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Investing in the Long Term: Giving Your All with Calli Studebaker

Calli Studebaker, owner of Confident Kids Therapy

I'm really excited to share with you about my friend Calli Studebaker, an amazing person and OT in Ohio. She owns Confident Kids Therapy and has been in business for one year and we're going to cover all of the things that have happened to her along the way! We'll also be talking about investing in yourself, whatever that looks like to you (time, energy, etc.)

What we will be covering:

What led you to be here?

Calli: My name is Calli. I'm from Ohio, but I've lived other places. We've been back for almost a year and a half and I also went to school in Ohio for undergrad and grad school. My first job was in South Carolina doing home health in early intervention which I really liked. I liked being in the home. However, I didn't like that I didn't have a mentor. I don't think it was a great first job out of school, but I definitely learned a lot. Then, I went to Virginia North for private practice that was owned by a therapist and her husband. That was cool to see how they ran things and I really enjoyed the organization itself. I enjoyed the people that I worked with and the mentorship I got. I really learned a lot and that got me thinking about owning my own practice. I feel like that's where the seed got planted. Then, we moved and I had a daughter in the middle of all of that and I wanted to take my time. I knew that I didn't want to work in a really busy outpatient clinic with a high caseload. I don't think that was very sustainable for me and my life. Although I loved where I worked, I would have burned out quickly if I stayed for years and years and years. I really started to think about what was valuable to me and what I wanted out of job. I was starting to be picky about it. I took me a few months to settle on a part time job that was close, but it wasn't what I wanted.

I also found in my community there wasn't a whole lot of pediatric OT's doing home health so thats when I decided to do it. It was the perfect time. I was working very PRN, and I have a very supportive husband (which is key in this whole process). This wouldn't exist without him. It was nice to have that support system behind me and take that leap of faith.

Morgan: And here we are a year later!

If you could look back and talk to Calli, even a year ago, what would you tell her?

Calli: I would say start sooner, and go for it. Take that leap of faith. Start investing in yourself right away. I had the impression that I could read all of the books, listen to all the podcasts, join all of the groups, and know what I'm doing and be successful.

Morgan: I know our relationship together started at some point last year, early summer. I remember talking a little bit and you were getting certified and we touched base again later on. What do you think was the point for you where you were like, "I really need help"?

Calli: When I went almost 2 months of doing it on my own and had no patients. I knew there was a need. I knew I was doing the right thing. I never had any concern that it would fail. I just had to find that thing. Enter Morgan!

Can you tell us about your practice and how you work with people?

Calli: I go to kids' homes to work with them. My big thing was that I wanted to be in their environment. I wanted what we were working on to be functional and practical to them. So I go to their homes or I see them in the community (another fun skill to work on). I really emphasize home carryover and home programs. I educate the family right away. It's a very family centered approach. I like to see them for 3 -4 months and then reevaluate where we are, look at their goals again. In the clinic we do that once a year. I talk to parents throughout the whole thing, reevaluate, and see if we need a new plan of care to change things up.

I also do little 10-week programs whether for handwriting or life-skills stuff. I have one kid in my handwriting program. I'm also running a summer camp! So lots of things going on.

Morgan: Lots of different ways that you can work with people. That's something we can dive into as well. I know we're jumping around a bit, but I'm wanting to give some context because of the people I have worked with, I don't work with a lot of therapists who work with pediatrics (or peds mobile therapy). I think Calli you're one of 3 or 4 therapists that I've worked with who works with that population. Your whole experience with everything I think is really helpful to put out there.

Backing up now, "Enter Morgan to Calli's Life".😊 Your story is that you opened your business, everything is going to be great because you're a smart cookie. You know what you're doing, you've read all of the things, you've listened to all of the stuff, but 2 months in you hadn't had any patients yet. So you went looking for some kind of help.

What lead you to look into working with a coach vs doing a course?

Calli: I was in all of those Facebook groups. I had asked some questions and someone said, "You should look into Morgan! She's really cool!" I had looked into another coach and it seemed a little cookie cutter and wasn't personable. When I went to your group and I started looking through things and we started talking, I felt that we got along really well and had a good fit.

I felt like I needed 1) that personal touch and 2) someone to tell me what exactly I need to do. I had all of this free time and wondering what could I do for my business. I was sitting there realizing it was obviously not working, something needed to change. It was a long drawn out ordeal with my husband and I. What do we do? Do we invest or not? In the grand scheme of things I felt like if I didn't give it my all I would regret it, and if it failed because I didn't try harder or try my best I couldn't live with that. Getting coaching from you, if it felt right, a good fit, felt like it would be successful, and a good investment, then why wouldn't I go for it?

