Tiffany wanted to do something about childhood obesity, and in the process discovered her passion for teaching kids to cook. She was able to turn that into a thriving business, running classes across the street from her home. Unfortunately, what seemed like it should be an ideal situation quickly spiraled out of control as the demands on her time made it harder and harder for her to show up for her family. While she still maintains a presence on kidscookingschool.org, Tiffany ultimately had to close the physical location she had poured so much energy into.
In this episode, we ask an important question: what do you do when you’ve found your passion and even built a business around it that worked, but it ultimately failed? How do you start again? What do you change? We talk about what worked about the school, but more importantly why it worked. While her students’ constant demand for her time put Tiffany in a difficult situation when she was running her physical location, we look at how behind that is the kind of rare charisma you need to build a following that can grow.
We start with Tiffany’s goal and work backward to see if there’s a way to connect her passion for teaching cooking with her need to create a business that works with her life and family. We throw a lot of ideas around and eventually make a YouTube strategy that will set her up for long-term growth. YouTube for kids is a massive market that is seeing a lot of growth, so we talk about how she can use what she’s already built to make something new.
I love Tiffany’s insights and passion in this episode, and I’m sure you will too. She said something that really stuck with me, that she’s grateful she’s given her children the opportunity to see her fail gracefully, pick herself up, and try again. That’s a part of everyone’s life, and the idea that you can be a role model even as you fail is something we could all stand to think more about.
What You'll Learn:
What we can learn from failure, why there are more measures of success than growth, and how you can use what you ultimately want from your business to create something that will work for you in the long run.
Pat Flynn: What's up, everybody? Welcome to episode 1067 of AskPat 2.0. This is a coaching call between myself and an entrepreneur just like you. Today, we're talking with Tiffany, who is from kidscookingschool.org, and has gone through a number of different iterations of this business and some great wins and some pretty big failures too. But as we all know, you can learn from your failures. That's exactly what we're going to talk about today to try and figure out what to do next.
I'll look forward to this, but before we get to that, I do want to thank today's sponsor, which is freshbooks.com, an amazing company that helps support me and millions of other businesses out there with managing our business finances. Especially when it comes to tax season, tax time and getting ready for that, now's the time to start getting things organized because tax season just happened and we can start to do a little bit better each year in certain ways. One of those ways is financially using tools like FreshBooks. They can also help you manage your business income and expenses and of course your invoicing too. In less than thirty seconds, you can create a beautiful invoice and send it to somebody who can then pay you for the amazing work that you do. If you want to check out FreshBooks for free, you can literally try it right now for thirty days for free by going to FreshBooks.com/askpat, and just make sure you enter “Ask Pat” in the how did you hear about us section. Again, freshbooks.com/askpat, and just make sure you enter “Ask Pat.” All right, here she is. Here's Tiffany. Let's do this. Tiffany, thank you so much for coming on AskPat 2.0. Welcome to the show.
Tiffany: Thank you so much. I'm super excited.
Pat: Oh, this is going to be so much fun. I love your business model. I can't wait for you to talk about it, which I'm going to ask you to do right now. Tell us what you do, Tiffany.
Tiffany: I teach kids how to cook.
Pat: Yes. That's so awesome. How did you get into that?
Tiffany: Yes. Well, I used to be an online marketer, just like most of our audience, and I was really burnt out but I didn't know it. I had a couple of wonderful opportunities where I was put in the position where in front of a group of entrepreneurs, I had to say, “If money and time were no object, what would you do?” Out of my mouth did not come something spectacular like online marketing. It said, “I would really like to do something to tackle childhood obesity, because I had an absolutely miserable experience as a child and growing up, and I'd like to help other children have a different experience.”
