This is a follow up story for Lessons By Brooke & Company. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 2 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
My name is Brooke Schrager and I am the Founder and Studio Manager of Lessons By Brooke & Company, where we provide customized, in-home private music lessons to students of all interests, ages, and ability levels. You can read more about us here in our first Starter Story feature.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?
I am happy to report that since we last were featured, we’ve continued to expand our reach to about 300 students across the Chicagoland area, and virtually around the USA. Our instructor team has fluctuated a bit, as some members have moved on to graduate school or have recently relocated, but today we are a mighty team of 22 incredible teachers of voice, piano, guitar, violin/viola, and more! All of our teachers are Independent Contractors and are personally selected by me to join our team after an in-depth interview process, background check, and reference check. This all ensures that our educational philosophies align to provide the best music education there is to offer our students!
Once a teacher is onboarded, I hand-select their students for them out of our pool of inquiries and our waitlist. We do our best to match every student with the perfect instructor so they can achieve their musical goals and dreams!
We’ve grown steadily via word-of-mouth referrals, which we are always very grateful for! It is always the best feeling to continue to grow and serve the family members and friends of our current community.
I am very excited to announce that we are in the early stages of opening a non-profit arm of our company called Cadence Music, NFP. We fully recognize that music lessons are a luxury item and that they are not always accessible to everyone that would benefit from them. Cadence will allow us to fundraise so we can continue to provide accessible music lessons to everyone!
What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?
Our biggest challenges of late are likely similar to most businesses - we’ve all been through a LOT since March of 2020 and we are still working hard every day to get our sea legs under us. Cancellations and rescheduling due to illnesses have been at an all-time high, and we always do our best to reschedule so our students can continue to learn and grow consistently!
We are currently working to revamp our Lesson Policy for the 2022-2023 school year and we hope to make everything very clear, concise, and fair for all parties involved!
Having unrealistic expectations of themselves, their business, their staff, and their clientele. That will only set you up for failure in the long term. Be realistic, and stick to what you know works best.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
The biggest lesson we’ve learned as a company this year is that we are strong and firmly planted in our community - we are not going anywhere! Personal connections are king, and continuing to be nimble and fast on our feet when last-minute issues arise has been the only reason we’ve been able to survive and thrive as of late.
Keeping our focus on the needs and goals of our students, and always trying to do right by them while communicating effectively and efficiently to our instructor team and client base has continued to serve us well during even the most difficult of times.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
In the next year, our main goal is to continue to get our waitlist of students paired with teachers and focus on opening and growing Cadence Music, NFP. If we can consistently do these things well, I know that we will be at our very best in the year to come.
Our five-year plan is a bit uncertain - who knows what the next year will look like, let alone the next five! I am hopeful that we can continue to authentically grow and expand to bring the gift of music into as many homes as possible. I also hope that in five years, Cadence can help us make music lessons accessible to all students and that we do not have to turn anyone away due to a lack of funding.
What’s the best thing you read in the last year?
I have done a lot more reading for pleasure in the past year, and I loved books like Where the Crawdads Sing, Verity, and The Silent Patient. As far as helpful business resources, I cannot say enough good things about Teach Music Online for any music teacher out there. This community is so uplifting and we are constantly workshopping and masterminding for and with each other so we can continue to grow and do better for ourselves and our communities. The Happier Podcast by Gretchen Rubin has also continued to help me see things from different perspectives.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Continue to do what you know is right for yourself, your business, your staff, and your clientele. Be honest and humble, and communicate often but effectively with everyone involved. Do not be discouraged by hard times. These will pass and you will be better for it!
I often see people having unrealistic expectations of themselves, their business, their staff, and their clientele. That will only set you up for failure in the long term. Be realistic, and stick to what you know works best. Everything will work out in the long run!
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are always interested in talking to potential instructors and I am happy to talk anytime! Feel free to contact us through our website and let us know why you’d be a good fit. I can also see the very near future hiring an office manager and/or logistics professional to help us with scheduling, routing, etc.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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