Creating a Multi-Faceted Dance Business in an Untapped Niche with Elizabeth Mooney

September 6, 2021
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In today’s episode, we have Elizabeth Mooney with us and she is going to share her story on how she was able to find an untapped niche and create a multi-faceted business out of it.

You will also get to hear her unique way of building her brand from the ground up, how she built a community around certifying other instructors, and the importance of hiring an army of the right people to help you scale.

Website: countryfusion.net
Facebook: Countryfusionnash
YouTube: Country Fusion
Instagram: countryfusionllc

Notes

In this episode, you will hear...

… Elizabeth’s journey before becoming a thriving entrepreneur in the dance world.

… how Elizabeth was able to find an untapped niche and create a multi-faceted business out of it.

… how Elizabeth built her brand from the ground up and how she gained authority in her niche.

… the importance of hiring an army of the right people to help you scale. 

… how Elizabeth successfully moved her in-person business to online by creating a strong outline and structure.

… helpful tips and tricks on how to market your business through social media platforms.

… why it’s essential to connect with other people and businesses in your niche and how connecting can help your business grow. 

… how creating a certification program for your audience can help your business flourish.

… Elizabeth’s number one piece of advice to successfully take your business online.

Resources

Transcript

Jeremy Deighan
Hey, everyone. Thanks for checking out the show today. We have Elizabeth Mooney from Country Fusion, who's going to talk about a really cool business that she has going on. And it's exploding right now and getting big.

And I can't wait to dive into your story and how you're helping people out there. So how are you doing today, Elizabeth?

Elizabeth Mooney
I'm doing well. Thank you.

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah, so I'm glad you reached out, and we are getting to do this podcast. And we've talked back and forth a little bit.

Explain to everyone what your business is. And then after that, if you could just talk a little bit about what you were doing before you got into your business and just a little backstory of where you came from.

Elizabeth Mooney
Sure. So, Country Fusion is a line dance fitness. So it's kind of like a country version of Zumba, per se. But you learn actual line dances in the fitness program. Basically, we say, "sneakers and water bottles means whiskey and cowboy boots," because I take actual line dances, put it into the program. And then at night, you go out dancing and use those dances that you learned.

And it also has four wildcards. So the four wildcards are non-country songs, ao it could be salsa, cha-cha, hip-hop, bachata, and that's anything that's not country. So that's for the people that aren't really into country music, yet. And also to work out different body parts. And the instructors that teach Country Fusion is their way to bring their own individuality to their class.

So it's a 50-minute program, and it's based on low-intensity interval training. So yeah, it's. Basically, it's really about having a good time learning the dances and working up a sweat. And it's great for your mind, body, soul, prevents dementia, because your brain is a muscle, so you're learning the dances. But that's really what country fusion is.

Leading up to creating Country Fusion. I grew up in Long Island, New York. I started dancing at the age of two. And from there, I was doing salsa, ballet, tap jazz, hip-hop, and Latin dancing. I had a burlesque performance was in a lot of movies. I am directing my own Off-Broadway show.

And throughout the whole time, I would go to the Dude Ranch since I was six years old. So the Dude Ranch was in upstate New York. So I would ride horses and listen to country music. I always loved the whole country lifestyle.

The fitness industry found me when I was in my early 20s. I'm 37, so like 23, it found me. And they just asked me if I would teach for them, one of the gyms, and I was like, "I'm a dancer," and they were like, "I'm sure you'll figure it out."

So I started my dance program, and it grew. So I got into the fitness field. And as I was teaching my classes, and I got back from the ranch one summer, this was about six years ago, seven years ago, and I took a Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan song, and I put it in my fitness class, and everyone loved it. It was going crazy.

And that moment, I was like, "That's it. There's no country fitness program out there." So that's how confusion was then created. And I hopped on a motorcycle to Sturgis, and I was like, "Okay, I want it to be 50 minutes based on LIIT."

So it's for everyone, men, women, seniors, children, everyone. And it's derived by the music. So you start slow, go faster, reach the peak, come down, slow down. And that's really how it all came about kind of found me in a way.