Morgan: Makes sense to me! It can be a scary thing to invest in coaching. Maybe it's a coaching program or it's a course that takes you through things, but even online courses can be a good chunk of change and it's so interesting to me how hesitant we can be. I'm not saying this was you, its been me in the past. It's like "oh wow.... is that a comma in the price!?" We get so hesitant and wonder if it will be worth it. Of course there's no way to tell exactly.

You go based on what the vibe is. I think that is so important to bring up. It's something I've started looking for: a vibe check. I do that with anyone I work with whether it's business coaching clients, the therapists that are here, marketing clients, or even patients too. For everyone who is doing therapy only, vibe check is so important! You want to make sure that that is there.

You go based on vibe check, based on what other people have said, you go on your gut, and all the reading and learning that you've done. It feels like a jump and leap of faith to invest in yourself in this way and invest in the other person you're working with. I think it's so interesting because the pricing of different coaching programs is so drastically different than how much it costs to get our degree. Which is also a leap of faith! I feel like you've shared a lot about going back and forth with yourself and your husband about if you should or should not have done this, and then ultimately came to the point of, "I have to give it my all because things are not working quick enough." So you wanted to speed up time essentially to get where you want to go. I guess I'm curious too, the first coaching program that I invested in, besides my degree, was my first big investment that I made for myself. Was this your first thing? How comfortable are you with investing?

Calli: I don't think I'm super comfortable. I'm definitely someone who when I go shopping, I have panic attacks about buying something or not. I do go back and forth in my head a lot about any purchase. Even if it's a selfish purchase, I'm more hesitant. We purchased a Peloton and I was freaking out. It was a good investment though because it brings me happiness. I didn't invest in any other coaching program prior to this.

The only thing I spent money on for my business that was relatively big was someone to do my websites, which I still feel like I would do over again a thousand time. I love my website. I think it looks great. I couldn't have done that on my own. I have gotten so many compliments that so many people have invested in me because they like the vibe of my website. My website portrays really well who I am and what I do. That is not a skill that I'm good at and I know that, so why would I build a website when I'm not good at it?

Morgan: That is a good point!

Calli: And same thing with business stuff. We didn't learn any of this in school. I mean, I make my way with tech stuff, but I've learned so much from you that has made my life so much easier that I would never have known!

Morgan: What are a couple of examples that come to mind (tech stuff)? Calli: I think the automations, Facebook stuff, Active Campaign, the CRM and keeping track of who I've talked to or where people are at in the process. That has made my life so much easier. Especially with how busy I've gotten. Keeping track of things and sending myself reminders through my CRM. I am a very forgetful person.

Morgan: I feel like you're one of the only people I know who appreciates the CRM as much as I do. It's like, I can help out "future Morgan" so much just by putting something in there to remind myself. Then I don't have to worry about it! And like you said you can automate everything too! 100%! There's so much tech out there to help ourselves.

I think that's also one tiny point that I want to make as a software nerd. I love a good software. There are lots of ways to do things and lots of different programs out there. My suggestion to anyone starting out, use software, get digital as soon as you can, but try to do it as simple and as cheap as possible (free if that is an option) in the beginning. Figure out what you really need in order to be the most organized and streamlined. Then, you can invest in bigger and badder software as you go rather than buying into a lot of really heavy duty software at the beginning. Especially if you're still learning you're way around the different options.

Coaching is definitely a big investment and of course pricing can range. There's a lot of different options out there. I think overall, my best advice for somebody investing in any kind of coaching program would be:

  1. Talk to the person (the vibe check), that's really important

  2. Understand if you want somebody who is very involved (like myself) or if you're ok with less touches. That's a big one.

  3. Look for someone who has done it before. That is often really popular advice and definitely helpful.

Do you have any other specific advice about investing in a coaching program or a course specifically?

Calli: I definitely agree with the vibe check. I feel like if you're going to be with a coach that you're going to be speaking with a lot and it's a long-term thing, just make sure that relationship is good and you guys get along. You need to be able to communicate openly with that person. I feel like that would be a big one.

I don't know if I ever really dug into a ton of reviews, but maybe watched one or two and I feel like that had impact. I felt like we talked for a good length of time and built this relationship prior to investing. I feel like I carry that too with my patients where I invest in that relationship before I'm like, "Want me to be your OT?" I have one kid where they reached out to me for 5 months prior to actually starting. It's just building that relationship and taking the time to make sure it's a good fit for you by asking questions and feeling it out before investing. I do feel like once you've found the right fit, just go for it.

