does it take to go from business idea to lady boss? This column features an
entrepreneur, who happens to be a mom, each week—walking us through the process
of how you too can take your ideas from dream to reality. If you missed our
last article featuring Jenny from Fawn Design on how social media contributed
to her success, you can read that here. This week, we’re discussing the sixth
step many modern entrepreneurs need to make on the journey to success: building
a business plan.
The best time to create your business plan was a
year ago. The second best time is today.
A thoughtful and well-researched business plan not
only keeps your business on track, but helps you to realize when you’ve
accomplished something. In the world of being an entrepreneur there’s always a
million and one items on your “to-do” list, which makes it difficult to realize
when you’ve achieved something remarkable. A business plan can help remind you,
validate you, and guide you to the next stage of your business.
Thé runs Pebble Star Productions, a children’s
entertainment company that she co-founded in 2012 with her husband &
musician Will Stroet.
recently started a booking agency within their company in addition to handling
the tour planning, marketing, event planning, community partnerships and grant
writing for Will’s career.
two girls, Ella and June, she juggles her family, her marriage and both her and
her husband’s careers with a kind of zany grace. Never working on less than
three things simultaneously, she is a master at multitasking.
got to sit down with Kim to find out how she keeps it all together—and thrives.
You’re in a fairly unique situation managing your husband’s career. Tell
me what he does and what role you play?
Will is a
performing, touring musician for kids and he tours across Canada now. He also appears
on Wills Jams airing on Kids’ CBC weekday mornings. He does anywhere from 150
to 200 shows a year and has done more than a 1000 performances for kids across
I act as his Manager.
writing kids music when we were first together, before we were married, when he
was studying to become a teacher at the University of BC. Things really took
off when he got a contract in November of 2005 to record and release his first
album which ended up being called “Let’s All Dance.”
I was working
for a children’s charity at that time as their Marketing Manager and I had a
background in Marketing so I started helping on that front. We haven’t really
looked back since. Now it’s a full-time job for both of us!
Before Wills Jams became a television show, what did his musical career
consist of and when did you come in to the picture?
he started in 2005, I had a full-time job in Marketing Communications. As he became
busier and got more popular, I got more involved with the management of his
tours and schedules. In 2012 we incorporated as Pebble Star Productions.
realized that things went smoother if I organized and scheduled him, as well as did the pitching and negotiating for him.
As an artist it’s very hard to negotiate for yourself because people always want to undercut you. So it was much better to have me do it.
How did things change when you had kids?
was pregnant with Ella, I booked him solidly after her birth, not knowing what
it was going to be like as a new mom. So he was basically booked solid for the
first three months of her life. He actually almost missed her birth.
I booked him
for so much and then I realized, okay well, maybe that wasn’t the smartest
thing to do.
It’s a lot,
solo parenting. Luckily I get tons of
Why do you think his music is so popular?
Will has many
talents, but the most obvious one is connecting with kids. He really truly loves kids.
He’s a big kid himself and he knows how to speak to them, how to make them
laugh and smile. I call him the Pied Piper. He’s just a natural at what he does
because very few people can connect with kids that genuinely.
Will’s got a gift. ‘Cause he’s really truly is like that himself. He’s very kid-like.
How did the television show come to be?
That was a
long process! It must have been 2009 or 2010 when
we started making the music videos. One of the first ones was the “Bike Safety Boogie”. We approached Turtlebox Productions, a husband and wife team to produce the first nine videos, the would become “Will’s Jams”.
video producers. They were excited about the idea and wanted to help us make
the music videos into a series that we could pitch to networks.
So we worked
with them over the course of a year to create and film this series, and then in
2011 we decided to pitch the show to broadcasters. Will and I knew very little about how to pitch to broadcasters. We went to the Banff Media Festival, in Canada, and I had lined up a
whole bunch of 5 minute meetings with all the kids TV executives.
meeting was with Kim Wilson, the CBC creative head at the time and the
first thing she said in our meeting was, “Hey Will! I totally know who you are,
we were just listening to some of your songs! CBC music is launching
its own kids portal and I actually hand selected some of your music for it. I
love it and I love your videos. How many do you have? Nine? Well we need to do
more. Let’s talk business.”
It was crazy!
We were just on
this high! She kept her word and we worked with Turtlebox to produce two more series - 18 episodes in total - in the next
year and a half. Each episode is 2-5 minutes long and they’re branded as Will’s
Jams. Now they have 27 in rotation and they play twice a morning on CBC, Monday to
How do you model the business to make it work for you financially?
