Like most music teachers, I'm cheap and spent many years trying to save money by doing everything on my own.
I manually managed my own schedule in an excel doc.
I only accepted cash or checks from students. (These were the days before Venmo or Cash App.)
I figured out my own teaching curriculums through years of trial and error.
I was dirt poor, had a ton of stress, but I was proud of myself for doing these things.
But I wasn't happy then.
And I was working overtime for very little money.
In 2017 the National Academy of Sciences published a study where they found people who purchased things that saved them time were SIGNIFICANTLY happier than those who didn't.
And it makes sense, right?
In the last year my wife and I have made the following lifestyle changes that have significantly improved not only our personal lives, but also gave us MORE time to focus on The Studio Challenge:
We no longer have to spend time cleaning our home. We no longer have to go shopping for clothes. We no longer have to spend time meal planning and grocery shopping.
So... what does this have to do with Music Teaching?
This is a scarcity mindset, and I TOTALLY get it.
I couldn't afford all of these luxurious time-saving services back when I was teaching full-time.
In fact, when I opened my studio in 2014 I was teaching 70 students 6 days a week and I was only taking home $20k a year! Shauna was taking home $0 but working full-time at the front desk of our studio. AND we were trying to adopt our son.
What if you can't afford NOT to?
What if your efforts to save money are actually COSTING you money? And happiness?
I've been coaching music teachers for about 5 years now. The ones who seem to be the happiest and reap the most success purchase these 5 time-saving things...
1. They pay credit card fees.
I see so many independent music teachers avoiding credit card services in an effort to save money on fees.
And I agree, those cc fees can add up!
However, by refusing those cc services you are actually losing money...
If you are teaching music lessons for money, then you are a business! Treat yourself as such.
And remember, if those 2-3% cc fees add up, then you SHOULD be able afford them because you're booking a lot of students at that point! If not, then you need to raise your tuition rates to pay for them.
It's the cost of doing business and it's worth the cost for your time, student's convenience, and happiness.
2. They pay for their website and scheduling software.
Look, if you have 3 students and you don't want to grow, then by all means keep managing your own schedule through your online calendar or an excel doc.
But if you want to grow? These freebies WILL NOT work.
You'll accidentally overbook a student. If you have multiple teachers, you'll overbook a teaching room AND students!
Your business THRIVES on the happiness of your students.
And the #1 thing they expect from you? Their lesson and their scheduled lesson time.
Most music teachers use either MyMusicStaff, Fons, or TeacherZone.
We signed up for MyMusicStaff because at the time they had the best software for managing a multi-teacher studio. But we really liked the customer service and owner of Fons. We have some teachers who are happy with TeacherZone.
Look into them and pick one. I think all of them will give you a free trial!
They're worth it guys.
As far as website goes,
When you're just starting, buy your domain name.
Website services like Weebly will give you a free website that ends in .weebly.com, but honestly? Who's going to be able to just remember that and plug it into a search engine to find you?
If you want to establish yourself and grow, just buy the domain name.
As far as the website layout goes, I'll be honest and say spending the time to Storybrand your own website can be more of a timesaver and headache than finding someone to do your website for you.
The website designers I know who produce great websites tend to be over-booked. The lesser-known ones can charge you thousands and give you a really crappy, unusable website.
It is 100% worth it to put in the time and research of designing your website, and paying a business coach to help you edit it.
3. They have a business coach!
Obviously I'm biased about this one, but even I hire business coaches to help me improve my own business coaching.
As a Music Teacher and Studio Owner, you can be TOO CLOSE to your business to see it's flaws.
This is the scariest purchase because it can be the priciest.
However, if you are a hard worker, willing to take advice and find a good business coach, you'll make SO MUCH MORE money. You'll save time too.
My #1 goal as a business coach is to help Music Teachers grow and live amazing lives.
I thrive on this as much, if not more than I used to thrive on seeing my students improve their music skills.
The business coaches I have working with have helped me immensely as well!
The first coach I hired helped me start and grow The Studio Challenge Membership.
The second business coach helped me better organize my programs and improved my social media presence.
My most recent business coach helped me systemize everything, cut out tasks that were costing me time and money, and improve my sales funnel.
I learned how to grow my music school the hard way and I can't help but wonder...
If I had hired a business coach from the beginning, how many mistakes could I have avoided?
How much better could my studio have been?
4. They hire help.
Whether you're a solo teacher or multi-teacher studio, it's worth systemizing what you do and having people in place to help you with your students and school when needed.
If you have a commercial studio, it's absolutely worth hiring an administrator to answer the phone, schedule students, and be available for walk-ins and to answer questions!
The better systemized you are along with good admin and teachers will allow you to focus on the more important things.
Oh! Don't forget cleaning and maintenance services too!
Unless you really like cleaning toilets at your school... it's totally worth hiring someone to take care of these things for you so you can focus on doing what matters most in your studio!
5. They pay themselves.
The basic idea? You should get paid for your work!
Don't undercharge for lessons, or put all of your income back into your studio because it will result in you battling feelings of resentment.
Sure you can help students out from time to time.
Charge your worth on lessons, and save money to give scholarships to well-deserving students!
You should absolutely put money back into your studio to improve it.
But you should absolutely pay yourself because YOU deserve it.
You're not a slave to yourself.
In the membership group we talk a lot about profit first.
I absolutely recommend you read the book, but the idea is to reward yourself for your hard work.
A lot of our members practice "Profit First Lite" where they put 1 - 5% of their income into a savings account. At the end of every 3 months, they take half of that savings out and deliberately spend it on fun things.
Joseph is our biggest proponent, and he's purchased epic overseas trips, and engagement ring, and other epic things from his profit account!
Shauna and I just started doing this in December and last quarter we were able to renovate our kitchen with our profit distribution.
Paying yourself for your hard work MOTIVATES you!
Again, you're not a slave. You don't have to sacrifice your time and happiness.
Pay for the thing you enjoy! Pay yourself!
YOU are worth it.
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