8.2 Consistent Practice: Working Hard, Working Smart
Before you decide how hard and how often you’re going to work, you have to find the place that dancing holds in that equation. Honestly, if this job doesn’t further your long or short-term view of yourself, your future and your purpose, it’s unlikely that you’ll grow from it or that your savings account will grow from it either.
Ultimately, whether dancing is a hobby, a side gig, a job or a business is up to you, because you’re deciding where it belongs for you. IF this is a side gig or a hobby, then how often and how hard you work may not be a factor in your equation. Maybe you’re showing up for disposable income and a few cocktails, and in that case good on you. Enjoy away, and have extra fun for the rest of us. Love you, but this section is probably not for you. For the rest of us who are trying to balance dancing, families, friendships, other professional routes, and our own self-care, determining how often and how hard we work can be a massive component of our success, or lack thereof.
So, how do you determine how much is too much work? And how do you decide how hard is too hard?
Everyone will have their own limits. These could be:
Physical. Knee injuries or back injuries can be long-time companions of many a dancer, and working in heels in a highly physical job can bring up cramps, inflammation, or even sprains.
Emotional. Being in a party atmosphere, dealing with rejection, and the constant high stress interactions or unwanted advances from customers could get you to a point where a break is the only way to recenter.
Personal. Maybe your kids have ballet, or you have to get to your LSAT prep course. Perhaps your partner works in the daytime, and on a schedule- quality time and quality of life experience may factor into your scheduling.
But just because we have limits doesn’t mean that they are the guide of how often we can work. Learning to work more often may often require that we approach our limits and then find ways to overcome them. Some examples:
If your physical limitation is ankle pain, you might incorporate strength training exercises into your routine, change your shoes, or avoid high-risk dance moves.
If you are overwhelmed by the emotional rollercoaster of the club, you might create a daily self-care routine with yoga, meditation, and great nutrition. You might learn how to develop your social compass through educational resources, or establish a no-social-media policy on workdays to give you your alone time.
If you have personal restrictions, you might hire someone to take on some of your responsibilities, or improve your scheduling and efficiency in other areas of your life to give you more time to work.
However, doing any of that work requires that first you decide how serious you are about dancing. If you’ve already established that it’s a priority for you, then I have some news. You don’t get to decide if you’re serious about this business venture. The one deciding this will be your calendar. Your time is your most precious resource, so if you are not investing it into building your profession, then you are kidding yourself when you say it’s your number one priority.
If you’re telling yourself that dancing is the stepping stone into the life you want to have, but you’re only working one or two days a week, then something isn’t adding up. When you are a full time, professional dancer, you have to treat it like if you are setting up a business.
You can quit a job. You can be late to a job. You can goof off at your job, because you're working for someone else. And if you're a dancer, working a job means you're putting your club and your management as the arbiter of your needs. A business is something different.
A business is your own, and it grows or fails based on your actions. A business can expand, shift into different avenues, and still continue to support you. And if you are a business, you cannot be late. You have to schedule your time and priorities to support the business instead of yourself. You have to be patient, and hardworking, and make sacrifices that employees are not willing to make
So, how do you get on the path from working as an employee to treating dancing as your business?
Let's start with how you invest your most valuable asset: time. You've probably already made the connection that when you're at work, time is your only currency. You're paid by the song (3-4 minutes), or by the time. So every hour you're on the floor that you're not bringing in income feels like you are wasting time. However, and here's the important part; your time does not end at the door of the strip club. The clock always keeps running.
This is not a critique of dancers that choose to spend their time however they see fit. It's your time. It's your money, and it's your life. No one gets to make you change anything, especially when so many of us may use dancing to supplement our true passions or simply to cover our basic needs.
But if you're already looking to change, to grow and to get better, the key is in your time. Time is the only level playing field you have with everyone else around you. The highest earning CEO in the world has the same 24 hours as you in the day. The lowest earning dancer at your club has the 7 days every week to accomplish her goals that you do, and so does the highest earner. And every dancer at your club is competing against the same exact clock 365 days a year, 7 days a week.
So why do some dancers show up, make substantially more than you every night, and still manage to come back and do it again every night of the week? What do they know that you don't? It all comes down to how they handle their time at work, and their time outside of work.
While this covers covers plenty ways to make your shift run more efficiently, here I only want to cover how long you're actually spending at work. This is because the amount of time you actually spend at the club will influence your earnings more than any other strategy or tip.
It's this simple:
if you're not there, you can't be picked by a customer to make money.
If you're not there, you can't improve your pitches to customers and improve how you dance and sell.
And if you're not there, you can't mind your business.
To make the importance of working as much as you can, let's run through a scenario. To simplify, we'll assume that your money stays constant no matter how many days you work in a week, although to be clear it is always more likely that you'll make more money if you spend more time at work.
Working More, Working Less: Two Scenarios
If you're looking for someone to tell you to work fewer days, take more time off, or diversify your focus, I trust you to find that opinion elsewhere. There are plenty of people out there of that opinion, and many of them may already be around you. This course is about using dancing to purposefully fulfill your goals, so the content will stay true to that message.
It is my belief that working more, more often is almost always the right thing to do. There is certainly a time and a place to ease off the pedal, but rarely is the time to quit the time we feel like quitting. Only you know your purpose, what needs to get done, and your own limits, though. But for those days when you need a bit of push, here's some information to think through.
