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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: Hello. I am here today with a Center for Pediatric Sleep Management graduate, Kelly Knoll. Kelly, before we get started, tell us a little bit about you, family life, professional life. Give us a rundown.
Kelly Knoll: Perfect. So, my name is Kelly Knoll. I live in Katy, Texas. It’s a suburb of Houston. My husband and I have been married, almost 10 years. That will be September. We have two kids–Harper, who’s six years old, and Jensen, who is four. I am a certified sleep consultant, and I have a successful company. But I also teach online full-time. Obviously, I have a full plate.
Jayne Havens: Perfect. What did life look like leading up to becoming a sleep consultant? Paint a picture of what your day-to-day or just like a little bit of working mom life.
Kelly Knoll: I was a stay-at-home mom with my first child for a while. Previously, being an entrepreneur, I realized I just need something else to fill my cup besides diaper changes and playdates, and all of those things. They’re great, but there’s still something missing. So, I got a teaching job online, which really fit all of my needs. I could do it from home. I could still have summers off with the kids, and things like that. And so, I feel like from the jump, I’ve been a “working mom,” but also like a stay-at-home mom. It can be a lot sometimes.
Jayne Havens: Yeah, for sure. What was it that prompted you to want to add certified sleep consultant to your resume?
Kelly Knoll: Well, I hired one with our daughter, Harper, at 14 months old. She changed our lives, as we always hear our clients tell us. I hired one. Then I just randomly came across one of your posts. I had helped a lot of my friends sleep train their children. It never even really crossed my mind to get certified and to charge people for it until I saw your post. I was like I can feel the entrepreneurial cup that I want filled somehow, and I can help people change their lives and really help people get more sleep. My whole thing is, I always want my clients to feel it’s okay to sleep train because it’s okay to fill your cup, too. You need rest, too. This isn’t just about teaching your child how to sleep; it’s also teaching you to fill your needs as well.
Jayne Havens: Yeah, I agree with that. Because when we are positioning ourselves to be the best parents that we can be by being well-rested and well-nourished, whether it’s exercise, and diet, and sleep, all of those things are so important when we set ourselves up for success. First of all, we’re modeling for our kids. Second of all, we’re just happy enough to survive the day with them, right? It gives us the energy that we need to be the best parents that we can and should be for our kids.
Kelly Knoll: Right. Yeah. At the end of the day, I’m a better mom when I get sleep. There’s no if, ands, or buts about it. So, I think that’s a big part of my philosophy. When I go into sleep training, it is not just sleeping through the night or achieving this goal you have in your head. It’s also just making sure you’re being the best parent you can by filling up those needs that you have.
Jayne Havens: Yeah, I love that. One of the objections that I hear most often from those that are interested in this line of work is that they just don’t have enough time. I would love to hear your thoughts on this as someone that has a very full plate, and still figures out a way to make it all work.
Kelly Knoll: Honestly, the type A part of me says make time. This is something I really wanted. Once I decide I want something, I go for it full on. Yes, at the beginning, it never fails that when teaching peaks up, sleep consulting peaks up. They’re very synced in that way. So, there are sometimes busy seasons. But I think I would encourage people to do a gut check to see. It’s not that you don’t have enough time. Do you care enough to make the time?
Jayne Havens: I love that.
Kelly Knoll: Yeah, because I think that that’s an easy excuse. Anybody can say, “Oh, I’m busy. I’m busy.” But this bleeds into my social life, too. My friends kind of giggle because like, boy, if you’re Kelly’s friend, you’re important. Because I tell my friends like, “Once I stop enjoying your company or you stop filling my cup, I just don’t make the time to take time out of my busy life to see you.” No hard feelings. Not that I don’t like you. It’s just my time is valuable. Friendships are like a two-way street for me. So, I kind of feel that way about sleep consulting. It meant enough for me to make time for it. So, I figured out a way to make it work.
Jayne Havens: Yeah, I love that answer. I think that you’re right that time or lack thereof is often an excuse, and that anybody who wants to make time for sleep consulting or anything else for that matter, we can all find the time. We just have to decide that we are going to be committed and passionate about whatever it is that we are deciding to do.
Kelly Knoll: Exactly. You have to make it a priority. If you don’t make it a priority, then you can’t be surprised. You’re not getting the results that you want.
