“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
I know we’re already a few weeks into 2018, but I don’t think it’s ever too late to wish you all a Happy New Year! We are so excited for everything 2018 has in store and to share more with you throughout this awesome adventure!
Most years, I feel like we have a lot of unfinished business when we are transitioning from December into January. But this year feels like a fresh start, and we couldn’t be more thrilled! We wrapped up 2017 really nicely and would love to share a little with you about our 2017 journey and goals before moving on to what 2018 has in store.
For the past few years, we’ve created a mantra where we highlight a few keywords that we want to use as our focus throughout the year. You can check out more about our 2016 and 2017 mantras and goals in previous blog posts.
Our mantra for 2017 was waste less, share more, and live our why. We knew that our mantra was absolutely perfect from the first moment we said it out loud. We ran with that mantra throughout all of 2017 and have a lot to show for our efforts. It wasn’t easy, but it definitely helped us focus on the bigger picture throughout the year and helped us to grow our business and ourselves.
Taking that mantra seriously meant taking a step back from the podcasts to really look at our business and our priorities. It meant taking time for self-reflection and briefly giving up one of the things we have loved doing in order to reassess our overall goals and figure out how to improve our business.
At the start of 2017, we were simply doing too much! We had our hands in everything, and it overwhelming. We were both feeling exhausted and torn in a million directions all of the time. We felt the need to reassess every part of our business. To give you a little more insight into the work that we did, let’s break down our mantra for 2017 and share with you a few of the ways that we changed our business.
Wasting less means so many things, but one of the biggest changes we made regarding waste was creating fewer physical products. We moved from creating CDs and binders every month for our classes to sharing MP3s and online downloads instead. We brought fewer physical products to our national conference and created a more cohesive product catalog.
On top of that, we did away with one of our websites and moved all of our products into one location. We also stopped making several products and moved toward creating resources that we felt better fit our business and helped move the needle forward. By making just a few changes, we have saved a lot of time, money, and energy.
One of the biggest changes that we made was being more transparent with both our team and the families to whom we provide services. We’ve worked to be more honest, up front, and real about everything that is and was happening within the business. When we returned to the podcast, we also got more real with all of our listeners by sharing personal stories and providing insight about the hardships we’ve experienced in our business. Even though we didn’t share more physical products, we shared more throughout our community both online and in person by engaging in conversations and presenting to groups.
Live our why.
Over the past few years of working together, Rachel and I have had the opportunity to learn about our strengths and our weaknesses and really hone in on the things that we like to do, and have definitely learned about the things that we don’t like to do. We’ve grown our company and continued to strive to each do what we love. Finding balance and focus has often been a struggle, though. In growing our business, it’s been easy to lose track of the why behind what were are doing.
Through “living our why”, we wanted to bring intention back to everything we are doing. We have been in hustle and go mode for so long that we made it a priority to step back and figure out what was really important to each of us. We took time to figure out our whys and our passions and share them with each other so that we could start making changes in our business that align with our values. We have started to question absolutely everything that we do now, even down to the most trivial tasks in order to determine if they are really necessary to help us move the needle forward.
We have been searching for the why behind everything that we’re doing, and really trying to focus in on the things that will help us be our best, live our best lives, and go home happy.
Throughout our “assessment” we found that we really needed to give up a little bit of control. So that we could start living more of our why, we delegated some of the administrative tasks in our business and some of the smaller things to other people on our team. We created new roles and gained perspective from other people. We started taking a step back from the direct service aspect of the company and instead focused on what we both really want for ourselves and our company.
One of the big things that Rachel did in 2017 was gave up teaching lessons. She felt like she was spending too much time away from her children and wanted to be more family focused. I also started taking a step back from direct service so that I can find more balance and spend time with the people that I love.
2017 was a HUGE year of accomplishments. If we took time to list them all, it would take hours. Here are just a few of the highlights from 2017 that were due in huge part to our goals.
- We received a steady paycheck every month of the year for the first time!
- We saw explosive growth of our early childhood classes
- We brought on one of our team members in an administrative role and expanded their position (She is a systems and spreadsheet goddess <3)
- We did a little remodel on our second waiting room
- We presented at both local and national events.
- We launched new courses
As we moved into 2018, we definitely wanted to have a new mantra. This year’s mantra is:
Expansion, Flow, and Joy
I won’t go into too much detail for now, but we are so excited about this year’s mantra. In 2017, We got a taste of what it means to be truly joyful as business owners. We are looking to find more joy throughout 2018 and in all of the little things that we do. We definitely know that we are striving for expansion and growth in 2018, but we want to make it a more natural process and find flow in all we are doing. Muscle-ing our way through 2018 is the last thing either of us wants. We want to let it flow naturally and joyously as we strive for expansion throughout the year.