Morgan: That's really good advice in a couple of ways. If you're able to make decisions and go for it, being decisive is a really important skill as an entrepreneur more so than being right. It's either going to work out or you're going to learn something, no matter what you decide. If you stay in between, you're not going to go anywhere. I really like that you brought that up.

Then, the other thing I want to throw out there because it's something that I do. If the money piece is what is holding you back, don't be afraid to ask whoever you want to work with if they offer different payment plans. Some do and some don't, but it can't hurt to ask. It's an important thing. I do that with PT patients too. Just to be able to help people.

Segueing to investing your time and energy, not just money. Let's discuss investing in people who may potentially work with you. I'd love to hear your perspective in how it may have changed in the last year. I think since starting my business I've had to learn how to do that because when you first start, at least for me, I wanted so badly for people to be like "book me!" In reality though, especially meeting people online, you really need to develop good rapport and a sense of trust with a person before you can expect to have them invest in your therapy and services. Even if you meet them in person too of course, like a lot of us do. I've seen it twice now working at different gyms where I have worked out there for 6 months before people in the gym felt comfortable to come up to me and ask for help. I wasn't doing it with the intention necessarily of gaining patients, but because I was just there and talking to people, I was able to build a regular friend relationship with them before they felt comfortable enough to see me.

We have to remember as well, this is a different way of doing healthcare than a lot of people are use to. There is a learning curve with that. Fast-forward to now, you (Calli) and I have gotten busier so that makes it easier to not worry about somebody not booking with us right now. However, whenever someone tells me no or leaves me on read (literally or figuratively in person), I talk to myself. Instead of getting mad or upset, I give myself 2 seconds to be bummed and then I continue to treat that person how I would want to be treated. Almost go above and beyond, really kind to this person because they needed help and for some reason they're not perusing it. Just continuing to create an environment that is supportive and welcoming. It makes me feel good for one, but also it helps them as a person whether they work with you or not. What is your perspective?

Calli: I really like that though. I think that is the whole reason we became therapists, to build relationships with people and help them. I feel like that's another reason of why I've built my practice. There's a way to do this better. There's a way to get outcomes quicker for kids than just going to a busy clinic where the therapist is seeing 10 other kids. I felt like if I could build a relationship with people then that is a skill I would rank as one of my higher skills (relationship skills). I feel I'm more comfortable talking to them about that than talking about paying me (which I need to get over). That relationship piece and building this community where I could talk to parents and get to know them so that they could feel comfortable with me working with their child is way more important to me than getting a quick patient. If they say no then ok you think "why are they not in a place to say yes". You dig deeper and give them time to get to a place where they would pay. I feel like that relationship piece and using your therapist piece is one of my "things that I do".

Morgan: Especially with everything that is going on in the world all of the time. No matter what your beliefs are on everything, I think the one thing that a lot of us have in common is the fact that there is such a higher, heightened sense of stress societally. If you can help this person who really needs help, they know they need help, they have made contact with you in some form or fashion, but they're probably really stressed out about something. If you're able to help them slow down and figure out what the next best steps are, even if it's not working with you, you have have done your therapeutic duty. You can sleep well at night knowing that you're truly doing a service and not just billing more units. It's not just about profit!

What have you learned or what have you changed in the way that you talk to parents about working with you?

Calli: I would say that I give them time to talk and I feel like once I open that window, parents usually talk a lot. They're seeking therapy for their kids, there's obviously something going on. I feel like if you're going to go see a typical OT, they don't really have the time to hear your 30 minutes. Where I want to hear that story and I want to know what's going on so that I can help, whether that is working with me or finding resources that you need. Because without that story, I don't know what's going on. I think letting go of the pressure of finding a client and booking with me, and focusing on them first and foremost allows for the conversation to happen. I can tell them what I can do for them then.

Morgan: I like that. One of my "gem" phrases that I work into my conversations and dialogue, (especially if I'm feeling anxious about talking to a potential new client), is "whether we work together or not" or "even if you don't work with me...." Using that specific language not only, I hope, takes the pressure off of the person I'm talking to, but also personally takes pressure off of me to try to make this person a patient. Instead of doing that, just saying something like, "I'm really excited to talk to you about what you have going on. I hope I can help. Even if we don't end up working together which is totally fine. No pressure. I'm here to help. Whatever I can do. I'm happy to help." It's just a big sigh of relief. I think that's really cool to look back and reflect on in both of our experiences. I think that's one of the things that I really remember about you in the past year that we've worked together. I think that you've really changed not only your language but also your expectation in a lot of your interactions. Which is cool because less stress is better.

