2019 in Review-- The Lessons We Learned and the Challenges We Overcame-- Together

Earlier this week I put an ask out to the 100+ entrepreneurs in my group coaching program, Play Makers Society. I asked for them to share either:

  • One significant thing they’ve learned this year on their business journey

  • One roadblock or issue they encountered that surprised them, OR

  • One piece of advice they’d give their former selves or other prospective business owners

And, wow. 

Their responses were so detailed and insightful, I had to choose a handful of them to share with all of you!

What I love about the entrepreneurs inside Play Makers Society is that we all come from different walks of life and many of us are in very different places in this journey. Some of us have opened, some of us have pivoted and opened other businesses, and some of us are just getting started on the path. Not to mention all of the cool perspectives we get since members are now from over 6 different countries!

I tried to choose a mix of responses from members that fell all over the spectrum. I hope you find their 2019 reflections helpful if you, too, find yourself just getting started on your business ownership journey.

The support that these incredible people show not only me but EACH OTHER has been, truly, the greatest gift I have received this year. I love that so many responses mentioned how much having a community to lean on helped them!

If you would like to join them-- just click here to read more about Play Cafe Academy and Play Makers Society!

“The first thing I learned that made me join PCA is during a webinar where Michele Caruana shared why she no longer serves prepared food. It reduced your turnover rate and thus reduces your potential revenue. This had a huge impact on how I shaped my strategy and the cost implications for build-out as well. I always thought I needed to provide hot food and make it easy on parents but this required permits, certifications, space build-out requirements. But this was a big aha moment for me. My space is on the small side of 1600 square feet so I need to be able to turn over guests and it made me realize that some parents want flexibility on bringing their own food and most have other plans for meals anyway. I saved myself so much headache learning this early. It saved on my designs, reduced the permits I had to apply for, significantly reduced the cost of buildout to avoid restaurant-level requirements, and reduced the amount of training I would need to do by the sheer decision to serve prepackaged snacks. And this will likely help my bottom line and reduce guests that spend the entire day on-premises. Especially now that I will be one of three indoor playground in my neighborhoods. Thank you Michele!”

Thuy from House of Playful Soul (Opening in Feb 2020!). Follow them on Instagram!

“I came up with my concept for Lil Rompers Play Place on January 4, 2019. I formed my LLC on the 7th and dove into making it happen via internet research, SBDC classes and talking with multiple equipment companies. But I was still missing industry-specific support and guidance when I came across PCA both on Facebook and Youtube. I finally decided to join in April, signed my lease in May and opened in July. Michele and the Play Makers have been AMAZING! Here’s the roadblock I didn’t see coming: There is so much more to owning and operating your own business, particularly when it comes to social media and marketing. My FB feed and inbox are flooded daily with sponsored ads for other programs and courses to join, but Michele has compiled so much helpful information and resources, including special guests and monthly group coaching calls, that it is not necessary to go beyond the group! The lesson I learned is that I should have built my email list and social accounts sooner. There is literally a whole module in the course that is dedicated to this! In retrospect, I would have taken the opportunity to share the stages of Lil Rompers development via live videos and had more community input earlier on. With that said, the wealth of information, and most importantly encouragement from the PCA community, have helped me more than words could ever communicate.”

Michelle from Lil’ Rompers Play Place. Follow them on Instagram!

“I had a big dream of having my own kids (play) place since 5 years ago! PCA popped up in my Facebook feed randomly and after I reviewed it I didn’t hesitate to join. It literally came in the perfect moment! All the material provided has given me the push to start my own business and follow my dream. I had this big idea of a brick-and-mortar playplace (will definitely come in the future), but the Mobile Playground business was introduced to me and I fell in love with this magical, safe and fun idea. Immediately, I started all the development of my business and after 5 hardworking months and preparation, I finally launched my Children’s Entertainment Mobile Rental Company in the Lancaster, Pa area. I’m now really hoping to grow and have an impact here so in the future I can have my brick-and mortar-business to serve many families. PCA has just been a blessing of knowledge and support for me! The best thing that has been offered for play cafe owners!

Bianca from Little World Play. Follow them on Instagram!

“My journey with PCA started in January 2019 with a webinar and now almost exactly a year later, I will be opening. The biggest thing I have learned this year is to commit fully to the risk of opening your own business and keep pushing forward and finding a new way when you run into obstacles. Also, walls are more expensive to build than you think. Architects are better at eyeball estimating costs than contractors, get yourself one!”

Alicia from Gentle Hands. Follow them on Instagram!

“The biggest unknown for me (so far) was how to find/hire/work with an architect and contractor. Make sure when you find a contractor they are ready for a commercial project and have experience with codes and such. The best thing I learned from PCA (so far) is that birthday parties are probably going to be my main revenue generator. Literally, PCA has saved me THOUSANDS! Birthdays weren’t even on my radar when I signed up, now I feel like I’m ahead of the game. Thank you for everything Michele Caruana!” 

Katie J., Prospective Indoor Play Space Owner

“Becoming a business owner is hard work, but so worth it. If there’s anything I’ve learned is that surrounding yourself with a community of like-minded entrepreneurs (AKA: friends) will get you so much further than you think. They become family in a part of your life that becomes so meaningful! Play Cafe Academy is so important to me and the success of my biz!”

Sydney from Play Cafe Mobile. Follow them on Instagram!

“I didn't anticipate the state taking so long to approve our build-out plans. That lead to a serious time delay in getting permits to start building which pushed our opening back a few months. In that, I learned to be flexible, persistent and patient. I'm actually grateful for the extra time now. I know it is all part of a bigger plan that I am excited to be a part of. With how much there still is to do I wonder if we would've been really ready then. But as Mike Michaolwicz would say, Parkinson's Law-you'll get done what you need to in whatever time you have available”

Krystyne from Sweat Peas Play Cafe. Follow them on Instagram

“This program has truly opened my eyes to all that goes into opening a Play Cafe. It’s a lot of work but with guidance from Michele and the support from the group, I am moving forward leaps and bounds daily and getting closer and closer to my own space and opening day. I wish I had signed up sooner!”

Casey S., from Happy Days Play Cafe! Follow them on Instagram

See! These responses blew me away. I love how OPEN and honest these entrepreneurs are with their wins and struggles (just as I aim to be), and I am SO excited to see all of the success 2020 has in store for them.



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