Maybe you've been told to be more organized. More disciplined. Get your act together. Stop being so crazy. Relax. Get a routine.
I'm going out on a limb here, but I'm going to suggest you forget all of that.
Instead, if there is ONE thing in your life that you should focus on, it's boundaries.
Instead of changing WHO you are, instead, I want you to insist on keeping the boundaries in your life.
If you've committed to working on your business, don't let the agenda of other people interrupt your work time.
If you've set aside time to get that project done, don't let the next request from your kids, parents, friends or neighbor supersede what you have decided what you will do.
When you're a self-employed, stay-at-home parent, others really don't understand what you do all day. They just know you don't go to work, so you must have a lot of time on your hands. You're the first one they ask to pick up their kids, run that errand, or do a little favor.
And, because you love them, you say yes.
But guess who suffers?
And your business.
And then you end up beating yourself up for not getting your To Do list done. You shame yourself for being undisciplined. You're frustrated that you're always behind.
The ONE thing that would make a huge difference is boundaries.
Boundaries allow you to be the most generous version of yourself. I'm not advocating that you don't help your sister, neighbor, or mom. But I AM saying that you keep the promises you made to yourself. If you set aside Friday to work ON your business, you need to keep that promise, no matter what.
It's so much easier to keep an appointment with someone else. You wouldn't let them down. So why do you let yourself down?
When I decided to stop treating my business as a side hobby, I knew I had to get serious about boundaries. I determined that mornings were for homeschooling and I would work ON my business after lunch for two hours each day. But I couldn't just make this decision in my head. No one would know and I would look like a jerk who suddenly said "no" to things I usually said "yes" to.
So here's what I did. I emailed all of my teachers (I didn't have any desk staff at the time) and told them that all emails would be answered after noon each day. I told them to NOT text me, unless it was an emergency. Next, I emailed my weekly schedule to my mom and mother-in-law. I let them know that all morning was dedicated to homeschooling and that I wouldn't be on my computer or phone until lunchtime. They loved it and appreciated knowing our weekly plans.
The hardest part was enforcing my own plans with myself. I had to keep my laptop closed in the morning and stay focused on my kids until after lunch.
Was it hard? Yes, at first. Then, it was liberating and freeing! My kids felt loved and cared for and their love tanks were full because I focused on them first. I realized that no one suffered by waiting until noon to get a reply to their email. I was so much more productive when I gave my full attention to my work in short bursts in the afternoon.
Most "experts" will tell you to get your work done first thing in the morning.
But you have to run your business on YOUR terms. Maybe work looks different for you. If you have teenagers, maybe you get a lot done before the kids wake up. If your kids are little, maybe naptime is your friend. If you're a night owl, your best work happens late at night. I say: Do what works for you!
The reality is that your schedule (and your boundaries) will change as your kids get older and your life changes. Do what works now and then adjust as needed.
When you decide when your work time will be, keep that promise to yourself. We all need doses of uninterrupted work time. (Tell your kids you are working and let your brain think and focus for short bursts of time.)
Most people are shocked to hear that I run my company on less than 20 hours of work per week. And you can, too. You just need team, boundaries, and systems.
Is all work sitting down and isolated from your family? No way. We live in an amazing time of history when we can stay connected with just a Smartphone (I suggest you always get the best phone that you can. It's a tool and it will bring you sanity!)
Release yourself from guilt. It's a blessing to be able to check your email and Slack in between the library and driving your kids around. Give yourself grace! When you are committed to both your family and the work that God has called you to, you CAN do both, with the help of strong systems and technology.
Do what you need to do. And be thankful for Smartphones that give us freedom of location and the ability to stay connected when you're on the run!
Watch this week's video. And be sure to check out my Facebook and Instagram stories. Let's keep talking about this and figuring it out.
I'm cheering you on!
One of my Inner Circle Members said this:
Do you want to work less, have more time for family, and still fulfill the calling on your life?
