Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in dance education but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Alissa Tollefson, Founder and Director of Lake Michigan Dance Academy, located in Allendale, MI, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Lake Michigan Dance Academy is a versatile dance studio located in Allendale, MI. We offer classes in ballet, tap, jazz. hiphop, lyrical, contemporary, and Acro to students of all ages!

Tell us about yourself

I am a mom of three, a retired professional dancer, and the founder and director of Lake Michigan Dance Academy in Allendale, MI. Teaching and dance have always been my two passions. I spent my whole life dancing and went to college to be a school teacher. I decided to pursue a professional dance career coming out of school. After four incredible seasons with Thodos Dance Chicago, it was time to move on and make a change.

My husband, Caleb, is an entrepreneur. He has a passion for starting small businesses. With all of the experience and knowledge I acquired in Chicago, along with my teaching degree, he brought up the crazy idea that we should start a dance studio in West Michigan. I thought he was just that…crazy. I didn't know anything about business! I was a teacher and a dancer! But I guess that's why we make such a great team. 🙂

Fast-forward to Year 7 of the studio, and I can't imagine my life any other way! It is nothing short of a blessing to be able to share my knowledge and passion with young dancers. Working with my amazing team to provide unparalleled dance instruction is my motivation to do what I do every day.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Every year at our Spring Recital, I have one of those "I can't believe I did this" moments. Seeing our dancers shine on stage with an audience full of family and friends sharing in their success is my biggest accomplishment. It is a testament to our team and the daily administrative work, the dedication that happens inside the dance studio week after week, and the warm and encouraging environment we strive to uphold inside our walls.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

For me, the hardest thing is being so connected. My business is a part of me, so it's always on my mind. Even if I'm not at the studio or in front of my computer, I think about ways to grow and improve or wonder how everything is going.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Get involved with your community! Before the studio opened, I spent an entire year volunteering at local libraries, daycares, and schools. We continue to participate in community-related events whenever we can!
  2. Establish a strong team. Even if you start out small, bring on people who you trust and who share your vision. We wouldn't be where we are today if not for our incredible team of teachers and administrative staff!
  3. Utilize social media. If you're like me and not savvy in this area, find someone who can help! It is such an effective way to advertise and put yourself out there.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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