As far as hard-working, multi-tasking small businesses go, Showoff Dance is a company that really exemplifies what it means to be a valuable small business in a local community.
We couldn’t think of a more deserving company to win the latest Opus Energy Gift giveaway – an initiative set up to give a little bit back to the small and medium enterprises who are time-poor, low on staff or simply in need of a boost to achieve their ambitions.
Last year we gave away a £10k marketing package, and in 2015 we wanted to extend this help by rewarding small businesses throughout the year with prizes that would make a difference to their day to day operations.
Our ultimate office package has made its way into the worthy hands of Liam Abram, founder of Showoff Dance in Tidworth, Wiltshire. We chatted with Liam to find out all about Showoff Dance and the hard work he does to keep his small business successful.
Can you tell me a little bit about Showoff Dance? Where are you based and what do you do?
Showoff Dance is a multi-award-winning Dance Company that is based in the south west of England and proudly supports The NSPCC.
We teach both men and women, with ages ranging from tiny tots as early as 1yrs up to the mature adult at 65yrs. We teach over 35 classes a week, in locations such as Andover, Middle Wallop, Ludgershall, Amesbury, Tidworth and Salisbury.
Showoff Dance prides itself on being a place for all ages, abilities, size and sex to come together, have fun, keep fit and learn to dance. We also recently received a letter from The Houses of Parliament, congratulating us on being officially named “The Best Dance Company in the South West.”
We also teach a 2 and a half hour class once a week called Showoff Dance, Act & Sing which is a specialised class for 7yrs+ which allows children to really express their creative abilities in the arts.
Why did you establish Showoff Dance?
My name is Liam Abram and I am the Founder, Choreographer & Teacher of Showoff Dance.
As a child, I wasn’t allowed to express myself completely – phrases such as “fancy pants” and “drama queen” were thrown about like there was no tomorrow. The very idea of wanting to be on stage was frowned upon.
When we moved to Tidworth, it was a complete military town; there was nothing other than usual sports available for kids and adults to do, especially no performing arts. It was a combination of the above which inspired and encouraged me to bring to this area something that I have always believed should be made accessible to everyone, and encouraged and shared between families.
As Tidworth is first and foremost a Garrison Town, it was important to me that something was set in place that was flexible for military families who come and go as well as those civilian families who are here for the long haul. I always believed performing arts to be my escape from my “real life” which is what I wanted Showoff Dance to become for others.
Our website, Opus Energy Gift, focuses on giving back to small businesses because many of them have told us that they are in need of a boost. Can you let us know what sort of obstacles or challenges you face in running your small business?
I run Showoff Dance by myself with the help of many volunteers. It is important for the maintaining and future of the company that staff is recruited so as to take things further, grow the business and, most importantly, as a backup plan in case anything should happen to me.
The main obstacle would be in finding how to do this without upsetting the balance of how things currently work. Our classes are unique, as is the way I teach, and many who are asked the question “Why Showoff Dance?” will answer with my name in the first sentence. Finding another Liam is going to be hard, but a huge obstacle that I am willing to face.
Secondly, running from various hall to hall locations makes time a huge issue, and we also incur hiring costs. Keeping a positive balance of energy as well as managing funds is ultimately a task and obstacle in itself, so finding a suitable, affordable venue to use as Showoff Dance’s base studio is another challenge yet to face in the near future.
What encourages or inspires you to keep going?
The participants, the feedback and the enjoyment on every single person who takes part at Showoff Dance, not to forget the applause and recognition they receive after performing.
Seeing how I used to feel when I was on stage when I was younger replicated over these hundreds of younger and older faces is more valuable to me than the money paid for the classes themselves. Showoff Dance is technically a business, but for myself and everyone inside Showoff Dance, it is also a second family, and families are run on love and commitment. This is what I believe to be the main fuel and driving power behind keeping this company going and being as successful as it is, and I know it always will be.
How will you be using your office package prize, and how will it help Showoff Dance?
At the moment we outsource a lot of our printing facilities i.e. posters, newsletters, catalogues etc. which takes time and effort, and as it is always in bulk can sometimes mean mistakes cannot be rectified without having to repeat a batch or reprint.
Having our own facilities to print will allow corrections to be tackled during the printing process, as well as having on-hand instant printing ready and available if and when it is needed without having to wait for delivery before we can get important information or marketing out to the public.
What’s been the best moment of working in your small business so far?
Last year was our first ever end of year show.
At the end of the show on the final night I was given the microphone to give a short speech, at which point I was overwhelmed beyond compare and cried in front of a theatre full of audience members. It was at this point that members of the cast and dancers surrounded me in a huge 120 person hug, followed by an enormous round of applause, cheers and whistles from the audience.
It was at this moment I realised I had done it. I had created what I always dreamed Showoff Dance would be. Needless to say, a speech was not needed -that alone was a fantastic ending to an incredible year.
If you could start all over again in setting up or working in your small business, what would you do differently?
I would start with several teachers as well as myself rather than taking the bull by the horns and doing everything alone. This way people would not be expectant of me being the teacher, and also it would have put less of a strain on myself, as well as memory – remembering 66 different routines a year, as well as the 100 dance fitness tracks, is not easy!
Have you got any advice that you’d give to other small/medium business owners?
Don’t go it alone, don’t feel shamed or embarrassed to ask for help. It is always there and available.
Also don’t feel afraid to take risks and try a different approach if things aren’t working the way you want them to. Remember, it is your business and it has to be successful for you foremost before anything else. One of the privileges of being self-employed is that you get paid for doing something you enjoy and something you are passionate about. Never let that passion and inspiration leave you, because when it does, you’re back to square one.
If you’d like to find out more about Showoff Dance or get in touch with Liam, see the links below: