After working as a lawyer in London for 10 years, Female Entrepreneur Sarah started her entrepreneurial journey by returning to her passion – ballet. Sarah is a trained dancer and qualified ballet teacher and in 2017 launched Breaking Ballet – a unique online ballet fitness workout designed for busy women.
Sarah is passionate about helping busy women in their 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond make time for daily exercise, that is fun and gets real results. Forget bikini bodies and fad diets, Sarah’s approach is a caring and realistic one that leaves women feeling empowered and motivated to keep moving. Her entrepreneurial journey is ongoing but she is finally feeling like she may have the hang of it. In 2018 Sarah launched BBackstage – the monthly ballet fitness membership.
Female Entrepreneur Q & A
What made you decide to start your business and become a female entrepreneur?
I spent 10 years working long hours as a lawyer in London. When I became pregnant with my daughter, I had to reassess my life. I wanted to be the person who raised my children and this was not possible working long and unpredictable hours as a lawyer. So, I left my career and pursued my passion for ballet.
What was the process of turning your idea into reality?
I started my teacher training with the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) while I was still pregnant and working my day job. After my daughter was born she came to college with me once a week. After 2 years of studying (I was also studying for my tap qualification at the same time!) I had my teaching qualifications. I even did my practical dance assessment 5 months pregnant with my son! At this time I also started teaching part time on a freelance basis, which was part of the ongoing assessment and training.
A lot of juggling went on during this time. My mother in law would spend a lot of time with us while I studied. My children came with me to teach (with a chaperone) and shortly after I qualified, I decided to set up an adult ballet fitness class on my own. It was a huge success and fast forward 4 years and I now teach 10 classes a week locally (www.balletbody.co.uk).
After receiving enquiries for classes from people all over the country, in 2016 I decided to take my classes online, to reach more women. Breaking Ballet was born and in 2018 the monthly membership – BBackstage – launched.
What ways have you marketed your business and which has worked the best for you?
My local ballet fitness classes are predominantly word of mouth but of course going online was a whole new world! I have to work much harder to be seen. It takes longer to build relationships, gain trust and be seen as an expert.
I have marketed through the usual channels – Instagram, Facebook page, Facebook ads, email and local clients. But my most successful method was through a 5-Day Ballet Abs Challenge. The first one I ran had over 1500 people worldwide join. I ran Facebook ads to the challenge and this was a great way for people to get to know me and my ballet fitness workouts and see the benefits of exercising daily.
I am now running a free closed Facebook Group – Ballet Fitness Lifestyle Hub – which enables me to continue building relationships, connecting and raising awareness of the benefits of ballet. Next steps are to get influencers involved and some good PR!
What’s the one thing you wished you knew at the beginning of your journey?
I wish I had known more about running an online business before I set it up! It is very different to running any other business. I have been flying by the seat of my pants for most of the time but when I look back I think that was probably the best way for me to do it. I like taking action and can be quite impatient to see things progressing. So learning as I go along has meant I am under a degree of pressure most of the time but this is how I work best. I have learnt SO much along the way and I’m starting to feel like a REAL entrepreneur finally!
What’s your daily workday like?
Each day varies depending on my teaching hours but I have to be quite strict with my time. Typically I will wake at 6.30am. I take 30 minutes to check my social media and ensure my scheduled posts have gone out that morning. I answer any questions that may have come in from my BBackstage members and fire off emails to my small team if there is anything that needs working on that day.
I then spend time getting the children ready for school. After school drop off I will then head to work (I teach 3 mornings a week), or sit down at my desk.
My work will vary depending on the day and is a combination of working on my local ballet fitness classes and the online Breaking Ballet business.
My children come out of school at 3pm and so after taking them to their activities and eating dinner, I won’t then start working again until they are in bed – usually around 9pm. Needless to say, sometimes a few balls get dropped in this juggling act!
How do you fit being a female entrepreneur around being a mother?
I try to maximize the time I spend working while the children are at school and while they sleep. This of course does mean that sometimes I am working quite late into the evening and at weekends. But to be honest, I am lucky to be running a business that I feel so passionate about. It doesn’t feel like a chore. I do get frustrated that the business sometimes doesn’t feel like it is progressing as quickly as I would be if I worked on it for 8 hours a day. But I am acutely aware that this is my perception of it and not necessarily reality. A am confident the business will continue to thrive so I prioritise spending quality time with my children.
Have you got a favourite quote or mantra that keeps you going?
This is particularly apt in my line of work, as it’s so important to keep moving your body and staying fit. But it’s also important for me in my business. Sometimes things don’t progress as quickly as I would like due to time constraints but provided I don’t stop, it is moving in the right direction.
If you could offer one piece of advice to the ladies out there thinking of starting or just starting their entrepreneurial journey what would it be?
Speak to people who have already done it! Get as much information from them as possible so you are prepared for what is to come. No question is a silly question because if you don’t ask you won’t know. It’s one thing knowing your niche but quite another knowing how to communicate and market that online. I would also say get onto a well-respected course that will provide you with all the tools you need. This is also a great way to network and build relationships with other people who are starting out. You will need their support, encouragement and understanding. Our families are a huge support but they don’t necessarily understand what it is you are trying to do!
If you could have the help of anyone who would it be?
Social media manager!! Anyone?
What’s the ultimate goal for yourself and your business?
I want to grow my BBackstage membership and build an amazing community of like-minded women, who are committed to staying fit and healthy. I want Breaking Ballet to be a recognised household name and for me to be the go-to expert for women seeking an alternative, fun form of exercise that gets real results. Most of all I want to run a successful business and be able to spend time with my family and travel more. I can run the business from anywhere so sitting on a beach would be nice!
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