(Well, that's what the calendar says. There's still snow here in Minnesota!) I'm hearing rumors of flowers blooming and birds chirping in other parts of the country so in full faith I'm believing it's on it's way here, too!
If you're like me, this time of year prompts me to make new chore charts for the kids and clean out my closet and organize my laundry room! Spring fever is here and hibernation is over! No more screen time! Let's get outside, walk, breathe, and get ready for the spring and summer rush in my business! Whoo hoo!
How can you leverage this time and energy? Here are a couple tips for your life and business:
1. Clean off your desk. Throw away those papers you don't need. Make space for the new. Put that stuff away in a closet. Can you see the surface of your desk? The carpet on the floor? Is it time to buy some file folders? A new binder? A new notebook? Don't go super crazy, but just take some time to get OFF your computer and make things a little more organized. You'll be able to think more clearly and the physical space will allow room for new clients in your life.
2. Clean up your calendar. What needs to go? What can you let go of? What obligations can you release? What day of the week can you designate to work ON your business instead of doing client work? I love Fridays. I watch video trainings, listen to training calls, do a networking coffee or lunch, and just BREATHE. I try not to schedule calls or coaching and I don't go to my studio. It's a time for me to catch my breath and reset before a new week.
3. Clean up your bedroom. I don't know about you, but the rest of the house can be messy, but my bedroom is my oasis. Currently, I'm focusing on my closet. Time to purge, throw away, organize, and install some new shelves! I'll be showing you the progress on Instagram, so come find me over there!
I'd love to hear what YOU are up to this Spring! Shoot me an email or message and let me know what your goals are! I'd love to hear from you!
Come Hang Out With Us!
For the first time ever, Chris and I recorded our first FB Live show! We've been talking about doing this for years and we finally did it! Chris comes alive on camera (well, so do I!) so it's a lot of fun! We'll be going live every Wednesday on Facebook around 11:30am Central and I'll post the recording on YouTube, too. So you can subscribe over there and you won't miss anything!
We will be discussing current business trends, marketing failures and successes, and life with a big(ish) family!
(We like slightly controversial issues, so come join the conversation and give us your two cents!)
Music Academy Success Conference!
Attention Music Studio Owners!
Come see us LIVE and in-person at the MASS conference in Dallas in April! We will have a Never Alone booth and be available to chat with YOU about all your marketing goals! Come say HI and grab some SWAG (seriously, the swag is awesome).
Can't wait to hang out, give you a hug (not Chris--he doesn't like hugs, LOL) and chat! So excited to see you face-to-face!
For Moms who homeschool and own a company...
If you're like me, you're feeling the weight of your family and home on your shoulders every day. Maybe you're struggling to figure out when to work and when to have time for the kids. This week, I recorded two videos for you. I want to encourage you that you CAN work and homeschool and do it with freedom and grace. Check out the videos and let me know if you gleaned any ideas or encouragement from them! Can't wait to hear from you.
(This was a little vulnerable for me to do, so please give me grace. And if this message doesn't resonate with your life, well, just scroll on.)
I love to travel. I love taking new roads, seeing new views, and I love adventure.
But I'll be honest, when the road is windy or covered with snow, I'm gripping my seat, the little voice inside my head is screaming, and occasionally I'm hissing, "Chris! Be! Careful!"
I'm a high idea generator, and in those moments, the ideas being generated are ones of us careening off the road, into the ditch, maybe landing in a pond.
I'm a big believer in faith, so I'm TRYING to hold positive expectation for the moment we pull into the garage, safe and sound, but the drive can be treacherous, can't it?
Same with our businesses. An over-active imagination can conjure up all kinds of things going wrong, worst-case scenarios, and impending disaster.
But does pointing energy to what could go wrong actually benefit us?
Or does it just steal joy? Steal peace? And take us further from where we want to be?
In today's video, I'm sharing a story of climbing mountains on vacation with Chris' family, which leads me the conclusion I always return to: when I surrender to God, put my faith in Him, and let him control the journey I am on, everything seems to fall into place.
I'm not sure why surrender feels so hard sometimes, I but do believe it's a discipline we cultivate. It's something I have to practice. I have to remind myself to trust. To lean in. To rest in peace. Because the truth is this whole journey is just hard. It is. (And then there are moments that are amazing and the views are spectacular! And it's definitely worth the ride!)