(Post-recording update: During the episode, we talked about interviewing possible candidates for a new position with MTC. Laura Tam has officially accept the position and we are excited to have her join our music therapy team at the start of February! Welcome Laura!)
We’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment, find us on Instagram, or even send us an email. Let us know what your goals are in 2018 so we can support you throughout the year. We want to cheer you on!
Until next time,
Katey & Rachel
Episode 26 is especially exciting because for the first time ever, we have a guest on the podcast! During our recording a few weeks ago, we had the opportunity to chat with Jaime Lawrence of Harmony Garden Music Therapy Services!
We are so grateful we had the opportunity to talk with Jaime, and enjoyed getting to know her more. We feel like our businesses are kindred spirits in that they offer such a diverse set of services to a community of people, and our businesses have experienced similar journeys.
We definitely encourage you to take a listen to the whole episode, but here are some of the highlights.
Fun Facts About Harmony Garden
- Jaime opened Harmony Garden Music Therapy Services in 2006 and has been in business for herself for almost 12 years.
- Unlike MTC, Harmony Garden has always had a storefront, physical location for the business. They are currently in their fourth location and loving it!!
- One of the coolest things about their current location is that it is in the same plaza as other therapists. They gain visibility and foot traffic simply by being in the same location as those other businesses.
- Harmony Garden offers a variety of services and now has a team of three music therapists!
- The business offers a “cradle to grave” style set of services including everything from early childhood groups to older adult and hospice care.
Throughout the podcast, Jaime talked about her business goals and philosophy. She is always striving for growth and told us that she never wants to say “no”. She’s always been open to working with new populations and clientele and loves exploring the new opportunities that come her way.
We discussed how her business has been able to grow even through her two maternity leaves by bringing on team members to cover her absences and by growing contracts after her return. Though Jaime’s main focus is growth, she agreed with us that as a business owner, her goals are ever-changing and evolving.
I feel like we could have talked with Jaime forever! We have so many things in common, especially as business owners. One of the biggest points we agreed on is that owning a business (especially one where you are providing a service) is a delicate balancing act.
We always want to be involved in the clinical aspect of music therapy while also running the practice and juggling all of the administrative tasks at the same time. With all of those balls in the air, we asked Jaime how she’s finding balance and how she handles all of the craziness.
Jaime told us that she has taken a few things off of her plate by bringing in an additional team member to take on some of the administrative tasks and paperwork. We’ve been on the same journey at MTC and bonded over the fact that while it’s incredible to assign those tasks to someone else, it’s also struggle finding someone who knows your business the way that you do. It’s exciting to bring on additional people to take on administrative tasks, but navigating those waters can be tedious and sometimes expensive.
Unfortunately, there is no roadmap or how-to book to help us along the way. A lot of business owners struggle with the same things we do: wanting to do all of the things all of the time. What we have learned is that we have to reign ourselves in and make the big decisions based on what we know will move us forward and in the right direction. We know that, at the end of the day, making those really big decisions is hard but we have to do what’s right for ourselves, our families, and the future of our company.
We agreed that we all have to put extra focus on balancing the people-pleasing sides of ourselves with our personal needs and self-care. When we asked Jaime what she does for self-care and to find balance, she told us that her self-care includes going home and shutting everything off or engaging in the fun business tasks that help her celebrate her accomplishments.
Jaime also listed a few ways she likes to stay inspired in her work and practice, including:
- Listening to podcasts (ex. Being Boss)
- Having fun with her team and socializing
- Connecting with people both in person and on social media
- Participating in gatherings locally and online.
Before we ended our interview, we asked Jaime to share a piece of advice for other music therapy business owners. I summed up her amazing thoughts/tips with the following:
Don’t ever assume that you can’t do something. Always push and try for what you want. You will always surprise yourself! Be open to and strive for growth, whatever that looks like!
Be sure to follow Jaime and Harmony Garden Music Therapy Services across social media using the handle @hgmusictherapy. You can also check out her website or find her on YouTube.
Wowzers! I feel like the month of November came and went in the blink of an eye! Rachel and I were talking before recording the podcast the other day and honestly think this may have been our busiest month since moving into our new building. We have had all of the pots simmering at the same time! We’ve been so busy, but with the most incredible projects!
One of the big things we were focused on in November was attending our national Music Therapy conference in St. Louis.
We were so grateful that this year, the conference was only a quick 90 minute drive instead of the 9.5 hours it was last year. (You can hear all about our conference experience last year in CBB Episode 6).
We had a lot of new experiences at our conference in 2016 (including selling products for the first time!) and wanted to avoid some of the mistakes we made last year so we could make the most out of this year’s conference.
