“What did you learn from this?” is a phrase I heard repetitively during my childhood and is a lesson that has been preached to me throughout my entire life. Growing up, I have memories of coming home from school excited to share an assignment with a grade of 98% and having my dad respond with, “Do you know how to fix your mistake for next time?”.
“What?!? My mistake!?! What about all of the things I did right?!?”, I asked myself. Of course my parents celebrated my accomplishments, but they always encouraged my sister and I to take a critical look at what we were doing and the mistakes that we made so that we would continue to grow. My parents would sit with us and help us work through our mistakes one by one or have us point out what we should have done instead.
While I may have resented it at the time, I now understand that they wanted us to move beyond learning the material and memorizing the facts required for a single test or assignment and instead learn how to problem solve, plan ahead, and learn from our mistakes.
I don’t think I’ve ever fully acknowledged the impact of those sage words of wisdom until recently. As Rachel and I have been doing a lot of reflecting and business planning recently, we’ve come to the realization that being a business owner is really one huge test in the lesson of learning from your mistakes.
In previous episodes we’ve talked about some of the mistakes we’ve learned from already and the things we have done to implement change and how we’ve grown because of those decisions. A couple of those changes include pursuing new music therapy contracts with large facilities and completely overhauling our billing system. As we moved into 2018, we wanted to tackle another one of the big issues in our business: inconsistent income throughout the year.
Because our business tends to work around the school calendar, we run into the unique challenge of planning (and billing) contract services around their schedule. This means we have less income when schools are on spring/winter breaks or when they are out of session for holidays. Because this was a totally new process to us last year, we weren’t sure what to expect as far as budgeting with our new contracts and billing system.
While the clients in our studio all pay a tuition fee that is even and reliable throughout the year, our income from class registrations and outside contracts varies and from months to month. With a full year of these contract services under our belts, we now have a better idea of how to plan ahead.
At the end of December when Rachel and I sat down to plan out our goals for the year, we decided to also take a look at our year. We wrote down exactly were we anticipated seeing deficits due to holidays or fewer class registrations, and began planning our course, class, and product launch dates very specifically in order to make up for the lost income.
In January, we made a few huge decisions that we knew would cause a temporary loss of income in the business. At the end of the month we knew we were going to need to generate an additional bit of income to cover those expenses without taking a huge cut to our personal income. Again, Rachel and I sat down with our calendar. We met and created a very specific goal including how much we needed to make and by what date. We considered how many additional hours/resources we could put toward making that goal a reality. We came up with a plan and in the end exceeded our original goal.
If you are interested in learning more about what that plan looked like, be sure to listen to the episode. What I think is most important about this episode though, is WHY it worked. We used a pretty simple outline to achieve our goal. I hope you find it helpful in achieving all of your goals.
Set a specific goal by asking the important “W” questions.
- What am I looking to achieve?
- When do I need to have this completed?
- Why am I doing this?
- What’s it going to take?
- What is my plan and how can I break this into smaller pieces?
- Who is going to be impacted and how?
- What resources can I put toward this goal?
Track your goal.
- Physically track your goal throughout the process
- Write it down (we use a calendar, a white board, and Trello)
- Keep yourself accountable by sharing your goal
Celebrate your victories along the way.
- Share your progress
- See the value in what your are doing
- Get excited & have fun!! (Rachel and I sent emojis in our slack channel every time we got a new sale!! )
We are constantly working to improve our business by learning from all of the decisions we’ve made in the past. While we’ve made some good choice along the way, we also know that nothing is perfect. As our business continues to evolve we will continue to learn from our mistakes in order to make changes, and move forward in all we do. We continue working toward new goals during every season in our business and strive to meet those goals through the 3 simple steps outlined above.
We hope you walk away from this episode feeling inspired to tackle a new goal or project!! Let us know what you are working on and how we can help!
Until Next Time,
Katey & Rachel