If you need a little pick-me-up, check out the video.
I'm cheering you on.
Attention Music School Owners:
We have a new layout available for your website! If you purchase now, you'll miss the conference rush PLUS get a 1 hour marketing strategy call with Jen. PLUS get 3 months of access to the Inner Circle for FREE. Just book a call HERE to get started and find out the details.
This week I've heard so many stories of hardship. People facing huge stuff. And yet, we press on. We keep going. We are strong.
When you've hit rock bottom, where do you turn?
Do you have a network that supports you?
Do you keep it all inside?
One of my kids confided in me and said "When I'm down, I don't want to bother other people. So I just keep it all inside."
I get it, but it makes me sad.
If we ALL live by that philosophy, then we won't ever support one another!
I know it takes courage to reach out and say, "I'm super low right now. I need support." But it's so much better than suffering in silence.
For me, I have mentally run through a list of friends and sometimes have come up short with who I can trust. I've hid under the covers and just slept it off. But when the light dawns and I can think clearly, I've decided to invest in specific relationships so I have somewhere to run when things get really hard.
This week's video is about this topic. Please watch it, and if it blesses you, share with a friend.
I'm cheering you on.
This month in the Inner Circle we are talking about Instagram! How to use it for your business, how to keep it simple (and not get overwhelmed) and how to advertise on Instagram.
My goal? To help local business owners use the power of social media to get more clients, make more money, and make a difference in the world.
Come follow me on Instagram for completely different content than I share on Facebook--more personal and behind-the-scenes.
My studio in 2011 when we first moved in...
I vividly remember walking through my new space, gazing at the empty rooms, and fully feeling the potential of my new space. That lovely feeling soon evaporated into stress and worry as the impending first lease payment came upon us. On paper, the numbers and potential looked good, but in reality, we had fewer than 100 students and we couldn't even pay the bills.
I chatted with a friend who had told her friend about my music school. This lady confessed that she didn't understand my website. It was confusing and sounded like I was talking to current students, not prospective ones. It was hard to navigate and I had upcoming events on the homepage. As soon as my friend shared this, my face flamed in embarassment, but I knew she was right.
I worked really hard (and researched a lot!) to figure out how to change my website messaging. I hired two business coaches and learned about SEO. I was actually in Colorado visiting my brother when my site finally showed up on page 1 of Google for music lessons in my area. I whooped with joy, and thankfully, my sister in law acknowledged, "That's a big deal!" with a smile and knowing nod, and validated my excitement.
Over the next year, this new front-page placement on Google, plus the correct messaging on our homepage, changed everything. The phones began to ring. Emails requesting more information poured in. We started filling up those rooms. The numbers went up, and so did my hope.
Are you sitting on huge amounts of potential? Do you KNOW you could make more money if you could just activate the right formula or messaging and marketing? Maybe you've tried several things and it seems like nothing is working. I want you to check out this week's video. I have a fun exercise that I want you to try.
Here's the deal: Clarity can change everything.
It did for me, and our clients inside the Inner Circle are reporting the same thing. Sometimes you're just a little too close to your business and you need a little outside help. Check out the video. (And while you're there, subscribe!)
Next week we'll talk about Communication, and how to get your message out there in a bigger way. Until next time, keep going. You never know how close you are to fulfilling your purpose and changing your life forever.
Our studio, 500 students later...
Congrats to Daisy!
She won a free hour of coaching with me in our Inner Circle contest this week!
Having teens in the house is very different from 10 years ago. I don't have to tie their shoes, pour their milk, or pick out their clothes.
But I'm reminding teens daily to TAKE A SHOWER, unload the dishwasher, have you done your homework? When are you leaving? Where are you going?
It actually reminds me of how my business has shifted and grown. I don't have to do every single little thing, like answering phones and all the emails, but I'm still monitoring everything to make sure we are on track. What are the numbers? We spent how much? Who else should we hire? Where are we headed? How will we get there?
Maybe you're in the first stage and you're exhausted. Owners tell me "I NEED my business to run without me!" This week's video is all about what they really mean and how to take the steps to get there.
And remember, like parenting, our business goes through phases. Hang in there. Keep your eyes straight ahead. Keep going. There's hope straight ahead.
