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Leveraging Social Media to Grow a Sleep Consulting Business with Shannon Buhera

Leveraging Social Media to Grow a Sleep Consulting Business with Shannon Buhera

Shannon Buhera is an elementary school teacher turned entrepreneur after having her daughter in 2019. She launched Nights & Naps in June 2020 after graduating from the CPSM sleep consultant certification course, quit her teaching job one year later, and has now replaced her teaching income while only working 25-30 hours per week. On this episode we discuss Shannon’s top tips for growing an audience on social media, how mindset plays a crucial role in successful business growth, and the importance of creating a unique offer.

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Transcript

Jayne Havens:  Hello, I am so excited about this interview. I am here today with Shannon Buhera. She’s an elementary school teacher turned entrepreneur after having her daughter in 2019. She launched Nights and naps in June 2020. After graduating from the Center for Pediatric Sleep Management, she quit her teaching job one year later and now has replaced her teaching income, while only working 25 to 30 hours a week. Shannon, welcome to the show. I’m so excited to have you here today. 

Shannon Buhera: Thanks for having me.

Jayne Havens: I’m excited. Before we get started, would you be able to share your story? Tell us all and it’s such a good one. I want everyone to know, sort of where you started and where you are today?

Shannon Buhera: Yes, absolutely. I mean, you did a pretty good recap at the beginning. But my background is in elementary education. So I was a teacher for DC public schools for eight years and even before that, in high school and college, I always was like doing my own little small side businesses, I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur, I sold my own jewelry, and gift baskets and chocolate covered pretzels as a kid and like all these things. I’m always going to have that within me. But I really did enjoy teaching for many years. It really wasn’t until I had my daughter, as you said in 2019, that I felt I wasn’t ready to go back to the stress of teaching life. I wasn’t ready to be away from my daughter. I just thought this is the perfect time for me to try to come up with something else that I can do. Then she hit the four-month sleep regression around that time. My husband and I were just completely sleep deprived, I was nursing her to sleep and nursing her back to sleep four or five times a night. That is what motivated me to start researching sleep training and sleep science, and starting to dive deep into that. I got a book, read it and tried that method, but it didn’t work. It’s not a book that you have in your course that you know. So I think I’m going to need to do more than read a book. If I want to become an expert, I’m going to have to hire someone to help me. I somehow connected with you and learned about your pediatric sleep consultant program. I remember talking to my husband and saying, and at the very least, I’ll be an expert in sleep for our children. We’ll have really good sleepers, right? This is ideal, and this could be a side hustle, where I think I would make the money back that I invested in the pediatric sleep consulting program. That was my first goal.

Jayne Havens: To make the money back from the cost of the sleep consultant certification course.

Shannon Buhera: Yes, number one, learn how to get my own daughter to sleep better, right? Yes. I didn’t want to do the cry it out method. That was also something that I understood how to do. I didn’t want to and was looking for other options to choose from. So that was my first priority, then my second priority was to make the money back because I’d actually borrowed the money from our family travel fund, to pay for our next year’s vacation. So my husband said, you need to try to make this money back before we book our next year’s vacation, or we’re not going on our family vacation. So there’s that little bit of pressure there. That was really what my first goals were and what kind of motivated me to get into the world of sleep consulting.

Jayne Havens: Yes. for a long time, you were well, not even really for that long. But for some time, you were juggling your full-time teaching job and trying to get this business off the ground. What did that look like? Logistically because teaching is not the type of job that you have, where you can also be on your phone or be on a tablet or a computer all day, and working your side hustle.

Shannon Buhera: Yes, I did that for a full year, because I launched in June 2020. I taught until the next year. I did have about six to seven weeks in the summer. But other than that, I taught till the next year, June 2021. And yes, it was absolutely a hustle. As you said I could not work on any sleep consulting during the day. It just didn’t work out logistically and wouldn’t really be appropriate. So I was working nights and weekends. And there were a lot of nights and it was at night meaning after my daughter went to sleep because after teaching then, I also made dinner and spent some time with my family. So after my daughter was asleep, I was working on my business. So oftentimes it was like eight until midnight eight until one in the morning. Then I would wake up and do it all again the next day and I would sometimes work on Sundays as well to kind of make up and do some calls with people. But it was not easy, but I was really motivated. I’m someone who values my own sleep very much, but I was willing to sacrifice it because I was really motivated to try to make this happen.