The Inner Circle is for you. Learn how to set up strong (easy) systems, use the best technology for your team, and how to manage your time so you can juggle everything in your world. (Notice I didn't say balance. Balance is impossible! You just have to learn how to "juggle"--give energy to one thing at a time.)
Want to talk about YOUR situation? Schedule a call here.
I'd love to hear about your biggest challenge right now. Write me back or leave a comment. Tell me what's going on in YOUR world.
Business Strategist and Coach
Head down, focused, shoulders tense, I just had to get it done.
Frustration, complete focus; I knew I wasn't great at the task in front of me, but time was running out. I had to get it done.
Chris came home and asked what I was doing. “UGH,” I exclaimed. “I'm trying to fix this.”
"Here," he said, "Let me."
Bam. He was finished faster than I could shake off the tension in my shoulders.
WHAT?! Why had I been struggling for the last hour when he could get it immediately?
Something clicked that day.
It doesn't matter how much of a hard-working, determined entrepreneur I am. It doesn't matter how much I want to grow this thing.
If I'm doing tasks that are out of my zone of excellence, all I get is frustration and angst.
Some business owners don't know any other way of doing business other than doing the hard stuff and just pushing through. They just think this is just their life.
But I'm going to challenge your thinking.
There is a reason you're on the planet. You have gifts and skills that are exquisite. They might be inter-personal. You love people. You love connecting with others. You love creating the next idea. You love flying by the seat of your pants. (Yes, these are gifts, not weaknesses, my friend.)
If you've got your head down, struggling with that spreadsheet, that image that just doesn't look right, your website, your bookkeeping, your payroll, your taxes...and you're feeling frustrated all the time, then you've got your priorities backwards.
If you would actually do the networking, the selling, the connecting, then your company could grow and you could pay someone to do the things you struggle with.
"But I have to do it. Last time I delegated this, they dropped the ball! I HAVE TO DO IT."
Yes, I hear this all the time.
People will fail you. They will let you down. They will leave you. They will quit. You will fire them. But you have to keep trying. Every time you hire or fire or let someone go, you learn. You get better at knowing what you need and who you need to support you. Don't give up now!
YOU should not be doing the things that cause you so much stress and anxiety. It's like a foot trying to make spaghetti! A foot is not made for stirring a pot over a hot stove! It's made for walking!
I want you to do an exercise. Make a list of allllll the things you do in a month. Now rate them on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being you LOVE it and it fills you up and gives you energy and 1 being the thing that is frustrating and draining and you hate doing it. Do you have enough 10s on that list? How many are below a 5?
Watch this week's video. Then write me back and let me know what you discovered through this exercise.
YOU have a unique wiring that GOD put inside of you. If you don't know what YOU are meant to do, let's work together. All the pieces will fall into place and then we'll get you the right team and systems set up to support you.
Everything changed in my life when I eliminated anything on my list below a 7. I try to live in my 9-10 zone now. Yes, it's possible! In fact, you have an obligation to God to use the gifts HE gave you.
Watch the video and then....let's chat.
The Never Alone Inner Circle
Step 1: Analyze how you're wired and why you're here on the planet. What is your mission in life?
Step 2: Analyze your business. What is your message? Who do you serve? And how can the right people find you?
Step 3: Set up systems and processes so your business runs like a well-oiled machine with team members to support you.
We do all of this in the Inner Circle. We have two different levels, depending on your stage of business.
If you're tired of figuring all of this out on your own, let's schedule a call and chat.
We can help.
Request a call here.
"I just can't get my act together!"
"What is my problem??"
"This year I'm going to try harder."
"I need to be more disciplined!"
Have you ever said one of these phrases? If so, I bet you're the type of person who loves to wing it. Duct tape it together. Go fast, get it done, and fix the details later.
Here's the truth, my friend. You don't have to change yourself. Nope. You just have to surround yourself with amazing staff who will support you, build the systems around your wonderful work, and maintain those systems FOR you!
You will be able to keep on being creative, moving fast, loving people, doing a variety of activities, and keeping your options open.