Tax Season is upon us and maybe you're thinking "Next year I have to do things differently!" If you're pulling out your hair, trying to get caught up, wasting valuable time, reconciling books and paying payroll taxes when you would rather be focusing on marketing or growing your company, I have a suggestion.
Get a bookkeeper.
I don't think business owners should do their own books. I just don't. You have enough to think about and juggle. This is one task you really need to outsource. That's why we offer bookkeeping as a service. We know what a huge burden it is in your life, and if we can alieve it, so you can grow and make more money and focus on the things that really matter, well, it's our joy and privilege to handle this for you.
(One request: when we email you questions about transactions, just write us back, okay? If you don't, we can't reconcile things. That's all we need. Fair?)
If you're ready to make the switch and get started, contact us and let's chat. Quit banging your head against the wall and feel the sweet relief of your bookkeeping being in the hands of calm, capable, steady ones who truly care about your success.
When you're sick in bed and can hardly think straight, does your business keep running without you?
When you need to have surgery, do you panic about all the balls that will get dropped without you managing everything?
I've had both happen to me and it's a terrible feeling of helplessness when you are used to being at the helm of your ship and suddenly you can't be.
Setting up checklists and systems can save your busienss and your sanity. Having fool-proof processes can allow you step out and not have to fear that everything will come crashing down around you.
Listen, floods happen when pipes burst. Kids get sick. Spouses leave. Family needs us. In-laws get sick. All kinds of things are constantly happening in life, which is exactly why you need solid systems set up in your business.
You can still get the recording of the training when you sign up here. Totally my gift to you.
I'm pretty obsessed with systems, because they allow me to keep growing and expanding my company and they help me prioritize my kids and family. I don't work 12 hours a day. I am able to go on vacation. But none of this would be possible without systems.
I've been pretty sick this last week with Traveler's Sickness (the perks of traveling out of the country) but my company has continued to chug along. I couldn't do it without my amazing staff and the solid systems. They don't have to bother me with a million questions because everything is documented and they know exactly what to do. Our clients know we are on the same page and they often remark, "This business is run like a well-oiled machine."
If you need a little encouragement or guidance to get your systems set up, check out the free training. I know you're busy and you're juggling a million things. I get it. We're here to help.
Not getting enough clients?
Website out of date? Rankings not high enough on Google?
When you're singing without a microphone, only so many people can hear you. Let's plug in and amplify your message (and your busienss) in a whole new way. We've been where you are. And when we fixed our online presence, our business doubled, and then doubled again.
Let's talk. We can help fix your online presence and everything will change for you business. Request a call here.
Do you ever feel like you are white-knuckled, gripping the steering wheel of life, desperate to grow your business?
This isn't the way to move forward.
Actually, you're setting yourself up for a lot of struggle.
What if you stopped for a moment? Took a breath? Envisioned where you want to be in 3 years?
Can you see your life? Your bank account? That new house or that vacation?
Growing your business by putting Faith in the drivers' seat of your life is not only more effective, it's fun!
The strategy I talk about in this week's video (watch it below) is by using a Post-it Note. I simply write the number of students (or clients) that I want on that Post-it Note and hang it where I see it every day. When I focus on where I want to BE (not where I am) then I make decisions in the moment on HOW I will get there. It filters out the unimportant things.
It gives me focus.
It keeps be believing that things can get better and change.
You are in control of your future. You are in control of your choices.
You can choose right now to make a better life for you, your family, your kids.
But you have to see it and believe it, first.
Faith is simply believing in what you can't see. Believing it will (and can!) happen.
"Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it." Hebrews 11:1.
Watch the video. Then tell me your thoughts.
Can't wait to hear from you.
Shareable Quote of the Week
We had a fun family day last Friday. The kids had been asking to go rock climbing, so we finally made it happen. They got their equipment, went through orientation, and started climbing.
As Abigail reached the top of her climb (several stories high), I grabbed my camera to document the moment and suppressed the urge to yell, "Be careful! Get down! What if you fall?!?" It took everything in me to trust her, trust her gear, and trust her training.
It made me think of business. How often do we hear, "Be careful! Why are you doing this? What if you fail??"
Well-meaning people (often our closest friends and families) will warn us of danger, when the fact is, they have absolutely no right to be giving advice.
