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Intro: Welcome to Becoming a Sleep Consultant! I’m your host Jayne Havens, a certified sleep consultant and founder of both Snooze Fest by Jayne Havens and Center for Pediatric Sleep Management. On this podcast, I’ll be discussing the business side of sleep consulting. You’ll have an insider’s view on launching, growing, and even scaling a sleep consulting business. This is not a podcast about sleep training. This is a podcast about business building and entrepreneurship.
Jayne Havens: Karen Winter is a mama to an almost four-year-old, an in-home daycare provider, an independent contractor for Swaddled Newborn Care Concierge, and the owner and founder of Winter Slumber. Karen has a degree in Early Childhood Education, and has been working with children in various settings for 20 years. Karen, welcome to the podcast! I’m so excited to have you here today.
Karen Winter: Hi. I’m so glad to be here.
Jayne Havens: Before we get started, tell us a little bit about yourself. I’d love to hear what your career looked like leading up to getting into this line of work, and why you decided to add Certified Sleep Consultant to your resume.
Karen Winter: Sure. So, I have always worked with children in some environment, whether it be, as far back as I can remember, babysitting. Then I got my degree in Early Childhood Education. I’ve worked in daycares. I’ve been a nanny. I’ve been a 4k teacher. Then most recently, I’m doing in-home daycare work.
I actually started my in-home daycare first prior to becoming a mom. Once I became a mom, I have this thought of, like, this is going to be easy with my background and everything, my knowledge. Being a mom is just going to come naturally. Actually, it was difficult. My daughter was, at the time, what I said, not a good sleeper. I read a couple of books, and I tried to make my way through. But I was the mom that was exhausted, that was waking every two hours to nurse her back to sleep, because I just didn’t think anything else worked.
We made it through somehow. Come one year old, she was sleeping through the night. Fast forward to then me doing daycare a couple years later, and just realizing it wasn’t what I wanted to do for my life. It wasn’t my career. I was looking into different jobs, different careers that could be flexible. Because I just wanted to be that mom that could volunteer in the classroom when my daughter was at school, and could be there at pickups and drop offs.
I was looking for a flexible career where I could use my education background. Sleep consulting kept coming up. Actually, I kept pushing it off, because I’m like no, no no. I don’t want to start my own business again. That’s just a lot of work. But it kept coming up. So, I actually was like, “Okay. I’m going to hop on a call with Jayne. I’m going to see what this is all about.” After that phone call, it just solidified. Like, yes, this is what I should be doing. It kind of ignited something new in me and exciting. I had the flexibility I was looking for. I could use my background knowledge, and I was excited to learn more about sleep training. Once I did, it was like a light bulb in my head. This is what I was doing wrong. It helps me both personally and then career wise. It just was that perfect fit for me.
Jayne Havens: Yeah. I remember, actually, when we were on that very first call, I do remember you expressing having nerves and anxiety about starting another business. Here I was on the other side of that Zoom looking at you thinking, “That’s ridiculous. You’ve already started your own business. You’re already successful in your business. You’ve done it once. You can do it again.” I don’t know. I hope that my response to you helped you ultimately realize, “Yeah, I can do this again.”
Karen Winter: Absolutely!
Jayne Havens: Because a lot of people sit across the Zoom from me and have never started their own business. I understand where that fear comes from. But you had already done it. I was just hoping that you would be willing to do it again. I’m really glad that you did.
You started your business in November of 2021. I looked back to check before this interview. It’s been about seven months. How long did it take you to land that very first client? Where did you find that first family that was willing to sign up and work with you?
Karen Winter: Actually, I took a pretty slow approach. I feel like coupling it with my full-time job. I did a lot of pro bono work. Now, looking back, I probably didn’t need to do that much. But it just helped me get my feet on the ground. Like you said, you started in November. I actually looked back at my notes. I had my first paying client in December. It was a situation where the person just went to my website and paid. I have never talked to her. I was just like, “Whoa, somebody just bought my services.”
Jayne Havens: That’s awesome.
Karen Winter: Once I spoke with her, it was… I had made a post in a Facebook mom group, and that’s how she found me. It’s been ups and downs both from my requests. Like the month of December, I decided to be really slow because of Christmas and just all the gatherings and all that. Then November, I jumped back in and had a few clients here and there. Then I started a Business Accelerator Program with Shannon, and that really kind of ramped up things and got me on a path of a little bit more consistency. But it’s always been ups and downs. I’m learning to be okay with that. Because when I don’t have the clientele, when I’m not working one-on-one with families, then I’m planting seeds and I’m networking, and making those connections so that I can be successful later.
