Before leaving the office on Fridays, I always update my to-do list and plan out what I want to accomplish the following week.
Lara Olson is the founder of Kidcreate Studio, a franchise concept focused on children’s art enrichment classes, camps and birthday parties available for children ages 18 months through 12 years. After being frustrated by the limited art exposure her child was receiving at school. Finding nothing that met her requirements, Lara began to envision an art studio designed for her child that would combine quality art education within a kid-friendly environment. In 2008, Lara founded Kidcreate Studio. Soon after opening the studio, Lara launched Kidcreate’s On-The-Go Studio division which creates partnerships within the community that enables Kidcreate Studio to bring the great teachers and curriculum being used at the studio to other organizations such as; community education centers, parks and recreations programs, elementary schools, preschools and daycares. As the leader in the underserved child art education industry and inspired by the success of both studios, Lara made the decision to “paint the states” with art and offer franchise opportunities with Kidcreate Studio. Lara identified franchising as a way to continue the Kidcreate mission to pick up where public education has become more limited and bridge the art education gap. To learn more about franchising opportunities with Kidcreate Studio visit: franchise.kidcreatestudio.com
Where did the idea for Kidcreate Studio come from?
The idea for the first Kidcreate Studio originated after I became discouraged by the limited amount of art exposure and education my son, Jake, was receiving at school. Jake was experiencing a lot of frustrations in his other classes and found tremendous joy and solace in art. I could relate to this feeling because I too felt the same way when I was Jake’s age. After learning that Jake was receiving less than an hour of art instruction at school per week, I wanted to find a way to add more art into his education. I knew I didn’t want to just drop Jake off at a sterile, community education or parks and recreation facility, but I struggled to find the right type of place for Jake. This struggle inspired the founding of Kidcreate Studio. In 2008, I opened the first location in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Typical, what’s that? The only thing that tends to be typical for me each day is how I start the day. I’m a strong believer in planning my day and then working my plan. I have found that if my day isn’t planned out the day will rule me instead of the other way around.
How do you bring ideas to life?
There is a wonderful book written by David Allen titled “Getting Things Done”. In the book, the author describes a system that utilized project packets. I have taken that idea and modified it for my own use. Basically, every idea starts as a packet which is simply a cover page inside a plastic sleeve that is then inserted into my idea binder (which is actually called Lara’s Big, Huge, Ridiculous Binder of Projects and Ideas). My idea binder is a bright turquoise color (my favorite color), and it stands out on my desk because all of the other binders I use to keep myself organized are white. As I think of something related to the idea, I jot it down and tuck the note into the packet. Some packets are overflowing with notes some aren’t. If, and when I decide to turn the idea into reality the packet comes out, I review all of my notes and from there it’s usually pretty easy to implement the idea.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
One trend that really excited me is mindfulness and incorporating meditation into your daily life –something I haven’t been able to actually achieve.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Before leaving the office on Fridays, I always update my to-do list and plan out what I want to accomplish the following week. I feel reassured knowing that on Monday morning I’ll be able to start the week at full speed which ultimately helps me relax during the weekend.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would have told myself to be quicker to delegate and hire additional staff. As do many first-time entrepreneurs, I thought that I had to do everything myself. I thought that no one could or would do as good of a job as me. Thankfully I have hired a great team I can now delegate to, and trust with whatever task may come their way.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
I’m really funny. My sense of humor tends to sneaks up on people and that’s the ongoing debate between my husband and I.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Read, read, and read. I read everything I can get my hands on. Any spare time I have, I always spend with my nose in a book or with an audio book playing in my ears.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
One strategy that has helped my business grow was to simplifying the business with technology. I was able to develop a seamless integration of multiple technology-based systems that simplified the running of the studios. I focused on things like a class-tracking application, online class registration software, in-studio class registration stations, database management software, and sales and marketing automation.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When I opened our first studio, very few things went as planned. Most importantly, the types of classes and camps we offered were all wrong. Which is more important in art education the process or the product? This is an ongoing debate among art educators. In my heart of hearts, I believe that the art process is more important than the final product that the child creates. That is the type of curriculum our studio first offered when the location opened back in 2008. However, as a business owner (and a mother) I know how important a fridge worthy masterpiece can be. I didn’t listen to my intuition at first. Ultimately, what has taken me years to realize is that it’s about offering curriculum that is a balancing act between the two (process and product). The magic formula is to offer curriculum that instructs the child on how to create a predetermined art project, leaves room for self-expression, all while keeping in mind that the cornerstone of what Kidcreate Studio is all about is art education.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of a business being created around digital printing and prenatal ultrasounds. Wouldn’t it be wonderful as an expecting mother to be able to order a digitally printed image of your baby? What a great keepsake!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Freshly painted walls! We are in the process of doing some home renovations. Over the last month, we’ve had just about every room in our house painted. It feels like a new house! And I’m so happy that I didn’t have to do the painting myself. It was money well spent!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Infusionsoft which is an all in one sales and marketing web program designed for small businesses. Infusionsoft is an intricate part of the Kidcreate Studio franchise system. It does many things including sales and marketing automation, along with task and database management. I love that I can set reminders and tasks for myself and my staff.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The Productivity Project” by Chris Bailey. This book is an entertainingly, fast read and it takes productivity techniques beyond the to-do list. The author’s enthusiasm is contagious.
What is your favorite quote?
“Every child is an artist; the problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
- One strategy that has helped my business grow was to simplifying the business with technology.
- Any spare time I have, I always spend with my nose in a book or with an audio book playing in my ears.
- Before leaving the office on Fridays, I always update my to-do list and plan out what I want to accomplish the following week.
Kidcreate Studio on Facebook: www.facebook.com/kidcreatestudio/
Kidcreate Studio on Twitter: www.twitter.com/KidcreateStudio
Kidcreate Studio on Instagram: www.instagram.com/kidcreatestudio/