Jayne Havens: Yeah, I love that. Give us an idea of what your day to day looks like. Are there enough hours in the day to do it all? And if so, from a logistical perspective, what does that look like for you?
Kelly Knoll: Sleep consulting is pretty easy to add on to a full-time career, assuming you have some flexibility there. My face time with teaching is not very much at all for the week. It’s 90 minutes, twice a week. If I was a brick and mortar teacher, it would probably look a lot different. But typically, I take care of everything that my salaried career needs. Then sleep consulting comes in. But what I have found most is that onboarding with sleep consulting takes the longest. So, once I have their sleep plan written and then we just do the consult, then it’s just simply text messages and a few phone calls from there. I would say when it comes in waves and I land four clients at one time, I’m like, “Oh, gosh. What do I do?” All the sleep plans and all the consults at once, and then it just passes. Then here I am fielding four people’s questions. Of course, as you know, in a two-week program, they’re really texting you three or four days. After that, it’s like a once-a-day check in. Again, it’s just kind of getting over the hump and then riding the smooth wave after that.
Jayne Havens: Yeah, I agree. I think that, obviously, it’s the most intensive in the beginning of a consultation with a family. It sort of tapers off as they become more competent. I also think that it’s our job to position them to gain confidence over time. I mean, I’m sure you have your finger on that pulse. We give them all the attention that they need in those first couple of days. Then we start to sort of give them the encouragement to find their own footing and be able to handle it more independently, just like they’re expecting of their children. Right?
Kelly Knoll: Right, exactly. It’s like if they wake up early, day six, you have to feel that how you want to handle that yourself. I’ve given you the tools, but I’m not going to be here for the next three years. So, I definitely agree. That’s a huge takeaway that the parents are more confident coming away from a sleep training program.
Jayne Havens: Yeah, exactly. One thing that I wanted to chat with you a little bit about is I feel like your entrepreneurial journey is a little bit unique in that you are not necessarily looking to grow your business, as you already have a full-time business. I think you’ve already–correct me if I’m wrong–gotten to the point in your business where you have the client load that sort of works for you. You’re not necessarily gunning to grow it in any sort of massive capacity. How do you handle this from a mindset perspective? I asked, because I feel like once you get into entrepreneurship, at least for me, I’ve had this strong desire to just always want to grow, grow, grow, grow. What’s the next big thing that I can work on? But I think your vibe in your business is a little bit different. I’d love to hear how you handle that logistically and from a mindset perspective.
Kelly Knoll: It’s interesting you bring up mindset. Because, of course, comparison is the thief of all joy, right? So, I’m in all these different sleep consulting groups. It’s like, “I’ve done this. I’ve just made followers. I have this. I have this.” At first, I did want that. I wanted all the followers, and I wanted more clients than I can handle and all of those things. Then I think when I took a step back and realized I have a really good career, that I’m frankly just coasting that. I’m going into my fourth year. It’s easy. I enjoyed it, feels all the things that I need in my life as far as working, time with my kids, things like that. I didn’t make Snooze Worthy as much of a priority. Don’t get me wrong. My clients come to me. I still give them my best and everything. But I think, at the end of the day, I had to figure out what I wanted and not what all these other consultants are telling me I want, or what this business coaches are telling me I want. What did I want? I wanted residual, random income. I wanted to be able to help families. I wanted to keep at something that I enjoyed. So, in order for me to check those three boxes, I don’t have to grow. And so, it did take a while though. I read a couple of books about this mindset thing. One of them, I don’t know if you’ve read it, is called the Subtle Art of Not Giving the ****.
Jayne Havens: I haven’t read it, but I am familiar with the book.
Kelly Knoll: Yes. I love it, because he talks about how what you’re saying, how America, only the extremes are considered successes. Like, if I make X amount of money, that’s when I’m successful. But then you reach that, and you just make it higher and higher, kind of what you’re talking about. So, he just basically talks about how your perception of how you’re doing is based on bad goals, essentially. I’m doing a very terrible job paraphrasing, but it’s basically like lower your goals to what you deem necessary. Then base your success on that. Don’t set them so high, that when you don’t reach them, you’re sad about it. It was a lot of intrinsic self-thought going on when I was listening to that book and as I was going through the first year of Snooze Worthy. But overall, I’m very happy with my decision to not try to blow this thing out of the park.