Jayne Havens: Absolutely. For those listening, Karen mentioned Shannon’s Business Accelerator Program. Shannon Buhera is a Center for Pediatric Sleep Management graduate. Now she has a program where she’s coaching other sleep consultants and parenting coaches to help them grow their businesses, which I just think is a really awesome thing that she’s doing in providing guidance and support for sort of green entrepreneurs who would benefit from that extra hand-holding and accountability and support as they figure out what their businesses are going to look like. I just wanted to fill everyone in on what Karen was talking about.
Since you launched your business–I know that you’re working really hard to make meaningful connections. This is something that I talk about all the time within the parenting space–I specifically wanted to have you on the podcast today to discuss your most recent partnership. You’re going to be the official sleep consultant for an overnight newborn care company, right? I would love to hear how that partnership came about, and what this is all going to look like. So, tell us about it.
Karen Winter: Absolutely! So, it kind of came out like that. The purpose of my phone call with this woman was not to become the sleep trainer for their business. Actually, she had just seen a post that I posted on a Facebook mom group. I think it was just like an ad talking about my services. She said, “Hey, can we hop on a call? I’m the owner of this newborn overnight care business. Have you ever thought about doing overnight care?” I was like, you know, why not? I’ll just talk to her, see what comes from it.
It was sort of an interview for being an overnight care specialist, and I was considering it. But then at the end of the phone call, I think they could kind of tell. I was like, “I don’t know if that’s for me.” They were like, “We also have families who have asked about sleep training services, and we don’t have a sleep consultant. Maybe another thing you could think about is what that could look like for us to work together with you. You could be on our team as like the go-to sleep consultant.” We kind of left it there where it was like, “Let’s think about this and see what we could do with it.”
I went with that and created a little bit of like a pitch, a program of what I thought that could look like. When we came back together to talk about it, they were on board. They were like, “Yeah, let’s do this.” It was exciting how it just kind of fell into place.
Jayne Havens: I think the major takeaway from what you just shared is that there’s always value in getting onto a phone or Zoom call with somebody. Period. End of sentence, right? You didn’t necessarily have any sort of agenda when you went into that meeting other than, “I’m just going to make a connection. Maybe something will come off it, and maybe something won’t.” You just go in with a positive attitude and an open outlook, and see what happens. I really do think that business owners, entrepreneurs that have that mindset and have that willingness to just give 30 minutes of their time to see what kind of conversation might take place, those are the people that get ahead in business every single time.
I always think about those conversations where maybe something doesn’t come off it, or at least something that you can’t so clearly see, sometimes there are benefits to these conversations that we don’t even see until months or years down the road, right? If you’re just willing to get on the phone or get onto a Zoom and have a meaningful conversation–where you’re not only there to share your own expertise but to listen, to see what the person on the other end of the phone or the Zoom has to share, how can you collaborate, how can you support one another, and what can you both gain from knowing one another–that’s the magic, in my opinion.
Karen Winter: Absolutely. I didn’t even go on the phone call anticipating talking about my business at all. It was more of, do I want to be an overnight care specialist? In my mind, I already was like, “I don’t really want to, but I might as well just see where this goes.” They said, you know, they’re like, “We like the way you carry yourself. We like your background education.” So, they brought up the other end of it. Again, just chat.
Jayne Havens: Are you willing to share a little bit about what that pitch looks like? Because now I’m thinking, if we have listeners, whether they’d be postpartum professionals that are looking to pitch themselves to an agency, or sleep consultants that are interested in pitching themselves to an agency, what did you say? I’m sure a lot of people are wondering.
Karen Winter: It was more about my service than it was about my business, like I said. I’ve came to it with what can I be providing them with. It was more about them than about what I can take from it. I recall they’ve said they had clients who were looking for sleep training.
So, I came at it as an angle of, “I could provide this service to families who are just looking for sleep training at this price. This is what my service looks like.” It was my typical two-week consultation program. Then I came at it as an angle of, “Or if you already have clientele and they’re looking to add on to their package sleep consulting–they’re already having overnight care specialists in their home–then I would be willing to work with the parents and the specialists.” I said what that would look like is just the consultation call, the plan, would go to both of them. We’d probably do like a Google Meet chat, or on our consultation phone call, I would go through the whole plan with each of them so that they’re familiar with it. Then I gave a price. They said, “We’ll think about it. We’ll get back to you.” They actually came.
I can go into specifics there. My cost for my two-week consultation program is $597. I said I would be willing to do that for $497 for them. Then when they came back to me to talk, they said, “We need to make a little bit more of a profit. Could we pay you $450?” That was like a yeah. I mean, that’s a small difference there.
Jayne Havens: Okay. Perfect. The end client is being charged the $597, and then you’re getting the $450 for people who are booking you through the agency. Is that correct?
