Hello beautiful Studio Owners,
It’s NYE here today – one of my most cherished days of the year. Usually, it’s a time for reflection on the year that has been and a day to dream big for my vision of the year ahead, all the sweeter with a crisply chilled glass of Veuve Clicquot champagne…
But this year is a tad different….
No champagne for me this year as I’m in the (hopefully) final days of pregnancy. Today I am 4 days overdue, waiting, waiting, waiting for our little girl to decide that it’s time for her to enter into the world. And in the meantime, between paddling about in the pool baby hippo style, it’s given me some time to reflect on what 2017 has been for our community of studio owners and where we will be focusing in 2018.
*Note: this is a big of an epic essay but it is worth going through very carefully. Save this post, print it out, sit with it, come back to it – but most of all absorb the learnings and action them to the best of your ability.
2017 WRAP UP
2017 was a powerful year throughout the world, overflowing with emotion, intensity and relentless drive.
Things that were lurking in dark corners were brought out into the light. The ‘Me Too’ movement empowered women to voice what had been silenced. The strength of women sharing their story gave others permission and confidence to share their own.
I’ve watched the same thing occur in our studio industry. Within the sanctuary of our live Masterclass events and Studio Evolution retreats, studio owners have been calling out the elements of their business that no longer serve them. They’ve found the strength to acknowledge what they have been doing has not been working for them. They have found solace in the collective.
There is no doubt that studio owners have been shouldering enormous workloads, financial strain and physical exhaustion for years – and that now, they want something different. And they’re ready to make the changes needed to welcome this new era.
Shining a Light on 2018
Every new beginning starts with an ending.
Take a minute to look at the number 2017 – the number 7 is extremely angular, hard lined and direct. 2017 was a year that did not grant gentle learnings, instead abruptly dragged out the shadows in our businesses and lives. It forced us to narrow in on our direction, our failings and our future.
2018, on the other hand, is rounder, fuller, warmer. With luxurious curves, the infinity symbol of the number 8 speaks to the next evolution in the cycle in your business. There is creativity, limitless possibility and a beautiful sense of flow in the year ahead. There is grace, there is an embedded sense of evolving knowledge and uplifting momentum. 8 is a lovely number.
This year ahead is something we are all craving. In 2018, what I want for you more than anything is infinite ease as a studio owner.
2018 is a year for you to explore the potential of your studio business – and yourself. Our goal is wholistic success: adoring and devoted students, bountiful profits, time with those you love, and a team who have your back. This year will be about rediscovering your creativity, igniting the sparkle in your eye and bringing back the spring in your step.
My intention for you in 2018 is to make wise changes that cultivate a studio that is wildly successful – across every definition of success. To help you make the decisions that will help you get there, let’s give you the ease and flow needed to waltz into 2018 with joy.
Here are my 3 mantras to guide you and your studio in 2018:
Let’s walk you through each of these to make sure we’re on the same page:
You can’t do the BIG work in growing your studio when you’re completely exhausted from holding every tiny detail of your studio in your head.
“Is there enough toilet paper in the bathrooms? I must get back to that woman who enquired last friday. It’s Jenny’s birthday tomorrow, remember to buy cake. Remind parents that this year it’s purple ribbon – NOT Pink. What warm up should we do for class tonight? Must stop avoiding doing my taxes – I’ll do them tonight after I get home. Did I feed the dog this morning?!?!”
Sound familiar? If so, you are carrying too much. It’s time to streamline your business so that you have the mental head-space to actually shift the business to the next level.
Seek sledgehammer style simplicity. You will be ASTOUNDED at how much more energy you have when you banish the chaotic elements of your studio that are tying you down. It starts with discovering what is not serving you or your business and shifting to a model that is replicable, logical and easy to sustain year after year.
Right now, in Studio Evolution our passionate focus is helping our members create the most simplistic, sustainable and sophisticated strategy for leading their studio – and it is creating wildly successful results.
No more haphazard, hodgepodge chaos. Instead, our members are in the process of designing a beautiful annual recurring blueprint for the seamless operation of their studio.
To give you the literal picture of what simplicity looks like for our members, we map out an annual plan for the delivery of their curriculum (including an integrated retention & referral strategy), scheduling of an entire year’s marketing and social media, formulaic enrollment events staggered through the year, choreographed team training and empowerment strategies – you name it, it’s part of the one master plan.
Essentially, our goal is to design one perfect cyclical year that they can rinse and repeat for years on end – so that they and their team know exactly what is happening at all times.