For those of you who have never sold products in person before, there is a lot that goes into it! Last year, we put so many things off until the last minute and ended up scrambling to get it all done and get everything loaded in the car so we could actually hit the road on time.
Selling products in person is so different from doing it online or even just handing out information. We learned that lesson the hard way and didn’t want to be up until midnight the night before leaving putting together final products and sale catalogs.
When we finally got to conference last year, we were super prepared and ready to sell absolutely everything we had created but we didn’t leave our booth and came out of the conference experience feeling exhausted.
To set ourselves up for an awesome conference this year, we started our planning months in advance! We knew we wanted to step up our game this year and actually take in the whole conference. While we still wanted to exhibit and sell products, we also feel like that’s not what the conference experience is about for us.
It’s about everything outside our products. Our conference is about the connections we make, sharing our passion, and, at the heart of everything, sharing our “why”. It’s about learning new things, exploring new ideas, and opening ourselves up to a new world of opportunities.
We knew we had huge goals to achieve so we started planning at the very beginning of 2017. We started forming our game plan for our booth last winter when Alisabeth shared her idea for a Sign Language CMTE course. We knew it would be a huge amount of work so we determined our November conference as the launch date!
Because we sell so many products and wanted to share more about them or develop more tools, Rachel and I decided we also wanted to present this year. We knew that it would be an interesting challenge trying to determine our focus 6 months ahead of time, so we stuck with a topic we are incredibly familiar with and knew we could talk about for hours: working with kids. Not only did we talk about working with children but we shared a free tool we developed just for the occasion: The Essential Toolkit for Working With Children.
Holy cow!!! We could not have anticipated the reaction we got when we presented. By sharing more of who we are and the “why” behind what we do, we created a cohesive message that brought together all of the different pieces of our conference experience.
I think it was so validating for people to hear that music therapy is so much more than just the songs we sing. We shared a list of the tools that people forget they are using in therapy, like their personality, life experience, and presence. I think everyone was able to walk out of our presentation with something even beyond the toolkit we provided.
Creating that cohesion and presence was our primary goal for the conference, but that’s not to say we didn’t have other things we wanted to take away. We wanted to make connections and have fun!!!!
The first day of our conference was exhausting and overwhelming. Between the prepping for conference, travel, setup of our booth, seeing everyone for the first time, hauling everything to our room, etc., we were done! Rachel and I decided to take some much needed time away to just unwind and grab a nice dinner together.
A lot of people think that since we are business partners that we must hang out all the time. Sadly, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I wish we could just hang out more because we always have an amazing time, but the truth of the matter is that we generally only see each other once or twice a week and in meetings.
Because we don’t get that time together, it made our first night dinner so much more wonderful. We actually got to sit and enjoy a bottle of wine and an amazing dinner and just chat for a couple hours. It was great getting to catch up on so many of the things that get lost in the daily grind.
I could go on and on about all of the other amazing parts of our conference experience but instead I’ll just briefly touch on a few of the other incredible highlights: They include:
- The first night exhibit spectacular where we got to show off our brand new course and see everyone!
- My reunion dinner with 20+ other Western Illinois students/alumni and professors.
- Getting to meet and re-connect with several people I’ve either met online or only met at conference.
- Going to sessions and learning new methods or getting new ideas that I can apply in my session
- Debuting our NEW CMTE course!!!!! Alisabeth was like the shining star of our booth!! It was so cool to watch everything come together and see her in a different role. It was like a proud parent moment!
- Our MTC Dinner – We got together with 6 people who have been a part of our team in some way and got to reconnect during a family dinner! It was so splendid getting to just sit down and chat with everyone!!! We <3 our MTC family!
- Talking to podcast listeners!!! We love you all so much!!! Thank you for your love and understanding! Thank you for listening and your support! You have no idea how much meeting you mean to us!
We love going to our conference every year and think that it is an experience that everyone should have. Even if you can’t make it to a national conference or if you aren’t a music therapist, we encourage you find opportunities to learn, grow, and connect with other people. Even small seminars or meet-up groups can be incredibly beneficial.
Those experiences not only help you connect with other professionals and network but also help you get out of your routine, and shake things up. Learning experience and conferences are what you make of them. Seek out those opportunities and have goals for them that will help you grow.
We know that the conference would not be possible without all of the people who worked behind the scenes to make it all possible so THANK YOU!!
Thank you to everyone who severed on a committee!
Thank you to all of the conference organizers!
Thank you to everyone who volunteered!
Thank you to everyone who presented!
Thank you to all of the exhibitors!
Thank you to all of the conference coordinators!
Thank you to everyone who attended and everyone we saw at conference!
Thank you, everyone. We love you.
Be sure to keep in touch!