Jeremy Deighan
Nice. I like that. That's really cool. Because of the fact that you were aware of what was responding to people, you know? That takes an entrepreneurial type of mindset to say like, "Okay, there's something here. I've got something here." And you've blown it up into this big business. And that's really awesome.

So these classes that you're doing, they're in-person events, correct?

Elizabeth Mooney
So, we have a couple. I was always doing in-person, the beginning, and then I was pregnant with my daughter, and I started to implement an online. So I implemented the online certification for instructors and tutorials, which actually was a great thing. I did then my daughter's three because I was prepared for COVID. So everything was already online. So that was great.

And then I started doing zoom classes. So, right now, presently, I still do the zoom and live in-person at the same time. And there's live, and then you could also get certified to do the tutorials. So I do both.

Jeremy Deighan
Okay, very good. Yeah. I just wanted to make sure that you know you're doing these in-person events. And you mentioned COVID, but was that the reason why you decided to take it online? Or had you thought about taking it online before?

Elizabeth Mooney
When I was pregnant, so when I was pregnant, I created the online program. You know, I just found I was pregnant, so I didn't know how my pregnancy was gonna be.

So I started filming videos and implemented the whole program. So that was great that I did that then. And I had a great pregnancy, and I was able to still teach, but I already had it prepped and planned. So then, when COVID happened, it was already established.

Jeremy Deighan
Oh, okay, that's awesome. So, you're outlining. You're planning these ideas for your videos and for your course. And I heard you say you had a couple of things. So we'll break down each one of those.

But once you had this information, did you just know what you were going to create because you had been teaching it for so long? Or how did you outline and structure that information?

Elizabeth Mooney
That's a great question. So I feel like my path led me to having the information to put this whole program together. I was, you know, teaching my group fitness classes.

I knew I wanted 50 minutes. It gives time for people to get in, leave the class. I knew I wanted LIIT because my experience of people that come to me and they're saying "I have bad knees," or "I just had a surgery," or "I had a car accident."

So I wanted something that wasn't too hard on people. But at the same time, if some want to make it intense, they could. So I have that. And then the dance, I've been dancing my whole life. So that was something, obviously, I want to be a dance program.

It's funny way back, I was doing Zumba, but before Zumba came out when they asked me to be part of the fitness class. So I was teaching salsa, cha-cha, all that, and then Zumba came out, and I was like, "I was doing this before Zuma came out," you know?

So it's great that I then was able years down the road to create my own, and it just literally popped in my head once I came back from that vacation with the country routines.

I put it in the class, and I was teaching routines, and I saw everyone loved them. And that's it, it just came to me, there's no country fitness program, and just knowing how to implement it and put it together, and being a director and performer.

So all those aspects just helped me put this program together and emotion. And I had to start from the bottom up. I moved to Jersey at the time. I didn't know anyone. So I was making great money living in New York and performing and whatnot.

And I had to start from the bottom up. So I had worked at YMCA's Crunch, retro fitnesses making probably what I started out with when I was 23. And just to build something.

And then, once I was getting my classes and they were packed, I rented space. I had a dance studio and a dance hall. And that's how I started my business. So I started from nothing. I did a Groupon and from the bottom up and built it. A couple of years later, It was 250 clients.

And then I started the instructor program, and I got with a SCW who really helped me. They loved my idea, my program, so I worked with them redoing the website, the logo, the manual, the certification, getting it online. So they took everything off to the next level. It just flourished from there. But oh, I started from the ground up.

Jeremy Deighan
Oh, that's awesome to hear. Because, you know, you took a very organic approach where you were actually meeting people. I mean, you were doing these classes in-person to kind of build your brand, correct?

Elizabeth Mooney
Yes.

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah. I mean, and you know, it's the same thing online like you're doing the same thing, but it's cool to hear someone doing that offline. Because you know, we think a lot about how we can grow our Facebook or social media or Instagram.

But the fact that you were, you know, out there teaching these classes and doing them in-person that really helped grow your authority into the brand and the business.

Were you teaching the line dancing at these places? So like when you were going to the YMCA and like that, was it the line dancing or was it everything?

