A dance fanatic since she was three years old, Sue set up Shimmi Shake after she was made redundant from the Stock Exchange in April 1997 and she is now working six days a week to cope with an ever-growing waiting list.
Shimmi Shake run extra-curricular dance classes at primary schools in the Bromley and Orpington areas, teaching children everything from classical subjects like ballet and tap alongside more in-vogue styles like Hip Hop and Street Jazz.
The secret of Shimmi Shake’s runaway success is largely down to Sue’s hard work and determination, but also through the backing of the small business advice and support service for the capital. The European Social Fund and London Development Agency co-fund the London Pre-Start and Start Up Service.
Sue said: “I had been running a small dancing school as a hobby for some time and I quickly identified a need for extra-curricular dance classes at the local primary schools in and around Orpington and Bromley in Kent.
“I set about the task of contacting all the primary school headmasters in the area to establish the brand of Shimmi Shake and to explain how we could be a real benefit to the local schoolchildren. Plucking up the courage to pick up the phone to speak to the headmasters was the hardest part – but once we met my enthusiasm for dance won them over.”
Identified gaps in business knowledge
Thanks to her years working in the City, Sue had some experience of accounting and basic business knowledge – but she soon realised that there were gaps in her knowledge.
She explained: “I was introduced to business advisers at my local enterprise agency, Business Focus, who are one of the reasons Shimmi Shake has done so well. I haven’t looked back since and the children keep coming back for more.
“We identified marketing, advertising, IT skills, merchandising and recruitment methods as areas where I needed advice and training. In addition to these newly acquired skills, we continually bounced ideas off each other and this motivated me, pushing me forward and helping me to focus on the business. I got my head down and worked very, very hard and it soon paid off. Within the first eight months the business grew from three to 200 pupils.”
Today, Shimmi Shake is in nine schools and, added to private out-of-school classes, they have 580 children plus a growing waiting list. Sue is now in discussions with her business advisor to take the business to a new level – their goal being to have a Shimmi Shake franchise up and running by the end of the year.