It’s been a strange and hectic couple weeks around the office. With everything already going on around the holidays, we decided to throw in a couple extra events and then had a few other big things pop up.
These couple weeks have really made us realize just how much our business has grown and how far we’ve come over the past few years. In keeping with that theme, we want to talk about the pros and cons we’ve experienced in growing our business and what growing our team has meant for us, personally.
Rachel and I both started in business as sole proprietors. In the early days, we only had to worry about ourselves. All of our expenses, scheduling, profits, etc., were ours to handle however we saw fit. Those are now all joint decisions and shared responsibilities. We’ve learned so much about ourselves, our values, and what we need to put into and get out of our business in order to make it work for us as we’ve grown.
Growing your business, your team, and your space can seem like “the dream” when you look at the pretty pictures other business owners post on instagram, but there are a lot of unpleasant details just outside the border of that perfect image. In today’s episode, we share both the pros and cons of our past lives as sole proprietors as well as the pros and cons of our current partnership with a team of 10. Here are a few of the highlights.
As a sole proprietor working alone:
- You get to do everything yourself but you also HAVE to do it all yourself. You get to see all of your clients yourself and have the joy of any business related tasks you enjoy, BUT you also have all of the tasks you may not enjoy or might struggle with.
- You choose where you want to be, with whom, and when. You’re the boss and you are only in charge of yourself but you also have to be accountable, organized, and responsible for every bit of your livelihood and there is no one to share the load or lend a hand.
- There are fewer expenses usually, but you have to shoulder all of them.
- All of the profits are yours! BUT you have to make sure you’re paying your own taxes and dealing with your own expenses and accounting.
In a partnership and with a team:
- You have a team full of awesome people to share your day but to a certain degree you are accountable for them.
- Growing your team and opening a physical location can lead to serving a larger portion of your community but that comes with more expenses and responsibilities.
- You can provide fewer direct services personally, but may have more business related tasks to take care of your team and will be paying others to provide the direct services you were providing.
- Having a brick and mortar business is such a cool experience! It has saved on travel, allowed me to learn so much, and is what I consider one of my biggest personal achievements BUT there are so many things we never thought would be an issue or ever gave a single thought to before opening our doors.
There are so many conversations Rachel and I have had over the past two years that we never thought would come up, but the most important topic we’ve covered regards our values. Finding what you value in your business and personal life is the most important thing to consider when working to find the next step in you business.
Find the why behind your decisions and make your most important choices based on what YOU need.
Until next time,
Katey & Rachel
Our clients shape our business; they are the reason why we do exactly what we do. We’ve talked in the past about defining your business and what sets you apart, but one component that is just as vital, is figuring out who specifically you want buying your product or engaging in your services. Creating an avatar for your ideal client and having a business filled with the right clients can help inform your large decisions, find appropriate marketing strategies, and articulate what you want to see in future development.
The first step we recommend is identifying where you are providing services or products to for your clients so you can then determine who you are looking for and where to find them. Is your business online or in-person? Do you have a physical product, a service, or an online product? Knowing what YOU do will help you determine what else you need to know about your client. Our free online course will help walk you through a series of questions to help you determine your business identity if this is something you are still struggling with.
The next step we recommend is identifying your red flags and ideal traits. What kind of clients do you know, for a fact, you DO and DO NOT want. We listed a couple of our red flags in this episode along with some of the questions we ask ourselves and things we keep in mind when looking for our ideal customer:
- Red Flags
- Lack of response or respect of time
- Missing appointments or trying to reschedule at the last minute
- An unwillingness to be flexible
- Pushback on policies we have carefully crafted.
- Refusal to communicate via email or file forms online
- Issues with payment
- Things to keep in mind & Questions to ask
- You do not have to say YES to everyone willing to pay for your services
- You may not be the right fit for that person
- What does the client need? Are they looking for a service that isn’t your speciality. If so, it’s ok to refer!
- Is this a client you want talking about your business? If not, they may not be the customer you want.
- Do they understand your product or services?
- How do you feel about your initial contact with your client?
- Trust your gut. You know what’s best for you and for your product, service, and team. Create your ideal vision for your client and stick with it.
- You can always revise your vision as you go.
Determine what you want to be doing and with whom so that you can continue to do your best work every day without risking serious burn out. Take care of yourself in your business every day by making the decisions that work for you.
Until next time,
Katey & Rachel
“How do you find your ideal client?” and “What marketing tools work best?” are two of the questions we get asked most often! In today’s episode, we share a little behind-the-scenes take on what’s worked for us and what hasn’t!
Marketing looks different for everyone! We approach our online and in-person businesses very differently because of the uniquely different qualities of each of those audiences. No matter what tools we are using, we always start with the same question, “Who is our ideal client?”. We create an avatar for the client we are looking for so we know where to find them and what they want to hear. We then target our marketing approach to the specific group we are looking to reach.
Here are some of our favorite marketing strategies we’ve used with our online business and physical clinic:
- Word of Mouth – Be your best in all you do! Word travels fast. Be sure it’s good commentary
- A Website, Business Cards, & Brochures are the bare basics of marketing. You NEED to have your materials so people can take them, share them, and spread the word!!
- Social Media – Positing consistently and with content that is eye-catching, interesting, informative, and fun but best represents your business is ideal! Know that a small amount of money with the right content can go a LONG way! Find which social media platform your audience is on and stick with it.
- A Sign – Having our business name on a huge sign in front of our office has drawn in more people than we ever thought possible! It was a one time investment that has paid for itself many times over.