Elizabeth Mooney
When I first started the gyms, I was teaching everything. I would teach barre. I'd teach stiletto. Then I would throw in the country music in my class. Because with like Crunch, you have to stick with their program.

But the clients fell in love with taking my classes. So I was telling them about Country Fusion, and when I rented space, they then were coming there to take Country Fusion specifically. Then from there, I started teaching line dancing at night. And I grew that in Jersey.

So then it's great as an instructor, you get to teach Country Fusion, whether it's at a YMCA, a studio, gyms, wherever you're going to teach Country Fusion, and then at night, you could teach dancers, and there's parties, there's so many different ways to make money. And that's one of the few fitness brands, but you have so many possibilities as an instructor.

You have bridal showers, you have weddings, and you have gyms and studios, YMCAs, and then also teach line-dance at night, and I grew it in Jersey doing that, and that really helps the brand as well.

Because then I'm catering to the nightlife, people who maybe wouldn't have worked out and gone to the gym. Then they're like, "Wow, I love this. I don't even feel like I'm working out, I'm sweating so much," and then they come to class.

Then the people at class are like, "Oh, I'm gonna come dancing at night." Then they all became friends. And they go to country concerts, and it becomes a lifestyle. And that's the most beautiful thing about the brand is that it's a lifestyle. So people fall in love with the dancing, the music, they make friends, they buy cowboy boots, they go to concerts, and it's part of their life.

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah, that's awesome. That is when you know you have a successful business, you know? When it's not the money, but it's about that you're creating that type of lifestyle for people and those relationships. That's really cool.

Really, really neat, interesting story to hear, and how you've grown it to what it's become. And I want to hear more about some other things that you've done. Because I know recently, you started a new headquarters and whatnot.

But first, I want to hear about the online the certification program, the instructor program, because I was looking at that on your website. And I know that that might be a cool topic to talk about on this podcast since we have a lot of online creators, and they might have businesses where this might make sense where you can create a certification program.

So can you talk a little bit more about that?

Elizabeth Mooney
Yeah, sure. So I wanted to make an online program because it was getting harder to travel everywhere, like a lot of people would asking me to come to all different states. And I was doing the best I could, but I was like, I wanted to make it where it's easier for anyone to get certified from wherever they are in the world.

So that's where it came from, the idea, and then I designed a manual. And again, SCW helped me with that with the scientific aspect of it. So we put the manual first together. And then after the manual, we put the tests together, and then you have a certificate at the end, you get seven credit scores, AFAA and NASM.

And so the process, they purchase it online, and then it takes them however long it takes, you know, they could login, they can log out. And then once they're certified, and they complete it, then from there, they sign up to be the star instructor.

Whereas $22 a month, they get access to all the videos. And in the videos, I break down a dance, and then I'm dancing the dance. They have use of the Country Fusion name. And that's it.

So there's about 100 something videos, I would say like 150 videos on the website, right now. And they come from me going on tour, going to the honky tonks, taking what's being done, and then I put that in the video and break it down for them, teach them some wild cards.

So when everything's said and done, they have videos, they have the manual, they have the test. Then after they get certified, I like to have a zoom meeting with them. Like I like to know, like to least talk to every instructor that there is that's out there.

And I create a Facebook page for the instructors. So everyone could communicate and talk. I invite them to any like fitness fests that I have any events going on or to the headquarters.

Again, even with the instructors, it's a good community. And we all help each other, and yeah, that's about it. It took some time to create it. But it's great. It's a nice, easy way to, you know, where anyone gets certified, and then you just, you know, follow up with them after.

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah, definitely. That's a cool program because I think that a lot of people might not think about these types of certifications. But anyone who's creating a coaching, program, consultancy, or online course, this is something that you could do to you could certify other people. And then, like you said, it's building a good relationship of like-minded individuals.

Now, is that the same as creating a franchise? You did mention at some point that you were franchising this business. Is this the same thing? Or is that separate?

