– – – EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS – – –
In today’s episode, we’re going to hear different music school owners responding to this question that I posted to the Music Lessons and Marketing Facebook group, “What advice would you give to a music school owner who has fallen out of love with their school and feels burnt out?”
1. Address the Emotional Side of Entrepreneurship
“Look at the emotional component of ownership and entrepreneurship. Look at where they are constantly frustrated and stuck. Address that, and you might feel the love coming back. No one gives up because it was hard. They give up because they thought it would be easy.”
Probably the source of a lot of burnout for people is they feel in over their head. They feel overwhelmed. They had no idea what they were getting into when they started a music school or they had no idea how stressful it could potentially be, and somebody developing better coping skills with the stress can help with managing burnout.
No one gives up because it was hard. They give up because they thought it would be easy.
2. Delegate the Easier Tasks
Marlayna Goosby of Grow Your Gift Conservatory of Music in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, has this to say:
“If at all possible, hire a great office manager and assign the easier yet mundane tasks!”
That’s a really great first step. It’s identifying all those things that you do that really fall into the category of maybe administrative tasks or even just cleaning. All that stuff. Delegate it, even if you’re not so sure you can afford it.
Try to find some way to make it work in your budget so you can get some of that work off your shoulder. Look, an office manager can be a costly investment. Maybe you can start with a virtual assistant. Hiring a virtual assistant was a game-changer for me. It really freed up my time and gave me some new perspectives on my business. It’s allowed me to see my business from more of a macro perspective as opposed to just being so close to everything that’s happening in the trenches.
3. Reconnect with What Got You Started
Steve Horvath of Guitar Lessons Wylie Texas in Wylie, Texas, of course, has this to say:
“I think things move in cycles. Sometimes I feel beyond blessed and my work life is so much better than I deserve. Then I’ll have a scenario when I have 2 teachers leaving at the same time and it feels like a tremendous amount of stress! So, maybe give things some time.
A few ideas: If it was a studio owner who is not actively teaching, try taking the longest sabbatical possible if you trust your staff. Get rejuvenated. Travel, go to some concerts, etc.
If you are a solo teacher, try to get in touch with the things that made you want to do this in the first place. Try to host some open mic nights at a coffee shop, group jams, etc. Something to let the students shine and remind you that you are making a difference in your students’ lives.
And of course, for some… it might be time to move on! Phil Knight has a great quote about that in his book “Shoe Dog”. He talks about people that say “Never Give Up”. He mentions that there is absolutely a time to give up and call it quits. The problem is figuring out when that time is!”
Wow, Steve! This is really great stuff here. It makes me think of when I was young. In my 20s, after I graduated college, I moved to Manhattan. I was a songwriter. I really wanted to break into songwriting. It was a really big deal that I moved to New York. It was a big statement I was making to myself, to my family, and all my friends back in St. Louis, and just a year after year of not making any progress, I finally decided that just wasn’t meant to be. It was so hard to admit to myself that I wasn’t getting the results that I had hoped for and that it was taking a toll on me. Then, it was actually very liberating to give up. Not that I quit, I just gave up on that path. Over time, I forged a new path for myself.
I love Steve’s whole idea here about your kind of reconnecting with what got you into starting a music school in the first place. Connecting with the impact that you’re having on kids’ lives and doing recitals and concerts are great opportunities. I always found for myself after a recital and in that evening I’d kind of think, “Wow. Yeah, this is what it’s all about. This is why I started a music school.”
4. Discover the Root of The Problem
Next, we’ll hear from Nick Tucker, Sparks School of Music and Dance owner in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Nick echoes a little bit of what Daniel Patterson had to say. Nick says:
“Just ask yourself the question why? Why are you experiencing this burnout? Why do I hate my music school? Perhaps it’s the business aspect that you create. Why do you hate the business aspect? Perhaps you think to yourself that I’m a visionary, and I hate that I always seem to come up with new ideas. Well, why do you hate that? Perhaps it’s because I’m much more of a doer than I am a visionary. Great. Hire someone who can be a visionary with you. At the core of everything, there are more questions we can ask. But I think most of the time we get so stuck on the first question and call that the reason but it’s deeper than that. That’s where we can find a solution to the problem.”
Wow. Okay, this is like gold right here. Thank you, Nick, for this. This is really good. So what I hear Nick saying is that there’s the surface level of frustration. The surface level of frustration is that I’m feeling burnt out on my music school and feeling resentful. I maybe even hate my music school. Why did I even do this? I should have stuck with just teaching, but by continually asking additional “why” questions (“Why do you hate this component?”) and by really drilling down and trying to find the core of why you’re feeling the way you feel and simply identifying that core, you can begin to come up with the solution for yourself.
I think that’s really great what Nick is sharing. So thank you, Nick Tucker, for your words.
5. Take a Vacation
Christina Marie, who I’m sure many of you are familiar with because of the fabulous-looking websites that she makes for music schools, is based in Long Beach, California. Her website is Webmaestra.com. She has this to say:
If you aren’t spending time teaching, teach. If you feel burnt out because you have too much to do, delegate or look at your systems. Also, take a vacation and come back with a fresh mind. This is how I personally do it. I come back grateful!
The thought of even taking a vacation can be stressful. If you can’t take a vacation, if you can’t go away for a week, turn off and tune out, and don’t check emails—if you can’t do these, you got an issue with your systems. A vacation or a break can really give you a fresh perspective.
6. Map Out Your Systems
Last, we’re gonna hear from Sophia Hardesty, the owner of Naptown Sings and Plays in Annapolis, Maryland. Sophia says:
Hire some assistants delegate, take a break, but touch on your business for a few hours per week. Then and then add in what you love again. I had to do this for a year. I took a 2-month break and checked out except for what was necessary. I came back and started teaching again, which is something I really love. I’m learning I need to delegate more. I just have to figure out what and how.
I think this is really great, Sophia. Figuring out what to delegate and how to delegate is pretty easy to do. I’ve talked about this on the podcast, but I’ll just share a quick word on this.
Have a notebook. Next, write down the name of the tasks that you do throughout your day as they’re happening. Give it a one- to three-word name. Jot it down. The way I delegate my tasks to my assistant is through screen share videos as I’m doing a task, and I talk out loud as I’m doing it then send it to my assistant. Then, I ask her to make bullet-point notes on what I just discussed in the video. Now, that video and those notes that she just made are all completely mapped out for her to take over a task from me.
This approach is really great when you need to hire a second administrator. When you already have these videos and these notes that are taken by your first employee, it would be easier to sort of build your team if you already have your processes mapped out on video and with clear notes. It allows you basically to hire someone and say “Here. Go through these videos. Go through these notes. This is your training, and I’m going to check in with you.”
So a big thank you to all the music school owners who shared with us their insights on how to avoid music school owner burnout. I hope you, dear listener, feel a little bit more inspired, a little less stressed out, and hopefully a bit inspired.