Jayne Havens: I think that that’s really an important message, especially for those that are interested in getting started on this journey. Because most of the people who I talk to, who are interested in becoming sleep consultants, don’t want to make a big, crazy business out of this. They just don’t. Some do. But most come to me and they would just love to have something that lights them up, something that they’re excited about, something that they’re passionate about, something that’s their own. If they can make an extra 1000 bucks a month, 2000 bucks a month, they’re thrilled like that. That’s how a lot of people come to me. It’s that they just would like some additional financial, sort of like a cushion or some flexibility, and to love the side hustle that they’ve adopted. I hear that, and then they complete the course. Then all of a sudden, it’s this like gunning for something different. I do think that it’s really hard to keep yourself in check when you have all of these people around you that you see are doing like “bigger and better things.” They’re not necessarily bigger and better. They’re just different. Everybody has different goals. Everybody has different benchmarks for their own success. I just think it’s really awesome the way that you sort of recognize that you have your full-time job, and you have your kids–which are a priority in your life. Then this is like, this fills your cup, as you said. It’s extra money. It’s extra excitement and joy, and that’s enough.
Kelly Knoll: Yeah, exactly. That’s enough. If I raise the bar to include a dollar amount or a client amount, then I wouldn’t feel like it’s enough. Back to the book, it’s like check your standards and make sure they’re not all wonky, so you actually feel like you’re accomplishing something. Yeah, I think this business, to me, is more about just quantity. How many clients? How much money? It’s more to me.
Jayne Havens: It doesn’t have to be that way. I think you’re a perfect example of somebody where like it isn’t that way. I think that whenever you’re starting something new, there’s pressure to grow and build. I think that that’s just a natural thing that we all feel. I don’t know where that comes from.
Kelly Knoll: I don’t either.
Jayne Havens: It’s like the competitive nature. I don’t know. But it’s self-inflicted, largely. I live it. I’m in a space right now in my mind where I’m constantly just trying to figure out how it can grow. For me, it’s actually not tied to a dollar amount. It’s tied to a bigger picture of what growth means. For me, launching the podcast was a really big growth moment. That didn’t necessarily increase my income. Although, hopefully, it will. But that was just sort of like personal/professional growth.
I guess I’ll ask you. Have you had any moments that you would deem growth that weren’t necessarily like I had the biggest month financially? Do you have moments like that in your career? Can you point to any of them?
Kelly Knoll: Yes. I know we’ll get to this in a little bit. But all of my clients come from referrals, every single one. I like to coast. I like to work, work, work, work to be able to coast. And so now, I feel like I’m coasting because each client I successfully complete–which has been all of them, thank goodness–they’re seeds. Those seeds, I’ve had people tell me, “Well, my mom’s neighbor, her daughter used you.” She’s like, “I’ve never even met her. But your mom said she worked…” That, I feel is kind of where I wanted to be. I feel like there’s a better relationship with clients when they come to me from word-of-mouth referrals. They already kind of trust me. Their discovery call is like a no-brainer. They book. It’s a very pleasant experience all around than when, I’m sure you can attest to this, some complete strangers come to you. Sometimes they’re just not the right fit for what you have going on. So, I think that when I put in so much work to growing in my first year, it was for that. So, I could say, “Okay, I have X amount of seeds out there. They’ll help me get new business, with me just hanging out over here doing my thing.”
Jayne Havens: Yeah, which does lead us into the next thing that I wanted to chat with you about, which is social media. You came to me. I don’t know how long ago it was at this point. But you reached out to me privately, because you were feeling sort of burnt out from being on that social media hamster wheel. I, personally, find posting on Instagram to be the most exhausting thing ever. I actually don’t do a ton of it. I remember that my advice to you is just to take a break. Just ditch it. Quit for a little bit. Don’t feel like you need to spend all day batching reels, right? If you don’t want to be doing that, don’t do that. We had that conversation. What came of it? Did you actually take a break? What happened when you took that break? What did you learn from it?
Kelly Knoll: The short answer is I took that advice, and I ran with it. I have not posted on Instagram in all of 2022. I don’t miss it at all, like, literally, the best decision I’ve ever made. I did fine with Instagram when I could post static posts, I could write captions. Once this reel business came out, done. That’s just not me. I’m not creative. I’m very type A. I’m very black and white. I’m not trying to find the trending music and do transitions and all. That’s just not me. So, each time I made a reel, I would be sweating, frustrated. I mean, it was just terrible. So, it was like a square peg in a round hole, honestly. Also, you know with social media, “Hey, I want to pick your brain for a minute.” Do those clients ever convert? Probably not.