Tiffany: And with people like Marcus Sheridan and Joey Coleman and all the wonderful people that were surrounding me, they very gently pushed me out of the nest. I spent about a year figuring out what that was going to look like. I tried different things. Right at that time, Will It Fly? came out. I got the book, and I worked through all of that. I validated my process by teaching kids how to cook locally. That came about because I tried to teach parents how to set examples for their children, which is the biggest impact, but none of the parents ever came to classes, but with all my kids classes were just completely full. I live across the street from a strip mall, and this space opened. I'd sit on my porch, and I would look at it. I would say, “Oh my gosh, could I do this?” My husband was fully behind it and fully funded me, essentially, with our house, and I opened the Kids Cooking School in February of 2017.
Pat: You are amazing.
Tiffany: Well, it was amazing. It really was. I mean, I just have no words for the joy. We called it the happiest kitchen on earth. It was really spectacular, and it almost completely brought me down in every way that you could possibly bring me down because it was too much. That leads me to my question, which is what I think intrigued you was, “How do you serve your audience or continue to serve your audience as you grow when you can't be there at every moment of every time?” It's this conundrum, so I'm growing. I had an amazing staff. They were amazing in itself, but there was still this, “Oh, we really want Chef Tiffany, and we love these other people, but man, we really miss you.” But I couldn't teach every class every afternoon and every weekend. When we have five birthday parties a weekend, I couldn't do it. That actually caused us to close in September, because I couldn't keep going like that. So I'm figuring out a different way to do it, but this is a whole different story, but it was this conundrum of how do you continue to serve with yourself without it completely taking you over.
Pat: I mean, that's a fantastic question. I'm definitely going to help you on that and dive into that. I want to ask you a few questions about the cooking school. I want to understand a little bit more about what happened. Would you say that you grew too fast and tried to get bigger than it should have been? I'm just curious to see exactly where things started to potentially start to go down the path that you didn't want it to go to.
Tiffany: Sure. I think I grew faster than my location could support. They talk in real estate about location, location, location. I chose a spot that was convenient to me, and I thought that I could run my business as if I didn't have a family, and then be there for my family as if I didn't have a business. I thought I was going to be able to just magically do this thing that nobody else is able to do because my business was right across the street and I can handle that. And that was actually the opposite case because something would happen, and I would be in the middle of dinner and I would leave my family at the dinner table to go help the school.
So I think I tried maybe to open too big maybe. I took too big of a step in opening the retail space. That's a possibility. There was a really big Facebook change in February of this year that took a huge toll on our ability to afford the Facebook ads in order to get the message out about classes and those types of things. From this space, we paid a really high price in rent and we just couldn't keep up with that, and because of that . . . Then the second piece that I would do differently if I were to do it again is . . . When I invested in my team, unlike an online business or an accountant or something, it was a lot less expensive to hire somebody to be an assistant at a class or to teach classes than it was to do the accounting and the marketing, like the difference of between $15 an hour versus $70 an hour. So I hired people to take my place in the classes for that reason, and also because I couldn't be there every day. That's where the conundrum happened. I'm doing all those things that I have to do, not the things that I'm gifted at. My staff got all of that time, and then the kids, they really missed me. It was this spiral really that ended up putting me in a position where I didn't want to do it anymore. Not in that way, if that makes sense at all.
Pat: That's the key word, “not in that way.”
Pat: That's what I wanted to get at. I want to just commend you for jumping in, taking action. This is still a part of the Will It Fly? process. You've validated that and have given yourself the best chance to test it out to see if that's actually what you wanted, and you found out rather quickly, “That's not how I want it to be.” Now that we're where we're at now, we can take lessons from what you've experienced, and we can go, “Well, I don't want to do it that way,” or, “I would rather have it this way.” Before I get into some ideas that I have in terms of where you could go from here, I'd love to know what you’ve thought about in terms of now that you've learned from these lessons, where might you want this to go now? Because I can feel that you still want to continue to serve the children and help them learn how to cook and fight obesity that way. I know that's still there, but in your eyes, how else might you now, that you know what you know, be able to tackle that?
