Carrie-Anne Forsyth had been helping children to build resilience, self-esteem and a love of dance for more than a decade when COVID hit.

The impact of COVID-19 led to Esteem Dance Company, whose motto is ‘Moving for Confidence’, closing its studio doors in early 2020. The studio provided classes such as jazz, tap, hip-hop, boys only, classical ballet, contemporary/lyrical, acrobatics, tiny tots, adults classes and pilates to students aged from 18 months to adult, and beginner to advanced levels.

“I had put blood, sweat, tears and 11 years of my life into the business,” Carrie-Anne said. “All of that love and passion and devotion to helping these wonderful children was potentially going to come to an end in a very abrupt way.”

Carrie-Anne had faced challenges in her life before, being born with multiple congenital abnormalities of the spine and facing bullying and self-esteem issues as a teenager as a result. She discovered the PIVOT program through the SBDC and the City of Wanneroo, a member of the SBDC’s Small Business Friendly Local Governments initiative. The program helped her develop the skills, mindset and confidence she needed to transform her business and carry on her dream of using dance to build confidence.

“I'm first and foremost a dance educator, so owning a business has been a beautiful thing for me, but I've never really had time to work on my business skills,” said Carrie-Anne.

“The PIVOT program was a chance to streamline my business knowledge, financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills. The program has dramatically changed the way I look at my business and the day-to-day running of my business.”

Part of Carrie-Anne’s growth came down to implementing some business fundamentals to help her keep track of the health of her dance studio. “I have KPIs. I've done budgets for the first time. I look at my profit and loss cashflow reports and I've worked on building the growth of the business.”

Another outcome of the program was involving Carrie-Anne’s daughter and now co-owner of Esteem Dance, Brittany, more closely in the running of the business at the suggestion of PIVOT coach, Vicki Main. Carrie-Anne found that Brittany’s strengths complemented her own, but more importantly, allowed her time to work on the business instead of in the business. Brittany confirmed the program’s value.

“Getting invited into the PIVOT program by my mother has definitely been very exciting because I've got to have a look at the business from a different point of view to what my mum's experienced,” Brittany said.

“It’s made me take a step back and go, Oh my Gosh, she’s been working so hard for the past 12 years!”

The impact of the PIVOT Program on the business and Carrie-Anne personally has been tangible.

“We've had enormous growth. From February this year to May, we've had an increase of 28 per cent. That is new clients walking through the door and staying.”

Carrie-Anne has also learned to look after her own health and wellbeing, so that she can bring vitality to the business and help it grow.

As for the business, it has not only grown its clients and profits, but undergone a rebrand and moved to a brand new, larger studio in Wangara.

“Without SBDC and the PIVOT program, I really don't see that I would have made the leap of faith into a bigger building. I found that the tools that the PIVOT program gave me were invaluable, and really changed everything.”

About the PIVOT Program

In August 2020, the SBDC launched the PIVOT program to respond to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Western Australian small businesses. Blow Your Own Mind, the SBDC’s delivery partner for the PIVOT program, helped develop the mentoring series to assist impacted small businesses build resilience, be future focused and grow their entrepreneurial mindset to allow them to make changes to their business model to help them survive and thrive.

Nearly 500 business owners from across Western Australia joined the free six month program, participating in live and on-demand webinars and workshops, dedicated one-on-one business coaching and networking to build collaborations and partnerships.

If you’d like to find out more about Esteem Dance visit their website.

Small business stories
07 December 2021