Feb 16, 2017
I cannot believe we are on episode 18 of the Creative Business Breakdown and celebrating 18 months in our most recent location. Our business has gone through several different transitions and locations over the past few years as an LLC. In today’s episode we are covering a little bit of the history of our physical locations as well as the reasoning behind why we have made the moves/transitions that we have. We also share a few lessons we’ve learned along the way and where we want to put our focus moving forward.
To give you a little history, Rachel and I used to be two different businesses working from two very different locations. Rachel was teaching out of her home while I was traveling to see clients in each of their individual homes. As Rachel’s personal life underwent several changes (i.e. the birth of her first child), I was wasting a great deal of time and energy on the road and working out of my car. Three years ago this February, Rachel and I sat down to discuss how we could more together more functionally and make the most of our time, space, energy, and unique talents.
When we decided to form our LLC, we also took the leap into renting our first space. Our first location was perfect for just the two of us. We were renting a couple of studio rooms within a music store and using a large room within their building occasionally for groups. With this new, set location we were both able able to fill our schedules by adding services and taking on new students. As Rachel and I quickly filled every time slot we had available, our income grew but quickly hit a plateau. There are only so many hours in the day and after filing those hours weren’t able to grow any further. As we looked to our future goals for our business, it quickly became apparent that we would need a larger space that was all our own.
When we were looking to find a new location, there were several things we had on our list of wants/needs. We wanted a location with:
- the opportunity to control/decorate any way we needed.
- a seperate entrance for our clients
- a large sign
- several seperate small rooms
- multi-stall bathrooms
- a waiting area
- a large area for groups
- some sound proofing between walls
- room to grow
- natural light & windows
Being a music therapy business (especially one that works with children) presents its own unique set of challenges that can be a turn off to realtors. When realtors hear that we are musicians they immediately red flag us for being too loud and disruptive to other tenants. We had to be persistent in order to even get a foot in the door and needed to provide a full explanation of what we do and what kind of noise we really make.
As we looked at potential locations, we made a list of our top three. Each location had a special set of circumstances that made it both the perfect location for us but also came with a series of challenges.
Location #1 – Pros: It was a brand new structure in the newest part of our community. It was close to a highway entrance and had ample parking. Because the structure was brand new we could build out the space in whatever way we wanted! Cons: COST. Not only was the rent higher because the property was new, but the cost of simply building out that location was astronomical and would have required a large loan. Also, deciding how to build out a new building can be a daunting task. For us it would have been especially challenging because we had no idea what our business would look like 3 years down the road. The location was also a little too far from the center of town and could be isolating to some of our clients.
Location #2 – Pros: Cost. This property fit perfectly in our budget. It had so many of the features we were looking for including a large group space and a few smaller rooms already set up the way we needed. The location was also more central as well. Cons: This was an older building that would have needed a little more TLC and could have some small structural issues moving forward. While the space was nicely divided, it would have required us to get creative to make the space function exactly the way we needed. The entrance also led to multiple business spaces.
Location #3 – Pros: GREAT LOCATION with awesome visibility and a large sign. There is a separate entrance for our clients and the rooms were all ready set up in a way that we needed. Cons: We were concerned that this space would be too large and possibly out of our budget, but was on the border line. The interior also needed updating, including new carpet and a fresh coat of paint on EVERYTHING!
In the end, we decided on location #3. It has been perfect for us and we have very quickly grown into the space, filling every room several days of the week. We’ve even been afraid that we would outgrow this space. Before signing a contract, we negotiated with the owner regarding updates in order to keep everything within our tight budget. He has always been splendid to work with and covered the cost of new carpet while we repainted the entire interior. 🙂
During the process of looking for and leasing a property, we learned several lessons that we shared throughout the episode:
- Patience is so important. New properties come on the market every day!! It is ok to take your time and wait for the right fit for you.
- Location is everything! We have gotten so many comments from the families we work with regarding how convenient our location is.
- Having a separate entrance where clients can walk in the door, know where they are going, and feel at home from their first time entering our space was incredibly important to us. Take time to figure out what you (and your clients) value and how that factors into what you need in your space.
- Having a business plan and goals can help inform your decisions when it comes to finding a physical space. We are so lucky that we went with a larger space. We had to have a serious conversation regarding how we wanted to grow. Even though the space we were in felt massive when we moved in, within six months, it felt like we had perfectly settled in and filled every room.