Jayne Havens: Yes, so it was a legit hustle like you where you’re working hard and grinding to make this work. I think some people don’t realize that in order to be successful in really anything that you do, you have to go big or go home, right?

Shannon Buhera: Yes. I think it’s not that people have bad intentions, but we sometimes think it’s going to come easier than it is at the beginning, right? We think all we need to do is have this nice website, put a few posts out there that are nice on social media, and probably people will just click the link in our bio, and then book us right to work. Then when you start and you’re like, Where are the people? Where are the clients, and you realize, oh, it’s not gonna come that easy, I’m going to have to hustle? But once you figure out how to do it, it’s doable. It’s just getting over that idea of it’s not going to come easy and I never usually do in starting up any type of business.

Jayne Havens: I think it takes time to build that momentum. Right? So how long did it take you to get actual momentum where you felt like, Ok, this is a viable option for you, I might actually be able to leave my full-time job to do this. Instead.

Shannon Buhera: Yes, it definitely took me a little while. I mean, in the beginning, I was getting a few clients to a handful of clients per month. Really, that’s all I could take on for a little while. But then I was like, Ok, I’m ready to level up, I have some systems in place.  wasn’t really getting the number of clients I wanted. So I decided it was January and it’s actually like, one year ago, from about when we’re recording this. I decided that I’m going to hustle so hard this month, just to see what I’m capable of because I was trying at the time to prove to myself that I could have the option of possibly quitting my job. But for me, it was still very much a gray area. I don’t think I can but yes I can. So I’m going to take a month and I’m just going to go hard and see what I can do and so I did it. Now, January is also a great month to go hard. People want to be sleeping after the holidays in the new year.

Jayne Havens: New Year’s resolution: my kid will sleep.

Shannon Buhera: Yes. But I was still working full time while doing it. I believe I had 16 clients in January. So I kind of proved it but was so burnt out that I couldn’t do it in February. I can’t and there’s no way I can take on that many clients.

Jayne Havens: But it proved to you that if you didn’t have your full-time day job, you would be able to actually devote 100% of your effort towards making it work.

Shannon Buhera: Right, because it’s like long term, I didn’t want to be working 40 hours during the day. Then another basically, I was still working like 20 to 30 hours, nights and weekends. That was definitely not the long-term goal. But the whole point was to prove to myself that if I put forth so much effort and a little more time, I could absolutely generate a good income with this business. And I did prove that to myself then. So that was I guess I’d be like, six months or so later that I from starting that I really started believing in myself that could be more than just a side hustle.

Jayne Havens: Yes and what did it feel like to resign? What did it feel like to tell your work friends that you weren’t coming back? 

Shannon Buhera: It was a little weird, honestly, because a lot of people feel like this within their careers. I know for sure we do as teachers that it’s like part of our identity, right? I’ve always kind of going to be a teacher and I thought I was going to be a teacher my whole life. When I realized I don’t think I want to be a teacher my whole life, that was kind of hard to admit. Most of my friends are teachers. So they also didn’t quite understand it either. What do you mean, you’re leaving to do what and why, we don’t get it. How can you want to do that? So it was definitely a little bit challenging from that standpoint. But once I had my mind made up, it was really exciting. I like change and so for me, it was this big new change. That was really exciting. I will say when I first talked to my bosses, and my administration, I first asked if I could go part-time the following year, and remembered.

Jayne Havens: That you were so nervous to make the full commitment.

Shannon Buhera: Yes. I was like well, in this way I could do way more hours, but I still have the security of my teaching job because also it was an absolutely great job at a great school and I felt like, that I really wanted to give this up. After a little while, When they told me, like, unfortunately, they don’t have any of those positions, we’d love to keep you. But we do not have a part-time position. But we can help you find another part-time position at another school. We’ll help you find one. And immediately my gut instinct was that I don’t want to and it was hard to fully cut the ties with a career I was in for eight years which is a long time.

Jayne Havens: Right. 

Shannon Buhera: Yes, but I’m so glad I did, too. Because I don’t think even with working halftime, I could have put in the amount of time and effort in the business to make it as successful as today and still got all the extra time with my daughter, which was my original motivation for wanting to do this too.

