How a life-long dream became Nicole’s reality
From humble beginnings with a modest group of 20 children on stage to seeing over 100 kids across two Glasgow locations and being at 100% capacity, Nicole O'Donnell now leads a diverse range of dance classes. While offering instruction in jazz, musical theatre, cheer pom, commercial, and hip-hop, the essence of the Nicole O'Donnell Dance Academy remains a commitment to providing children with a captivating and enriching experience in the realm of dance.
It’s been 17 years since Nicole, the founder and principal of the Nicole O’Donnell Dance Academy fulfilled her life-long dream of running her very own dance school. Since that start, a lot has changed and her academy has grown and flourished into the strong business model it is today.
Like many young dancers today, Nicole started out dancing with her friends as a fun way to express herself. She just so happened to find the one thing she became the most passionate about and decided early on that she wanted to spread the magic of dance to more young kids when she grew up.
“I can remember being about 13 with my dance partner and talking about how one day we would have our own dance school, and planning the name and everything! It was the career I always pursued.”
And it turns out it was destiny – Nicole pursued her dance dreams with relentless passion.
A new purpose
Back then, her main goal was spreading the joy of dance to kids. Even with a small crew, she lived for those bright faces nailing a new move or simply having a blast together.
With an increase of 230% in class sizes, Nicole is always on the lookout for more opportunities for her young dancers. Whether that’s a bigger stage, brighter lights or offering more styles of dance, Nicole is passionate about keeping the kids engaged and growing.
Becoming a business owner
At one point, Nicole remembers being asked if she preferred being the star on stage or hanging out in the wings, watching the magic unfold. The answer came easy:
While being on stage is a breeze, the real magic happens behind the scenes. It made Nicole so proud to see her team and young dancers shining so bright.
As a result of the growth she’d seen, Nicole was excited to join a few dance business groups to further advance and to learn a few more business tricks. That's where she discovered the magic of online systems and ClassForKids.
Nicole quickly realised how invaluable an online system can be to a business owner: it allowed her to step back from the day-to-day since the admin was taken care of, and gave her a chance to focus on the opportunities that she might have otherwise missed. The ClassForKids business overview along with the waiting lists function were really helpful to Nicole.
“I love the waiting lists! It makes it so simple to see if there is a real interest in new classes or locations so they’re a great tool!”
With a strong, capable booking software in place, Nicole transformed from a dance enthusiast to a dance business owner extraordinaire. In the last year alone, Nicole’s revenue has seen a 96% increase thanks to being able to focus on growth and new opportunities. Her team took charge of daily duties, and ClassForKids handled the admin chaos, freeing Nicole to dream big for the future and well and truly keep up with the growing success of her school.
It hit her – not only is she hosting awesome dance classes, but she's a full-blown business owner, living her dream of owning her own dance school - and then some!
Pausing for reflection
Nicole’s successful dance business comes from years of hard work and lessons learned along the way.
“If I had to do it all over again, I’d have liked to do a business course first so I could go into it with more of a business mindset, I’d make sure I knew how to delegate and lead a team, and I’d have started out with a system in place that had all the features I would need. ClassForKid’s registers, automated subscriptions feature and communications tools have helped make running my business a breeze!”
From starting out in a community centre and running her academy by herself, to now having classes in two different locations for over 100 students and managing a team of inspiring individuals, Nicole's dance journey is a dance-tastic success story that will make you want to get up and twirl.