Elizabeth Mooney
No, that's separate. So, the instructors, they get certified, and they go off and they do their own thing, you know. They go teach at YMCAs, they go off and they flourish, they go on their own, and then I just give them the materials and then I'm always here to help them with it.

But the franchising part, this is all relatively new. So I just opened the headquarters in Nashville, not even a month ago. And through that, I've been having a lot of interviews, and people have been asking me if I'd be interested in opening up a Country Fusion studio in Dallas, Tampa, and then recently, I was just asked in North Carolina.

So that's where now I'm like, "Okay, this could be an idea." I'm like, "let me just focus on this one first." And then, but I'm definitely open to the possibilities of open other Country Fusion studios in other states,

Jeremy Deighan
Okay, very cool. So the certification is once someone is certified, they can go use that on their own however they'd like to.

Elizabeth Mooney
Exactly. So they go off, and they could teach after school, kids programs, YMCAs gym studios, bars. Also, I am the only certification out there for line dancers. So if anyone wants to get certified from a line dancer, I am the only certification out there to get certified to teach line dance.

Jeremy Deighan
Oh, nice. That's really neat. And then you said that when they get that certification, they have access to a library. So you're creating videos and giving them information that they can use. And do keep updating that information over time?

Elizabeth Mooney
Yeah, so they get videos that are new per month. So they have the name of the line dance, beginner/intermediate, how many walls, because in line dancing can be two, four, one wall. The name of the song, the name of the dance, I break it down. The other video is me dancing to it.

Jeremy Deighan
Are those videos, you said they were at some honky tonks? Are you using like a studio to record these? Are they just you take your camera with you? Like, what's your method for recording these videos?

Elizabeth Mooney
The studio. It's me. So I'm in the studio, and I break it down and teach it and then sell myself. So if you go to my Instagram countryfusionLLC, you'll see clips, and that's usually the clips of me dancing in the studio are the videos I'm filming for the instructors.

Jeremy Deighan
Awesome. Very cool. And then you said you recently moved into a headquarters, and so the company is obviously doing a lot better. So you've come down here to Tennessee, that is?

Elizabeth Mooney
Yes.

Jeremy Deighan
Why the move? Why did you come down here to open up the headquarters? Like what are your game plans for the business at this moment?

Elizabeth Mooney
So when I was in Jersey, I really grew it. And I have instructors there that took over, and I felt like I reached the ceiling in a way there. I could have stayed because of everything online. Online is wonderful. It really is.

Right before I jumped on this phone call with you, I just have another instructor that just got certified in Florida. So it's just the online is great. And I could just kept on doing that and stayed in Jersey, but something me, I wanted to open up a physical location.

Because the studio to me like I love teaching at night, all these different honky tonks and night clubs and all that. But the studio is, that's my home. So I wanted to have my own place.

And I wanted to pick somewhere where country music lives forever. It wasn't a fad or anything. And where better than Music City? So that's why I chose Nashville, and I'm on music city drive some right across from the Gaylord Hotel by the Opry.

And I wanted to place also where a lot of people were going to Nashville, and they were like, "Oh, I gotta learn how to dance." They would come to me go there and be like, "There's no dancing." So I had to go for myself and check it out. And I'm like, "Wow," there really wasn't much dancing or teaching.

And basically, they taught one dance before the dance floor opened up at two of the nightclubs. And that was really it. And I was really surprised about that. So I knew that's where I was going to open it up. I just didn't know when.

And COVID happened. And that gave me a chance not to be so busy like I normally am. I was more just doing zoom classes. And it gave me time to prep for the adventure. And that was it.

So I started planning, preparing, and traveling back and forth, and I found a location. So I want to bring dance back to Nashville in a way. So I feel like I'm Kevin Bacon in Footloose, you know, bringing dance back.

So I want to have a place where people feel comfortable and safe and to learn how to dance and build their confidence. But I teach everything there. I teach Country Fusion, regular just line dancing, couples two-step, couples dancing.

There's pole dance fitness is barre, there's a total body, there's stiletto, there's burlesque, there's yoga. So we have everything there. And then also we cater the bachelorette parties. And we give them an experience of country fusion.

