{CBB 12} A Year In Review

CBB 12 Cover

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

{CBB 11} Growing Your Team

CBB 11 Cover

Your team is the face of your company so talking about it can be stressful.  We’ve been talking a lot about our team and team members over the past few weeks and months as our business continues to shift and grow.  We’ve changed up some of the roles of our team members, added to or revised their individual roles, and are currently looking for another new team member.

Growing our team has required an immense amount of trust and a multitude of difficult conversations.  Coming to the conclusion that we need to bring on additional team members is never an easy decision and one that leads to asking a lot of questions.  Each time we’ve considered adding a new position, we’ve had to ask our selves the same serious of questions:

  • Do we have enough work to add another person?
  • Will this position grow?
  • Are we offering a position that anyone would want?
  • What characteristics are we looking for in a new team member?
  • What is their role going to look like?
  • How will this impact our business?
  • What will my role look like and what new responsibilities will I have as a business owner?

You have to determine within your own business whether adding a position or growing your team is the right step for you.  Adding a new position can seem appealing and exciting but with a team comes a huge new set of responsibilities and outcomes that can impact both your business and personal life.

We have gone through the process of adding a team member several times now and still have not perfected the process.  However, we have learned a lot along the way and shared a few of those lessons in todays episode:

  • Adding a team member starts with a a mental shift.  Abandoning the “I can do it all” mentality can be incredible challenging and requires a great deal of trust in order to allow someone else to share in the responsibility.
  • We’ve reached our applicants through a variety of methods including social media, indeed.com, our big sign, and our website. We’ve also used some non-traditional methods to customize our search.  When we were looking for our first lesson instructor we contacted local music colleges around graduation time to inform them of our new position.
  • Crafting our vision for our team and revising as we go have been essential in moving forward.  We have revised roles and continued to sculpt our team as we go based on what we have already learned and continue to learn every day.
  • Deciding what we want to specialize in or want to be known for has helped us to find the right clientele and teachers.  We have limited our services to a select few so that we can focus on highlighting them
  • Spending time with our team members and figuring out what their specific skills and hidden talents are so team members can do what they love and enjoy.
  • Keeping an open dialogue so we can all grow together.  We try to show our team members that they are valued by having an open door policy, sharing experiences with them, and talking regularly.  We try to have a positive attitude throughout our office and be proactive in solving issues as they come up.

No matter where you are in your business, determine what the best fit for you is in the moment and know that it can always change.

Until Next Time,

Katey and Rachel

 

 

{CBB 10} The Personal Side

The Personal Side of Business Ownership

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

{CBB 9} Does Size Matter?

Episode 9

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

{CBB Episode 8} Finding Your Ideal Clients

Finding Your Ideal Clients

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

{CBB Episode 7} Marketing: Where to Spend Your Money

CBB Episode 7

“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

{CBB Episode 6} Post-Conference Takeaways

CBB Episode 6

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

{CBB Episode 5} Preparing for a Busy Season

Episode 5

How is it already November?!?!  This year has been flying by!  This week Rachel and I are headed to our National Music Therapy Conference in Sandusky, Ohio, where we will have a booth in the exhibit hall for the first time together!  I LOVE going to conferences! It is a time to be around like-minded, incredibly talented people who inspire me to do be better every day.  I always come home from a conference feeling excited, mentally refreshed, and usually physically exhausted from all of the awesome sessions, conversations, and time spent with friends.

With travel plans and events, this is not only a busy time of year for our business but we are also moving into a holiday season and have had a lot going on personally.  That all adds up very quickly and can start to feel like a huge burden.  In this week’s episode we shared a few of the ways we stay grounded, focused, and on the right path throughout this crazy time. Here are a couple of the things we mentioned during our Tuesday chat:

  • Find a friend and vent.  Letting the craziness that surrounds you build up is never a good thing.  Often, just letting it go, venting, journaling, phoning a friend, or having a good cry can be the most beneficial thing for everyone.  I know that I always feel better if I can simply talk it out.
  • SLEEP!!  I know it’s tempting to stay up until all hours of the night working on whatever amazing project you have started or simply trying to play catch up, but I can promise that a good night of sleep will help be more productive, pleasant, and peaceful the next day.
  • Most things can wait.  Making mile long to-do lists is a bad habit that I am trying to break.  Prioritize what you need to do instead of what you would like to see yourself accomplish. Pick the one, singular thing that absolutely HAS to get done and let the rest wait or delegate it to someone else if at all possible.
  • Be Thankful!  It’s so easy to get caught up in the business and forget why you are doing what you are doing and with whom.  Stop and take a minute to realize how wonderful things really are and be grateful for the incredible things you have been able to accomplish.

Until next time, enjoy the beautiful season and make time to spend with the people you love most.

-Katey & Rachel

{CBB Episode 4} Educating Your Community

CBB Podcast Episode 4

In this week’s episode of the Creative Business Breakdown, Rachel and I talk about the importance of educating your community in whatever way makes the most sense for you.  We share some of our favorite tips for reaching your target audience and leaving an impact on whoever you are talking to.

Educating doesn’t have to be a formal event or scripted process. Spreading the word about your business or product can be as simple as starting a conversation with your cashier.  Most of our influential conversations take place outside of the board room or classroom setting. Very rarely will you find us making a structured sales pitch or formal presentation about our services.  Most of our marketing and education happens within everyday conversation with all of the people we meet along the way.  We never know who could be a potential client, so being prepared to talk to anyone and everyone is on the top of our list of tips for educating our community.

When you encounter situations where you can share your story and provide a little insight, keep in mind these few things we shared in the podcast this week:

  • Stay off your soap box – Nobody wants a lecture.  Unless you are a professor or making a formal presentation, keep it conversational.  Instead of professing your message to your audience, get to know them and make the education piece specific by asking questions and finding your in.  Ask the questions that can make it personal.
  • Keep it simple and limit your talking points.  What are the few basic things that someone needs to know about you or your business?  What information is going to keep them interested or grab their attention.  Limit yourself to the bare basics so you can get the important things across when you are pressed for time but know where you can go next and what details you want to share in longer conversations.
  • Practice your elevator speech – Ask everyone you know to ask you questions about your venture so that you can work out exactly what you want to say, how you want to say it, and without using too much jargon.  Challenge yourself, can you limit your main talking points to 20 seconds??  What if you only had an elevator ride to share as much as possible?
  • Leave them wanting more –  You don’t have to share all your business details in one visit.  Encourage whoever you are speaking with to follow up the conversation or seek out more information.  Leave them wanting to learn more about you and your business.
  • Have your resources ready – When encouraging that continued dialogue, be sure to have your resources at the ready so you can direct people where to find you and ask their questions. Keep your business cards stocked, your website up and running, and your mental list of additional resources ready to go.
  • Make the effort to make connections – Put yourself out there and be approachable.  A warm smile and a listening ear can go a long way.

If you are ever met with resistance or hostility, just keep doing your best work. Not everyone may be ready to hear what you have to say in that moment. Remember that someone may simply be having a bad day or may need a rain check and that’s ok!

Until next time, smile and keep being your awesome self!

-Katey & Rachel

{CBB Episode 3} Finding Your Creative Business Identity

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.

Episode 3: Finding Your Creative Business Identity

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