This summer, I significantly reduced my weekly student load from 29 to five. After two and a half years of working as a one-woman-band, I knew I needed the break to refill my cup, while I spent less time doing and more time being.
Between teaching my students, running the business end of things, and building edTonomy, I was averaging 13 hour days from Monday to Friday throughout the school year, and working much of my Saturdays and Sundays away, too. For so many reasons that don't need explaining, that kind of schedule was just not sustainable for me.
And because of that, when planning my summer schedule at the end of last school year, I recognized the immediate and pressing need to distance myself from the day-to-day operations and student-facing time that were central to my ed-biz: I needed to sit and steep; to strategize and restructure; and to ultimately re-envision the next phase for The Lit Advocate.
For much of the last eight weeks, I’ve felt stuck in all that steeping.
And because I know many current or budding teacherpreneurs will likely resonate with these doubts and questions and worries, I’d like to take a moment to share candidly all the anxiety-inducing wanderings that lingered on my mind without answers this summer, proving themselves difficult, at best, to unpack.
The Summer Steepings of an Edupreneur on the Brink of Scaling Her Biz 👇🏼
- As a private teaching business charging hourly for instructional time, how can I earn more, while working less?
- How do I transition students receiving 1:1 services to a small group format? How will students and families react to the transition? What are the new guidelines for small groups vs. those I put into practice for 1:1? How will pricing and payment differ? Will parents be willing to sacrifice individual attention for small group instruction at a reduced cost per lesson?
- How do I charge for the time I spend beyond my forward-facing instructional time–to ensure the valuable time I spend on lesson planning, progress monitoring, communications, and parent consultations is compensated?
- How will parents take a change to payment and pricing structure?
- What happens if I lose students?
- How do I tell parents of traditional learners I’m no longer working evenings, and will have reduced availability afterschool? How many students will I disappoint by this new, limited schedule?
- How do I hire and train a new teacher to work with me? What are the requirements and qualifications for the job? What are some non-negotiable prerequisites for a teacher candidate to be a good fit for my business?
- What is fair compensation for a contract teacher? What percent of earnings will I retain for The Lit Advocate, so the margin of profit makes sense?
- Besides compensation, what will a teacher gain from working with me and for The Lit Advocate? What can I offer to support their personal and professional growth, for a meaningful experience and collaboration beyond what’s typical for a company/contractor arrangement?
- How do I ensure contractual teachers fulfill their obligations and maintain the quality, consistency, and learning outcomes that I’ve cultivated as a solo-teacher and teaching business?
- With less front-facing instructional time, what is my new role at The Lit Advocate, and what new responsibilities does this role entail?
So, yeah. Forget a relaxing summer of "being" with all those thoughts and questions doing a whole buncha nothin' but buzzing around my head.
Because you may or may not know me know me, please allow me give you a visual comparative so you can get an idea of what my Summer of Steeping has been like:
You know the scene in Hitch, when Will Smith's character thinks his dinner date is going really well, until he sees himself in the mirror at the pharmacy and realizes he's got a big problem–and the allergic reaction caused by something he ate at dinner is getting worse by the second?
I’ll just show you what I mean…
BUT, there's always a silver lining and a b[LESSON] in the storm--which I'll get into in a minute...
Here’s the LSS [Long Story Short]: What I learned from all my Summer Steeping was that, while thoughtful action is good, thoughtful contemplation without action becomes analysis paralysis, which isn't just a cruel form of self-torture, but a big ol’ waste of time.
Here’s how I reached that conclusion: Okay, so imagine me: Tired of myself and resenting wasting so much time. It's summer! I have time! That’s a blessing in itself.
Until one morning a few weeks ago, when I finally had the enough-is-enough moment, and walked out my backdoor, across the driveway to my office-classroom, intent on really getting to work.
But, first, I needed inspo; I had a good 15 minutes before my first meeting, which meant I could listen to an audiobook while doing my makeup using my phone’s front-facing camera.
And, yes, doing your makeup at your desk, using your phone as mirror is an absolutely ridiculous daily routine.
So that's how I stumbled upon Atomic Habits on Audible, a book I’d seen on every top 10 list for entrepreneurs over the last few years, but never found enticing enough to read. I didn't have enough time to analyze the choice, so I purchased the audiobook, popped in my AirPods, and started my morning makeup routine as I listened in.
My audiobook selection was the proof I needed that Analysis Paralysis wouldn't bring me any closer to answering my big-business-questions. And the purchase-on-a-whim ended up seeming more like an intuitive choice when the book's insight rang true, as if I already knewknew it's what I needed to hear.
Ultimately, my summer reading is what burst the bubble I was living in throughout previous weeks, re-reminding me of some words to live by:
"YA NEVA STUCK" (Thanks, Ma)
Atomic Habits for edUpreneurs
A Multisensory Inspo Playlist
‘Identity’ derives from two Latin roots.
being + repeatedly
Take a moment to consider how these roots work together to form new meaning...
“We do not change by snapping our fingers and deciding to become someone entirely new, we change bit by bit, day by day, habit by habit. We are continually undergoing micro-evolutions of the self. Each habit is like a suggestion–hey maybe this is who I am...”
“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to come. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity. This is one reason why meaningful change does not require radical change…”
“Each habit not only gets results, but also teaches you something far more important: To Trust Yourself. You start to believe you can actually accomplish these things. When the votes mount up and the evidence begins to change, the story you tell yourself begins to change as well.”
I DIDN’T START OUT AS AN [EDUPRENEUR], I BECAME ONE, THROUGH MY HABITS.
- ADAPTED FROM JAMES CLEAR'S BOOK, ATOMIC HABITS
So, here's what I've learned from & as a result of my Summer of Steeping:
- My current edupreneur phase? Scaling.
- My current hard-to-learn lesson? Scaling requires shedding.
- The professional goal I hope to achieve: Expand The Lit Advocate to reach more students, families, and teachers
- The personal goal I hope to achieve: Have more time to spend with my family and homeschool my toddler, so I can share my passion for learning with her as she grows.
- The me-time habit I hope to cultivate: Factor time for myself alone each day--to pray and meditate and ground myself, to write and still my mind, and to go to the gym and empower my body. Well-being is wealth.
I’ll keep working at it day by day, and let you know how things are going over here.
What about you? What are you currently struggling with, and what stage is your ed-business currently in? Share in the comments below!