BUSINESS OWNER: Kayla Kellen
BUSINESS NAME: Rhythm Avenue Dance Academy
MAIN PRODUCTS/SERVICES: Dance Instruction
YEAR STARTED: 2010
ADDRESS: 910 Morningside Ave (Sioux City) & 132 Gaul Drive (Sergeant Bluff)
Q: What makes you an entrepreneur?
A: I have owned and operated Rhythm Avenue Dance Academy for the past four years. I have taught the majority of classes offered as well as running the business aspects of day to day operations. I have always been a very determined and goal driven person, which I think has really helped me start and grow my business. I was only 19 years old when I decided owning a business would be my goal and at age 20, I was able to make it happen. It has not always been easy and I have learned so many tough lessons along the way, but over all, it has been a great experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world!
Q: What was the driving force behind you starting a business? What drives you each day?
A: When I was a senior in high school, I was told “To truly be happy in what you do, figure out what you are most passionate in and then find a way to make money doing it. Do that and you will never work a day in your life.” This thought was constantly in the back of my mind when deciding what I would do with my future. I have always had a strong passion for dance and I really enjoyed my job teaching at a dance studio, so the decision to start a business doing exactly what I loved was pretty simple for me.My first year, I had 18 students and offered 9 classes. Our recital lasted 30 minutes, which included an intermission. Today, I own and operate two locations with over 100 students, and offer close to 40 classes.I often have students tell me that when they grow up, they want to be a dance teacher and that is what keeps me going every day. My dance teacher was one of my biggest role models, so I love having the opportunity to be a role model for someone else.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome as you’ve grown your business? What has been your greatest reward?
A: The biggest challenge I have had to overcome is learning that I cannot trust everyone, which is a life lesson I think everyone learns eventually. However, when it involves your business and your livelihood, it is especially tough. My greatest reward is getting to watch my students succeed. When a student finally perfects a skill they have been working on for weeks, or when one of the teams places first at a competition, it is just as exciting for me as it is for them. Seeing the smiles on their faces makes all the stress worth it for me.
Q: Why are startups and small companies important to a local economy?
A: Startups and small businesses employ over half of the country’s workforce. They are what stimulate economic growth and are a strong indicator of the strength of the local economy. Entrepreneurs are the backbone of creativity and production. Without startups, small businesses and driven entrepreneurs, our local economy would not prosper.
Q: What more can be done to help create, grow and promote small businesses and startups in Sioux City and the region?
A: I think programs like Startup Sioux City are a great stride in the right direction. For me, a business is something that is really never finished. There is always something new to learn, and something that you can improve. It is nice to know there is a resource that business owners can utilize to keep their companies growing and thriving within the community. It would be great to see small business owners in the area utilizing networking resources to support each other and help each other grow.