For you, Seeking Simplicity might look like (just a few ideas to get you started):
- Deciding to cut that program that really has never taken off – and put your energy into your winning program that attracts new students organically. (*look to where you get the most enquiry volume and concentrate there)
- Eliminate multiple payment options for families to streamline your admin. Less choice = easier decision making. Remember, Chantelle Say: A Confused Mind Says No. Challenge yourself to have ONE (yes, only one) method of payment collection in your studio.
- Scheduling a whole year’s branded social media so that you never have to feel the guilt of forgetting to post again. Seriously, you can eliminate that entirely.
One final little note about simplicity – it requires RUTHLESS tenacity to avoid ‘shiny object syndrome’ and stick to the plan. When you get the core of your business sorted, you rediscover the joy and passion for running your studio. Remember: our goal is ease and flow.
When you embrace the Mantra ‘Seeking Simplicity’ for 2018 – you’ll discover a little known magical fact. You might think that you’re pursuing simplicity to give yourself more time for the things you love in your life. But what you’ll also discover is the secret benefit that your studio will scale enormously as well. Stop diluting your efforts and dial into what is simply going to make your studio soar and watch the numbers stack up.
Our industry is as over-saturated as ever – and yet – we are seeing our members go from strength to strength, doubling their students, profits and time off within months. How did they get there? First step is introducing them to a new standard of excellence in studio management.
But how do we define excellence in studio management? To me, it’s very clear. An Excellent studio business is one that delivers a superb student experience to every student every day of every week without the studio owner having to do everything herself.
Once you get your studio business model sorted (pricing, packaging, brand positioning, team structure, communication processes etc) everything fits together like a puzzle. It’s seeing your studio as a whole package that makes the difference, rather than thinking that fixing one little bit of your studio will be the magic pill.
For example: Facebook ads will do diddly-squat to grow your studio if the pricing and packaging of your programs is off. Our Evolution members hear me sprout the phrase ‘Strategy, NOT tactics’ like a broken record, but it is so damn true. To me, excellence is when your business operates like a well oiled machine, with all interconnected parts working together towards one beautiful goal. Everything is related.
Focusing on excellence is zooming out to see the big picture and being the architect of an immaculate student experience that is simply a delight to deliver and rapturously received by your students. We build the business first and let the results speak for themselves.
Now before you think this is some urban myth from the mystical land of ‘Studio Owners Who Have A Life’ – remember that we don’t yet know what we don’t yet know.
For example: there are methods of studio management out there that may have never crossed your radar, but that are the PERFECT solution to your studio headaches. I bet you two cents that the thing that the biggest challenge you are struggling with right now in your studio is the exact problem we have solved for a studio owner in the last 4 weeks. All that it takes is someone to turn on the light, and suddenly the path appears.
That’s why my intention for you with Embracing Excellence is for you to have in the palm of your hands the best practice strategies for studio management from around the world. For you to actively pursue and adopt the most sophisticated (yet simple and sustainable) strategies that make your studio a dream.
Excellence is a pivot away from the more reactive style of studio management, where everything is done at the last minute to a purposefully proactive studio management approach.
This is also known as: systems. Or, if that word makes you vomit a tiny bit in your mouth, how about creating a beautiful choreographed plan for the seamless operation of your studio. Does that feel better?
For you, Embracing Excellence might look like:
- Devoting more of your time to building the foundations of your studio, by working on the core of your business and not flitting about putting out fires all day. Carving out time to get the automation of your student attraction strategy set up so that it runs every day of the year. Setting non-negotiable time in your calendar to work on your master plan is the BEST TIME YOU WILL SPEND ALL WEEK! Here’s a goal for you in 2018: 2 consecutive days without teaching to work ON the studio, not IN the studio. Keep me posted when you achieve this and I’ll celebrate with you.
- Embracing outsourcing to free up your time (and it can be super affordable) to build the systems framework in your studio. Transitioning into more of an automated studio can be one of the biggest game changers for our clients. But don’t let your fear of whiz-bang computers and technology hold you back, once you have the vision and framework for what you need, then there are lots of very clever people out in the world who can set this up for you for a fraction of what you might expect it to cost. AND trust me when I say, it’s worth saving yourself the grey hairs and swearing like a sailor trying to do it all yourself.
- Build the Machine: consider your studio as one linear student experience. This is the process of outlining the steps of how someone would first encounter your studio right through to when you would intend for them to graduate. How does one message link to the next? How is your marketing embedding your retention intention? How does your new student onboarding organically boost your word of mouth enrollments? How does your pricing promote long term positive cash flow in your business? When you see every little beautiful detail as part of the larger vision for your studio, everything falls into place. THIS is excellence.