Most of our income is still from live performance.
A small portion is from merch, and a growing portion is from songwriting royalties.
A word to any
other musicians out there, don’t sign up with a label. It just makes absolutely
no sense these days.
If you’re a
budding musician, try to do it independently as much as possible because there
isn’t much of a pie and if you sign with a label, they’re going to take a huge
part of that small piece of the pie.
Do you tour with Will?
Absolutely not. I mean, it doesn’t make any financial sense, we have kids. My life is here and I’m working. And besides, life on the road is not glamorous.
I’m not working from a tour bus, in a hotel with a mini bar, you know? Not with two kids – no way!
How important is creating a detailed business plan?
It doesn’t matter what kind of company you are, one of the things you should do before you launch is write a business plan.
We did a five-year plan and every year we look at it, update, and compare our performance to
Did we meet
our objectives? Did we actually meet our targets? What have we achieved? It’s
funny, when you’re in it, you forget your objectives. It’s good to reflect and see
actually how much you’ve actually accomplished. It’s usually more than you
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs just writing their business
scared. You have to be kind of fearless and that should be reflected in your
As an entrepreneur
you have to be willing to take risks, but calculated ones, right?
Never go in blindly without doing your research, but don’t be scared.
How important do you think it has been to have those clear objectives?
important. My background is in marketing, and you always start with objectives.
It’s not only important to have them,
but to write them down and stick to them, referring to them often.
What has been the hardest part of working as a
husband and wife team?
who does what so you each have your own job description, and sticking to that
because once you start interfering in each other’s areas, you’ll definitely have conflict.
that separation has been so good for both of us. That and outsourcing the
pieces that we can.
Why is confidence important when building a brand?
have to be fearlessly confident in your brand to have success. If you’re going
to try to sell your community or audience on your brand, you have to be
passionate about what you do and wholeheartedly believe in it.
People can smell deceit or hypocrisy from a mile away!
I can’t imagine Will doing what he does
if he didn’t like children and wasn’t confident on stage with them. Kids are
such an honest audience—they would cry, scream and run away and shout “I don’t
like this” and never come back!
How does being a mother impact the way you run your
impacts our business every day since we’re in the business of children’s
entertainment and gives us great insight into what parents and kids really like
and want—especially when it comes to creating good music that won’t annoy
parents after the 100th time they’ve heard it in the minivan!
gets inspiration daily from our own kids and their friends – Will wrote one of
his best songs about fruits and veggies called “Full of Beans” while our
first daughter Ella was learning to eat finger foods. It’s now one of his most
loved songs and really works to get your kids to eat their veggies.
It goes,” 1, 2, 3 broccoli, 4, 5, 6 carrot sticks…”
me, being a mom to two girls has taught me how to be extremely organized with
my time in work and my personal life. There’s no more time to waste unless I
want to accomplish very little in a day. I’m still trying to maintain a
work/life balance but find that being an entrepreneur allows me to fit in way
more in a day because I can manage my own schedule and work in a bike ride or
Bollywood dance class around my kids’ schedules and my own business and
Is there any one piece of advice you’d give to
aspiring lady bosses?
most important piece of advice is that you CAN do it! A wise female
entrepreneur friend told me that “You can have it all but you just can’t have
it all at once.” I try to remember this daily so that I don’t get as anxious or
frustrated by the many interruptions that stop me from achieving a “perfect”
workflow in my day.
I’m learning that “perfect” doesn’t really exist in life
and it especially doesn’t exist when you have two kids under seven. I try to
reflect on my successes more often with Will so that I don’t
forgot all the great things we’ve achieved together. The list of things you can
do never ends so it’s really important to take a moment to pat yourself on the
back and say, “I can do this! In fact, I am doing this!”
I’ll end with saying to all lady bosses out there, “You’ve got this!”
kids’ TV series, Will’s Jams, airs weekday mornings at 7:25 AM and
9:25 AM on Kids’ CBC in Canada and is available in the U.S.
and globally (outside of Canada) on Kidoodle.TV
click on this link and use the promo code “WILL.” You can also check out
Will’s Jams on Kids’ CBC’s TV for Me app for
iPad or on YouTube (Canada only).
more about Will and his music, check out www.willmusic.ca and connect