It turns out that I was a big fan of Julie Salvano long before I met her. Just like Serena Scanzillo, Julie and I met in a Facebook group for Solopreneurs, but I was already familiar with her business because I have taken my kids to her classes! Rhythm Babies is a wonderful early education music program here in Philadelphia, with regular classes spread out at kid-friendly establishments throughout the city. If you have kids under the age of five in the city, I highly recommend it. Regardless of whether or not you have young kids or even live in Philadelphia, I think you'll enjoy Julie's story about how she built a successful business as a 20-something.
Julie Salvano: Rhythm Babies
What is the name of your company and what do you do?
My company is called Rhythm Babies. I run an early childhood music program for children 4 months through 5 years in the Philadelphia area. We provide a traveling music and movement program for daycares, preschools, birthdays, special events and baby stores.
How long have you been in business?
Seven and a half years! It’s hard to believe. I tell people I was too young to understand what I was getting myself into, but old enough to know I was capable of doing it. I highly recommend starting a business in your 20’s! You have plenty of time to learn from your mistakes.
How did you decide to launch your own business?
I was working part time at a kid’s gym teaching early childhood development classes, singing in children’s theatre productions on the side, and teaching singing lessons to make ends meet. When I starting working with families and children something clicked inside me and I knew I could make a difference in this specific way. Singing is such a powerful and educational tool to calm parents and children alike.
What challenges did you face in the process of launching your business?
I had several! I was stiffed by a few places early on because it’s really hard switching hats between being the sweet music teacher and the tough money collector. Eventually I put policies in place to ensure I was getting paid on time. A general point I should make is new business owners have no time and no money, so the biggest obstacle is keeping your hopes up and your eye on the prize (or your five year plan). After you get enough business and few people working with you, you gain at least one or both of those.
Did you feel as though there were resources available to you, specifically as a woman business owner?
I did go to a few random networking events but they were too impersonal for me. I prefer going to events within my industry. More recently, I found free courses for small business owners at the Community College of Philadelphia that had some great advice.
Do you have a mentor?
I go to a mini-mastermind group called “The Pow Wow.” It’s run by real estate agent Liz Lutz. I attribute most of my sanity and later success from being able to come to that group, vent, and bounce ideas off of other business women. It was truly my sanctuary to clear my head.
Are there any good business books you would recommend?
I’m a big fan of “The Miracle Morning.” I’ll be the first to admit I don’t follow all of Hal Elrod’s rules, but I do love the idea of having a morning ritual. Because entrepreneurs don’t have a nine to five, you have to create a ritual for yourself and your day otherwise you can get side tracked by useless things.
What do you love most about running your own business?
Freedom and purpose! My schedule is my own. I never have to ask to go on vacation, or go to the doctor’s office, or take a sick day. I’m also bringing happiness and joy into the world everyday which feels pretty good. Who doesn’t want to make kids happy? Even my teachers tell me how happy they are simply teaching the classes.
What is your least favorite aspect of running your own business?
Uncertainty. You never know when the next emergency is coming, so you have to prepare for it. It could be someone quitting, or a huge client is unhappy and you have to make it better. I took up a yoga and meditation practice to deal with these moments of stress. I’m much better for it.
What is your best piece of advice for other women who are thinking about launching a business?
I have so much advice! Make small measurable goals for yourself and slowly cross each one off. Write everything down. There have been studies that show you are more successful if you write goals down and frequently check up on them. I also strongly suggest finding a group of other business owners to meet with regularly to help you manage stress and problems that arise. You won’t regret taking the time out to take care of yourself.