The Studio Owner’s Guide To Business Books That Will Help Grow Your Studio

Let’s be real for a moment – dancers and dance teacher’s aren’t typically known for their book-ish ways, and would certainly be in a minority of consumers when it comes to business books (or ‘yawn-ography’, as I used to refer to them before actually opening one).

It’s not because dance studio owners aren’t intelligent, in fact quite the opposite! You have one of the rare vocations that gives you an opportunity to combine creativity and engagement with your community with business prowess. The main barriers that are holding you back from engaging regularly with books are:

TIME (you have none) and


You see, you’re in quite the niche if you’re a Studio Owner with your nose in a business book, and we all know that having nobody to chat with about enjoying a great read can quickly suck the fun out of it. Today we are here to change both of those things! Below we have saved you hours of browsing and research by giving you our top 5 business books specifically for studio owners (PLUS at the bottom of the page, a special invitation that will tackle that second barrier we mentioned!)


The Miracle Morning – by Hal Elrod

This book is a known favorite of members within the Dance Studio Owners Association, because it is a smart, quick read that gives you the step-by-step guide to doing 2 crucial things in business that may have eluded you in the past: Feeling amazing, and getting more done. Hal Elrod is the author who was simply trying to improve the quality of his life. He started researching what the experts had to say, and found 6 common things that helped contributed to success life and business. He found these practices listed over and over again:

  1. Meditation
  2. Affirmations
  3. Visualization
  4. Journaling
  5. Reading
  6. Exercise

Curious about which one would give him the most bang for his buck, Hal decided to do all six every morning. One thing led to another, and boom…The Miracle Morning was born! If you’re thinking that this looks more like a day’s worth of activity, you’ll be glad to know that it can be achieved in just one hour each day. If you’re committed to your self development as a dance studio owner and improving your overall quality of life, you are going to love it. Yup, you need to get up early, by remember – you can’t get different results in life by doing what you’ve always done. You need to change something. This is a perfect start.


Smart Work by Dermot Crowley

Productivity books are another hot topic in our community of studio owners, but with so many of them floating around (and let’s be honest, typically a pretty dense read) they are also many of the titles gathering dust on the bookshelf. This is why we love Smart Work, by Dermot Crowley. Dermot’s book is filled with actionable steps and personal anecdotes that have proven to give business owners hours back each week. From the line “Treat your inbox like your mailbox – it is for receiving information, not storing important files” we were hooked and silently applauding. Yes, these types of things are EXACTLY the day-to-day barriers holding back studio owners from crushing their to-do list and working on bigger-picture tasks.

Dermot explores the elements of inputs, actions and outcomes as a productivity system, which in turn forms the basis for the remainder of the book, with detailed sections on each of the these components. There may not be anything revolutionary in Smart Work, but it does contain a buffet of simple tips studio owners will adore, and will have you thinking ‘that makes perfect sense, why didn’t I think of that before’? Even better, Dermot has experience as a small business owner, so his advice is both on-point and empathetic.

Creating Magic – by Lee Cotterill

A huge mindset shift for studio owners occurs when they step into the role of ‘leader’ – often at times because they have smoothy cruised up the ladder from assistant teacher, to teacher, to business owner, or at other times because their “hobby” business unpreparedly  grew beyond a one-man/woman-show.  This is where Walt Disney World Executive Operations Officer, Lee Cotterill’s ‘Creating Magic’ is essential reading for any dance studio owner. The book outlines Lee’s top leadership strategies that he has learned in his spanning career as a world leader in the service industry, including:

– Treating your employees like real people
– Encouraging and maintaining open lines of communication with your staff
– Building awareness of the impact of our words and actions on others
– Continually striving for self and staff improvement
– Striking a balance between your professional and personal life

Cotterill dives into these fundamentals in greater detail and provides examples from his own life to highlight their impact and importance. Definitely put this on your wish-list, and watch your confidence and capability as a leader truly soar.


Creativity Inc by Ed Catmull

This is simply a brilliant read by Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull that details the values and progress of Disney’s most influential entity in contemporary culture. Being in the creative arts, dance studio owners are going to get a particular kick from reading about Pixar’s tactics in generating creative ideas and embracing ‘failures’. Catmull offers personal insights on creativity and ways to foster it in a workplace.

He explains, “…creativity isn’t some lucky accident ….. Rather, long before audiences get to enjoy the sight of lamps that bounce with glee, robots that explore the universe and toys that go on wild adventures, Pixar takes a deliberate, measured approach to the creative process.”

As so many teachers and choreographers will nod their heads in agreement, Catmull chats about how ideas can spring from anywhere. However, it is the process of refining those ideas that separates Pixar (or your dance studio) from the rest. This is such an enjoyable insight into the creative process, and definitely a book you should be giving your teachers for the Xmas stocking!


Dance Studio Transformation by Clint Salter

Ok, it would be a bit weird to exclude this from our list considering it was written FOR dance studio owners BY a dance studio mentor. But we won’t go into too much detail here – if you want to know more about DSOA founder Clint Salter’s bestselling first book, you can click on the link at the top of this page and see exactly what all the fuss is about. We’ll just leave you with this quick insight from the lovely Susan Maryn:

“This should be a mandatory textbook for anyone who either owns or is planning to own a dance studio! I’ve been in the studio business for many years and have experienced many obstacles along the way but this book makes everything fall into place! From marketing to student retention to overall customer service and satisfaction, this book has it all! I’ve already read it twice and have already started implementing some new policies and we’re seeing some incredible results!”

For more resources on building the studio of your dreams and living your best life outside of it, join us in the Dance Studio Owners Association

In November, the DSOA will be launching our new and exclusive Book Club! Make sure to keep an eye on your emails for more details, or check it out in our Members Only Facebook Group. #leapsturnsandbookworms



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