We are officially into Season 2 of the Creative Business Breakdown Podcast! AHHHH!!! We are beyond thrilled to be back, and cannot wait to share our stories and thoughts on so many juicy topics. Today’s topic is no exception. We are talking about something we’ve put off sharing with you for over a year.
We weren’t originally planning to tackle this topic so early in the season, but it felt super appropriate and timely after we wrapped up our morning meeting on Tuesday.
Every week, Rachel and I get together for a weekly meeting where we review our goals and financials. We talk about what needs to get accomplished, and we hash out some important details. We keep organized meeting notes and track all of our very specific goals on a huge white board that we update during each of our meetings. If you haven’t gotten into goal tracking yet, I highly recommend you get started and get specific!
Because of our goal tracking, we recognized during our meeting that in the month of August, we paid our team more than we had ever paid them before while still being sure to pay ourselves. That’s crazy talk considering what the past couple summers have looked like.
Summers in the past have been a rough time in the studio and are the very reason we made some huge changes and started tracking all of our goals very specifically. The past couple summers have been almost devastating for our business. We were literally trying to just make it from one month to the next. We have come so far since then and want to share with you the huge changes we made to make things work and turn our business around.
Before getting into things any further, if you haven’t already listened to Season 1 and you aren’t up to date on how our business came to be, take a listen to some of our earlier episodes you have the full scoop on where we’re coming from. We’re not going to take it all the way back in this episode, but we will rewind to 2 summers ago.
Summer 2015 was a monumental time in the life of Music Therapy Connections. Rachel and I knew that we had to expand into a larger space in order to continue growing the business and move in the direction that we wanted. It was a scary leap because at the time, it was just the two of us (plus one very new part-time teacher) moving into a space fit for a much larger team.
We were committed to renovating, furnishing, and filling 2,500 square feet of space all while Rachel was attempting to take some kind of maternity leave with her second child. Even though it was just the two of us in this space, we still had to pay our bills, which were growing rapidly.
Even with a small loan (the only loan we’ve ever taken as a business) we were working our tails off nearly around the clock and with very little financial compensation. At the end of the day, though, we knew we needed to be in that space and the growing bills lit a fire under us to grow our team and take on more students/clients.
We very quickly were able to pay off our loan and get ourselves paid as well. One of the best things we did to prepare for that summer was write out a specific action plan on how we were going to make the income we needed and set goals for when we would achieve those specific numbers. Writing out our plan helped make everything seem more manageable and helped us go into that crazy summer with realistic expectations.
By winter/spring 2016, Rachel and I had turned things, around but we were exhausted. We were letting things coast a little more because we both needed a mental break, and things were going fairly smoothy.
Then summer 2016 hit. Do you know what happens during the summer? Have you experienced this?
Families want a break from things. They go on vacations and kids want to do activities or camps and everyone wants some time away. That’s all fine and dandy, but we still have to pay the bills!
In the past, students not coming for lessons or music therapy sessions meant a drop in our income, but it was manageable because we didn’t have a team to support or huge overhead related to our location and business needs.
We made a huge mistake going into that summer by not taking the time to plan ahead. When all of our families wanted to take a break, we didn’t have the income to pay our team, our bills, and ourselves. You see, we used to have a different billing system where students were only invoiced for the lessons/sessions that they actually attended. At the end of the month they would get a bill that they would then have to pay.
That meant that when students took a break, our income drastically dropped. On top of that, we also ran into the issue of people simply not paying their bills which ate into our profits even further. For Rachel and I, summer 2016 is now referred to as The Summer We Didn’t Get Paid.
It was exhausting, draining, and disappointing. We had put so much love, time, and effort into everything about our business. Not getting paid for any of it was a huge letdown.
HOWEVER, it has led to some amazing changes that have since helped us have our most profitable year and summer yet. Looking back now, I’m so grateful for those months, because they helped us learn some valuable lessons and have given us a new perspective so that now every month we are paying ourselves we come from a place of gratitude and celebration.
Here are a couple of changes we made:
- We uprooted our billing system and overhauled the way our families pay us.
- We are firmly committed to the idea that we deserve to be paid for the work we do.
- We learned to stick to what you know and what you’re good at.
- We pared down the services and classes we offer in order to only offer our best.
Other lessons we learned that we want to share:
- Go back to the basics. Decide what your business stands for and figure out what pays the bills!
- When you do something solely for money it is less likely to succeed.
- Track what you want to attract. Set goals and track them religiously.
- You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but instead you have to focus in on the things you love doing and what’s moving the needle forward.
- Focus on the positives and the big picture!
You Can Do THIS!
No matter what, you’ll figure it out!
No matter where you are in your business in life, please reach out to us. Let us know what you are struggling with or what you are celebrating so we can help you along your journey! We love hearing from you!