Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Caitlin Smith, Founder of How To Get Away With Teaching, located in Charlotte, NC, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
How To Get Away With Teaching is a teacher wellness brand that delivers self-care subscription boxes and mental health wellness workshops to educators all over the world. We collaborate with licensed mental health therapists to tackle topics that impact educators' well-being, such as burnout, stress management, self-regulation, and much more. We disrupt society's narrative of the tired, stressed teacher who takes care of everyone but themselves by empowering them to prioritize themselves first to best serve others.
Tell us about yourself
Like many teachers, I jumped right into the work of teaching head first. I thought being a good teacher meant putting myself last and taking the "do it for the kids" mentality to the extreme, which resulted in me losing my identity in teaching. I changed myself to fit into the "good teacher" narrative that I'd subconsciously created over time. I experienced burnout early in my career and was able to get myself back on track by prioritizing myself.
After having my daughter in 2019, I suffered from post-partum depression. I struggled with finding the balance between being a wife, mom, and teacher. I found that I could not be fully present in the three roles with the same level of intensity and dedication. It was not fair to my family, students, and most of all, myself.
It wasn't until my 6th or 7th year of teaching that I decided to get serious about my wellness by creating routines, establishing boundaries, saying 'no,' implementing healthy habits, and gradually shifting my mindset with intentional mindfulness practices. I knew that I had to resist the system that profits on my free labor by streamlining processes, simplifying my tasks, and prioritizing my own health. For me, true self-care (you know, the ugly stuff like therapy and facing your past) was the only way for me to find my authentic self so I could show up every day for my loved ones, my students, and myself.
Now that I have transitioned out of the formal classroom setting, I am able to help teachers do the same. I am motivated by educators who share their mental health/wellness experiences and challenges. The transparency has helped destigmatize therapy and seeking professional help. I am motivated by the educators who see the work that we're doing and say, "Wow, I thought I was alone." Comments like this allow us to humanize teachers, validate their experiences, and provide the support to help them.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Starting a business during a global pandemic. God gave me this idea in 2015 (my third year of teaching.) Out of fear, I sat on it. I thought the idea would go away, but it kept pulling at heart strings. I continued to see a void within the education community. When I started ten years ago, teacher wellness and mental health were not topics of discussion. I think educators pretty much suffered in silence, perhaps thinking that they were alone or just accepting that this was the reality of teaching.
I thought about myself during my first three years of teaching (which are crucial to retention) and how I needed a safe space with like-minded educators reminding me to pour into my own cup. So my biggest accomplishment is creating the community I needed back then.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
For me, one of the hardest things about being a business owner is having so many ideas and not enough time. On the contrary, this has taught me how to delegate, trust others, and prioritize.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Apply for grants/loans and/or crowdfund for your start-up costs.
- Take your time when planning your launch. You will be so excited to tell everyone about your business. Make sure you have a thought partner to create your business plan, and do not be afraid to ask for help from a mentor or coach.
- Give yourself grace. Starting a business is a learning curve, and things will go wrong. That's okay because "you don't know what you don't know." It can be discouraging, but do not lose sight of your assignment. It can be so easy to look at your competitor's harvest and beat yourself up without even knowing their planting process. Stick to your assignment.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Be very careful with what you manifest. When you ask for something, also ask for the determination to keep going, the peace of mind to handle it, and the discernment to manage it. Patience, persistence, and consistency are key.
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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