Today you’ll read a story from team member Tiffanee Anthony. Tiffanee’s experience of balancing homeschooling, family, running two businesses, and being involved at her church as a shy dancer is sure to inspire you.
I never set out to become a business owner, yet now I own two. I was born and raised in Norfolk, VA, and I practically grew up in the dance studio. I began ballet at age 4 and, growing up, I was known as the “quiet dancer”. As an adult, I helped out at a local dance studio, helping teach some classes and assisting with rehearsals. I loved ballet but never planned to own a studio.
When the studio owners moved away and that job ended, I was convinced by a friend to offer a summer camp. Afterwards, the dancers’ parents wanted me to offer classes year-round, but I had such a busy schedule as a homeschooling mom, I didn’t think I could do it.
I offered the summer camp the following two years, and after the third summer, I was convinced to give my own dance studio a try. So fifteen years ago, I started my own dance studio while continuing to homeschool my children. The studio was successful for several years and provided a great income for us.
An Economic Downturn
Five years ago, though, the economy had taken a downturn, and enrollment was low. When money is tight, often dance classes get cut out of the family budget. At the same time, my husband’s company relocated across the country, and he was out of work.
I wanted to find a way to contribute more to our family in order to stabilize our finances.
I had been a customer of a U.S.-based manufacturer for fifteen years, but I had never considered taking advantage of the referral program they offered. When I looked at my options, it just made sense, as I was already in love with the product line.
When I first began shopping with the company twenty years ago, my son was one year old and had horrible asthma and eczema. We wanted to use a natural approach rather than steroids and drugs. We were tired of spending the night at the hospital every time he got a cough or cold. When we began shopping for safer products, the change was dramatic.
Starting a Second Business
While I had a solid belief in the products, I still had to overcome my fear of starting a new business. I’m an introvert and quite shy, so I didn’t expect to like it.
With the dance studio, my customers came to me. With this business, I was going to have to go to others. I assumed it was going to be challenging to build this business because of my quiet personality. However, I had seen many of my friends become successful with the referral business, and I was willing to give it a try.
2 things helped me become successful:
- I made the decision that I was going to do it. I was nervous and wasn’t sure that I would be any good at it. But I just made the decision to go for it.
- I teamed up with my business partner, Kim. She linked arms with me and said, “I am here with you.” She told me, “If you want to walk, we’ll walk. If you want to run, we’ll run. Either way, I am with you.” Knowing I wasn’t in it alone gave me the confidence to try.
This business has brought many blessings that I never expected; most notably, it’s given us options. Prior to starting my referral business, when my husband and I were faced with a decision, we were often very limited in how we could respond.
Now, thanks to the consistent income we receive, we can be much more open to possibility!
Some of the options we’ve been able to choose are:
- Private school. My seventeen-year-old son is in private school because it was the right choice for him – that could not have happened without being a part of the Life on Your Own Terms team. To have that choice is priceless.
- Art lessons. My daughter is able to take private art lessons instead of just watching YouTube videos. We were also able to pay for dance training for my oldest daughter, who is now a professional ballerina in San Diego.
- Travel. This past summer, I was able to take nine days off and drive from Virginia to San Diego with her, just enjoying the time together and helping her get settled into her new home. These are all amazing options we would not have had without this business.
Owning the dance school is part of my life’s passion, but the income is up and down. It can fluctuate greatly depending on the time of year and how the economy is doing. In contrast, my income with the referral business is consistent month after month.
The flexibility this business offers me is invaluable.
Balancing it All
Sometimes people ask me how I balance it all. Owning a dance studio, parenting, and homeschooling several of my 6 kids, and being active in my church is a lot!
Here’s what I tell them:
- Accept that you’re going to be out of balance at times. When there’s a lot going on with my referral business or the dance studio, I’m putting in a lot of hours. It means my kids might eat spaghetti 3 times that week. Or toast and scrambled eggs for dinner. And that is okay. They’ll survive.
- Include your kids. Let your kids know what’s going on and get their buy-in. When I know there’s going to be a busy season, I communicate that with my whole family and get their support. We all feel better when we’re on the same page. And we celebrate together when a goal is reached.
- Recognize it won’t be like this all the time. There are ebbs and flows in my businesses, just like there are in the rest of life. There are times that homeschooling gets top priority, and times that the dance studio takes over. When I realize that it’s just a season, it makes it easier to stick it out.
- If you’re starting something new, like a new business, make a decision to stick with it for a set amount of time. When I started my referral business, I needed to commit to a certain time frame. Otherwise, it would have been really easy to give up after a couple weeks. Just like when I started my dance studio, I needed to give it time to gain momentum. When you commit to something for a set amount of time, you will be much more successful than if you just “see how it goes.”
Owning two businesses is not something I ever expected I would do. But this journey has taught me that I can do a lot more than I thought I could, and stepping out of my comfort zone led to incredible options I did not anticipate. Even though I wasn’t sure I would succeed, I’m grateful I made the decision to pursue both my businesses.
Tiffanee and her husband live in Norfolk, VA, and are the parents of 6 children. Tiffanee is in her nineteenth year of homeschooling her children, while also running her dance studio and her referral business. In her limited free time, she enjoys taking ballet classes and sitting on the beach, just ten minutes away.