What it's like to be an entrepreneur when you have a full-time job
In this week’s Working Girl Diaries, meet Tiffany Chao, the creator of the fitness dance collective MVMT Theory. MVMT Theory is a hip-hop based dance fitness classes orchestrated by live DJs in pop-up spaces all over Los Angeles. She works a day job in advertising and spends every free minute running MVMT. This is three days in the life of an entrepreneur.
5:30am: Wake up, go to yoga, and check emails and all MVMT Theory social handles to see if there is anything urgent that needs my response.
7:30am: I launched MVMT earlier this year so we’re just getting the word out. I noticed that several new people have heard about MVMT Theory and are engaging with us via social – baby steps, but celebrating the small wins.
8:00am: Work on MVMT marketing collateral for the remainder of the week. Upload a handful of photos to dropbox so the dance instructors can utilize and push out on their own social handles to promote a class they’re teaching. Follow up with instructors regarding schedule, and ensure the owner of the studio space is confirmed for class tonight as well.
9:00am: Real work starts, I work in advertising, but I’m toggling between the two. I give myself specific hours during the day to work on MVMT but find it hard to not be pulled into MVMT all the time.
12:00pm: Lunch! Finally, a break in the day to work specifically on MVMT. I scheduled a call with an attorney to go over employee contracts and other legalities. This is all new to me.
1:00pm: Just got word that we’re accepted onto ClassPass! I’m texting my instructor and right hand, Kirsten Marbert, we’re both so excited!
2:00pm: I get an email from the videographer making the promo video that he needs revised music. Shit. I’ll need to see which of my DJs can help me with this and turn it around in three days.
3:00pm: Get on the phone with a DJ who made the first cut of the music for the promo vid. The music is still not exactly what I hoped for. We schedule a call after class to go over specifics.
4:00pm: The instructor for tonight’s class can’t make it out of work on time, which means I have to teach class and come up with choreography asap. Hold up – who’s going to work check-in if I’m teaching? I call up one of my best friends, Brit – bribe her with dinner and shoot her the details of class and when to arrive.
5:00pm: Trying to wrap up the last bit of actual work so I can get to the studio early to choreograph for class.
6:00pm: I’m stuck at work. Client calls and demands are holding me back.
6:30pm: I call the DJ for class to make sure he’s all set. He is. Music is covered for tonight. One less thing to worry about.
7:30pm: Get to the studio and have not one, but TWO people at the studio 50 minutes early for class. Holy crap – how is this possible? I greet Brit and we set up for class, I rehearse and choreograph a routine in the back corner for the class that night.
7:45pm: DJ arrives, I help set up and cue music/vibes for pre-class.
7:50pm: People start to trickle in, I’m making sure everyone gets checked-in and everything is running smoothly.
8:00pm: Class starts!
10:00pm: I’m back at home from a successful run, we pulled it off! I have a call with another DJ to go over the music cut for the video. We log onto Google Hangouts to share screen and make edits alongside the promo video. After several edits on the music, we’ve finally got it.
12:00pm: I need to send the class “Thank You” email, and set up the reminder email for our upcoming class on Saturday.
1:00am: Exhausted. I finally get to bed and prep for the next days.
6:00am: Wake up. I’m heading into the office early today.
7:00am: Check in with all my instructors to make sure everyone is good for our team meeting Saturday night after class. I check the student sign-ups for Saturday’s class and headcount is low – crossing my fingers we get some last minute interest.
9:00am: Schedule social posts and fire-off emails to remind people of class on Saturday.
9:15am: I need to get back to my job. Putting MVMT on pause for now.
12:00pm: I only hear back from one of my main instructors about the team meeting, everyone else is crickets. It’s lunch so I dash out the office for a meeting to secure additional studio locations. We currently are holding classes in pop-up locations around LA, so I’m always hunting for new studio spaces.
2:00pm: Back at the office and negotiating contract terms with the studio partners I just met with. Everyone is happy which makes it a beneficial partnership. I love working with people who are in alignment. Again, celebrating these small wins.
3:00pm: Daily check-in with myself to make sure I’m not operating a million miles a minute. I do this to center myself and keep a level head with where I am with the process on this start up. Sometimes I get in my own way with big, lofty goals and need to remind myself that small accomplishments make its way to bigger milestones along the journey.
4:00pm: Hop on several calls with local community leaders in LA for potential partnerships – everyone seems to love the idea of bringing hip hop dance to the community – I’m fired up. Send out a couple of follow up emails to discuss next steps and schedule meetings for the following week to lock down dates.
5:00pm: Instructors have finally answered and confirmed for the meeting tomorrow.
6:00pm: Noticed that the three people who signed up for class Saturday just cancelled. I need to make quick decisions about whether or not to cancel class entirely. Is it worth it? Will people show up at the door?
7:00pm: Still no additional class sign ups – it’s in my best interest to cancel class. I don’t want anyone wasting their time showing up to teach or DJ. I text all instructors and DJs to let them know and call the studio to ask if we can reschedule. No answer, so I leave a message and follow up with an email.
8:00pm: The studio owner finally calls back and is so gracious enough to reschedule class. Beautiful.
9:00pm: Builidng out the marketing plan for the next few weeks to prevent low head count. How can I get the word out about classes?
11:00pm: My brain is literally fried, I need to go to bed. Do a night meditation and go to sleep.
7:00am: Head to yoga in the morning, and grab a green smoothie on the way back. One of the things I live for on the weekends. Cliche, but I love it nonetheless.
11:00am: Check emails then head to the office to prep all paperwork for the instructor workshop this evening.
1:00pm-5:00pm: Build out and finalize brand book, contracts, and paperwork for everyone. Write out meeting agenda and review all details and goals of meeting.
6:00pm: Head to the studio to meet up with instructors for our workshop – only one person shows, my right hand – Kristen. Of course.
6:30pm: Check emails and saw that two instructors are pursuing other endeavors and pulling out of the commitment. I’m shocked with the abruptness of it all. But I have business to tend to and need to ensure that whether it’s with four instructors or with one, I’m still putting forth my best effort and pursuing this journey with as much intention as I originally planned. I put on some Ta-ku to help move through the feelings. Ta-ku music is always good for this kind of stuff. Always.
7:00pm – 9:00pm: Kirsten and I work out and test several different structures and teaching methods to finally nail down MVMT’s formula. After a long, sweaty, and full three hours, we finally have things down to the T. There’s always going to be room for change but we feel good about it. I feel full, and it’s just where we need to be.
10:00pm – 12:00am: Go home to debrief and recap the class structure we built, so we have everything outlined on paper. Schedule the classes for the next week and prep the remaining email reminders and social posts, then finally head to bed.