Calli: I had no patients and I was stressing. I didn't have the verbiage and approach with the sales calls and I feel like how I do it now I'm more comfortable than what I did before. It's more relationship based versus sales.

Morgan: Going back to vibe check! We don't work with people who don't meet our vibe check. It will be a regret. Actually, though it could be either the right thing or you learn something!

How does a new entrepreneur invest their time into themselves, their family, and their own self-care?

Calli: Having good boundaries and balance with work. It's always been something that I have emphasized in each job that I have. Not so much in the beginning when I didn't know what I was doing so I was needing to work all the time to figure out what it is to be an OT. Once I got into the outpatient world and private practice I knew for my mental health and for me to be present at work, I need time away and I can't take work home. I've always emphasized that and now being an entrepreneur it's a little bit more difficult pulling away from work when work can be anytime/anywhere. There's always something to do or improve on. I've really held on to this boundary that I don't work Friday, Saturday, and sometimes Sunday. I take the time to invest in me and making sure that I'm taken care of so I can take care of others, whether it be my family or my patients. Without that time away, I couldn't do this long term. I really set those boundaries pretty quick and then, like I said, I invest in my health. I enjoy working out. With having a toddler at home it's really hard to go to a gym and do those things, so we got a Peloton together. We both really enjoy it and use it a lot, so I feel like that was a good investment. I also have a big creative side and I feel like that's why I was able to build a business and be creative with how I run it. I feel like that creative side outside of work is needed to be happy and joyful to live the life I want to live and be flexible to do that.

Morgan: I think at some point as an entrepreneur you're probably going to lose sight of the fact that you're doing this so you can have the freedom of your time and freedom of choice when it comes to what you do with your days. When you aren't working a job and your business is your job, you're completely in control of everything that you do every single day which sometimes can be overwhelming thinking about what you do each day for your business.

I know whenever I feel really stressed my brother will be like, "Just stop working." And I tell him that I can't so he tells me to forget my boss... obviously I'm my own boss I can just stop. I think that that is really cool and something that I've always admired about you. I don't think boundaries will ever be perfect for anyone but you really make a priority. I think that's amazing.

What's your advice for someone in a place where they feel like they always have to say yes and they're juggling a ton of stuff?

Calli: Say "no" kindly. You'll feel better about it. I would be completely honest and I don't feel like, in my experience as least, when people aren't honest it's usually followed by a bunch of excuses or made up story because we're too afraid to say no. I feel like honesty would make you feel better and the other person would get it.

Morgan: I always go back to whenever I feel like I don't want to say no or be mean or it's awkward, I tell myself to think about how upset I get when people leave me on read and don't respond, right? Or you offer something and then never hear from the person. I have to think about how annoyed I get with that and I think with those situations that they should have just told me no and I would have had closure. So anytime I'm bad about it, like you said I find a way to say thank you but no thank you and then you're good to go because you can move on and so can they. I also have been practicing saying no without feeling like I need to defend myself because it's totally ok to just not want to do something.

I think this is a little bit of a different topic than I have covered in other interviews because with the typical new business owner, everyone wants to know how do I get more patients, how do I market myself, etc. At the same time, that's all well and good, but you need to think about the long term because ideally, most of us want to do this for a few years at least probably. You'd need to be able to sustain everything. I think especially too if you want to stay small (maybe you and another person), you have to make room for being able to invest your time and your energy into yourself, your relationships, and then investing money in things that are going to save you time or provide the support you feel like you need. Those are all things that I think will lead you to the success that you really want in your business.

Calli: I feel like starting that foundation really early helps you maintain it before you go crazy. Having that foundation of investing time and energy into yourself first, instead of trying to hustle your way into being successful and then all of a sudden you're burned out.

Morgan: If anyone feels like you're reaching a burned out point but you work for yourself it may be a good idea to take a week off. Figure out what you can do differently so that you are able to operate at a capacity that doesn't feel like firing on all cylinders constantly.

Final advice

Calli: Be nice to yourself, be easy on yourself. Do what makes you happy and don't worry about what makes others happy. In the end its your business and your career. If it's not making you happy, you should start investing time and energy into yourself in order for that to happen.

How to contact Calli:

Phone: 740-218-4949

Listen to this episode on my podcast!

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