YOU started your company and YOU get to oversee it. But you absolutely deserve amazing staff who will support you and do the stuff you hate to do (spreadsheets and details, yuck).
Watch this week's video. In it, I explain what happened at my studio and how I was able to use my staff's strengths AND mine to make the whole thing better.
I'm cheering you on.
Not sure what your strengths are?
Start here: buy the book, "Strengths Finder" and grab the unique code in the back of the book. Take the test online and find out what your top 5 strengths are. Once you have your results, read about them in the little book (you don't have to read the entire book! Just read about your strengths).
As you read, notice how your strengths were actually what helped you start your business! (And now they might actually be what is holding you back.)
So now what? Now you surround yourself with staff that will fill in the gaps!
Still need more help?
For businesses with 3 or more team members, I offer personalized consulting to make sure everyone is operating in their strengths to best benefit the entire company.
Just contact us and let's get your team on the right track. If you're tired of hiring, firing, or people leaving you. . .you need a team analysis. We'll break down what's working and what's not, and what you need to put into action to get to the other side of this craziness.
I believe in you!
Dear business owners…
I see you with your tight smile. I see your tense shoulders. I see you saying things are “great, great” when I know it’s been a hard year.
You’re not where you want to be, and you don’t want to show it. Everyone else has great success to celebrate—a new building, a new milestone, record sales, a new location.
But let me tell you this: You are not alone in your pain. Every single person walking around you is shouldering pain and disappointment, too. They had to fire someone this year. They have mounting bills. They didn’t reach all their goals and they are comparing themselves to someone else and feeling like they are falling short.
We have all seen success and failure this year. We have surpassed some goals and others are still in a notebook from last year. We have all had struggles with our health, parents, kids. And yet we all try to put on a brave face. Things are “good, good. Yep, going good.” Until you peel back the layers. Because there is always “hard” under there, too. Always. If you’re a human being walking the face of the earth, I don’t care who you are, you experience good and hard at the same time.
And this is my message to you: Keep on going.
Don’t give up, lie down, surrender. Don’t believe the lies that your work doesn’t matter. Don’t believe the whispers that you aren’t good enough and this will never work out.
Because I SEE how far you’ve come. Your trials have made you so much stronger.
And even if you’ve hit those huge milestones and you are celebrating, I know the sacrifice that has accompanied you on the journey. The stress and late nights, the money spent, the staff you hired and trained and sometimes let go. I know you’re tired.
But don’t you see that it’s worth it? Because of you, kids are making music. Kids are learning to dance. Kids are making art. Because of you, their life is forever changed. The lights were turned on in their world. Behaviors went down. Parents sighed in relief. Teachers saw the change. Because of you.
I know we all get so consumed by our own lives and the ups and the downs, but zoom out. Look at the jobs you created. The people you loved. The lives you changed. Yes, even if that student stopped lessons to pursue soccer or football, you showed them the love of music. They’ll never view a concert the same again! “I tried that,” they’ll say, for the rest of their life. “It’s harder than it looks.” You gave them an appreciation of our craft! Our love! So any enrollment, and any kid who joins and quits, is worth it, don’t you see? Because it made a difference to that one person.
Today I want you to view your life a little differently. Forget the total student enrollment for a minute. Forget the spreadsheets and the Quickbooks balance. Just SEE what you created and what you are doing in the world!
Because I see it. I know. And I’m cheering you on.
A couple people asked me this weekend, "Are you more passionate about your music school or Never Alone Business Services?" and I answered, "Neither. I'm passionate about encouraging and inspiring people. Whichever vehicle I use doesn't really matter. I just love people. I love coaching. I love consulting. That's why I'm here."
One person remarked, "You found your purpose."
Yes. Yes, I did.
We have been at the Music Academy Success conference all weekend! We brought Sierra to help with our booth. So great to see so many clients, hug them, and celebrate their successes from the last year! We have made connections with so many people and we are excited to help them with their website, SEO, Google ads, Facebook ads and more in the coming year!