- A coat of paint and the right decor can make a HUGE difference. However, you do not have to go into debt to create the perfect space from day one. Get thrifty, look for deals, and know that you can always upgrade as you grow.
- Make the most of what you have and do what is right for your business. Not every business needs a separate physical location. If driving to client homes is what makes sense for your business then stick with that. Decide what you NEED and what you are ready for before jumping into something that isn’t the right fit for you. When it was just Rachel working by herself, she was most profitable when working out of her own home. What is going to be the most profitable for you?
- Crunch the numbers. What can you afford? Have you taken into account all of the extra little things that you will need? (ex. furniture, shelving, cleaning services, insurance, a sign, advertising, wifi, etc). Are you leasing or buying? Are utilities & maintenance included in your lease? Get specific. Ask all the questions. And plan as much as you can so you know what to expect without getting in over your head.
- It is ok to take out a small loan to open the doors to your business as long as you have a plan to be profitable and be able to pay off that loan and still pay yourself.
- Be ready to walk away and say no. Negotiate in order to get what you need. Know what you want, stick to your guns, and stand your ground. People will try to take advantage of you when creating a contract, especially if they know you are in love with the property/product they are trying to sell you.
- Ask for help! If your forte is not reading contracts/negotiating or if you don’t know the right questions to ask, find someone who will go with you to look at spaces or who will help you work through an agreement. I definitely had my husband take a second walk through of the spaces we were looking at so that we could get a fresh set of eyes and a new perspective. I asked my family and friends for advice and what questions they would ask a realtor. It is always helpful to have an extra person in your corner rooting for you and helping you stay focused on what you really need.
We say it in every episode and mean it from the bottom of our hearts: do what is right for you and your business. Always make your decisions based on what you and your company need in order to help you live the life you want. Take time to ask yourself what you will need moving forward and be patient so you find the perfect solution.
Until Next Time,
Katey & Rachel
Jan 17, 2017
Today, we are going a little more in-depth on one of the parts of our new motto for the year, “Waste Less, Share More, Live Your Why”. We specifically want to talk about all of the waste in this episode and get really specific about the ways we are cutting some of the financial waste from our business.
We know for a fact that we have wasted a lot of time and energy on things in the past, but we’ve also probably wasted a lot of money as well. We’ve been scattering our precious resources in too many places and spreading ourselves far too thin by being involved in “so many” things and using “so many” incredible but unnecessary tools.
We know just how tempting it can be to subscribe to all of the amazing services out there, opt-in to all the courses, and buy all of the tools that will “help your business run more smoothly”. In this segment, we challenge you to take a closer look at your business, your purchases, and your decisions and see where you can cut the waste.
There are so many incredible products, services, and subscriptions out there that could probably enhance our business in some way or another, but we are saying no to most of them right now and trying to evaluate what the best tools are for our business RIGHT NOW. Here are some of the main points we covered in our latest episode:
- Weigh the pros/cons of each tool against the financial commitment and what you will actually be gaining. The $5.99 subscriptions seem tempting but add up quickly.
- Investing in and using too many tools can create a sense of overwhelm and can get in your way within your business by being more of a distraction or stressor.
- Easy to get excited in your new business and want to buy all the things. Create a Wish List of things you want. You may go back and find you don’t need those things after all.
- You don’t need “stuff” to do good work or be profitable. Do the work and be your best. Use what you have for now and know that you can add more tools with time and without putting yourself in financial turmoil. You can operate without debt. There is a time and a place, a rhyme and a reason, for every tool but that doesn’t mean you need them right now.
- Do not fall into the comparison trap. It’s so easy to compare your business to others’ in regards to size, tools, and where you are spending and how much money you are spending within your business. You need to do what is best for your business in your own time.
- Occasionally, Take stock of the tools you are using to see if they are still valuable for you. We’ve been taking stock recently and realized there are some tools we haven’t been using.
- There is No Magic Bullet. Your success isn’t so much in the tools you purchase but more in the work that you do and making what you have work for you.
Let us know what your essential tools are!
Until next time,
Katey & Rachel
Jan 10, 2017
Cleaning up from the holidays is almost like starting the year over with a clean slate. We take stock of what we have, put all of the old stuff away, clean up everything from the holidays and start fresh. In our business, we use the start of the year to hit the refresh button on everything.