Tiffany: Sure. I had three plans—or three paths—that I could take. Quite frankly from the beginning, I knew that the school, as a nonprofit, particularly, was not necessarily going to be able to stand on its own, and that I was going to have to have some kind of a product. And, with my background, probably an online product to reach outside of the drive zone that would pay my salary and then also supplement the school so that I could have the both of best worlds because I need that in-person interaction with the children. I think that's where my gift is. There was always that plan. What I didn't know was how much time it would take to keep the school clean, and so I would be mopping instead of building content: taking the classes that I taught during the day and turning that into electronic content. Because I had to clean for the next class the next day. So that was always the goal. The online product was one option. When we closed, I thought . . . I had quite a few meetings with other larger nonprofits hoping that an organization like, for example, the YMCA or the Boys and Girls Club or another kid's organization that already had all of the pieces together for bringing the kids in and registering them and all the payments and all that, and that my school would just fit in as a program as part of this bigger entity.
Quite frankly, after meeting with ten or fifteen of those types, I never found anybody that had the same vision and the passion that was willing to go through all of the red tape with the health department to prove, “Okay, why can I have eight mini kitchens in this space and all of that, the licensing?” I had that passion to say, “Okay, I'm going to knock down all these walls,” and I did it for myself, but nobody else is crazy enough to want to go through that. Or they had the vision, but they said, “I just have no bandwidth for this as another nonprofit.” So that was one. Then the other thought I had was going to get a grant to build almost like a food truck. I think about you and your food truck people all the time. How can I turn this food truck into a mobile cooking kitchen so I can actually head down to Saint Paul and Minneapolis, where the kids really, really need this? They can't get out here to the suburbs even if my class was free. So those were the three different ideas that I've had. The first two haven't panned out yet, and I'm currently working on turning my most popular full-day class into a combination video-enhanced ebook type of product.
Pat: For the online product, I think that would be a clear next easier test for you to just see if that's something that you enjoy, that's something that people would respond to; and that would give you a good sense of what it might be like to try the opposite of what you had done, which is an online product, right? You went full-on all you in real estate, getting a space, equipment, in hiring staff, and seeing people. That's the one extreme, and then this is the other extreme to see if you still have those feelings that you want to have when offering this product, which is that interaction. I think that there could be a little bit of yes, you could potentially sell this, but then you're going to miss a little bit of that interaction that you would normally have when you were with people in person. Now, they're still going to see you.
Pat: This is the big key here that I took away from what you were talking about earlier, is that people want you. That's so special that you are already seeing people who want you for you. That's what I often tell people they have to realize is that you can build. No matter what it is you're building, you can build an audience. You can build fans. You can get people who want you for you. It doesn't happen overnight, number one. Number two, it's something that you can take with you wherever and with whatever you do. You can do some amazing things and create some amazing movements when you have those kinds of fans. And so for you to think way into the future and how you will have an effect on childhood obesity, the fact that people want you and will stick with you and will follow you, well, we just need to find out, well, what is that you? How are you going to show up? People will follow you for you no matter where you go.
Pat: I just want you to know . . . Go ahead.
Tiffany: And in a way, that is in alignment with my family priorities as well. It's so fascinating how we start so many businesses as a serial entrepreneur because we want the freedom of time to spend with our family. The reality, in the beginning, is the exact opposite. If you don't manage that properly . . . I mean, we've been closed since . . . Is it okay for me to say today where we are?
Tiffany: It's just before Christmas, and we closed on Labor Day, and my children are still clinging to me three months later. Every time I start to talk about a class, on their face and in my husband's face, I see this look of panic on their face that they're going to lose mommy again. Even I start to have a little bit of an internal anxiety attack of, “Oh my gosh, I want this, but I don't want that.”
Pat: Right. You might remember—
Tiffany: I'm super afraid to take this step again full force and put everything behind it because I don't know that I know how to be somewhere in the middle.
