Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in dance education but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Anna Cerveny, Executive Director of Cleveland Dance Project, located in North Royalton, OH, USA.

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

Cleveland Dance Project (CDP) is an all-adult, all-level dance organization that puts on two dance showcases a year. These showcases provide a choreography opportunity for local adults to create short dance works in any style of dance and provide ~150 adults a weekly rehearsal to train and dance with other adults working towards a common performance goal. These adults range from beginners to professionals. CDP has a sister 501c3 called CDP Company, which is a dance & wellness company committed to promoting wellness for dancers, educating the community on the benefits of movement for physical and mental health, and creating works that spark thoughtful engagement. We focus our outreach on adults in the community, and we perform all over the greater Cleveland/Akron area to entertain!

Tell us about yourself

I grew up dancing in a pre-professional ballet program, and when I went to college (Carnegie Mellon University) and grad school (Columbia University), I continued to dance while I pursued my degrees. I became the director of both school's dance organizations, and when I graduated with my Doctor of Physical Therapy in 2013, I went on to travel the world as the PT for the Broadway show WarHorse, dancing where I could at local studios. I returned to Cleveland a year later and suddenly had no outlet for dance. Since I could not find what I wanted, I created it with Cleveland Dance Project, while still working full-time as a physical therapist. CDP filled the hole in my heart where dance used to be, and it fuels me to see so many adults getting the same fulfillment from my business. CDP is not just a dance outlet; it's also a place of community where we can connect with each other on a human level, where friendships are formed, business connections are made, and joy is found! It motivates me to continue because I cannot imagine my world without these dancers and without this dance outlet. As a full-time PT, I also saw the need in the community for outreach to adults on the importance of movement and the benefits of mindfulness as a part of our daily routines to improve our physical and mental health. This was the impetus behind the formation of the CDP Company. Seeing our impact on the community members who participate in our outreach and the joy that they find in movement in our programming keeps driving me to continue and reach more adults with our mission.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I started CDP 5 years ago with no idea that it would ever get this big or change so many lives. The fact that it has grown to the point it has, with thousands of area adults having participated at this point, feels like a huge accomplishment to me. I'm constantly humbled and honored to have created something that filled such a need for so many people, including myself!

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

For me, one of the hardest things is my time management. I'm currently juggling my full-time position as a physical therapist, as well as running Cleveland Dance Project and serving as the Executive Director for CDP Company. It's a lot, and sometimes it can feel like people don't realize how much you are doing behind the scenes and how much you sacrifice as a business owner, both financially and personally, to keep things running smoothly.

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

If you have an idea, don't hesitate. Just start. Have a backup plan, and don't immediately quit your day job but start now on your business ideas! Keep yourself open to feedback, listen to what your customers say (even when it stings a little) to improve, and just keep chugging along.

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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