We sat down for a long series of meetings the other day to review some of our goals from last year and hash out some of our goals and ideas for the new year (using two of our favorite tools, Trello & Google Drive). We’ve experienced so many changes over the past couple years and added so much to our business that we have been feeling scattered. We are working to find a better, more sustainable way to proceed with everything we are doing this year and in doing so we want to be really intentional with this year so we can find our flow.
We’ve heard the words “you do so much” repeatedly over the past year and, for a while, interpreted that phrase in a positive light. We’ve been so excited about all of our ideas that we’ve lost sight of some of our priorities and lost focus on what we really want/need. As we’ve taken a step back, we’ve seen that we are definitely doing too much and that we need to be taking a different approach and implementing new strategies.
Our motto for 2016 was “simplify, streamline, selfcare”. Due, in part, to this motto, we have achieved so much over the past year and took the time to first write out all of those accomplished at the start of our business meeting. We excelled in so many areas (even achieving a 5-year goals several years early), but also completely ignored parts of our business in it’s application. We’ve swept some big issues under the rug that need to be dealt with in a more hands on manner. We’ve already made some huge decisions this year and you’ll be able to see a few of those changes over the next few months on our website, in our products, and even in some of our physical services.
Even though we are taking a new approach, nothing big we are working on, none of our services, and none of our projects are technically going away. We are simply moving some things around, editing/streamlining some processes, and making things more succinct and sustainable so we can continue to move forward in our business in the best way possible. With that, comes our motto for 2017.
Waste less. Share more. Live our why.
Waste Less – Time, energy, resources. We only have so much time in a single day and are limited on physical resources as well, so we are working to be more effective with what we do have. That will mean making some serious changes and being truly intentional with what we are doing.
Share More – We are so excited about everything we have to offer that want to be better at sharing those things with you!! We don’t want to share an overwhelming amount of material with you but do want to share our best content, conversations, and more in a way that makes the most sense. We want to embody our true selves in all we do and break down barriers by sharing more of our personal story/selves along the way.
Live Your Why – What is the intent and purpose behind what we are doing? Busy seems to be the new, hip trend. If you need to be busy, be busy for a purpose. We want to do what aligns most with our why. That means asking the hard questions up front, determining the why behind what we are working on, and letting everything flow in the way it is meant to instead of forcing pieces to fit into place.
This motto is one we are trying to live in every aspect of our lives but also believe it can be a good fit for almost everyone. Please feel free to share our message, adopt our motto, and tell us your thoughts on the new year! Most importantly, determine the best motto for you and your business.
We’ve got so many exciting new things headed your way! Stay tuned for our new course coming out 1/17/17!! In the meantime, sign up for mailing list so you can get our secret episode, work through our free course, and get updates on new courses and free secret episodes as they come out!
Until next time,
Katey & Rachel
Dec 27, 2016
How has Christmas already come and gone!?! This year has absolutely flown!! We are still in the spirit though and holidays have us feeling a little nostalgic. In today’s episode we are reminiscing about what this year has meant to us as well as outlining some goals for the New Year.
Oh 2016! You have been a doozy. It’s hard to know where to start so I’ll quickly run down some of the big things we’ve been through and accomplished over the past 12 months. Here are the overarching themes that helped us make the most out of our year:
- Before starting into 2016, we held the longest business meeting we’ve ever had! 10 HOURS…. We were starting the year with a team of 10 and did a lot of brain work in our meeting so we could make some big decisions and create a vision for the year. Everything felt like a hot mess at the beginning of the year and we both felt a little out of control. Out of that meeting came our game-changing mantra for the year: Simplify, Streamline, Self-Care
- Self-care has taken a huge role in our every day life and work. Rachel and I have held each other accountable for engaging in self-care on a regular basis. That has looked different for both of us and you can read more on our personal pages (Rachel Here and Katey Here)! However, we have read some of the same motivating books that we mention in this episode and about recommend to anyone. (“You Are a Badass” & “Big Magic“)
- We have be working to create a shift in our mindset, trying tirelessly to adjust our thinking and perception regarding everything business and life. Our mindset is the single biggest change that we have made & has had the largest impact. Setting our values, living in abundance and appreciation, taking care of ourselves, and finding a new perspective and been LIFE CHANGING!!!
- Simplifying and streamlining our systems has allowed our business to be more profitable. We have found ways to save ourselves a lot of time and energy in a way that make a financial difference for our business.
Some of the specific events that took place in our year include the following:
- We started the year by adding a LOT of new classes and then almost immediately got rid of all of them so we could focus in on what we specialize in within our company. We cut a lot of programs so we could grow our business by focusing on what was working instead of further diving our attention and resources thus creating a strain on our business.
