Going into our meetings the other day, Rachel and I were both feeling a little off. Everything felt unbalanced and like all of the different plates we had spinning could quickly fall to the floor. We were both feeling on-edge, frustrated, overwhelmed and anxious. We initially had no intention to record and episode.
However, we decided that instead of avoiding all of the different feelings we were having, we were going to open up and be incredibly honest and vulnerable by sharing our thoughts with you.
Rachel and I are both dealing with a lot of things at both work and home. We both have our individual personal stressors on top of everything we have going on in our work life together. Usually, handling things within our business or even personal lives isn’t a problem because there are specific things we can do to handle most issues and resolve them quickly.
This week, though, things felt different. When we met, we quickly realized that the stress we were both carrying was surrounding things out of our control. The issues we are facing don’t have specific task lists where we can just check things off. Instead, we have bigger issues that will have to resolve themselves over a longer period of time. While we we wait, there’s not a whole lot we can do.
Rachel and I both tend to be very action oriented people who like to get things done and see progress. When we have situations where we have to trust other people to take actions, wait for things to pan out on their own, or put off decisions because we don’t have the right information and can’t get it ourselves, we tend to get a little more anxious. We both tend to think about the worst-case scenarios or outcomes and worry more when things are out of our control and there’s nothing we can do about it.
When things feel out of control, it’s easy for my anxiety to skyrocket and get the best of me. Rachel and I have both dealt with anxiety, panic attacks, and depression and understand how important it is to develop coping mechanisms and simply discuss this topic. Throughout the episode Rachel and I talk about our individual stressors (both positive and negative) as well as some of the ways we deal with anxiety.
Here is a brief description of some of the points we covered when talking about how we personally deal with anxiety. Check out the full episode for a more in depth explanation of how we use these techniques.
History. First, we recognize that everything’s going to be ok. We take time to look back and reflect on similar moments that have had positive outcomes. This helps us realize that it WILL all work out.
Mantras. We use mantras, affirmations, and positive reminders to get us in the right mind set.
Reframing. When Rachel’s stuck in a negative headspace, she tries turning her view of the situation around and thinking about the best possible outcome. When you focus on the positive outcome, you end up working even harder toward your goals.
Accountability. Rachel and I act as each other’s accountability partners. We work together to always keep our eye on our goals and recognize the achievements we’ve already made and the goals we are currently reaching. We point out the positive things that have been accomplished already.
Venting. We create a safe space together so we can have some relief and feel a little validation by simply opening up and getting things off our minds.
Honesty. My anxiety compounds when I haven’t been honest with the people around me or I have to have tough conversations. Being as up front and honest in my everyday interactions helps me to keep my anxiety to a minimum.
Presence. Being in the moment and dealing with things as they come my way helps me to feel less overwhelmed and more in tune with everything around me. Realizing that you only have this moment and that you get to choose your mindset it liberating. I remind myself to, “Do what you can and do it right now.”
Get it Out. Whether that looks like journaling, blogging, podcasting, talking to a friends, etc., getting things out of your head helps you to process in a more appropriate and objective manner.
Do Something Different. Creating a change in your physical state or environment is a great way to get out of your own head or change your mentality. Engaging in a different activity or moving on to a new project creates a shift and helps break a negative cycle.
Create Space. Put distance between you and whatever may be causing you anxiety by creating time for yourself and realizing that what ever you are dealing with does not define you.
Treat Yourself. Do something special, just for you, that makes you feel like your most amazing, boss self.
Awareness. Know what your triggers are and what your anxiety feels like so you can learn how to best deal with it. Know your boundaries and what your personal limits are so you can best handle situations that may cause you to feel anxious.
Practice. Realize that big changes are not made over night. Choosing a different mindset, using new coping mechanisms, and dealing with anxiety take a huge amount of practice and patience.
Be Proactive. Being proactive in your self-care and mental health care instead of reactive sets you up to be the most successful. Do what you need in your life to make yourself feel the best your possibly can.
Taking care of ourselves and managing our stress/anxiety is so important, especially because we work with so many people and serve in a variety of roles for those people. We know that the way that you are feeling impacts how you interact with everyone around you. You cannot fully show up for the other people in your life unless you are dealing with your own “stuff”.