Pat: Yeah, and this is a great exercise is to have us think about what these things might be like if we were to make certain decisions, and you might remember the first part of Will It Fly?. Those very personal exercises that you go over with yourself about what you want your life to be like and how to organize what your priorities might be and to help you make any decisions moving forward. Now that you have this experience of creating and shutting down what you had previously built, that's going to give you even more the ability to make even smarter decisions moving forward with whatever it is that you choose to do. You can easily look back, and you already have your family supporting you with your decisions in terms of like, “Okay, if I choose to go down this route, I have to think really hard about, okay, how much time will this take? Would I still be able to be present?” If not, then you know it's an immediate no, right?
To have that clear delineation of yes and no is so helpful because that's where a lot of entrepreneurs get in trouble is when they don't have something to give them a clear yes or no. They just say yes all the time and they get burned out. They end up in the hospital, and really bad things happen, or their relationships falter. It's so great that you have a loving family who's there to support you, and that you're also thinking of them too. It's like a perfect recipe, if you will, for making sure that whatever it is that you do, you're still going to be within the boundaries of everything that's important in your life. So these options that we come up with over time, I think, a few important elements need to exist. I don't know if we'll be able to decide on a specific direction. Down the road, I'd love to have potentially a followup call with you to expand on this a little bit more because there's lot of deep stuff here.
Tiffany: Of course.
Pat: Number one, whatever you choose to do, number one, make sure that it is something that doesn't take you away from your family in a way that you wouldn't want. Number one. And making sure that they also realize that, too, along the way. Number two, always making sure that you are present and you are available and show up. It doesn't necessarily mean you have to be there in person. It doesn't necessarily mean that you have to create a physical thing or be in a physical space. You can still show up and be present and have conversations with people using various tools and online or on summits, or maybe it's at an event in front of many people instead of just a small class. There's other ways to shape that dough, but making sure that you are a part of it is important, too. Because like you said earlier, you had your employees doing a lot of the work, and your students, the people who were in your tribe were missing you. So making sure that you're always there for your tribe is an important part of it as well.
Tiffany: And I miss them.
Pat: I'm sure. I'm sure.
Tiffany: I really missed teaching.
Pat: And that seems to be a passion of yours to have that one-on-one interaction or that one-to-many interaction, which is important to have. There are people online who are creating programs and creating courses that allow them to still have that communication. I mean, I even find myself having a lot of one-to-one and personal conversations with people even in my courses. I teach podcasting, for example. I have an online course where once a week we have office hours and people come on and I chat with them. I answer questions. I'm able to converse with them. Sometimes they even get up on video, I'm able to see them in person. Now, that's a little bit different because obviously, I'm podcasting from an office and a person can be wherever listening to that information versus you're actually cooking with somebody, but there are things that I'm sure we could do to be creative with how you can cook in front of many people and still have that interaction. Whether it is perhaps all that energy put into a space now used at a specific event. Perhaps that your family would then be a little bit more comfortable knowing that, “Okay, well we're not going to have mommy for just a weekend, like once a quarter,” versus who knows? Like, she might leave during dinner.
Tiffany: Right, they never knew.
Pat: That way, it is a little bit planned. You still get the ability to show up, and perhaps instead of a space where you cook that is yours, perhaps you rent out to space that allows for people to cook or even just you to cook in front of others and then have really nice social moments afterwards. Again, we can talk a little bit more, but the three options you gave me, those are three of probably thousands. I think if you use the filters of making sure you're always there as the leader and the tribe person, the tribe leader, and it also makes sense for you timewise with family and stuff. You could perhaps shape your solution, your offering in a way that could make sense and be a win for everybody. Is this helping at least understand what might be available to you?