- Advertising at Local Businesses & Form Relationships- Where do your clients go? Does that place have a community board where you can post a flier, business card, or brochure? Build relationships with people so you can partner with them in the future and work together to grow both of your companies in tandem.
- An Eye Catching Logo – Create something you love and use it consistently across ALL of your platforms in order to build your brand recognition.
- Print Media & Radio – Magazines, Newspapers, and Radio ads can be great for brick & mortar business but finding the right placement at the right price point can be tricky. Keep it small at first and explore all your options in order to test the waters and see what works
- Community Events – When done with the right intentions and in the right settings, community events can be a great way to build relationships and your business at the same time. Not every event is right for every business nor is it alway a good use of time. Do your research before committing to any event.
- Encourage Others to Spread the Word – In your emails and conversations invite others talk to others and forward your message!
No matter what media or marketing method you choose, there are a couple things to keep in mind.
- Be sure to keep it simple and make it specific. Know what you are selling and to whom so you can create the right content for the right people.
- Finding ways to track your marketing methods can be tricky but not impossible if you ask for feedback.
- When participating in events or working with marketing groups, find the people and causes that align with what you stand for in your business so you can always feel good about what you are doing and you are on the same page from day one.
- Learn from your experience along the way. You learn so much from doing! Try things out and see what works for you!
- Take into consideration what marketing techniques work on you!!
Most importantly, do what works for you. It doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate, it simply has to be the right fit for your business.
Until next time,
Katey & Rachel
We just got back from our national music therapy conference in Sandusky, Ohio. It was a whirlwind of a trip but such a wonderful experience for all of us! Rachel and I attended the conference this year with our current intern (Sammy) and our fabulous employee, Alisabeth. Between the four of us, we covered a lot of ground at the conference and manned a booth in the exhibit hall for 3 full days.
During the conference we attended educational sessions, went to meetings, spent hours in the exhibit hall, and meet with so many people! We take so much away from these conferences and want to encourage you to engage in professional development in whatever way makes sense to you. Here are the top reasons we attended conferences:
- Spending Time with Like-Minded Individuals – Nearly everyone at our conference was associated with music therapy in some way, shape, or form and had a general understanding of what we were doing on a daily basis. Meeting with people who were already on the same page allowed us to go deeper and gain new perspectives on what we are already doing.
- NEW IDEAS!!! – Though we were meeting with people who are all in the same field, we all do things a little differently and have different resources we find to be valuable. We all have our area of expertise and things that make us unique. In talking to other people or attending seminars, we gained so many new ideas and tips that we can implement right away or in the future.
- Self-Reflection – Getting new insight or talking to others allows me to feel validated or reflect on things that I want to change within myself. Every day of conference I felt like I needed to reflect on all of the amazing conversations we had throughout the day.
- Making New Contacts & Fostering Relationships – We met so many new people and made incredibly valuable contacts who we can look to in the future for ideas, new perspectives, and feedback. We also had the opportunity to spend time with people we have met previously, either in person or online, and build on those relationships.
I hope you can find ways to foster your own professionals development and learn something new every day!
Until next time,
Katey & Rachel
Episode 3 of the Creative Business Breakdown is all about working to find those things that make your business special and finding what works for you. No two companies are identical and for creative business owners there aren’t any exact blueprints or manuals out there to tell you how to make it all work or how the pieces fit together.
Rachel and I have no formal business training to speak of and have spent a great deal of time over the past few years talking about what sets our business apart and makes us unique so that we can best create the business that works for us.
Our company feels so different from most traditional businesses. Not only do we have an online store that we are constantly creating new products for, we also provide services for individuals in our studio, as well as providing contract services to individuals in the community. There is an additional online educational component for other music therapists and entrepreneurs that we are working also continuing to grow through our blogging, podcasting, and upcoming continuing education opportunities. On top of ALL of that, we are part of the relatively young field of music therapy.
We’ve had to get creative in both the business and service side of things considering that music therapy is an innately creative field and we are creating our own business rule book as we go. We’ve learned a few things along the way that we hope will help you in finding your creative business identity.
- Find what feels good! What story do you want to tell about your business? What makes you happiest? How do you want to present yourself?
- Be true to yourself. You cannot run any business but your own. Make sure that what ever you are doing aligns with your vision for your company and isn’t trying to simply re-create what your see on your instagram feed.
- Talk to every one! Get advice from others but put your own spin on it! Getting an outside perspective can be so helpful in determining what you want or identifying the questions you need to ask yourself.
- Understand that there is a lot of trial and error. We are always open to trying things we like and that we see work for other business owners BUT with the general understanding that if it isn’t the right fit, we can quickly move on to another solution that may work better
- Take what you learn from others and from research, try it out, learn from your mistakes or successes, revise, and move on.
- You have a different product and service than anyone else, even if they are in the same field or selling something very similar. Determine what sets you apart.
Creative entrepreneurs tend to be idea people. Rachel and I get so many wonderful ideas every day that we get so excited about but all while trying not to get carried away. For us, it’s about loving what we do and finding what fits for us. When things fail, we try not to take it to heart and instead either revisit our flops another time or revise what we are working on to make it fit with what we want.
Moving on can sometimes be difficult because we pour so much energy and heart into everything that we do, but understand that self worth is not defined by the success of business. Find what works for you, having the ability to take a step back, and determining your business identity helps to inform everything you do.
Until next time,
-Katey & Rachel