- Rachel and I made the decision to not take on ANY new direct service work ourselves. We have so much that we take care within the business. on top of all of our time spent with our students/clients. We sat down and determined what our value was within the business and determined the most important things we need to be focusing on during the few hours we have available within our days. Taking on new clients personally is unfair to our business, our selves, our employees and our students.
- Our first intern finished her internship in March and we hired her on the spot! Since then, we have built a position from scratch that is now full time!!!
- In August we started with our second music therapy intern. She is continuing to document her intern journey in her Intern’s Corner blog. We have learned so much being internship directors and love the experience.
- We started a HUGE NEW CONTRACT with a local school where our team members provide music therapy services.
- At the beginning of September we completely revised our payment system and overhauled our policies! It has changed our relationship with our families and team members in the most positive way as well as creating consistency financially.
- On top of everything else, Rachel and I went on a couple work road trips together which was an awesome new adventure!
With all of that being said, we’ve both been thinking about the coming year and what we want to see. Going into 2016, we were both exhausted and burnt out! The big goal for 2016 was to pull back, go back to basics, and simplify everything so our business could continue. Because we’ve made so many changes throughout the year, we are feeling invigorated and ready to take on new and exciting things in 2017.
Rachel talked about her focus for the new year in the episode with the word, share. Sharing resources, experiences, time with family, and more. Giving more. My word for the new year is intention. I want to waste less (time, energy, money, etc) and be more present in the time and experiences I am a part of. We are definitely on the same page with wanting to reach more of our potential and follow our passions within our work and individual lives! Stay tuned for our next episode in the new year where we reveal our new mantra and get more specific about what this year will hold.
Wishing you Happy Holidays, a Merry Christmas, and a wonderful New Year!!
Until next time,
Katey & Rachel
Dec 13, 2016
Life is messy and so is running a business. You don’t always get the perfect mix of the two that you are hoping for, but you make it work and find what works for you along the way. We are still trying to find the right “balance” and how all the pieces perfectly fit together. Today, we are sharing a few more of those personal details and what we have done to “make it all work” for us.
Have you ever heard that admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery? For us, admitting that things won’t always be perfect was the first step to acceptance and moving forward. We have always had a lot going on. Our business life together has been an incredible, rollercoaster of a journey with some serious ups and downs related to both our business and personal lives.
We’ve both had major life changes happening at the same time as major business decisions and have had a lot of stress we’ve dealt with along the way. Some of the major life and business happenings we’ve experience along the way have included the following:
- I got married the same week Rachel and I signed on our LLC
- Our first week of business Rachel told me she was pregnant (with baby #2)
- Rachel bought a house as we were talking about finding our first employees and intern
- We signed on our new property the same week I bought a new house.
- Rachel returned from maternity leave the week our first intern and multiple new contractors started
Looking back we’ve been through some crazy times together but we’ve made it all work by working together. We are in this together every step of the way. Our business decisions impact both of our personal lives. We don’t have jobs we can leave at the door and have dealt with a lot of stress associated with our business life together and the decisions we’ve made.
In the episode, we talked through some of the ways we’ve coped with everything that has come our way over our past few years together:
- HONESTY! Being 100% real with each other has been a game changer. We talk about basically everything and are upfront so we can handle any and all issues as they come our way.
- Relying on each other. We can ask each other for help and understand that things come up in life and we need each other.
- Taking time to spend with just our families. Creating time to put away the electronics, leave the email alone, and establish time with just our loved ones has been essential. We create boundaries between work and life so that we can be our best in both.
- Establishing and living for our values. A year ago, we sat down to have a serious conversation about WHY we are doing exactly what we are doing so that we can continue our business in a sustainable way that makes sense for what we want to do.
- Outsourcing things we need but do not enjoy doing so we don’t resent what we are spending our limited time and resources on.
- Deciding when enough is enough. Know when you are taking on too much for yourself personally and when you need to take a step back.
- Knowing what success means for each of us in our business and personal life and understanding that growth does not define success. It’s ok to say no or to revise as you go.
- Letting down barriers. I am not perfect. Letting other people see that we are not perfect has been so beneficial for EVERYONE and has allowed us to work better as a team.
- Taking guilt-free time away from work and supporting each other in taking that personal time!
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again; take the time to find what works for you.
Until next time,
Katey & Rachel