Jessica Elliott has been dancing to her own beat since she formed J’s Dance Factory back in 2008 when she was just 20 years’ old.
Since then, the business has rapidly grown with over 1,000 kids between the ages of 3 to 17 attending dance classes provided in 24 schools across four boroughs in London.
“When I started J’s Dance Factory I did not really envision things to turn out like this,” Jessica candidly reveals.
She adds, “When I started I was still a university student. Now I am running this as a business and it a lot of work. A lot of my time is devoted to developing the business and it is difficult to switch off because it is a 24/7 operation.”
The young entrepreneur credits her mother for guiding her and supporting her business venture which is paying dividends today.
“My mum is quite supportive and she helps with everything. She is on my payroll now and looks after one of the schools on the weekend. I think when you take on a venture like this it is important to have support from family or friends because you really need someone to be there for you,” Jessica divulges.
“A high point has definitely been some of the students getting professional work because it shows the progress they have made.”
Several of the students from J’s Dance Factory have gone on to feature in The Lion King and on the Disney Channel.
“Quality is an important area for me because I am definitely looking at expanding overseas to areas such as the United States, Australia and the Middle East. I need to have a good product if I am to be successful in these new markets. Also, kids especially see through you right away if something is not good. Kids are very honest and they will let you know if something is not good,” Jessica explains.
Currently she is focused on franchising the business and expects to see significant growth in the future.
“I am focused on growing the business as fast as possible. Right now there are plans for the franchise because I have a model that works,” Jessica notes.
“I enjoy working with kids, you need to find that balance between fun and being strict,” she adds.
“A lot of stress comes from knowing that people are relying on you to pay their wages and feed their family. Knowing that other people are depending on you to provide for their family,” says the 2010 Natwest Everywoman award winner.
Jessica believes resilience is key to success.
You need to be persistent and not give up at the first hurdle. At times things may look daunting but you need to stick with it. Also, there is so much temptation to get distracted by other opportunities that present themselves as things progress. You must never lose focus of the original idea and the end goal.