In order to truly grow as an entrepreneur, you have to constantly look at the things you would do differently. There will always be mistakes and the market is constantly changing. If you cannot reflect and shift with the needs of your clients, then you will quickly start drowning. These reflections can be as large as doing an in depth GAP model analysis or even small reflections on conversations that could have gone differently. As I passed the one year mark in November, it brought on a lot of such reflections. Of course, I had a lot to be proud of. I had met goals that I didn’t think I would see until years 3-5. I built relationships with families and staff that I truly value. For the first time in my life, I am able to make decisions for myself and my family where my first thought wasn’t if I could afford it or not.
Among a ton of wins, there are also a few things that really stick out that I did very poorly in my first year of business. These include birthday party communication, leadership training, and holding on to staff too long when I knew they were not a good fit for my company.
I am a huge advocate for outsourcing anything you are not good at. Birthday party communication was on that list. I am really not sure why with all the things I juggle very well, I just never seemed to be able to get as organized as I should have been with birthday parties. Birthday parties could be a good source of income, good additional income for staff, and are so much fun. But it seemed like as soon as I buckled down to do a better job at creating a system for birthdays, something would happen that would need my immediate attention and it quickly got pushed to the side again. After a year of seeing this and looking at how I fell so short of my goals for year one, I finally passed it along to my Executive Assistant. I can tell you that I should have never waited this long to do so. She has created such a system between payments, bookings, flyers, follow up emails, etc, that there have been more bookings in the last month than there was in the previous 6 months. Never be afraid to spend a little extra money in order to gain more profit down the line.
I also didn’t have the set leadership training that I now have. I am very lucky that I have two amazing Directors that have helped me grow the business and who fully believe in the values at C&M. I do have to ask myself, however, that if I did not have them, we would have scrambled even more due to lack of guidance. I always share stories of my retail background and my huge desire to not micromanage, but I do think I went too far on the other side. After some candid conversations, to put it shortly, people want more from me. They want more instruction, more training, and more rules in place. I have learned that having more clear expectations give teachers and leaders a piece of mind that I was not giving them for a while. I have sense focused very hard on a better training program and a better hiring/onboarding system to help bridge this gap.
Finally, never, and I mean never, keep staff on longer than you should if you know in your gut they are not a good fit for your company. I am extremely proud of the environment I have created and how hard I fight for my teachers. It took me a while to accept that some people just won’t see it. They may have different values, or quite frankly are negative people who you cannot please no matter what you do. I had to wake up to this quickly and I am so glad I did. The group of teachers I have now and some of the best women I know and work SO hard for these kids every single day.