Karen Winter: Yes, specifically for them. I think the client themselves, their package may be totally like a larger price based on how many days, how many nights they’re having the overnight care specialist. But regardless, I’m getting that same $450 whatever their package is.
Jayne Havens: It sounds like this is super smart. I never really thought about it this way. But I would think it’s a pretty easy add-on service to sort of tack on to the end of a pretty substantial postpartum support package, overnight care. If the family is getting several weeks worth of overnight care, then maybe at the end of that time period, “Okay. Now you get to work with Karen for two weeks, and she’ll help you to really sort of establish healthy and independent sleep hygiene for your baby.”
Karen Winter: Absolutely. Essentially, it’s kind of like having somebody in your home sleep training your baby, but then setting you up for a success once that person isn’t there anymore, too. I think it’s a win-win on both aspects there.
Jayne Havens: I assume the agency that you’re going to be working with is going to do some marketing to advertise your services. Have you discussed what this is going to look like?
Karen Winter: Yes, we launched, actually. I think that was like two weeks ago. What they did was on their social media platform, which is where they do their marketing, they just made a couple of different posts of the fact that now they’re providing sleep training services. Then they had another post introducing me and my background, and how I do things. Then I also wrote a blog post for their website, all about what’s the consulting is and what it looks like to work with me. There’s been a few different marketing aspects there to get my name out.
Jayne Havens: Perfect. Will you be allowed to work with other agencies, or is this sort of like an exclusive deal, and they want you only working with them? Have you discussed that?
Karen Winter: No, I’m free to work with whoever I want to work with. Then I’m free to also run my own sleep consulting business. That’s kind of nice too.
Jayne Havens: Perfect. I know that it’s your goal to eventually transition out of your daycare work and do sleep consulting full-time. Beyond this partnership with the agency that you are working with now, do you have a timeline and a plan in place to make your goal a reality?
Karen Winter: Yes, my plan is actually largely based on my daughter’s schooling. Because that’s always kind of been my why. It’s to be there for her and to have her first. She is starting in September for K just in the mornings. Actually, while she’s at school, I’ll be kid-free, and I’ll be working on my sleep consulting work. Then once she comes home from school at that 11:30 time, then I’ll have additional kiddos there–my daycare kids. I’ll be making my income, still, with my daycare. But I’ll be having that chunk of morning time to work on sleep consulting. Then once she’s in school full-time in kindergarten, then that’s when I plan on being full-time sleep consulting.
Right now, I’m just kind of, like what you said, planting seeds, making connections, going out at a little bit slower of our pace just so that when I am ready to go full-time, all in, I’ll have a good base and a good foundation for that.
Jayne Havens: So, you really have like one more full school year of doing this part time. Then your plan is really to ramp it up to be as full-time as the school hours, right? That’s sort of how I run my business. It’s like I consider myself to work full-time, but I work during the hours that my kids are in school.
Karen Winter: Yep, absolutely. That’s the plan.
Jayne Havens: Awesome. I love that. Before we wrap up, I’m wondering if you would be willing to share maybe one of your biggest successes as an entrepreneur and also a failure as well, if you have one.
Karen Winter: Sure. I think my biggest success goes all the way back to that initial conversation of, “I don’t know if I want to start my own business again.” I think my biggest success fare is just really launching it, sticking to it. Because there’s hard times, there’s hard days. But knowing that this is what I want to do, my passion is behind it. Also, I think a big success was going from being very unsure of how to find clients or what I should be doing in my chunks of work time to now having a very clear pathway of what I should be doing during that time and how to find clients. I think those are my biggest successes.
Then my biggest failure is–I don’t know if it’s a failure, but it’s a struggle–comparing myself to others in the industry. I feel like I see a lot more successful women who are doing this full-time. I often compare myself to that, like, “Well, I don’t have that many clients a month.” Even part-time people, there’s people who do it part-time. But their success, I think, is different than what my success is. Keeping myself in check and not comparing myself to other sleep consultants in making my offers unique and remembering why I’m doing this.
Actually, I had a month where I had like four or five clients. That’s my max. I realized that’s as much as I want to do, at least when I’m doing part-time work. I felt super successful doing that, and I was very proud of myself. I think my biggest struggle is comparing rather than just looking back at my why and being proud of where I’m at and what I’m doing.
Jayne Havens: I’m really glad that you brought that up. I think the whole comparison is the thief of joy, right? It really is the truth. It’s so interesting. When I sit across the Zoom from prospective students who are interested in enrolling in CPSM, a lot of them have just like really reasonable, small, manageable goals to start. Actually, I think you were one of those people who just had a really reasonable, small, manageable goal to start. Then all of a sudden, you get started. Then all of a sudden, you feel like a failure if you aren’t bringing in six figures or doing something that’s like so lofty.
