Sabetha Mumm

A central Iowa woman who loves to dance and teach others to dance is being named Iowa’s Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Sabetha Mumm owns Dance Vision in Johnston and says artists aren’t often perceived of as being financially literate. “I have an extremely creative side as a dance teacher but I’m also knowledgeable businesswise,” Mumm says. “I go into meetings and I go into proposals extremely prepared, knowing exactly what documentation, three years of tax records, what kind of profit and loss, what kind of revenue statements they’re going to want to see, so it’s very easy for them to say, ‘Oh, here you go, here’s your loan.'”

Mumm opened Dance Vision in 2003 by renting a 2,400-square-foot studio where she was the only teacher and employee. After 17 years and several moves, Dance Vision is now in its own 12,000-square-foot building with nearly 500 clients and a staff of 28. Mumm will represent Iowa at National Small Business Week in Washington D.C. in May where a national winner will be named.

“I have to be honest, I was shocked that I won the state level, so I guess anything’s possible,” Mumm says. “I’m just looking forward to going, meeting the other business owners, being inspired by them, hearing their stories, their challenges. Every time I meet somebody and hear their story, I take nuggets of information away, things that I can apply to my business.” Mumm says she’s been very fortunate to see her business continue to expand as she and the other teachers strive to instill life lessons along with dance lessons.

“We’re teaching them this is an environment where your phone is not allowed, you’re going to interact with people, you’re going to learn time management, you’re going to learn confidence on a level that most people don’t understand,” Mumm says. “If you can get up on a stage and perform for 500 to 1,000 people with all eyes on you, somehow job interviews and speaking in class just doesn’t seem as scary anymore.”

A graduate of Carroll High School and the University of Iowa, Mumm says she works to teach young dancers a sense of discipline. While most of her three-thousand-some past students didn’t pursue a career in dance, some did. “We do have a lot of dancers who are off dancing professionally, we have about 20 that we’ve graduated off in the 17 years who are working, professional dancers,” Mumm says. “I think that’s a big statistic. If you went to any of the local high schools and they had 20 kids playing in the NFL, I think ESPN would definitely be doing a story on them, of that success rate.”

Built with $1.7 million in SBA financing, the new Dance Vision building features work stations for the students to study between dance classes, a healthy food bar to promote wellness, and cameras in all five studios so parents can watch from the lobby.