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New Castle Dance & Music Academy

Submitted by: Valerie Gooding
State: Delaware
City: Newark

Business Description

A performing arts training center that teaches children age 18 months through adults all dance forms and children ages 4 through adult music and vocal lessons by university certified instructors.

What one unique aspect of your business will make you succeed over the next year?

As a natural visionary; ambition, talent and passion is the initial driving force of becoming an entrepreneur. However, it is the unyielding determination of never losing sight of my vision that has endured over the past 38 years in operating my business. The unique aspect that will make me succeed over the next year is my “perseverance to always perceive my business through the eyes of my customer, stay focused on my quest and continuously create innovative, new, cutting edge strategies with integrity. This in turn demonstrates commitment to the community. A customer appreciates when we “roll out the red carpet” in every aspect of operations. I constantly strive to exceed expectations with “top of the line” programs. The staff of 23 carefully selected members are the nuts and bolts of the business. Some are celebrating over 20 years; which is a testament of their loyalty. Social media marketing is just as important as “word of mouth” recommendations. It is imperative to stay abreast to the global, national and local community needs in order to have a keen awareness of the future to succeed in business. Opening a business is not an easy venture, staying on top of the game is even more demanding. It requires great people, resources and constant innovation to promote happy returning customers. A constant balance of continuity and care breeds a business worth operating and a life worth living!

How does your business make a positive impact on the community?

The community had a need for the performing arts in New Castle and Kent County. The Academy began in 1978, enrollment increased by 100% exceeding 200 students by 1980. I relocated three times over 18 years and expanded to four locations by 2005. The community has reaped the benefits through many charity shows, events, parades, school artist in residence programs and Summer Dance Camps in Ocean City MD for the past 12 years. We performed for senior centers, Winterthur, hospitals, Hurricane Sandy, American Heart Association, Little Sisters of the poor and Kalmyr Nickel Association. We provide scholarships and auditions and most recently launched a non- profit Dance Company performing in Barcelona selected to represent Delaware and USA.

What would you do with a $1,000 Sam’s Club gift card, training, and help from a SCORE mentor to grow your business?

I would purchase gymnastic equipment, new printers, fax machine, computers and a video surveillance system to upgrade safety and security. I would throw a customer appreciation day and provide refreshments and invite community leaders, area schools and day care centers. I would send my manager and administrative staff to additional training. I would send my teachers for additional certifications. A score mentor could help me find the best resources and training for all of the courses necessary through social media, marketing, sales and operations through their workshops.

The following responses will be considered in judging for a SCORE Award.

How has working with a SCORE mentor helped your business?

Antara Dutta has exceeded my expectations as a mentor. She rekindled my passion to restructure my business after experiencing a life-changing family emergency. She has opened new doors for me to include: launching two franchise companies, being part of the newly launched We Think group headed by herself and SBA's Ellyn Herbert. Their genuine inspiration to bring my business to the next level was monument. I was nominated by my score mentor for the SBA Family owned business of the year award. I won the award in 2014. I then was approached to become and score mentor. Although, I did not think I'd have much to offer, I can say after a year, that I truly love giving back to the future leaders in entrepreneurship

Have you had to overcome any obstacles along the way to build your business?

In 2008 my husband, a military officer who was always supportive and instrumental in all aspects of the business was diagnosed with a brain tumor and in 2009 passed away. Immediately after that, my mother in law was diagnosed with cancer. Needless to say, all this caused me to step away from the business and consolidate to one location. A few unfortunate occurrences happened during my leave. I then sought the help of score with a mentor and workshops

How will you utilize the marketing video and national recognition of winning a SCORE Award to help take your business to the next level?

I will market the video and national recognition by bringing awareness to other children who could benefit from our programs, auditions, scholarships and network to share the plentiful benefits of other people who share the goal of living the American Dream as an entrepreneur.
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