Teacher Jill Duke founded Dundee’s Educated Dance Academy earlier this year. Here she shares her business start-up journey.
Q. Why did you start in business?
A. As a teacher with an interest in childhood development I felt I could offer more to young girls outwith the confines of the classroom.
I started the classes as a hobby and although we focus on dance, we use this as a base for so much more.
We combine dance and education, focusing on empowering the girls by raising their self-esteem and self-belief and allow them to understand and develop their own skills and interests.
Our ethos comprises of four pillars; respect, relationships, routine and responsibility.
We encourage the youngsters to take control of their own development and gain accreditation through Youth Scotland’s Youth Achievement Awards and the Sports Leader programme, in whatever areas they are interested in.
Q. How did you get to where you are?
A. My background is in education and I’ve worked with children from nursery to secondary school age.
I studied psychology and counselling and really enjoyed the child development aspects. I’ve also had a lifelong love of dance and drama and believe the creative arts are a fantastic way for young people to gain skills that will help them throughout life. After running the classes as a hobby, it became apparent I had to turn it into a full-time business.
Q. Who has helped you along the way?
A. Recently I completed the six week Ready Set Grow Programme run by Business Gateway, Coca Cola 5by20 and Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce.
Completing this gave me so much confidence, allowed me to make important connections and ignited my passion for growing the business.
Angie Foreman, 5 by 20 programme director has provided valuable mentoring support to help me focus and boost my confidence to develop this business. I’ve now entered the Business Gateway Growth Service and working with my adviser, Wayne Henderson, I’ve put together a six month action plan designed to help me achieve growth.
Q. Your biggest mistake?
A. There hasn’t been any. I’ve gathered enough experience and knowledge to know we have a really exciting future.
Q. Your greatest achievement?
A. Every time I see one of our girls develop and gain more confidence is really wonderful. To watch these young females begin to lead and explore their interest and passions is so rewarding.
Q. Hopes for the future?
A. Changing from doing the classes as a hobby to a business happened organically, so I want any expansion to happen naturally. But we will be doing more classes and establishing ourselves as a learning centre that will help to develop the next generation of females in the region, arming them with the confidence and skills to do whatever they aspire to.
Q. Do you want to recruit in the future?
a. The plan is to have a train-the-trainer approach to develop the business.
Q. What is the hardest thing about running your own business?
a. Luckily I believe in lifelong learning and at the moment the biggest challenge for me is getting to grips with everything that is involved with running a business.
Q. Any advice to wannabe entrepreneurs?
A. Seek advice from Business Gateway and go to events where you can pick up a lot of information as well as meet others from the local business community.