We hope you found this episode helpful and relatable. We’d love to hear about your coping mechanisms and what you do when you are dealing with stress or anxiety.
Until Next Time,
Katey & Rachel
Episode 22 of the Creative Business Breakdown podcast is quite the departure from the topics and content we typically cover. Instead of talking about the nitty gritty business details, we decided to cover one of the more personal topics that has been coming up in our office a LOT recently.
A few months back, Rachel and our employee, Alisabeth, were having a conversation about being introverted and how that can really impact their work, especially in our very people-centered work environment. That conversation encouraged Rachel to delve deeper into the topic, and ended in her creation of a new continuing education course, The Introvert’s Guide to Thriving in an Extroverted Career.
With all of the conversation surrounding this incredible course and what it means to be an introvert, we all got a little more curious about personality types, especially how they impact our daily work and how we function as a team. Our intern, Rachel P, was so interested in the topic that she dedicated one of her weekly blog posts to talking all about her personality.
Within a week of publishing her post, our whole music therapy team had taken this free assessment and shared our individual results in our shared Slack channel. The results were fascinating! They were such an accurate depiction of each of us! It was interesting to read about the different personality types we each bring the table and learn more about the specific personality traits of each member of our music therapy team.
I’m going to be honest. I avoided taking the test when the topic first came up. I knew going in that my results were going to be different than everyone else on our team and that they weren’t necessarily going to be what I wanted. There are parts of my personality I’m not totally thrilled with and things that I’ve wanted to change about myself, so it took me a little extra time to get on board.
Now that I have my results, I’m so grateful I took the test. Yes, there are things that are part of my nature that I’m not necessarily proud of (ex. Being a messy person or being louder and more attention seeking), BUT I know that my personality is perfect for me and is so helpful in balancing our team and making our business run as smoothly and effectively as it does.
Seeing and understanding not only the results of my personality test but also the results for our team members helps me to be more aware of what our team needs, and sheds light on things that may need a little more attention as well as traits that help each of us shine. It helps us to understand each other on a much deeper level and communicate in a new way that makes our team function even more effectively. Knowing how my personality differs from those around me also alerts me to the fact that sometimes I need to reign in parts of my personality in order to best serve the people with whom I’m working.
One of the most interesting parts of the whole experience was finding out that Rachel and I are polar opposites when it comes to our personality types. You’ll have to listen to the episode for the full details, but it was enlightening to learn more about each other and really come to realize that our unique personalities are precisely why our business works so well.
We may be polar opposites, but our very different personality types are what help bring balance to our office and allow us to divide and conquer with ease! We each have unique skill sets that nicely fit our individual personality types, and we are grateful that we have been able to put those to use in managing and further developing our business.
Dividing out tasks and responsibilities has never been a challenge for us because there’s usually a clear fit for who should be handling things based on the nature of each item! Knowing more about our traits helps us to be aware of our own personal limitations, but also helps us both to push each other and challenge one another to grow in new ways.
Even though our personalities are so different, we hold most of the same values and have high standards that we keep for ourselves and the people around us. That means that we are almost always on the same page when it comes to business matters, but have unique perspectives and plans that help us accomplish amazing things quickly and effectively because we balance each other perfectly!
I’m not going to share too much more because I think this episode is a MUST-listen, but I am going to encourage you to go take your own personality test. I have loved delving further into the topic and learning more about how I can best take advantage of my unique personality and how I can better work with others based on their individual traits. We’d love to hear more from you and how your specific personality traits are benefiting your business!
This episode is a follow-up to Episode 20, in which we talked all about the Summer(s) We Didn’t Get Paid. Those summers were devastating for us. We were exhausted and knew that if we wanted our business to continue even another year, we would have to make some big changes. We knew that we were going to need a business overhaul in order to make things work.
In Episode 21, we cover one of the biggest areas of change, our billing system. Making this one change allowed us to “rise up from the ashes” and completely revitalize our studio/private practice, so in this episode we’re giving you all the details of exactly what it is, how it works, and why it has been such a game changer.
