Several years ago, I was stabbed in the back. A father whose daughter took lessons at our studio, decided to start his own music school--just a few miles away from our location. He opened the doors and still sat at his daughter's recital, in one of seats near the front, looking right at me. He even joined a coaching program that I was in! I was seething. How could he do this to me??
My mentor at that time kindly told me, "There are more than enough clients for everyone. Ignore him. Keep your eyes on your own business."
At first I was furious. I wanted sympathy. I wanted revenge.
Instead, I did exactly what my coach suggested: I ignored him. I focused on growing my own school.
Around that same time, one of the teachers at my music school left and started his own music school a few miles the other direction. This time I didn't give him much energy. "Do your own thing, Jen," I coached myself. I focused on my company, my staff, my systems, my marketing.
I could have frozen in fear. I could have shrunk back and refused to hire anyone else in case they, too, would leave me and hurt me.
I didn’t. I chose abundance. I chose to believe there are enough fish in the sea. There are enough families to serve. The potential hurt is worth the opportunity to serve more kids and more families.
Since these two hurtful events, guess what happened? We doubled our income. Around that time, we were grossing around $500,000 per year. Just 3 years later, we bring in $1,000,000 per year.
You can choose to fight your competition or you can choose to fight your fear.
I worked extra hard. I was attentive to our marketing message. I gave my clients more amenities that the new schools couldn't afford. I doubled down on my time and my discipline to my work time. I added additional streams of income. We now have 3 large streams flowing into our main umbrella company. It gives us security-- if anything happens to one, we know the cash flow will not completely dry up. I have trained my staff to manage and maintain what we have, so I can scout out new streams of serving people. (I love service-based industries. There will always be needs we can meet, people we can serve, and money we can make.)
When I was tempted to flip my lid and throw a fit about new competitors popping up, I took that energy and grew my own company. I asked myself, "What can I do about this?" I can't stop someone from wanting to fulfill their own dreams. I can't stop them from pursuing their passions. But I CAN serve my clients and keep my eyes on my own work.
I'm not interested in dominating my market. I am interested in doing the absolute best job I can for my clients. And that creates a culture of very happy clients who refer their friends. Our reputation is strong. Our name is not tarnished. We work with integrity and we always will.
I don't need to crush my competition. I need to crush my own fears.
I created a video this week that at first might rub you the wrong way. But I have to speak truth. Watch it and let me know your thoughts.
I'm always here to cheer you on.
Dear moms growing businesses,
I know the pull between doing big things and being there for your family.
I feel it almost every day.
The truth is we are called to both. Called to nurturing the hearts of those in our house and called to the dream that GOD planted in your heart.
I often think I'm not doing enough. I'm not trying hard enough. I just don't have my act together.
When I relax, I feel guilty.
When I go to my studio for a meeting, I feel bad for not being home.
It's like I can't win.
Except, the struggle, the pull between both worlds? That's just the life we are living. I don't think there's anything I can "fix" or do better to make that pull go away. It's just leaning into the struggle that brings me peace.
Sometimes I make full Sunday dinners and sometimes we grab fast food.
Sometimes I work long hours and get a ton of marketing done and sometimes I'm in full Mom Mode, correcting homework and cleaning out the closets and driving teens to grab some coffee.
It's never, ever about perfect balance, because balance is impossible.
It's about being strategic.
Strategic with the team I hire, the marketing I pay for, my time, and yes, even being strategic about when I grab some time to rest.
This week I've been down with a bad cold. I have fallen behind on my To Do list and I feel like I've barely seen my kids. I have been tempted to wallow in guilt for "failing." Instead, I'm writing this to encourage you and me that we are all juggling all the pieces the best that we can.
Since I lost my voice and couldn't record a new video this week, I'm sharing with you a video I made in September (when it was still nice outside! Now it's 30 degrees here in Minnesota). I titled it "You don't have to be stressed. You just have to be strategic."
I hope it blesses and encourages you. Here's the link to the blog I refer to in the video: Stages of Business.
Write me back and tell me which stage you're in!
I want to invite you to a Zoom meeting where moms growing businesses can hang out and get some encouragement. We are going to talk about REAL Impact and what that means when you are trying to grow a business AND raise your kids.
