Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Laura Schneider, Founder of Casey's Clubhouse, located in Kirkland, WA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My company Casey’s Clubhouse, offers social-emotional learning developed as a 30-week animated curriculum-based program. We serve both parents and professionals.
Parents can access a self-help enrichment program for their children, and professionals (including schools) can access an individual or group-based, facilitator-lead program. We offer additional parent support and facilitator training.
Tell us about yourself
I am a licensed mental health counselor. I opened my private practice in 1993. I served adults and children who needed support, skills, and time to process life and its challenges. In 2004, I worked with Leslie Fields, LMHC, to bring social skills to our local area.
In the process of doing that, I decided that we needed a solid research-based curriculum that would build upon social skills and include emotional-based learning. As I wrote the curriculum, I wrote fun stories so the children could relate to the skills. We read the stories, teach the lessons, and observe the children’s reactions. It helped us hone the most influential and understandable skills for the children.
Creating the curriculum was one of the most magical times. At every step, I thought of a new way to present it to the children. I am a visual learner, so I wanted to add pictures and create a workbook. Once I completed that and saw that it was successful in keeping the children engaged, I wanted to create a slideshow with recorded stories so that the lessons would have an entertainment edge to them.
Although I was a complete novice at digital art, my daughter-in-law, who had drawn the pictures for the workbook, joined me in 2019, and we started developing Casey’s Adventures, an animated video series. These movies had a magical effect on the children. It was like Casey had come alive, and the kids talked about him to their parents as if he were a natural person and friend.
We have completed the curriculum today and hope parents and professionals will find it valuable. We decided to do a subscription program so that more people have access to our curriculum, which is ever-growing. We have many more ideas for Casey’s stories and lessons to present. Still, we need to wait for confirmation that our program fits the needs of our community.
I am motivated to do what I do because I believe that children deserve access to some mental health concepts and skills usually reserved for adults. We have broken down some tools into accessible learning for elementary-aged children.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is completing the Casey’s Clubhouse curriculum, especially the audiovisual series. I couldn’t have done it without my creative daughter-in-law and Creative Director, Rachel Doerflinger, and my husband, Don Schneider.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was 40, which makes complete sense. It had always been difficult to pay attention and linearly organize my brain.
So the most challenging thing for me as a business person is keeping up with the business paperwork. There are quarterly reports, business license renewals, taxes, and employee paperwork. I’ve got most of it automated (what a lifesaver!), but it still takes some effort and organization from me.
Additionally, you are a jack of all trades when you run your own business. I am a therapist at heart, and that’s where my talent lies, so to ask myself to be an animator, an editor, and an author was a stretch. But I took it to step by step, remained open to learning new things, and here I am today.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Give yourself time. That most likely means: make sure you have enough money to last until your business succeeds. Our program took three years to perfect for publication. That’s three years without an income. Now that we’ve launched it, we have to network and get the word out that it’s available. We need at least two years more funding to truly see if our curriculum fulfills a need in our community.
- Make sure you have support for the skills that you do not possess. Running and growing a business often takes an organized, linear mind, and these are skills that I do struggle with. Fortunately, my Creative Director is brilliant, and we are fantastic at motivating each other and keeping each other on track. If we are successful, we can continue to hire people to fill more posts as we see fit. Like my counseling business, I always include a line-item budget for an accountant and automated services.
- Do your research. We all think of great business ideas all the time! We think, “this town doesn’t have a coffee bar. We should open one.” But is there a need in the community? Will people buy that coffee, or do the people in town only drink tea? If there’s no need for something, it’s a hard sell. So before you create or offer something you would like and think others would like, make sure you research to know others want it.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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