Before we get too deep into the changes we made, we first need to give you a little information what our old payment plan looked like.
We were operating within a solopreneur mentality, and using old billing principles that worked (mostly) when Rachel and I were still woking on our own. Families would be billed only for the services they attended and at the end of the month. Come the last day of the month, they would receive a bill for only the time that we saw them; all cancellations were left off the bill.
This meant that sometimes we were getting paid only a ¼ of our potential income when clients canceled ¾ of the month because they joined a new sport, went on extended vacations, or got sick. When we took on team members and moved into a new building with higher bills and clients weren’t showing up or simply weren’t paying their bills, we still had to pay our rent or pay our teachers/employees. On top of that, we had no way to budget because we couldn’t predict how many lessons/sessions our clients would actually show up for.
We knew that things had to change, but we didn’t want to rock the boat and ruin the beautiful relationships we had built with all of our incredible families. We were scared, but knew that in order to continue in our business, we HAD TO do something.
Within our business, a new school year is like the start of a brand new year all together. With the start of the new school year comes new commitments, big changes, and a shift in scheduling for everyone. We figured there was no better time to make a change that would affect our families/clients than during a time already packed with changes 😉
We spent months doing research. HOURS upon hours of research trying to find the right solution for our business and figuring out what would be the most sensible and economic answer while still providing a smooth transition. THANKFULLY, we found the perfect solution through our bank! We had overlooked a simple solution available through our bank.
Prior to our billing change, we had collected the majority of our payments through PayPal, which was super simple but also incredibly expensive. Handing over lots of money to a 3rd party was not a mistake we wanted to make again. We found a system through our bank in which we could setup auto-withdrawal from clients’ checking accounts with a minimal set fee per transaction (like $0.30 per transaction).
We made the decision to set a monthly tuition rate as opposed to sending a per-lesson or per-session invoices. That means the families we work with pay a set fee whether they choose to attend or not. We debated the cost and fee structure a great deal, and decided on a fee that was a slightly reduced rate from what a family would pay if they attended every lesson. In fact, we looked at the attendance rates we had been tracking and figured that with holidays, vacations, and illness, families missed approximately 12 lessons per year (one per month). Some canceled more and some less, but we used that average as a way to create a fair monthly fee already in line with what families were paying.
If only deciding a fee structure, rewriting 10 pages of policies, and deciding on a new payment method were the hardest part of the process…
After making those incredibly difficult decisions, we had to actually break the news and ask 100+ families to completely change the way they were used to paying us. Rachel and I were both filled with anxiety throughout the whole process, but nothing was as difficult as drafting the perfect email to inform everyone of the change. We wanted to answer as many questions as possible with that first contact. We wanted to create the perfect path to transition. We knew there would be resistance and push back.
After hitting “send” we both took a deep breath and waited. Email replies started to come in. We were both shocked and overjoyed when the first responses we received included words like “why didn’t you do this sooner” and “thank you”. Of course, there were dozens of emails with questions, but the incredible thing is that we didn’t lose a single client due to the big billing change we were so scared to roll out. NOT A SINGLE CLIENT LEFT!! In fact, people were grateful for the convenience, and the new policies encouraged families to attend more regularly, meaning our teachers got paid more as well!!
We spent a solid month making the transition to the new system. It took weeks to simply gather and input all of the data correctly and to get everyone on board, but we made it through. We have since streamlined the onboarding process for new students and clients. We’ve worked out most (if not all) of the little kinks in our process and made everything more simple and straightforward.
It wasn’t always an easy transition, but since we made our big billing change, Rachel and I have gotten paid EVERY SINGLE MONTH and more than in our previous “good” months. It’s been the most incredible experience and made such a huge difference in our company and in our personal lives. On top of the financial difference we have seen, we have saved so much time and energy moving to an auto-payment system.
We know that our methods won’t work for everyone, but we are so glad that we have found the right solution for us. We are thankful to everyone who listened to us, encouraged us, and helped us along the way.
If you’re in our shoes and need a change, let us know. We’d love to hear from you. What decisions or big changes are you struggling with? Do you have questions we can answer or things we can help you work through?