Let's say you work 3 days per week and make 1,000 every one of those nights, for the sake of simple math. Now let's say you work 6 days a week, and make 500 each of those nights. In theory, those both leave you at 3,000 per week, which is the same end point. However, these two options will not land you in the same place. If you have 4 days without work, it means you have 4 days to find new ways of spending money. Daily costs, small expenditures here and there, and just enough time to get distracted from your long term goals will mean you're spending far more on a week where you work less days. On top of that, you realistically have the potential to earn more just by going in on more days. If you're already making 1,000 per shift, adding even one more shift in a week could drastically improve your income at the end of the year.
3000 x 50 working weeks in a year= $150,000
4000x 50 working weeks in a year= $200,000
Pretty huge difference! And I know those may sound like some pretty high weekly numbers for many of us, but the point isn't the number. It’s the difference in income relative to what you already make now. For example, if you make $200 per shift, that still would mean a $16,000 difference over a year, just for picking up a few more hours each week.
The biggest cost of missing work is hidden in this example , and it usually doesn't show up until much later. The biggest cost of working less is the amount of hours you miss out on when you're building expertise. Whether you chose dancing or it chose you, it's likely that you don't plan on ending your career here. If you have goals to start a business, to retire early, or to go on to a totally different career path, then you have to take dancing seriously so that you're building skills you'll use later on. Everyone who will compete with you in sales, marketing, real estate, entrepreneurship, science, law, cosmetology, clothing design, and in being a boss lady in general is currently getting experience. They may be in school, at an internship, or at a job, but they likely are spending at least 40 hours every week improving their skills. They're out there learning about sales, customer relations, accounting, money management, and getting better every day.
When it comes time to compete on an even playing field, you can either be the person that worked 20 hours a week and didn't learn any of the lessons of dancing or of selling, or the one that has consistently outworked and out-earned all of your competition. Before taking the next night off, it may be valuable to ask: which one of these would you rather be?
Scheduling With Purpose: A Work Example
Congratulations! You just made $1,000 in a night. Sounds like a good start, right?
But the next day it's your friend's birthday/a music show/a "slow night" of the week/you're hungover and just plain don't feel like going in.
That $1,000 night just became a $500 average over two days.
Still don't feel like going in the next day? You're down to a $300 average per night. Over a year, this can make the difference of tens, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Assuming you’re calculating based of a total amount of nights in a year (300 potential days of work, with two months off to include days off and vacations), these averages could look like:
$1000 x 300 = 300,000
$500 x 300 = 150,000
$300 x 300 = 90,000
That's a pretty huge difference. It gets bigger when you consider the expenditures that inevitably show up when you start taking time off. A dinner out with friends, a ticket to a movie or an outfit you impulse buy all add up at the end of the year. And it's much easier to spend if you give yourself the leisure time.
How much you work is ultimately up to you. There is no correct number of days, shifts, or hours that will work for everyone. The only golden rule is that you will get back out what you put in. If you only work one or two days a week, dancing will never function as a full-time job. The only way for it to pay like a full-time job is if you work full time.
However, many of us have different goals that can affect what kind of schedule we stick to. Usually it helps to work backwards from your goals and figure out what kind of a work schedule matches your financial wants and needs for the year. This takes a bit of tracking, but it's worth it in the long run.
If you're keeping good track of your weekly averages, net income, gross income and tax deductible expenses, then deducing how often you should go to work becomes a lot easier. If not, I'd refer you to the worksheets available under the Education section of Racks to Riches. They'll help you keep organized, and aid you when planning your weeks out.
First, it helps to figure out how much you're already making with the days that you're working every week. And the more data you have, the easier it will be to figure out. Either on paper or (highly recommended) on a spreadsheet, figure out how much you earn per shift on average.
So, for example, if I earned 4,000 in a week and worked for five days of that week, I would take:
4000/5 = $800 average per shift in a week.
total/days worked= average per shift
Or, if I knew that I made 25,000 in a month and worked for 22 days I could take:
25,000/22= $1,136.63 average per shift
total/days worked= average per shift
Now, we could work backwards from our goals into the number of days we want to put on our schedule. If my goal was to earn $300,000 before taxes in one calendar year, I then could divide $300,000/1,136 to get 264 days.
That means if I can keep a consistent average of 1,136 per shift, then in 264 days I will meet my goal of 300,000. However, this simple calculation doesn't account for all the other factors that come with day to day work.
A few to consider when making your final scheduling goals are:
Averages may change over time. Is work in your city seasonal? Will there be slower or busier months?
Your earning potential may change depending on how many days you add. Do you have the stamina to take on more shifts without it affecting your potential or mood?
Wiggle room for sickness, family emergencies, cramps, personal circumstances, etc.
The tax deductions that will affect your yearly total, and make your totals go down in size, and
How much you usually spend per month
It's always useful to plan for more days than you originally expect; give yourself some room to be human. The exact number of days and hours is up to you. However, even if you only work one or two days a week, the habit of setting and sticking to a weekly schedule keeps you accountable to yourself and to those who depend on you. No more relying on your mood to dictate your money. Let your money making dictate your mood.
Next, we'll cover some tools to help you pack for consistent nights.