Again, I elected to serve myself. I completely gave up social media. I mean, I haven’t posted in over six months. I even want to write a post that says like, “Hey, I’ve obviously taken a step back from social. I’m still doing sleep consulting. Come follow me on my personal page.” I can’t even get myself to write that, Jayne. I am so burnt out. I’m just like, I don’t want anything to do with it anymore. Maybe one day, I’ll post about like blogs I have written and things like that. But I don’t miss it. Now that my clients come from word-of-mouth referrals, I don’t really need it. To me, it was weighing. Again, will I get more clients with social media? Probably. But is social media also a pain? Yes, it wasn’t worth it to me. I will take less clients all day and not have to do social.
Jayne Havens: Yeah, I love that. I guess my question to you is like, were you always getting those referrals when you were still doing social media? You were just so caught up in doing the social media stuff that you weren’t even paying attention to the fact that your business was already sort of thriving on referrals? Did those timelines collide? You quit social media and you also happen to realize like, “Okay. Now I’m starting to get referrals. Things are A-okay.”
Kelly Knoll: Yes, I would say the latter one, that I use social to build up my business. That’s how I got my first client, a complete stranger from Instagram. That’s how I planted those seeds. I think my growth would have been a lot slower had I not put in the blood, sweat, and tears. But I’m just glad the reels came in on the tail end. Because if they would have come on the forefront, like there’s no way. That’s just not me at all. If I was having to watch YouTube videos for how to post things on Instagram, too much for me.
Jayne Havens: I’m with you. I can’t do any of that. It’s so hard for me, too.
Kelly Knoll: It is. Then it’s like you make it, and some have crazy views and some don’t. I think the other problem is, I don’t watch reels. So, I don’t get the allure. You dancing and telling me like what to pack in my suitcase. It’s just not me. So, I think that that has to do with it, too. If I enjoyed them, then maybe I would be more apt to learn how to do them.
Jayne Havens: Yeah, I think that’s absolutely right. Do you have any long-term goals for your business, even if they’re not the typical milestones that most people think of when launching or growing a business? Maybe it’s better systems, creating a course. Anything like that?
Kelly Knoll: I really want to get in with some good referral partners–that’s a goal of mine–like pediatricians, chiropractors, nurse practitioners, things like that. Once again, more word-of-mouth referrals. That’s what I decided when I decided to take a step back from social, was that I would reach out to make real relationships happen. I value that way more. I think people do, too. So, I would say that just being more of a household name in some of those bigger businesses, to be able to keep the word of mouth growing and my client base growing at a slow rate.
Jayne Havens: Yeah, I think that that’s brilliant. If you’re having success with referrals from past clients, first of all, that means you’re serving them well. You’re doing a good job, and they’re sharing your name with friends. I agree. If you can leverage connections with pediatricians, chiropractors, family photographers, preschool directors, daycare owners–the list goes on and on–that’s a great place to plant more seeds, as you’ve said.
Kelly Knoll: Right.
Jayne Havens: I love that. When people ask me what my secret to success is, I knew from the moment that I met you that you’re going to be successful in this business. With that being said, I guess I’m wondering, what is that? Why did I know that you were going to be able to figure this out? What is it that makes someone successful in an entrepreneurial venture?
Kelly Knoll: I think two things. I think drive is huge. I think it’s huge. I will never forget. I had just graduated the course, and I was working on HoneyBook. I sat down for like three straight days to figure out my workflow. Before I ever got one client, before we even knew how to work the CRM software, I wrote down step by step how it was going to happen. I had so many scratch outs and so many edits. I think that drive. Frankly, I feel like people have it or they don’t. You have it in you to figure it out. My husband’s like, “Well, you don’t need to do that now. Wait until you get the first client.” I was like, “No, I need to figure it out yesterday.” So, I think drive is a big one. It sounds super corny, but I think courage. I think just doing it scared. My first client had no clue. She was my first client, and I wasn’t going to tell her. I think just doing it scared, being open and willing to learn. I mean, if you think you have things figured out, you probably don’t. But I think really just having the courage to get out of your comfort zone and also learning and adapting, I think it’s a lot of different things. A lot of these things, I feel like only owning a business will give you. There are some life lessons that you have to go through X to learn that life lesson. I feel like having your own business teaches you a lot of life lessons, like the ups and downs of it. I can have the best March ever and April I’m like, “What? Where did everyone go?” I think persistence and all of the quote words.