Jayne Havens: Right. It always goes back to that why right? You have to think back. Why did you want to get into this in the first place, and then write and make choices based on that original reason? Yes. Your story is so amazing. I seriously could listen to you talk about it all day. It’s one of my favorite CPSM success stories. The real reason I actually wanted to chat with you on the podcast today, though, is less about, the transitioning from teaching to sleep consulting full time and more about social media, because you’ve really used social media in a way that I think is super impressive, frankly, it seems to be your zone of genius, and it doesn’t come easily. It doesn’t come easily to I think a lot of people. So I guess my first question is, were you always good at social media? Or was it really through this journey that you wrapped your head around it and really found your footing? Specifically on tick-tock?

Shannon Buhera: Yes. I mean, first of all, I never ever wanted to be on Tiktok. Before I had a business, even at the beginning of my business, I was like, that sounds horrible. No, thank you. I definitely don’t think I was naturally good or already good at doing things on social media. To me, I looked at it as I like social media because I could stay connected with old family and friends. That’s what it was for me. I don’t have a lot of family that live near me. And so it was a way for me to stay connected to them, my husband’s family, a lot of them are all in Zimbabwe. so it’s like a way social media is a way for us to stay connected. I kind of only looked at it for the purpose of posting pictures, it was to show my friends and family pictures of my daughter and things like that. I never really understood how it was used as a business. But I got really intrigued by that aspect right at the beginning of my business, because, you know, we’ve talked about how I was not my ideal client. And neither were a lot of my friends. When I realized that it was going to be hard for me to do that, then it was going to be hard for my clients to come to me, I had to go find them and connect with them. I knew that social media could be a way that I could do that.

Jayne Havens: Yes. Do you have a few tips like maybe your top three tips that you could share with us? For those that want to use social media to grow our businesses, but feel just really overwhelmed or just stuck? have no clue what we’re doing?

Shannon Buhera: Yes, absolutely. First, you have to have fun with it. You can do a ton of experimenting, trial, and error. I’m constantly experimenting in my business. I love doing it, trying out new things, but especially on social media. Just going for it and trying different things. So on Tik Tok, specifically, I’ve experimented with different types of hashtags, different video lengths, using trending sounds versus my own sound. You know, using effects, the different types of topics I’m talking about. I’ve experimented with it all and I look to see which performs better and build on that like, it’s a ton of trial and error. My first videos on Tiktok were always using the maximum amount of time and they were always one minute videos where I was like, going on and on lengthy. Throughout my experiments, I learned that it’s better if you do shorter, more compact, quick impact things. Then try to talk people’s ears off. So that’s like one example, just trial and error and having fun is my first tip for sure. The second one would be staying within your niche and speaking to your ideal client. That is way more important than hopping on a social media trend, in my opinion, because let’s say that you do a Dancing trend, video, right and with the goal of it going viral, so then you’ll get more views, and likes and comments, then you’ll get more followers. But even if that video does go viral, it gets 100,000 views and you get 2000 new followers overnight. It’s like what percentage of those people that just saw you dancing are going to be your ideal client? Right? It’s going to be so in our situation, it’s going to be a mom with a baby or toddler, they’re struggling with sleep, like very, maybe one or two, if you get lucky. Versus if you do a video that is within your niche sharing, like a valuable tip, a fact of strategy, a success story, something like that, even if it only gets 2000 views, let’s say which is not that bad, but if it gets 2000 views, and you’ve just got like three or four new followers, but the chances of those followers, learning from the rest of your content, and eventually becoming a client is so much higher. So that’s why I always recommend that when you’re creating your content, whether it’s video, or like an inspirational quote, or something, you always want to make sure that you’re kind of staying within your niche and speaking to your ideal client.

Jayne Havens: I love that that is such good advice. Because I think we all get hung up on social media trying to grow our audience so quickly and to have like a huge following. And, you know, I say this, I’ve had 5000 ish followers on my Instagram account, forever, you know, as I got there a while ago, and I just sort of hung out there. It doesn’t seem to matter. Because I have an engaged audience, people who follow my account actually know me and like my content, and they want to be there. It’s not just somebody that thought my reel was funny not saying grandpa out and who knows where that just like thought I did a funny dance. I think that’s such a good point, I think we’re all really hung up on the numbers, the metrics, and, and that doesn’t necessarily help you to grow your business.

Shannon Buhera: Yes, unless your goal is to be a content creator, and have a ton of followers so that you can connect with these brands or whatever. Like that’s different. But the goal of my social media is to get clients, to make money, it’s a business, these are business profiles, and see if that’s what my long term end goal is to find more people to become clients. And none of the metrics really matter. Some of them can be indicators that can be helpful, right? But they don’t really matter, what really matters is, does it help you get new eyes on your business? Do those eyes become clients?

