What is your favorite part about running your business? Least favorite part?
Hands down, my students are the best thing about teaching. Watching them learn and develop as musicians is so rewarding - and they're all such amazing people! It's a real privilege to get to work with each one of them.
My least favorite part has been enforcing policies around lesson cancellation. I try to be as flexible as possible because I know that life happens, but it can get really chaotic (and expensive for me) if several people cancel last minute. I'd rather just show up and teach, but part of running the business is doing the business side of things too!
What has been the best business advice you've received?
I've gotten a lot of great advice over the years from the folks at Capitol Music about building my studio and where I hope to go. The two pieces of advice that stick out were to get in with a "pod" of moms (because a lot of students hear about me by word of mouth) and to switch to a semester system rather than going month to month (much easier to plan ahead).
But even more important than advice is the experience I got before starting my business. I worked for several years as executive director of Gallery Concerts, a chamber music non-profit in Seattle, and that experience has been absolutely invaluable in terms of learning about what it means to operate a business. The non-profit was small and I ended up getting my hands in everything - back office admin, front of house sales, concert management, and most importantly, bookkeeping. I credit a lot of my success to the skills I learned there.
Tell me about your greatest business success and your biggest challenge.
Business-wise, my greatest success is making money - enough to pay off my not insignificant student loans every month, cover business expenses, and bank a little.
The biggest challenge has definitely been making time for the business. I work a day job and maintain a very active life, and it has been a struggle at times to balance everything. I've taken steps this year to simplify, though, and I expect next year to be much less stressful!