So there's really a lot going on there, but really the essence is to be somewhere where country music was on forever, a home for country fusion, and to bring dance back. And it's about like I always say, it's about spreading the love. And I just wanted to have a home where a lot of people come to and positivity.

And I'm seeing so much to how, um, you have to work on like confidence and feeling good about ourselves. And I have to say like, well, my clients in the past. They have thanked me tremendously of how I changed their life. And I hope I could just keep on doing that for others and making people feel good about themselves.

Jeremy Deighan
Thinking about this stuff that you did online, and thinking about the person who's listening to this podcast, who maybe they were, like you. Maybe they had a passion for some kind of dance or something that you would do an art or maybe an instrument or something that they would like to take online.

What would be some advice that you could give? Maybe some struggles that you went through or some things that you learned when you started taking your program online. What would be some advice that you could give to that person?

Elizabeth Mooney
I had to really think about what my goal was and lay out how I was going to get there and what I was trying to achieve. So I knew that point. For me, my goal was I didn't want to travel as much, especially being pregnant.

So I wanted to create something online. But then I knew I had to start with a manual. And that took time, that took back and forth. And that's the longest. I would say, three to five months to create that, and then the tests.

So give yourself time, think about what your vision and your goal is, what your objective is. And you know, once you put it out there, you may have to tweak a few things, I did. And then, once you have it and it's set, after you tweak and it's out there, it pretty much runs on its own. And that's really the beauty in it.

Like, of course, here and there, I still have to like the videos. Something may not be uploaded correctly. Okay, I have to just go in and talk to my. I have a web team too. And that's also a plus.

I am not savvy with computers. So I have a whole web team. So they're extremely helpful. So unless, you know, if you're great with computers, fantastic. I'm not. So my web team, thank God I have them.

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah, you know, it's important to reach out to the people who can do things faster, better, quicker than you can. That's something we talk about a lot on this podcast is outsourcing.

So do you do a lot of that? Is a lot of your business run with other professionals that are helping you get to this point?

Elizabeth Mooney
100%. 100%. Because you know, I could do a lot. But there's, you know, I know my strengths. I know where someone else is probably better at this, or like, it's just something I'm not interested in.

So web design, I have a team. They're great at it. I tell them, "Okay, this needs to be updated," or "We need to add this, or this is not working right," but they're on it fantastic. When it comes to logo design, like SCW, they design, they redesign my website, my logo, they put everything together. So that was fantastic with them.

I think that's really, really, really important, working with a marketing team. So you have to build your army. And I think that is really what helps make you successful because you're gonna burn yourself out.

Because I've done so much on my own, and as time went on, and you know, you have more responsibilities as you grow, you get bigger. You have to start outsourcing to professionals that that is what they do. And I think that it's important is to grow your army like that and having good instructors. Yeah, that is important.

Jeremy Deighan
Nice. And you mentioned marketing. Are there any things that you're doing on the marketing end right now that you see is working out really well as far as social media or any other platforms?

Elizabeth Mooney
What I've done with marketing and social media, I have connected with people who are really big in line dance community. So I connected with Electro Horse and Big Moochie. Big Moochie, he choreographed a lot of line dances and has a big huge following.

They asked me if I would collaborate in a music video with them. So I literally just filmed the music video last week. And now, from that, I'm getting more followers, and that's how we get out there. Plus, I choreograph for different country artists.

So we do cross-marketing. That's really important too. You know, I believe in business, one hand washes the other. We're all in this together. We all try to help each other out. So it's a lot of press marketing. I had a couple, my grand opening, of bloggers come in. And they took my class. So they wrote about it, and they put that out there.

Plus, I'm working with a marketing team in Nashville, and they're wonderful. They've been great, just like putting us on the map in Nashville. And then some publications pick it up, like the Nashville Scene, picked us up as critics pick.

So it's really, I think marketing is so important. So I think it's first, having a vision, having your objective, putting in the work, giving it time, being patient is key. And then work out those kinks. And it's gonna take time. It's gonna take years. It took me time. We're at seven years. And then and staying with it.