One of my coaching clients went from 200 students to 400 students in one year! They were close to closing their doors and declaring bankruptcy. We worked together throughout the year and she threw herself into turning things around. So proud of her!!
Another client went from just a handful of students to 200 students in one year! We are honored to be a part of it--we built his website, run his Google ads, and run his Facebook ads!
A few clients are going through divorce or a death in the family. They are dealing with kids and ailing parents. It's been so good to connect and hug and just encourage them.
Another treat was hearing Randi Zuckerberg speak (yes, Mark Zuckerberg's sister, founder of Facebook). She was funny and entertaining and inspiring! I was able to speak with her at a meet-and-greet and give her a copy of my book, Happy Kids, Growing Biz. She is a huge supporter of women entrepreneurs and loves promoting work/family balance. She said she would read it on the plane! Whoo hoo!
Need some encouragement and support?
Want some help with your marketing?
Let's talk. Request a call with our team here:
Being a parent to your children is the most important job in the world. But it doesn't have to suck up all your dreams and kill your soul.
It's possible to grow the dreams in your heart AND be a great parent to your kids.
In fact, they are watching you.
Are you pursuing the gifts and talent that God gave you? Are you continuing to learn and grow? Are you modeling HOW to learn and do hard things? Or are you complaining about the same old daily grind?
If you're growing a business, your kids are watching you (whether they are preschoolers, teens or young adults, or 40 years old, they are watching). Are you constantly complaining about your clients? Or are you modeling the joy of pursuing your goals and continuing to grow and learn?
I'll never forget my Grandpa in his bib overalls, thumbs in his pockets, walking down the gravel lane on his Iowa farm (after I was babbling about something) remarking to me, "Well, well. You learn something new every day." As a little girl, I was incredulous! He was still learning?!? That made a huge impact on me. My Grandpa was still learning. Every day. Wow.
Why on earth do we think learning ends at graduation? Oh no. Not at all. It's just the beginning! We GET to chase our passions and keep learning. Personally, I'll never stop. I'm a voracious learner.
But what if the kids and the house and the chores and the laundry keep you stuck in a rut? And maybe you think it's supposed to be this way? This is your calling?
I challenge that.
Keeping a house was never the calling. It's just the necessary part of life. It has to happen. But that's not why God put you on this planet. He made you for so much more.
More than waiting for the weekend. More than excitement for your Netflix show.
You were made to mentor your kids. To encourage your friend. To reach out your hand to the hurting. To make a difference.
So please quit putting your dreams on the backburner. There's never a perfect time to chase them. Just start. Just do one tiny thing. Take the next right step.
Keep the promises you made to yourself.
You'll be so glad you did.
(Watch my video below. I made it for you.)
The Chris and Jen Show, Episode 2!
Chris and I have been having a lot of fun with our new weekly show! We go live on Facebook every week and discuss business, marketing, and family.
This week we are talking about Spring Break, all-inclusive resorts and how you can incorporate this concept into YOUR business. It's win-win for the client and the owner! Check it out below!
Be sure to subscribe! Catch us LIVE on Wednesdays at 11:30am Central on our Facebook page.
Attention Music School Owners!
We're so excited to roll out the BRAND NEW website design! Many of you have been asking questions and booking calls and we are thrilled to help you grow your business with a new, responsive, modern site.
Who does NOT need this website?
Talk to our team and let's get started before the conference rush!
Request a call with our team HERE.
There are 8 Weeks until June
What if you took the next 8 weeks and got your ducks in a row? What if you took some focused time to grow your business before the chaos of summer?
What if you took some time for yourself and YOUR dreams?
What if you took one step forward?
Join the Inner Circle and get some real traction with your business. (We'll tackle your systems, time management, and how to use Facebook to grow your business.)
Is this program right for you? Let's talk.
Our team will help you assess if this program is a good fit for your situation.
Let's do this. Together.
(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.
Hi, I'm Jen Hickle!
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