Have they ever started a business? Have they ever succeeded? Have they been in your industry? Do they really know the best advice to give you?
Or are they reflecting their own fear on you?
Out of love, are they concerned for your safety and well-being? Are they holding you back because they are scared you will get hurt?
Be careful who you listen to.
Be careful whose voice you fill your mind with.
Surround yourself with people who encourage you and lift you up. And with those who have traveled the road before you.
Be sure you are listening to (and reading books written by) those who have actually succeeded in business.
There are a lot of well-meaning friends, family members, and even "business coaches" who have never grown a business to profitability.
They mean well. But they are not the voices you should listen to.
Listen to those who will cheer you on.
Those who will say, "You can do it! Keep going! You're almost there!"
Listen to those who have proven strategies and systems. Those who have gone before you.
You don't have to do this alone.
You don't have to kill your dream.
Just be wise with who fills your head and who speaks into your life.
I've listened to the wrong people before. And when I've listened to the right ones, my business has exploded in growth and health.
I want the same for you.
Last Saturday, Lydia competed in a state-wide piano completion and rocked it!! I listened outside of the door and she nailed her piece!
I had soooo many memories of when I used to compete.
The nerves, the adrenaline, the judges.
The measures marked in pencil. The unfamiliar piano and the squeaky bench.
I am SO grateful for the world of music.
It taught me to work hard and persevere. It taught me to push through fear and remain composed.
It taught me to feel fear and do it anyway.
I remember this world oh-so-well.
It’s where I came from.
In many ways, it’s still who I am.
Never forget the road that got you to where you are. ❤️❤️❤️
When I was eager to do ANYTHING to grow my business and I did NOT have enough money for the expensive marketing that I wanted to do, I tried everything possible to get new clients.
I have created a training with real, proven strategies that WORK for local businesses. If you're selling appointments or services, this is for YOU!
Sign up HERE.
The LIVE training is Monday, January 28 at 2:30pm Central Time.
Why watch it live? So you can ask your questions and get the most value!
Need the recording? I'll email it out to those who sign up!
Sign up HERE!
See you there!
"I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?
Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know."
These lyrics from Lauren Daigle's song, "You say" is incredibly powerful and is sweeping radio stations all over the United States.
As a business owner (and musician, writer, and creative person, and. . . um. . .super sensitive?) this song has hit my core.
Why are the voices in my head so harsh and cruel?
I never feel like I'm doing enough.
That I am good enough.
That I'll ever measure up.
I honestly add up my successes and all I see (more often than not) is my short-comings. Where I lack. Where I'm stuck.
I'll tell you something super painful and real. We thought we were 5 students away from hitting the 600 student mark at our music school.
And then we found an accounting error.
Chutes and Ladders. Back down to 550 students. Because a stupid spreadsheet was wrong.
It hit me hard.
Guess what?? We are so full that it is basically mathematically impossible to hit 600 now. We only have 30 primetime slots open.
But instead of being HAPPY about how full we are. . .yep, you guessed it. I was so upset that we won't hit the magical 600 number. I was bummed. I was feeling pretty depressed.
And then I gave my own shoulders the proverbial little shake.
"JEN! Your business is so full that more students can hardly sign up. That is a GOOD THING." Reframe!
I don't know why my inner critic is so harsh.
Maybe it's just how I'm wired (Ahem, Enneagram 1). Or, maybe you hear it too?
Maybe as leaders, achievers, dreamers, do-ers. . .we just have high standards for ourselves?
Maybe you can't relate.
Maybe you can.
But if my story helps *one* person, it will be worth sharing.
I'm still sad that I can't say "we have 600 students." But I can proudly say that we have 550 and that they LOVE their music teachers. And that our front desk staff ROCKS and has my back and is passionate about our mission. I can focus on the GOOD.
And, as Lauren Daigle says,
"Taking all I have and now I'm laying it at Your feet
You have every failure God, and You'll have every victory,
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe, oh I believe
What You say of me. . .
I hope you believe in yourself, too.
Focus, Strategy, Support
Running a business can be so lonely.
Being a leader is isolating sometimes.
You don't have to do this life alone.
Come join us in the Never Alone Inner Circle. You'll get so much more than business strategy. You'll get personalized support for your business. Plus a group of amazing, encouraging friends who get what you're going through.