Like, if you believe in it, there's nothing else that's gonna happen. There was no, there was no, "Oh, I'm gonna become a nurse," Like no, this is what I do. This is who I am. That's it.

So I would just stay the course stayed on my path. And I learned as I went, as well. And marketing and PR is so important, and social media, because you know, they're not gonna know who you are if you don't market and get yourself out there.

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah, definitely. That's some really good advice. And I like that you're trying different types of markets. You're not focused on just one thing, which a lot of people do is they'll get pigeonholed into just Facebook or just Instagram. But it sounds like you're multifaceted, which I think is really great.

And I really love what you said about working with other people in your industry. Because, you know, a lot of times we can see people as competition. And that's such a negative mindset to have.

Because, like he said, we should all be helping each other grow and providing openings and doors for each other. And I like that you are working with others. Because that's something that we can all do, we can go find those other influencers out there and see how we can exchange value from one another.

Elizabeth Mooney
Without a doubt, we're in this together. You know, one hand watches the other, like I said. And even when I came to Nashville, the line dance in the honky tonk's, I introduced myself and I know a first they looked at me as competition.

And I said something like, "I'm not your competition, I'm not your competitor, I want to send people to you. I want to teach Country Fusion during the day and send them to you." So I'm like, "We're in this together," you know? And I think that's so important.

I'm very sure of myself and what I do. So I don't look at someone as competition, but there's someone that they're successful in something similar to what I do. I take notes. Okay, what is their pricing? What is their angle? What are they doing, this and that?

And I wanna learn to then be like, "Okay, this is what I could do better." I don't look at them as competition. I look at them, "Okay. Smart angle. Let me see how I can implement that into what I'm doing."

Jeremy Deighan
That's brilliant. That's absolutely brilliant. That's some good advice. So just looking into the future, maybe the next, you know, year, two years, five years down the road. What would you like to see with your business? Where would you like to see it go?

Elizabeth Mooney
I would like to see the studio doing really well, where it's just running on its own. Like I said about the online like, it just runs on its own. I would like to see the studio the same way: more instructors, all of the states and world.

Now we're in Canada, Australia, Guantanamo Bay, Spain, Austria. So it's really grown. And then, like I said, with the franchising other studios, I really would love that. I would love to have, I don't know, we'll see. It could be a couple more studios. It could be 10. I have no idea because this is all new to me.

I just, I don't go into things like, "Oh, I'm gonna open this studio, and I'm gonna franchise." I was just like I was like, "I'm just opening this one studio." And then it really was everyone else wanting a franchise. And people are asking me now that they heard about it. Now I'm like, "Okay, this could be an idea."

So I really just look at my task at hand. But my goal is to keep on doing what I'm doing and letting it run its own and instructors just, you know, growing in as well. And hopefully, I get it so much higher like 50, that's probably not gonna happen.

But really, overall, I would love to leave my legacies for my daughter. I'm working really, really, really hard to leave her my legacy. And I just want to, you know, bring positivity and leave a staple here.

Jeremy Deighan
Nice. I love it. And I wish you the most success. And hopefully, you can reach all those dreams that you're thinking about and the ones that you haven't thought about yet.

Elizabeth Mooney
Yeah, I like that. Thank you, Jeremy.

Jeremy Deighan
So if anyone wants to find out more about you and your business online, where can they do that?

Elizabeth Mooney
The website is countryfusion.net. Instagram and Facebook is countryfusionllc. And also YouTube, there's some videos too if you go to Country Fusion. But I'm very, very, very active on Instagram, countryfusionllc, and then also Facebook.

But yeah, if you're interested in becoming an instructor, it's on the website, all the information. Also, if you want to take your class, you can zoom, and there's tutorials on the website, too. So there's a lot of online options. And we have a full apparel line. So we have a whole clothing line as well.

Jeremy Deighan
Oh, nice. Yeah, that's awesome. Lots of ways to monetize that. That's brilliant. You're doing really great things. And I just hope you have the most success in the future. And I appreciate you coming on the show today.

Elizabeth Mooney
Thank you. Thank you for having me.

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