Friday, April 17, 2009

My Success Story

For my intents and purposes, I am going to call this my Success Song. I know, it sounds corny and sentimental. But after all, that is who I am. I am sentimental. And being a musician at my very nature, it seems only natural that it be called something musical.

When I was asked to share my success story (song) I immediately said to myself, “Oh yeah, sure that’s easy. It’s the three ‘p’s (ppp).” No -- not the musical dynamic marking Pianississimo meaning very, very soft, but the three ‘p’s with which I “live” my business. Passion, Persistence and Patience. These three ‘p’s are at the core of my belief system regarding my business, and I believe they have contributed to my success as a Kindermusik Educator.

First of all, I have a passionate commitment to the cause…to bring the gift of Kindermusik into the life of every child.

I believe in Kindermusik. Why? Because it makes a difference! And I know that nobody wins until we all do. I love Kindermusik! I truly love what I do and have adopted a motto for myself. I even went so far as to add it to my email signature. “LOVE WHAT YOU DO, DO WHAT YOU LOVE.” I am passionate about the cause.

I believe in Kindermusik’s philosophy: Kindermusik is a community of families and educators passionately committed to bringing music to children's lives through developmentally appropriate curricula, CDs, books, instruments, and activities.

Kindermusik's philosophy is founded upon rigorous research and our fundamental beliefs:
• A parent or loving caregiver is a child’s first and most important teacher
• All children are musical
• The home is the most important learning environment
• Music nurtures a child's cognitive, emotional, social, language, and physical development
• Children flourish in a child-centered environment where activities are developmentally appropriate
• Educators value the learning process—not the performance—of music making
• Every child should experience the joy, fun, and learning that music brings to life

I believe in Kindermusik’s brand promise. It is what sets us apart from the other options that are out there.
• Exceptionally talented early-childhood music educator
• Quality home materials to continue the learning throughout the week
• Parent education about the development of their child

A leader (or educator) who is passionately committed to the cause will draw much commitment from others. I believe in and can see the difference it makes in the lives of children. I have a passionate commitment to the cause. Do you? If so, let me ask you a question then. How do you show your commitment? I show mine through Persistence and Patience.

I remember when I was first starting out several years ago. I did everything right. I advertised in all of the right places. I held demos in all of the right places. I walked neighborhoods with flyers, I wrote articles hailing the benefits of Kindermusik, I had a website up and running. I offered sibling discounts and early bird specials. I did it all. I even held a demo at the library that had no less than 50 people in attendance! Yet, when it came time for my first class, only three families registered. Where were all of the people? I had no explanation. I was so discouraged.

Despite my discouragement, I traveled from Denver to attend my first Kindermusik Convention in Greensboro, NC. (which was WONDERFUL, I might add!). And I made a very dear friend, Amy, who happens to live out east. Amy and I became fast friends, and I learned that she and I had “opened our doors” at about the same time. Amy had 50 students instantly. Go figure! Kindermusik is Kindermusik, right? And besides that, I did everything right too!

Then, really being confused and discouraged, I remember talking with my mentor, Kim Denney about it. I will never forget what she said. “Offer it [KM classes] and they will come. Just keep offering.” Persist! Don’t give up. Well, I listened. I didn’t give up, I kept putting myself out there and I kept putting Kindermusik out there and it paid off. I’m happy to say that I now have full and nearly full classes. (I still have some small classes too, but they are coming along.) My business is growing. As a matter of fact, I have experienced my first “wait list” class as of yesterday! Now that is a great feeling!

“Your program looks great, Lisa but , no. …” I learned something about myself when I heard this. I found that I don’t take “no” for an answer for very long. While running Kindermusik classes through a recreation center may not be for everyone, it has been a boon for me. It took me three people and three “no” answers to get to the “yes” I needed. I didn’t give up and kept trying and I’m glad I did. Getting into the rec center in my community was the turning point in my business. Persistence was the key.

The waiting paid off. Word of mouth is a powerful thing, but sometimes it takes a bit of time for the word to travel. I had to plant the seed, care for it, and wait for it to grow. It takes patience to nurture a business. That is a tall order when trying to put food on the table and pay the mortgage, I know. Especially now. But for me, it has been worth it. I love what I do.

Sure, I have done some practical and tangible things to help the business along as well. I have offered classes at different locations on different days at different times, including weekends. I have offered Adventures Summer Camps. I approached preschools with ABC Music & Me and have added ABC Music and Me to the “core” curricula. I even recognized a need for parents wanting & needing some time for themselves in my community and offered a class I called ABC Music & Me: Parents Day Out. (It is a two hour class in which we have music time, snack time, craft time and play time together. The parents are welcome to stay or go run errands or go take a nap! This class has proven to be very successful for me.) I make myself very visible in my community—library story times, demos at Barnes and Noble, etc. I even began wearing apparel with the Kindermusik logo on it. You would be surprised at the conversations that has started!

I have also learned from my mistakes. I have done some really dumb advertising things, but the important thing is that I didn’t do them again. I had to be patient with myself and be willing to admit my mistakes. There was a lot to be learned from that particular ground that I covered.

So, this is what has worked for me. It is the tune I have sung to myself since day one. Hopefully you can find something here that can help inspire you to keep the faith—to keep the commitment to the cause. Kindermusik does make a difference. It has made a difference in my life, that’s for sure. That’s my song and I’m singin’ to it!

shared by educator Lisa Fultz from Aurora, CO