It's totally free. To join us, just join my free Facebook group here:
(Sorry guys-- this one is for moms only!)
I'll be posting all the details about when and where and how to join us in the Facebook group. I'd love to see you on this call (you'll be on camera, so use your laptop to join us and throw your hair in a mom bun!).
I really don't think you have to sacrifice your family to grow a healthy business.
I just think you have to do things strategically.
Let's talk about it. See you then!
This week I was honored with an alumni of the year award from my alma mater, North Central University, in downtown Minneapolis, MN. There was a beautiful gala and ceremony and I was presented with a beautiful award, to celebrate spirit-filled leadership and excelling in service through career and community. The next day, Chris and I were invited to have lunch with the president and vice president of the college. Afterwards, we walked around campus and I reminisced about our dating days and all the hours spent in the practice rooms, playing piano and writing music and learning to conduct a choir. How does it simultaneously seem like yesterday AND like a million years ago??
Going back to my college is like seeing a map, all zoomed out. The two pins (college and now) are dropped and you see the twists and turns over the overall journey, but not all the details from the last 20 years. I know we have planted 3 churches and moved numerous times. Had 4 kids. Traveled. Lived. Loved. And while our business has grown and thrived like I never dreamed possible, this is not the life I thought I was going to live.
Back in college, we dreamed dreams that never came true.
I thought for sure I was going to be a music pastor and Chris would be the senior pastor and we would live in a parsonage somewhere.
I never dreamed I would homeschool my kids.
And yet, life takes on its own shape and here we are. 20 years later, with our own kid in college. At the banquet, I looked around and saw faces that have cheered me on and loved me the whole time. I saw professors who taught me and encouraged me and who have continued to teach faithfully for all these years.
Life isn't at all what I thought it would be, but it is sure sweet. And while I feel like I've hardly even begun to do the things I would like to do in life, I am so grateful for all the experiences that have gotten us here.
Sometimes it takes an award to make me slow down and see the big picture view. And I'm so grateful.
When I got home from the awards ceremony, I tossed and turned. I didn't fall asleep for a few hours. I kept thinking and thinking.
What was bothering me?
The next morning I woke up early and immediately thought two things:
1. Coffee. Now.
2. I'm gonna need a nap today.
Then I sat down and wrote this. It's the only way I could express the contrast of a fancy award downtown and life I really live, each and every day.
Maybe you can relate.
I’m making an impact.
I can’t always see it. Or feel it. But I know it’s there.
Mostly I am just throwing in another load of laundry. Putting away another lunch bag. Throwing away rotten vegetables. Making another list.
I’m listening to the teens and coordinating schedules. Buying another birthday gift and making more coffee.
I work when I can, as fast as I can, because time is limited. I think about work while I’m driving and in the shower and, yes, my mind wanders off when the husband is talking about sports again.
I know I’m making an impact. With every person I hire and every client I onboard. With every meeting I squeeze in and every decision that I pray about.
I’m making an impact. Even if it feels like 20 years have flown by and I’ve hardly made a dent in accomplishing my dreams.
Even when I fall short, fail, lose my temper, fall asleep crying. Even when I’m up too early, don’t get enough sleep, don’t make enough meals from scratch. I’m still making an impact.
With every hug and bandaid and email and Target run, I am being faithful and what else can I be?
I turn up my music in my van and pray fervently for wisdom. I sleep when I can and try to enjoy the moment. I take in the sunrise and the sunsets and my kids keep having more birthdays. I can’t wait for an empty nest and then I panic. How will I survive an empty nest?!?
Sometimes the world applauds and hands out awards and sometimes no one notices.
Sometimes the biggest and hardest decisions never get noticed and sometimes social media is both connection and a curse. All your celebrations flood my feed and I get the mail and change the laundry and wonder am I making an impact?
But I am. In my home. With my kids. In my community. To my friends. In the work that I do. I can’t always see it. I often miss it. Because real impact is in the ordinary. It’s in the every day moments. It’s often missed. But it’s the real impact. It’s the stuff that matters the most.
I just can’t always see it.
But I have to believe it’s there.
"Real impact is in the ordinary."
About the Author
Hi, I'm Jen Hickle!