Jayne Havens: Maybe some resilience, right? Maybe some resilience. The way you just said it. Like, I can have the best March, and then April’s dead. You have to be able to pick yourself up from that. I go through that in my business. I have ebbs and flows to my business. If you get so down in the dumps when things are a little bit slower, then you lose your competence. You lose your momentum. You lose your drive to keep planting those seeds. I’m constantly reminding myself that when business is slow, when I’m not servicing that many families, that’s the time to get out there and make those meaningful connections. My calendar is wide open today. So, what am I going to do with myself? Rather than like sitting around and panicking on social media that I don’t have any clients.
Kelly Knoll: Right. Yeah, for sure. I think when you have the time, put the intention and to still grow. Even though you might feel like you’re at a loss, that’s okay. There’s always still room to improve. Really, there is no rhyme or reason when clients come. Honestly, it’s like you think you’re going to go up, up, up, up. But I know at the beginning of this year, tons of sleep consultants will be like, “What in the world?” There’s no clients to be found. I think resilience is definitely a part of it and realizing your worth as a business owner is worth more than your bottom line, which I think wraps up into all of my leave from social media. My goal is to not take over the world. I think realizing that goes a long way in your overall happiness, in your business.
Jayne Havens: Yeah, I think that that’s really true. I hope that many of the brand new… I hope the newbies are listening to you today. Because I think that it’s really worthwhile to take a step back and recognize that Rome wasn’t built in a day. What were your original goals when you started? Are you being true to the type of entrepreneur that you’re trying to be? Having all of those conversations with yourself as you’re just getting started, and to give yourself some grace.
Kelly Knoll: Some grace. Right.
Jayne Havens: Because this is the process. How many people launch a business and have a six-figure income on year one? Nobody, right? Almost nobody does that. Let’s be real, and let’s grow a business step by step and piece by piece. I think it’s those that don’t give up are the ones that are really successful. If I think about your business, your business is to the point right now where you don’t have to hustle anymore. You’re not hustling. You’re just supporting the families that are coming your way. That’s what I do, too. I don’t hustle my sleep consulting business anymore. Every day I get a text message, or an email, or a phone call from somebody that got my name, usually from a former client, just like you. But it takes time to get there, right?
Kelly Knoll: Right.
Jayne Havens: It took you about a year. I would say it took me about a year, also. I felt momentum before that. But I really felt like at the year mark, I didn’t have to get out there and pound the pavement, pound the virtual pavement. I love that you have the mindset that that’s A-okay. You don’t need to get out there and chase for every little piece of business that may or may not be aligned with the type of work that you’re trying to do.
Kelly Knoll: Yep, that’s exactly right.
Jayne Havens: Before we wrap up, typically, I ask people to share their social media, which I’m still going to ask you to share. But maybe your website as well, so that people can find you there and if you have anything else that you’d like to share, so that people can connect with you.
Kelly Knoll: So, my Instagram hasn’t been updated a while, but there is still a ton of great content from when I was doing it. It’s @snoozeworthysleep. My website is at snoozeworthysleep.com. So, you all can check it out. Reach out if you have any questions. I would say that’s the main, like, why I wanted to come on the podcast. It’s just it’s okay to not be the best out there. But I think I’m one of the best sleep consultants but with my service and how I serve with clients, not necessarily because I service so many clients.
Jayne Havens: I mean, when you say it’s okay to not be the best, you are one of the best 100%. I know you know that. You’re absolutely one of the best. You’re just maybe not the biggest. You’re not serving the most families, but you are supporting them at the highest level. It sounds like your business is serving you at the highest level, which I think is probably even more important.
Kelly Knoll: Yeah, I definitely agree. I think I would lose some of the joy I find in it if I was trying to make it into something that I didn’t necessarily want or didn’t realize I didn’t want.
Jayne Havens: Yeah. Well, thank you for that perspective. Thanks for being on the show. Reach out all the time. So, talk soon.
Kelly Knoll: Yeah. 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.