Until Next Time,
Katey & Rachel
We love meetings! As gross as that may sound to most, our meeting time is actually one of the highlights of my week! In fact, we spent most of our day in meetings before recording this podcast episode. We came out of our meeting time feeling excited, motivated, and ready to take on the world!
Because we know that not everyone appreciates meetings in the same way we do, we decided to record this episode where we share a few of our tips and tricks on how you can make the most of your meetings and ideas for how you can make them fun as well! We want you to enjoy the behind the scenes part of your business (including meetings) as much as we do.
Here are a few of the tips that we shared during this episode that make our meeting time for enjoyable and more productive:
- Procrastination Can Be Productive. I know how ridiculous and counterintuitive that sounds, but sometimes putting off conversations about big topics is for the best. We take our time to make sure we are in the right headspace before covering the BIG topics. Instead of spending weeks debating the little details of a large project we often put our conversations off until we are closer to our deadline. That way we have a better idea of what we actually want to do instead of changing our minds several times. We take time on our own to think about what we really want. We also have so much going on that we sometimes need to just take those big topics with distant deadlines off the table so we can focus on the here and now. Rachel and I both know that we work very well under pressure. Having a limited timeframe in which to work helps us to put our ideas out on paper with less hesitation than we normally would and stick to a plan that we know will work instead of testing for multiple ideas and wasting our very precious and limited time.
- Let It Breathe. If your ideas don’t feel right in the moment or you’re struggling to come up with a solution (or the right solution), give your thoughts and ideas space to breathe. Table the discussion and come back to it when you have a fresh perspective and can tackle things effectively. Sometimes taking time to “sleep on it” really is the best solution.
- Communication. Keep open lines of communication throughout your week, not just during meeting times, so that you can address smaller issues as they come up through a different means of communication. Rachel and I love using Slack and Google Drive to keep track of all of our business related issues. Slack is like text messaging on steroids. It is an awesome tool that we use to communicate not only with each other but with our entire team. Rachel and I are almost always on Slack. We keep in touch by sending quick messages throughout our week so that we can get down to the real business when we are in our meetings together in person
- Pre-planning. We spend more time usually prepping for our meetings independently than we do actually meeting. We create outlines for every single meeting that we have using google docs. Rachel and I each make notes within the outline ahead of time so that we can write down our thoughts and put them down in one place so that when we get into our meeting we have a plan. This also helps us get those tough conversations started and at least out in the open so we each have time to think about what we want to say or how to handle particularly tricky situation before we sit down in a meeting together. This tactic has proved especially helpful in meetings with our team members. If they take time to create an outline for their supervision or meeting, we can cover a lot more ground and tackle some of the more difficult topics without the pressure of having to bring things up verbally.
- Write it down. During our meetings we use the outline that we have pre-determined to run our meeting and keep us on track. We add to our outline with specific notes on each topic during our meeting so that we can go back and track our progress and what we’ve talked about in each meeting together. We try to write down everything even though we may not use some of art ideas immediately. That way we can look back a year from now and see what we talked about or even pull from those ideas or thoughts that we may have had. Writing things down also helps us to task out what needs to be accomplished. We will often put our names next to individual tasks as a reminder of who is going to take care of whatever the coming week.
- Tools. We use a variety of tools to help us stay on track and organized. Slack is used for daily messages and quick responses. We can also share documents and pictures as well as creating separate posts. The best part is, it’s ALL SEARCHABLE!!! We use Google Docs to create meeting notes, Trello to create outlines of our podcast episodes, and messenger for all personal, nonbusiness things. I love having separate outlets for each part of our business. It helps me stay in the right mindset!
- Set Expectations. We hold ourselves to a certain standards during meetings we expect a certain level of standards from each other that we meet with. We expect each other to be prepared, honest, and efficient during our meeting time together. We value our time together and want to see our business thrive. By maintaining those 3 standards, we accomplish a great deal during a short window of time and we leave every meeting with a positive feeling and with a clear idea of what needs to happen next.
- Have Fun! Because we spend so much time preparing for meetings, we have the opportunity to spend more time talking about the personal side of our lives and catching up! We also try to keep a positive energy and attitude because it helps everything run more smoothly. One of the ways we make meetings more comfortable is by making a space we love being in! That means cozy chairs and pillows for all!
- Reward yourself! I love our long meeting days because I know they will always end in Chipotle! It is one of the little ways we make our meeting times feel good! Even after a long days of talking about tough stuff, we make sure we take the time to go get good food that we LOVE! Treat yo’ self.
We’d love to hear more from you on how you make meetings more enjoyable! Let us know if you have any questions or topics you would like to hear us cover in the next episode.
Until Next Time,
Katey & Rachel