I'd love to have you join.
I'm praying you will.
>>Join here: https://www.neveralonebusinessservices.com/join.html
I was supposed to be walking out the door. Instead, I slumped to the ground, my back against the door of the bathroom. The door was firmly locked and I could hear my kids scrambling to find their shoes and backpacks and lunches. Tears dripped down my face.
I was at a breaking point. How could I go on like this?
So much swirling in my brain. So many different areas of life to juggle and now it felt like all those balls had fallen the floor. I had dropped them all.
How on earth was I supposed to do everything? How could I keep up with the intensity of raising 4 little kids and also grow my little company? My whole life felt like one step forward, two steps back. I could never get ahead.
On the bathroom floor, I cried out desperately to God for help. "You have to help me figure this out!" Choking out a sob, I let the tears flow. I had to release all the emotions that threatened to strangle me. After a few minutes on my knees, I wiped away my tears, checked my makeup in the mirror, and bravely walked out into the chaos of the entryway. "Time to go!" my voice sang in a false bravado. As I drove, I gripped the steering wheel and continued to pray for answers. "I can't keep living like this," I muttered under my breath. "You have to help me."
Change doesn't come immediately. It's like the changing of the fall colors--you see glimpses, but it's a slow process. Little by little, I started to turn the ship around. I got a steady babysitter to come once a week so I could work ON my business, and not just IN it. I focused on marketing and advertising--so I could get more clients in the door. I spent hours and hours selecting the right staff members that I could trust and train to take tasks off my plate. I put firm boundaries in place and gently said "no" to activities and phone calls so I could focus what I should be doing. (I even emailed my family and closest friends and let them know my schedule--so they could help me stick to it!) I assigned tasks to specific days. Monday was clean the house day and spend time with the kids. Tuesday was staff meeting and client work. Wednesday was dedicated to working on marketing and my website. Thursday was meetings and getting big tasks done to move my business forward. Friday was family day.
Slowly my life transformed. I saw glimmers of hope. I didn't feel so stressed. I made a choice to be fully present with my children and fully engaged in work when the allotted time for work came around. As a result, my company grew. My children were happier. I was more at peace. (And when work ideas popped into my head while I was with my kids, I just jotted them down and saved it for later.)
I committed to dating my spouse regularly. We made it a priority to have a meal together and hang out and laugh and talk one-on-one at least once a week. Joy crept back into my life.
That breaking point was 5 years ago. I'll never forget that day in the bathroom. Something shifted inside of me and I brought my business to God like never before. He was faithful to give me ideas and tools and wisdom and guidance. Every day I still have to come to Him for help. There's no way I can do this on my own. I need coaches and friends and books, and I never stop learning.
If you're feeling completely alone and overwhelmed, reach out for help.
We can help you with your marketing and systems and time management. You can join our Inner Circle coaching program and finally move forward out of this mess. Simply making the decision that something has to change can shift your life in a way you never knew was possible. Just reply to this or click here (https://www.neveralonebusinessservices.com/get-to-know-you.html) to set up a time to talk. Together, we'll figure out a plan. You don't have to travel this road alone--there are others who want to encourage and help you.
You really don't have to do it all alone. Let's talk soon. ((hugs))
Shareable Quote of the Week:
This month in the Inner Circle, we are learning the dos and don'ts of Facebook and also focusing on advanced concepts, like using Facebook groups, Facebook Live videos, and how to get more engagement (comments, likes, and shares)! I'm sharing my own personal success and how Facebook is working for me. (YOU can have the same results!)
Here are a couple action steps YOU can take for your business. For more support, jump into our Inner Circle!
Do not use Facebook only for advertising!
If you never, ever get likes, do not keep doing what you are doing (it’s not working)
Don’t be super salesy in the comments.
Go live and talk about 1 topic you know a lot about.
Show “behind the scenes” photos of your business.
Share a business story of how you got here!
I am closing the doors of the Inner Circle on January 31st. The doors will be closed until Spring. Now is your chance to get focus, strategy, and support with people who GET you and GET what it's like to run a business.
If you've been on the fence, jump in now. . .you don't have to walk this road alone. xoxox
Hi, I'm Jen Hickle!