As a business owner there is one big thing I’ve learned in the 9 years my doors have been open and is the importance of policies. They make things clear. They make things consistent. And most importantly, they mean that I am still alive and haven’t died of an ulcer. No joke. Every time any sort of conflict would come up in the early days when we didn’t have policies I’d be super conflicted wanting to be a nice person and wanting to make sure my business was ok. I’d agonize. I’d lose sleep. I’d call my mom/business partner and talk about it for stupid long. I’d be so stressed over whatever it was, then I responded and the person would be fine. They weren’t as concerned as I was. They were just asking a question and I turned it into something major because I’m extremely sensitive and want everyone to be happy. And this is why I worked on creating policies. There are created at a time when it isn’t stomach churning, words have been written and I can just execute. So much better for my mental health.
Policies protect our students. We are often asked why we have a “no cameras” until the last five minutes policy and that we ask our students to make sure only THEY are in the picture. Some of our women are not comfortable on social media, they may not want family or friends to see them on a pole or in shorts or may be hiding from a situation you know nothing about. So that’s obvious. But why not take pictures and videos all through class? Because you’re supposed to be experiencing! Not documenting. We want you present in the moment and thinking about yourself and not how what you’re doing is going to look on Facebook. The “no cameras” is a way to help our classes focus on your growth and what really matters and not the external. The five minutes at the end is intended to give you a chance to take notes and document your journey. We do also want to give you the chance to show off and celebrate the goddess you are too!
Policies also protect our instructors. We have a policy for anyone teaching pole, hoop, hammock or silks within a 15 mile radius, they aren’t able to participate at Aerial Dance. Why? Am I just an evil person? Hopefully not. Almost all the instructors this applies to were Aerial Dance community members at some time who I genuinely care about, so this was a really hard one for me to create. But Aerial Dance is a business, with bills, lots and lots of bills and so we had to come up with the best options to make the company stable and my staff supported. The reason for this policy is to protect the intellectual property of the company. We do things differently at Aerial Dance. We have different technique and choreography. All of these things my staff have worked HARD to create, spent a lot of time on and I’ve paid them for their time. It is brutally unfair to my team to then see a really cool combo they spent a lot of time and skin creating and taught to a student to show up with someone else making money off it and they, the creator, not getting compensated by the person now profiting from them. This is totally different than posting something on Instagram and wanting people to try it because when someone is profiting from your work you have the right to make the choice if you should be compensated by that person now making money off you. So with this reality, my team and I decided the most logical policy was to have a small non-compete radius and make a unilateral policy.
Aerial Dance may have a founder, me, but I’m not a dictator. Every policy has been discussed and voted on by my staff. (some of them, cough Leah cough, especially hate policy meetings…but recognize the importance of it for everyone and how much easier things now that we have black/white.) They have a much better idea of what is going on in the classroom than I do so I rely on them to help me know what policies need to be created. I’m so lucky because I have this amazing team and they help me create policies that protect everyone, including my stomach lining.
PS – we’ve also had students email policy requests, the “shorts policy” (minimum coverage) was a student request! Everyone at Aerial Dance helps us make this community amazing and safe for all!