I think that it’s really important, just as you said, to like keep yourself in check when you are growing your own business, and that like your own goals are good enough. If your goal is to have two or three families to support a month, that’s great. You don’t need to have 10. Nobody says you need to have 10. One day, when you’re ready to work towards 10 and you have time to work towards 10, then you’ll have time to work towards 10.
I’m really glad that you brought that up. I think that we are our own worst critics when it comes to everything. Women, in general, we beat ourselves up over everything from the way we look to the way we dress, to the way we raise our children, to the way we work. It’s exhausting, right?
Karen Winter: Yes, absolutely.
Jayne Havens: It’s totally exhausting. I think that there is really a solid value in just being content with where you are and working towards the next rung on the ladder.
Karen Winter: And the next rung on your ladder.
Jayne Havens: Yeah, that’s what I meant.
Karen Winter: Yeah, absolutely. Where it’s your next goal, not what you feel like everyone else is doing.
Jayne Havens: I think that that’s true luck. It’s really hard to do that in entrepreneurship. Because as you said, you’re watching. Especially in our universe where like we’re a whole community of sleep consultants, so you see hundreds of others doing what you’re doing. It’s really hard to not compare. But if you think about people who work in corporate jobs or people in any sort of profession, everybody’s on their own track. Everybody’s doing what works for their family, and their financial situation, and their own work-life balance.
I think you’re right. Going back to your why, your why is very similar to my why. It’s pretty much the same. We wanted to be with our kids and still make some money. One thing that keeps coming up in my life is, as my business continues to grow, it’s actually taking me away from my kids, which is like it’s really in conflict with my why.
So, I have to really protect that and be careful, and make sure that I either figure out a way to grow that does not come into conflict with my why, or I need to slow down, right? If your first priority is your daughter and making sure that she is number one, then does it really matter if you have three clients, or four clients, or five clients? Of course, that’s all easier said than done. We can sit here and talk about it. But in real life, it’s super hard to actually own that feeling.
One other thing I wanted to ask you is if you have sort of like a favorite and a least favorite part of being in business or growing this sleep consulting business of yours?
Karen Winter: I think my favorite part is definitely how we kind of spoke about making your career fit your lifestyle. I mean, you can’t really do that in other corporate jobs, as you said, or other nine to five jobs. It’s tough. But you can show up when you need to show up. I show up consistently, but that might look different day to day. Being able to make your business work and fit your lifestyle is definitely my favorite part about it.
Then my least favorite part, kind of what we touched on too is, it can be inconsistent–the income. I can do exactly the same thing one month to the next month and have half the amount of clients. But what I am learning is that it all kind of evens out. As long as I stick with it, and I continue down that same path, and I show up consistently, then I might have one month with six clients and another month with one. But overall, that’s still getting me to where I need to be.
Jayne Havens: I think that’s exactly right. That goes back to the original point that we were talking about when you’re getting on those Zooms, and you’re not really sure where it’s going to lead. Every single conversation leads to something, somewhere. It may not be a paying client. It may be that you just learned something new, or it may be that you just found someone else to refer your clients to their business. That’s another way that you can support your existing clients, right?
You’ll never know where these conversations are going to lead to. It’s not always to a dollar, right? But all of these little seeds that we’re planting are what ultimately help us to grow our businesses. I’m glad you realized that. I know you know that. It’s hard when you’re in it, and you’re feeling like you’re having all of these conversations and it feels like nothing is coming from it. But that’s actually not the case.
Karen Winter: Exactly.
Jayne Havens: It’s actually not the case. One day, that sort of tidal wave blows over, and then it really starts to churn. Before we wrap up, where can everybody find you? I know you’re on Instagram. Share your website, your Instagram, whatever you want to share.
Karen Winter: Sure. On Instagram and Facebook, I’m both @winterslumbersleep. Then my website is winterslumber.com
Jayne Havens: Perfect. I’m going to leave all of these in the show notes. Karen, thank you so much for being willing to chat with me. Honestly and candidly, I cannot wait to see where your business grows. I’m really excited to hear what comes of this partnership. I love hearing all of the really interesting things that my students and graduates are doing to grow their businesses. This was an awesome example of how you can do just that. So, thank you again.
Karen Winter: Thanks, Jayne!
Outro: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Becoming a Sleep Consultant Podcast. If you enjoyed today’s episode, it would mean so much to me if you would rate, review, and subscribe. When you rate, review, and subscribe, this helps the podcast reach a greater audience. I am so grateful for your support. If you would like to learn more about how you can become a certified sleep consultant, head over to my Facebook Group, Becoming a Sleep Consultant or to my website thecpsm.com. Thanks so much, and I hope you will tune in for the next episode.