Embracing Excellence starts with a curiosity to ask bigger questions. To challenge yourself as to WHY you are actually doing things this way (WHY don’t we have a formalised retention plan in place? Why are we offering > 50% discounts to students?) For you to start becoming interested in what would turn your studio into a high performing business. What we are passionate about here at Studio Expansion is curating the most refined studio strategies and distilling them into practical assets and resources you can use to build your wildly successful studio.
Just because you’ve always done things a certain way in your studio, doesn’t mean that you need to continue that way. Like the number 8, begin the process of asking questions, looking at things in a different light, doubling back and reviewing why you are doing things again before seeking again the highest level of excellence.
This is no time to play small my friends. Raise your expectations of what is possible and build the machine that makes the magic happen.
LEAN INTO LEADERSHIP.
And finally, our third mantra. Leadership is often seen as dirty word by studio owners. It can feel too authoritarian, too masculine, too harsh – but let me assure you that this is entirely misconstrued. In 2018, my wish for you is to redefine your intention for leadership so that as you empower yourself, you empower your team to build the studio of your dreams.
What is heartbreaking is the sheer volume of studio owners who feel shackled by their own studio. This is either from the relentless work or the powerlessness the feel when it comes to the choices they have in their studio, too many studio owners are overwhelmed, overworked and frankly, over it.
“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it.”
“Sure, I’ll cover your class again.”
“Ok, we will give you that extra discount.”
Everytime you feel that little twinge in your tummy, it’s a tiny sign that you are not standing in your strength. It’s a call to action for you to explore your leadership potential.
Leaning into leadership is about taking back the reins of your studio. It’s about setting a clear vision that inspires your entire studio family to follow you wholeheartedly. It’s about taking care of your team above all. It’s about saying NO to things that you are not comfortable with. It’s about getting clear on what you truly want, raising your expectations and surrounding yourself with people who will hold you to a higher level of yourself. It’s about making the big decisions, the ‘sharp right turns’ that are going to bring your studio back on path to becoming successful.
Leadership is about finding your voice. It’s knowing that you do not have to be a servant to your studio, but rather, as you step into your own worth, you are able to serve your studio with much greater impact. It’s about trusting yourself. Magic happens when you begin this process.
For you, Leaning Into Leadership might look like:
- Letting go of the team member who is constantly challenging your vision or not delivering. There is probably one person on your team who you feel you are always carrying, it’s time to take that weight off your shoulders. The more clarity you have with your expectations, the easier it will be to empower your team to thrive.
- Getting explicitly clear on what your role actually is as a studio owner. In 2017 we ran a #nomoretoiletpaper challenge to help studio owners let go of the little tasks in their business that are keeping them playing at a lower level. Your being responsible for changing the toilet paper in your studio is a sign that there is a whole new level you can step into that will create more freedom and leverage in your life. Be the queen my friends.
- Taking a solo 3 day CEO retreat to focus on planning, refining your vision and creating the master plan for the next level of your studio. Evolution member Linda just did this and came back renewed, rejuvenated and ready to run with her team. Giving yourself this time is the most important gift you will give yourself all year.
When we first open our studios, we are the Jill-of-all-trades. You name it, we do it. But if you are ready to proactively build a larger studio with vastly more students, we cannot do it alone. One of the biggest steps we can take to help you realise your dream for a larger business is to loosen your grip on taking care of everything in your studio. The more we mentor and encourage your team to run with your vision for the studio, the more impact we can have, the faster we can grow.
Remember, if you want to grow your studio, we first have to grow your team – not necessarily in size, but certainly in empowerment and responsibility. Your role will transition into more of a mentoring role for your teachers, rather than being on the front line of delivering all the teaching yourself – and while this may be confronting at first – it will be the most rewarding step you make.
Seek Simplicity. Embrace Excellence. Lean into Leadership.
May 2018 be everything you desire it to be and MORE. You truly are worth it and there has never been a time with more opportunities to create a remarkable studio business that you adore.
So, as I waddle my big-old-bump back to the pool, may this leave you inspired and focused for the year ahead. Thank you so much for being a part of our community of fabulous studio owners, each of you inspires the others more than you know.
Our 2018 Studio Expansion Masterclass live events are reaching capacity for ticket sales, but there are still some available for May 2018 in Sydney Australia and June 2018 in Atlanta USA. I’d love to meet you there in the room personally for 2 days to whip that studio of yours into shape. If you’re keen, you can secure your ticket now at studioexpansion.com/masterclass
Or if you would like more information on working personally with myself and the Studio Evolution Dream Team of mentors by becoming a member Studio Evolution, please complete the application form at studioexpansion.com/evolution and my team will be in touch to see whether this program is a fit for you.
Enjoy a champagne for me tonight lovely ones! Counting down until we can pop the bubbly once our little daughter is in our arms.
CEO + Founder Studio Expansion Pty Limited