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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

What Tango Dancing Taught Me About Small Business

Written By: Catherine Morgan | Comments Off on What Tango Dancing Taught Me About Small Business

I caught the tango dancing bug years ago in Chicago. Every night, there are several places that you can go to dance the night away. It is a magical obsession with music, mood, parties, shoes, and yes, dancing tango. People who have been to my website always comment on the video of my last dance in Buenos Aires. It’s a good conversation starter with both men and women.

Argentine tango, as I learned it, doesn’t have much in common with what you see on Dancing with the Stars, but it has taught me a lot about running a small business. Here are just some of the lessons that I have learned.

Choose the partner that makes you dance better.
If you get the chance, make sure you dance with someone who is a little better – or even a lot better – than you. It will help you to up your game. I work with Carol on this blog because it keeps me sharp and focused.  

Find your balance.
I can be a control freak. In tango, I had to let go and let my partner lead, as the woman traditionally follows. This was a shock to my system initially, but over time, I even learned to enjoy it. Following can be very challenging in that you need to always be balanced and communicating to your partner with your body so that he can move you appropriately. At times, it is easier to dance with your eyes closed! The business lessons here are the give and take of ideas between partners, vendors, and clients, and getting used to the ebb and flow of the energy in your business.

Know where to embellish and where not to.
Sometimes, you just need to concentrate on making the right steps. Other times, you can embellish a little and do some fancy footwork. Know when you need to focus and when you can be a little creative and playful. Also, know when you are just reworking the same old stuff and when it is time to ship already.

Be prepared to improvise.
The style of tango that I learned is all improvised. When I dance with a new partner, I have no idea what steps he will pick unless we just finished a class and are practicing a new combination that we learned. Just like starting a business, there are steps (business models, strategies, etc.) that you combine together, but basically, you are improvising and putting the pieces together as you go a lot of the time.

If you need to go in another direction, pivot.
Sometimes, the floor gets crowded and you need to change direction. Sometimes, you chose a strategy that didn’t work quite as you had hoped, so you have to move in another direction. Successful small businesses become masters of executing the elegant business pivot.

Those are the big lessons that I have learned. I am sure that I will discover more as I continue this beautiful and challenging dance that is called being an entrepreneur. Not unlike dancing tango, I hope that the music won’t end, and I will be able to continue building and growing my business for years to come.

What lessons would you add? What have you learned from your entrepreneurial dance? Please share your thoughts in the comments bellow.

Article written by
Catherine Morgan is the founder of Point A to Point B Transitions Inc., a virtual provider of coaching services to individuals who are in business or career transition. She specializes in helping entrepreneurs transition to corporate jobs they love. Catherine is the author of the eBook Re-Launch You: Discovering Your Point B and Embracing Possibility. An experienced independent consultant who was employed by three of the former Big Five consulting firms, Catherine speaks frequently on topics related to career transition, small business, productivity, and mental health. She doesn’t take herself seriously, but takes her subject matter very seriously.