Lets start with a disclaimer – mostly so you will take what I say here with a grain of salt (ha!). I have been on the studio owner side working my hind parts off to build a studio – when pole was still considered very much taboo – for six years. I pushed through negative comments, a small-minded community and a ton of discouragement. I taught classes that sometimes only had one person in them. And let’s not even touch the “keeping the business in the black” financial subject. I have had not one, or two, but FIVE different people try to open a pole studio very close to one of mine – some were successful and some have failed. So I get it, I really do.
But I also get the other side of it – although I have not been there personally. I get that you might be an instructor or even a savvy businesswoman who has decided that you want to share your love of pole with the locals. I get that you have the foresight to know it can be a successful business. I get that you are focusing on freeing yourself from corporate America, making more time to be with your family and taking control of your own destiny. You want to do all that and empower women – share with them the love and community that you benefited from when you were a student…totally get it.
Regardless of the side you are on, this is one of those elephant -in-the-room conversations. Here is the thing – we all love that the pole world/industry/community is growing in leaps and bounds. That really only can happen with more and more people being exposed to (and falling in love with) pole. For this to happen though, like any form of growth and change, there will be some uncomfortable moments.
Now it would be great, if we as fellow pole business owners within the same local community could be great friends, have pole sleepovers and shop together for pole shorts. And for some, this does work. However, for the majority of owners, this is tough. It is kind of like thinking you can eat five cupcakes a day and your booty won’t get any bigger – sure for those lucky few with superhuman metabolism this would work. But for most of us, not only will our pant size be going up, but so will our blood sugar, stress, acne, etc., etc. So, although in a perfect world we could all be besties with pole being the common interest, that really isn’t what happens most of the time because of one thing: BUSINESS.
The whole point of business is offering a service/product and being the best at what you do. That is not an environment that really lends to best friendship. SOOOO, what do you do? How do you cope as a current business owner? And for the business owner coming in to the picture–what is proper etiquette? I put together a few thoughts, which I hope you will find helpful.
DO NOT take it personally
Please benefit from my – at times, rough – experience. The first time I went through the – let’s call it the NEW NEIGHBOR experience – it was an instructor who had worked for me. We parted ways, and then once her non-compete contract was up, she opened a studio a few short miles from one of my locations. I took it personally. Several years later, with a lot more experience under my belt, which has given me a whole different perspective, the best thing I can say is DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY. This is business. (I am going to come back to that point quite a few times in this post.) Buckle the emotions down, and repeat after me: “This is business, it is not personal”. Focus on doing what you do best – running YOUR business and minding your own business. Do not try and put motives to a person’s actions or even go down the road of, “well, she is doing this because…” — No! She is doing this because she wants to run/own a pole business. Stop the thought process there – You will thank me for this I promise. Which brings me to my next point…
DO Fake it until you make it…
… Positivity that is. Although the first point was for the original business owner, this point is for both sides. For the new business, you are just getting your feet wet. You will meet with discouragement just in everyday business. Think of having a new born child; that is what opening your business can be compared to. You will be exhausted, you will spend more money than you planned, you will worry, you will stress. So get positive, girl-friend! Forget about competition – worry about getting your ducks in a row and providing an awesome service to the community.
For the original business owner – get positive. You don’t need to be besties with the new owner. You don’t even really need to interact. But, look for the positives in things. For example: The more another business owner promotes pole, even if it is for her business, it still exposes more and more people to pole. And since you have a significant jump on the new owner as far as time goes, your reviews and your reputation should stand for themselves. Be the big sister of the relationship – (and I mean the big sister like when you’re in your 20’s and actually like your sister, not the 11 year old who tied her to a chair for three hours.) Be the leader/voice of experience in the local pole community, like a big sister. Make your business moves be about positivity and doing what you do best – running YOUR business.
Ok, but what if it gets “Messy”…
(To both owners) – Ok, so yes, we are women. And yes, we can be a fickle and at times, dare I say, dramatic sex. We do not all have the same background, ethics, morals nor etiquette. So, there are bound to be those instances where one (or both) parties can behave – let’s use the word “childish”. In the world of social media, this is unfortunately very easy! It can be displayed in innocuous (yet we all know who you are talking about) posts. It can be direct attacks on a business page or even personal page. And yes, there can even be direct bad mouthing within classes. But what are you going to do about it? The answer is simple: NOTHING! That’s right, you will do nothing. You will rise above it. You will focus your energy on making your business better. There is a saying that says: “Positive thinking and negative thinking require the same amount of energy, but the outcome is much different,” (Brittany Perkins). So, if you are wasting your energy by playing games, getting down in the mud, and tossing a few handfuls around, guess who suffers? It’s not the other business owner, or even their business. Instead, it is YOUR business. You make yourself look foolish to clients, you waste energy that should be applied to building your empire, and on top of that, it just puts you in a bad mental place. So I promise – doing nothing is the way to go. Repeat after me: “this isn’t personal, it’s business.” Do what is right for your business, not your ego. Which brings me to my next point:
DO FOCUS on the actual important things…
Guess what, girl-friend? You have an amazing and important responsibility called STUDENTS! These are the women that budget so they can afford to take your class. These are the women who find babysitters and organize their schedules so they can enjoy an outlet for their everyday stress. They DO NOT care about your drama. So, focus your energy on making their experiences and pole classes the most rewarding, up-building and empowering they can be. We so often tell students to leave their day, problems and life at the door so they can enjoy their class. The same goes for us as instructors/owners. Leave the drama at the door – especially pole industry drama, as it reflects poorly on the pole world as a whole.
You don’t have to like the other person and you don’t have to associate with them. But you do, out of common courtesy, have to RESPECT them. New owners, respect the years of hard work the original owner has put in. Understand and respect that you opened your business without much of a hitch because the community is already aware of what pole dancing actually is. Original owner, respect the newbie, (I truly dislike this word, but it fits here), owner’s hustle. Respect their hard work, give them room to breathe, and respect boundaries of professional etiquette. (Meaning: if you are not able to be friends, stay away!)
I hope this helps some of you out there! Have comments/thoughts? Comment below…let’s continue the conversation!