Jayne Havens: Yes, I think that’s spot on. I always tell people, you know, when they’re asking whether it’s students in the course, or just people who are asking me what I’m up to, I always explain to them the way that I use social media for my business Facebook and Instagram. So I use them specifically in the way that they were intended to be used. So when I think about Facebook is to connect, it’s to make social connections. It’s a social networking platform. So I use Facebook to connect socially on a platform, so that I can make business connections. That’s how I use it. Putting banner ads for your business is not making meaningful connections. People actually want to learn more from you and likewise. I believe that’s how you build your clients. 

Shannon Buhera: Absolutely. I agree with you totally on how to properly make connections. The only thing I’d add to that, though, is where I think some people fall into this tricky area of what they should be and how they should be showing up on social media. What they should be posting is remembering, though, that you are a business, right? We’re not a nonprofit account, providing you with free sleep tips and free Q and A Every week, right? That’s not the goal. So just being careful of not only being there to provide free, valuable content, also showing up in selling consistently, like showing what your offer is making, making sure every one of your engaged followers should know exactly what you do, what problems you solve, how you solve them, how they could decide to start working with you and How do they get started and even how much does it cost? I think your followers should really know that so that whenever they are ready, they already know how to get going and their mind goes to you. Don’t leave an impression that you are a person that only provides great free tips, right? You need to present also as a business and you’re there to get clients.

Jayne Havens: I think that’s really great advice, I have had to really establish some very firm boundaries on my social media accounts, because people do sort of slide into my DMs. They’ll say, I just have a quick question for you. But then they give me like, literally a four paragraph rundown of what’s going on in their home. And that’s not a quick question. That’s somebody that’s in need of support, whether that be support from a friend, you know, free help from a friend or paid support from somebody like me. But yes, I think it’s really important to be very clear that this is our business account, and we are running a business. I always say to people who could do that, to me, I say, This is what I do professionally. That’s how I started and here’s what it would look like for me to help you. Because otherwise, we’d be answering questions all day long, in Instagram, DMS and Facebook messages and wherever else we’re hanging out on social media, if we don’t draw those really clear boundaries?

Shannon Buhera: Absolutely. I recommend that people have a copy-pasted response that they save in their notes. And if someone does stick out as like, Oh, I think this actually could be a good potential client, I want to nurture this conversation a little more. Of course, always use what you think. But most people, they’re getting my copy and pasted thing. And especially when I started blowing up on tick-tock. There was like a month or two periods where I was probably getting about 10 of those a day. Can I just ask you this quick question? But will they tell me their whole life story about why their kid can’t sleep? What do you think I should do? And it’s the same thing. And I actually answered all 10 Of those, everybody takes you all day.

Jayne Havens: What else would I do? 

Shannon Buhera: So you have to maintain your boundaries?

Jayne Havens: Yes, I think that’s great advice. One of my favorite things that you’ve ever said to me. I tell this to everybody, I use this line on a regular basis, that once your business really started to thrive when you finally realized that your business didn’t need to look exactly like mine. 

Shannon Buhera: I tell other people that too. By the way, this is not an insult that we talked about my business to look like her. It’s like it’s not an insult at all. I think it’s two main parts that I kind of went through this shift. One was like I said, said when I wanted to be getting more clients, and they weren’t coming to me, I was like, I feel like I’m doing the things that Jayne said she did. But it’s just not happening for me like what’s wrong with me? Right? Because I thought I was doing that too. And one of the main things, too, I always thought is that after being in business for five months, I’ve been getting these referrals, like because I remember you talking about something like you started getting referrals, and I wasn’t getting any. I kept going back to the little things that you said and comparing myself and where I was in my business to things that you said about your business. And it’s like, and how was that helpful for me and my business to keep comparing myself to you and your business? Not to mention, I never even knew the full story of your business, right? I’m comparing myself to it and making myself feel inferior. Through that comparison. It wasn’t helpful at all. So I should just stop comparing myself to Jayne. Ok, I’m not Jayne, my business isn’t Jayne’s business, it’s different. And then the other big shift I had shortly after that, too, is I don’t need my offers to look like Jayne’s offers, because up until then, it was like, Well, what does Jayne recommend? What does she have on her website? Oh, she’s got that offer and that Yes, me too. I felt like I was limiting myself because I just wanted to be as successful as Jayne. And so I was trying to do what you did. But once I stopped, and I realized that I could create different types of offers, too, I can price my offers at whatever I want and feel like I am worth it. Once I had these shifts, that’s when my business started taking off. That’s when I started experimenting, even more classes, group coaching, and creating a course and sleep guides, creating my own version of our two weeks leak consulting package, but my own little version, and pricing it completely differently. As well, I started growing all this confidence in myself, and I still have the exact same amount of respect for you. And your business. I’d say even more. So when I’ve now stopped comparing myself to you in your business. And I’m doing my own thing. I will say, I’ve thought about this, I bet you the actual advice that we give is like 99.9% the same, right? And like within our Facebook community, I always agree with everything you’re saying is the same. Because I learned that from you. And we read, all the same. books and we have the same knowledge and 100% agree. But from a business standpoint, I don’t have to do it like you and neither does anyone else we can learn from you. But we don’t have to be Jayne, we don’t have to be a snooze fest.

