Handling the Hard Parts of Owning a Business

Don’t get me wrong for even one second.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE what I do. In fact, I wrote a whole post about it recently on our Leaders Blog.    I sincerely believe I have the best/coolest/most rewarding job on the face of the planet.  And really, who could argue with this cuteness? Music Class With Katey

But that’s where the conversation usually ends with most people who also think they have the “best/coolest/most rewarding job”.  Most business owners I know won’t openly divulge the icky, not-so-fun parts of what they do, which is terribly unfair.  Business ownership is often put on a tall, shiny pedestal without so much as a mention of how that pedestal was built, how it stays standing and polished, and what it takes to stay there living the perceived awesome entrepreneurial life.

Want the honest to goodness truth??  It takes a lot of hard work and grit. We are talking serious determination. Long hours. Unpaid work. Tons of trial AND error. Revisions like you wouldn’t believe. And so on and so on…

There are things I have dealt with as a business owner that I never thought I would encounter in my life, let alone before I was 30.  I have had to learn so many things outside my general scope of knowledge and way outside comfort zone (website building anyone).  I am challenged and encounter something new nearly every day.  I have had to learn to rely on other people in my life who love me (especially my incredibly supportive husband, amazing family, and outstanding business partner, thank you all!!) and learn to accept help… which is really hard for me.  I have had to accept that there are serious growing pains that come with trying to grow my business that also seriously affect my personal budget.  I have had to learn that there are very few things I have complete control of and that I have to trust the people and processes I am surrounded by.  I have had to have some serious moments and really tough conversations with people.  I have had to put on my big girl pants and become a real boss in both my personal and professional life.

Yes, those are the some of the hard parts and I don’t anticipate them to just going away.  Every day that I am a business owner, I fully expect to be challenged.  I understand, acknowledge, and accept that some days are going to be really rough and more often than not there is nothing I can do to change those things that occur.

The one thing I can control is my response. How I cope. How I react. How I handle myself in stressful situations. And how I learn and grow along the way.Running for the Win

Today, was tough. I felt anxious and upset when I was walking through my front door.  My first instinct was to curl up in a ball and cry. My second was to run. So, I ran.  I employed a couple of my favorite self-care strategies and went for it. I listened to a podcast that I knew would be motivating and a pushed myself to run faster!   When I got home, I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders and like I could move forward with what I needed to get done.

Getting to the point: There will be hard days, tough situations, and challenging moments. I handle them with lots of support from my friends and family, engaging in serious self-care strategies that work for me, taking time for reflection and rest, and acknowledging that all of the hard work I have put in has helped build something incredible that will simply keep growing every day because I love what I do.

Test of Trust

This year has been almost like one giant trust exercise. Like the trust fall you see in Mean Girls… but only an entire year of being vulnerable, putting my truths out there, and hoping people will catch me.  (So not truly like the scene in Mean Girls, but you get the point.)

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Trepidatious. is a word I commonly use to describe myself.  In other words, I am often apprehensive and have trouble accepting help or jumping in to new things because I get anxious and feel as though something bad or unpleasant is going to happen. The unfamiliar and new can be really REALLY scary. So, I sit and think of every possible question or problem that could arise before moving forward or handing over the reigns. I organize and try to solve problems before they even seem to be there… But what else does this make me sound like? A control freak, maybe? Definitely. Probably. But as long as I’m in control and asking the questions and handling things then less can go wrong, right? WRONG. Trying to do it all is not healthy… In case you were wondering.

As I said, this year has been one giant trust exercise and man has it been good for me. As our team and business have rapidly grown, I have had to (or I have chosen to take the scary step to) hand over some things to other people and fret less over the things that COULD go wrong. Instead, I have been choosing to handle more things in the moment and trust the team I have surrounded myself with. I chose those people for a reason. I let them in for a reason. So, if I just trust them to do what they do best, then I feel SO much better and everything runs way more smoothly.

And what has happened as I’ve put my trust in my team? They’ve come through. Pretty much 100% of the time. And I’ve been able to breathe. Even though our business is over twice the size it was last year, I feel 10x more relaxed and at ease. I’ve put faith in the people around me and trusted that the business will continue to head in the right direction. And it has been awesome!!

Hand over the reigns… it’s not so bad!

Being a Supervisor…

…definitely has it’s challenges and tough moments.  There are long nights, hard conversations, sweat, tears, stress, etc.  I get it!

