To Downsize, Or Not To Downsize?

I have discovered the chai tea latte with apple at Starbucks. If you already know the goodness of this, forgive me for being late to the party, but I get stuck in my ways and hesitate to try new things.  Thankfully, I ditched my usual go-to as per my son’s insistence.  He did not lead me astray!

Chai is a sweet, spicy blend of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice.  It is blended with black tea and the dairy of your choice (I like oatmilk.).  Add a few pumps of apply syrup, and you have yourself a warm, fragrant, delectable gulp of apple pie.  Oh, the comfort!

Trepidatious about trying it the first time, I ordered a Grande.  It was sweet and flavorful, perhaps a little too sweet, but I was instantly hooked.  It needed adjustments to suit me just fine, maybe a downsize in sweetener, less apple syrup.  It was SO tasty, though, it needed an upgrade in size…a Venti!  

A downsize?  An upgrade?  More?  Less?  Yep!  I made adjustments the next time I went, bigger size, less apple pumps, just right.  My newly-found, deliciously autumn, apple pie in a cup drink makes me happy. 

Does my business need downsizing?  Upgrading?

What if I applied this same formula for personal happiness to my business?  A little of this, less of that?  About the same time I was unlocking a new level of comfort carbs at Starbucks, I started seeing posts from other studio owners about downsizing – or expanding – with lots of questions about how to proceed.

Some studio owners consider downsizing, finding that minimal sweet spot within the right combination of dance floors, staff members, and students.  They have the Venti but want the Grande.  Others consider upsizing, securing a second location, increasing staff size, growing student numbers.  They want the Venti.

It seems to me that there is always much talk about growing one’s business, from hiring practices to facility construction to marketing for new clients.  There is not; however, much talk about downsizing, from simplifying operations to reducing staff to limiting enrollment.


In this 3-part series, I want to offer some downsizing considerations.  First, I want to talk about what downsizing really means and serve up some food for thought for deciding if it’s right for you.  Grab your favorite Starbucks drink (or try the chai tea latte with apple), and let’s think about downsizing together:

  • What does downsizing look like?  If you’re considering scaling down your business, what does that mean to you?  It might look like a smaller space or fewer employees.  Does it mean attending fewer competitions or events?  Would you offer fewer classes or streamline your programming options?  Might you limit enrollment to only a certain number of dancers?


  • What were (and are) your goals for the business?  Reflecting on your initial objectives (and your current objectives) is helpful in contemplating a scale-down.  Have you met your original goals?  How have your goals evolved?  What new goals do you have for the studio?


  • How healthy is the current business climate?  Taking into account the desires of your market and the costs of doing business is key.  Does your local market still have interest in your offerings?  Do your prices allow for profitability?  Are supply chain issues manageable or taking a toll on your business?


  • How healthy is your actual business?  Evaluating your studio’s profitability and performance over time, both short-term and long-term, can help you make an informed decision about downsizing.  Are you making a profit?  Do you maintain a worthy, strong culture and environment?  Have you continued your own education or grown stagnant?  How have you kept your business practices up-to-date, efficient, and effective?


  • Is staffing a concern?  Thinking about your team in an effort to determine exactly what is needed to run your business can yield eye-opening, new facts.  Do you need more help?  Could you restructure your business and reduce your work force?  If you trimmed your business, could you afford to employ the same staff members?  Would you even need all of them?


  • Are you supported?  Regardless of your reasons to consider downsizing, you need people around you who support your objectives.  Will your business partner go for a minimalist approach?  Does your spouse or partner encourage or question your desire to scale back?  Do you have anyone to act as a sounding board off which to bounce ideas and plans, fears and concerns?


I highly recommend sitting with pen and legal pad in hand and scribbling out your answers to these questions if you’re considering a downsize.  The fact that downsizing is even a fleeting thought in your mind makes it worth a look, if for no other reason than to examine that thought long enough to dismiss it or run with it.  You might find that economizing is not right for you after all.

I also encourage you to try the idea on for size.  Carry on about your daily life as if downsizing is a thing.  Watch your studio run, look more closely at your staff, and observe your students.  As you examine your business with downsizing in mind as a viable option, go back over your answers to the questions posed here.  If scaling back seems to “fit”, then you might be on to something.

In Part 2, I want to talk about downsizing as it relates to you personally.  Let’s discuss your current lifestyle, how you have evolved (as a person, friend, parent, partner), and what you want out of life.  You’ll need a nice warm drink again, that pen and legal paper, and an open mind.  And if you’re like me, you might need a tissue or two.  My contemplating life is rarely without a tear and a sniffle or two.

Until then, give these initial downsizing considerations some attention.  Feel free to reach out to me, any Gold Alliance leader, or the IDEA tribe of studio owners if you ever need help sorting through your thoughts about this meaningful topic.

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