Jayne Havens: Totally agree. And frankly, I have seen you gain so much confidence once you decided to run your own show the way that you wanted to run it, it’s really been remarkable to watch. I always tell people that I’m always on tick-tok only to follow. I don’t really need to follow anybody else. I have like two or three other accounts that I follow. But I just like to go on tick-tok to see what you’re up to. And I love that you have figured out your own way. You’re 100% right, that my way is not the only way. And there are so many ways to be successful in this business. I think so much of it is being in the right mindset, and I’m so glad that you found yourself a coach to get yourself there. Because that takes a lot of work. And we all need support in that area. 

Shannon Buhera: I’m on my third coach and love working with coaches. 

Jayne Havens: Yes, it’s so valuable. And this actually leads me to my next point, which I was just thinking about that, and this journey is like, you’re really just getting started, this is still the beginning, regardless of how far you’ve come so far, which is pretty impressive. By the way, you’re still sort of like in the infancy you know, who knows, where are you going to be years from now? I guess my question is what are you working on? What do you have up your sleeve?

Shannon Buhera: Yes, absolutely. I’m always experimenting, looking to grow. I do have these really big goals for my business in the future, especially down the line. Right now. I love that I’m only working about 20 hours a week on sleep consulting. I have another project I’ll share with YouTube that I’m working on. But I love that it’s still part-time for me, but like down the line. My kids are in school, I absolutely want to build an empire, a million-dollar business. I’m about it. Yes, so what I’m working on now, that has been really fun is I’ve started doing coaching or just talking about value that I found in coaches, I’ve started coaching others in the parenting space. So it happens to be mostly sleep, consultants. But I do have a parenting coach that I’m working with as well. So then the parenting space, I have a program called a three-month business accelerator. So really what it’s about is helping people realize that they can ditch the idea that you need to charge less than $500 to compete within our industry and help them leverage their unique offer to generate three to 5k plus months working part-time. I help them do that with a clear and consistent social media sales strategy so that they can let go of the fear of failure that we all have and start achieving the business goals of their dreams.

Jayne Havens: I love that I’m so excited for you that you’re working on this and you have my support wholeheartedly. I just think it’s much needed within the field. When my students complete my sleep consultant certification course, one of the questions they always ask me is how to set their pricing. And I’m always encouraging them to set their pricing on the higher end of what they think they can start with. Because if we don’t value our own services and our own businesses, it’s really hard to convince others to value us, you know, and absolutely, and, you know, the fact that you are providing these coaches with accountability, I’m sure a lot of what you’re doing and support. Right, that’s what we do as sleep Consultants provide our clients with accountability and support. And we, as coaches, I think, need that from somebody else, you know? Absolutely. It’s interesting that we expect our clients to pay us, for us to support them, and for us to hold them accountable. And yet, we hesitate to get that support from others. A lot of time, we as business people, we feel like failures if we need to hire a coach, which should not be the case, that should not be the mentality at all, just like a parent is not a failure for seeking support. Through sleep training. We, business people, are not failures for seeking support through growing our businesses, We shouldn’t have to do it alone. And the fact that you are out there supporting these, Yes. I think that’s much needed. It doesn’t mean that those who hire you aren’t capable, it doesn’t mean that they can’t do it on their own. It just means that they’re taking ownership of their own businesses and saying, what I’m going to do and what I need to do. I’m going to get the help and the support that I need to get to whatever next level in my business. And I believe that that’s amazing.

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