However, it is one of the most rewarding and consistently joyful things I have ever done professionally.  I love having the opportunity and ability to influence someone and help them grow into the professional they want to be.  I love being there when they have questions and being able to answer them or learning new things along the way by finding the answer together.  I like being able to have conversations where we talk about the aspects of Music Therapy or business that often get swept under the rug or taken for granted.  AND I am absolutely thrilled whenever I see my intern succeed.

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The past few weeks, Alisabeth has displayed an incredible amount of growth (whether she realizes it or not) and in spite of some really challenging situations. Needless to say, I am beyond excited to see where the next few weeks lead!

Mostly, I just wanted to take a moment to encourage anyone in a teacher, supervisor, student, or even parent role to take a step back and look at where you started.  Notice what steps you’ve taken.  Acknowledge any successes.

It’s really easy to get caught up in daily affairs and not take notice of what is happening along the way.  Sometimes, the changes and growth are subtle.  Often, they are stealthy and you don’t notice them happening.

So… Take a moment. Sit back. Re-assess. And Be Proud! 

You’re doing a great job!

2016: Simplify, Streamline, Self-care (part 2)

Welcome back!!  

In my previous post, I divulged the 3 major words Rachel and I elected to describe our goals for the new year that I have also adopted personally.

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I took on simplify in my last post.  Streamline is a little trickier. It’s not a terribly fun or pretty word, but it is definitely essential in both the future of our company and my future personally.

streamline (verb): to make (an organization or system) more efficient and effective by employing faster or simpler working methods.

There aren’t many extra hours (or even extra minutes) in any given day.  A lot of things get done at the last minute (or never) because there feel like there is no time.  There are a lot of ideas that never even get started because I’m always playing catch-up.

By taking a little time to find the methods/systems that work best for me and my company, I can become more efficient and effective thus creating more time and space in my life to do more of what I love and start on some new and amazing projects.

Action Step: 

  1. Find my groove – figure what routine will work best for me & stick to it!! 
  2. Delegate, ask for help, employ assistance
  3. Reassess current method and find what can be cut, changed, moved, & shifted.

 

What are your thoughts on streamlining??

Listen & Learn for Leaders! – Launched TODAY!!!!!!!!!!

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I am SO excited to share this news with you today! Since you are reading this, YOU are probably a leader in some fashion and this new series of resources is just for YOU!

Over the past few years, I have spent countless hours creating, crafting, recording, and putting into practice my own songs, materials, and session plans.  This past year I partnered with Rachel Rambach and together we have been producing even more quality materials and using them in our Early Childhood Groups.

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Every few weeks,  Rachel and I sit down and plan the next session of our Listen & Learn for Little Ones classes. This is one of our favorite parts of the job — we both love brainstorming new songs, choosing how we will address specific goals, and then recording the new music we’ll put to use with our kiddos.

But we know that not all leaders like doing that same work. Maybe you are passionate about marketing but not songwriting. Perhaps putting together your curriculum together completely stresses you out, but you are passionate about putting songs into action with your students. It very well could be that you just aren’t interested in writing your own songs, but you need fresh material.

No matter which category you fall under, Katey and I created a resource for you. We’ve taken the classes that have already been put into action here at our studio in Springfield, IL and packaged them up so that you can do the same.

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Today we are launching Listen & Learn for Leadersa collection of materials for ANYONE who uses music to help children learn and grow. These include:

  • Facilitator Packages: All the tools you need to facilitate a 45-minute early childhood music class, developed by board-certified music therapists, in one downloadable file. Each package contains a guide with list of instruments, materials and instructions/suggestions for each song, as well as a lyric packet for participants, chords for the facilitator, and collection of mp3s.
  • Song Mini-Packs: A collection of songs centered around one theme. Each song was written or adapted by us and utilized in our early childhood music classes. Mini-packs include an instructional guide, lyrics/chords, and mp3s.
  • VIP Membership: Receive every product in our catalog, along with extra videos, songs, and downloadables, on a bi-weekly basis right in your inbox.

And this is just a jumping off-point. We have lots of plans in the works for other resources and materials, and in the meantime will be sharing tips, techniques and tools regularly on the Listen & Learn for Leaders blog.

So please head over to the brand-new site and take a look around. If you have feedback to share, we’d love to hear it! Thanks for all YOU do as a leader in the lives of children.