fifth program, "A Flight of Love," which we will showcase from June 2013.

We have been very fortunate in being able to attract excellent staff in our business, who are professional and very talented and they share the same vision. We have also been fortunate to become quite known in the Lower North Shore area and acquire a solid base of loyal and enthusiastic dancers. 

We have been invited to perform at various events, including Lane Cove's Harmony Festival and charity events. Also, we have recently been invited to participate in several dance competitions, which we will attend in the near future, so we hope this will also be a rewarding experience for our students and teachers. 

What is the vision for your business going forward?

The vision for our dance studio is to grow our community and to become a home for the like-minded dance professionals and engaged students, where their creativity will be continuously inspired.

What tips can you give other SavvySME members about motivating yourself to push through the challenges that rise up while starting your own business?

"Don't doubt yourself for a minute! Be the biggest fan of your idea and carry it with confidence."

Be prepared to face and overcome the business challenges on the way, as they are unavoidable. In fact, the first few years will be extremely hard. And this is normal. You are not doing anything wrong. The business is like a baby: all it needs is time, as well as your love and support, in order to grow and become independent. 

So our question is, do YOU have the guts to start and push your business through against all odds? Let us know!

Sydney LikeDance

Manager at L.I.K.E. Dance Studio Sydney