Tiffany: Yes. Yes. Because even in the beginning, before we ever started this, we sat down as a family and talked about, “Okay, what would be an okay amount of time for mommy to not be here every day?” Which my husband has given me the gift of being home with them as much as I want it to be at home, so I've had mostly part-time gigs since they were born. I've had that gift, so they're used to me always being around. So we agreed to that amount of time, I just didn't stick to it. I think that if I went into, and you're triggering some . . . kids really aren't on Facebook, but boy they sure are on YouTube. So if I had some live YouTube classes once a month on a Sunday afternoon, which is actually the best time to get kids' attention because of the sports, my family would be very happy with one Sunday afternoon, mommy wasn't here. If I stuck to that. It's on me then to stick to that.
Pat: In addition to the lessons you're learning about business and what works for you and what doesn't, you're learning a lot about yourself and where things might need to be controlled a little bit more that you didn't even know were a thing that you needed help with. Like, probably saying yes to a lot of opportunities and asks from people which was taking time away that you hadn't initially thought you would need to give. I love what you said about YouTube. I was even thinking about that earlier, and you had just reminded me that that was a thought that I had as well. I think that perhaps a great experiment would be to see if you can even get people to watch you and cook with you in an online format. The nice thing about doing those kinds of things online is you can test them and see if they work, and if they don't, then you can move on and try something else without having the commitment of signing paperwork for a building and the space and all the equipment and all that stuff. It allows for a lot more room for experimentation.
What I could even imagine down the road is . . . I'm just waving my magic wand here. I can envision you teaching a cooking class, perhaps live, that then gets repurposed into a video that people can watch later, because maybe that's how they can then find you on YouTube and whatnot. Different recipes that you cook and whatnot. But I can even see that being filmed in your own kitchen at home. Because it's online and you just have a camera, it literally could just be in the comfort of your own home so you actually wouldn't need to be away from your family. One step further, you could even involve them, too, to have more of a family feel and get the whole family cooking together, which ties into what you said earlier about getting the parents involved as well.
I'm just thinking out loud here, but I would challenge you to create your perfect situation. And although we might not be able to build that or build that right away, it'll at least give you essentially that address that you put in the navigation menu in your vehicle so you know which direction to go. You know that, “Okay, I'm not going to get a physical space because that's not the direction I want to go, because this is what I want.” So really going back to, well, if you had a magic wand and you could shape it to anything that you could, now knowing what you know about the physical business and yourself, what would that look like? You don't have to answer that right now, because that's going to take potentially some time and some communication with your family as well, but I would ask you to be open to possibilities.
Tiffany: In the past, I have had the mindset of I'm on Facebook mostly going after the moms with the kids of a specific age, because they're the ones that sign their kids up for classes for the most part. I've been thinking that I had . . . A lot of my best friend advisors, my advisory group around me don't quite understand this, but I think it's a mindset switch to trying to reach the kids directly through YouTube, and then they turn around and say, “Hey, I really want to take this class online. You know, can I register for this?” Because unfortunately, that's where they live, in front of these little . . .
Pat: It is.
Tiffany: They've got their little tablets set up in the kitchen, and they're already watching. I mean, look at the Kids Baking Championship and all of that. I mean, that's . . .
Pat: It's one of my favorite shows. Honestly, that show is just—
Tiffany: One of my students is going to be on the show that starts in January.
Pat: That's so cool.
Tiffany: Yes, Paige. When you're watching it in January and you see Paige, she is not on that show because of me. She is there all on her own, but she is one . . . She has been to a couple of classes. We did a mock show about a year ago, and she really rocked it. That's just a little fun side note on that.
Pat: That's so cool. What I love about that as well is you're going to get these kids to talk to their parents and introduce them for you versus you—
Pat: . . . cold going to the parents. In addition to that, some of those parents that might end up learning about you from their kids and you can position yourself to make this happen sooner than later, some of those parents may also be influencers who know and have super large audiences or who may have their own YouTube channels. So a way to grow would be to, for example, invite another YouTuber who has their family-friendly YouTube channel, and they have millions of subscribers. Invite them over or go to their house and teach them a recipe together. What an amazing way to, A, be with people in person, B, have the parents of that child also validate you and what you have going on. Maybe there's a partnership in there that's more formal, maybe not, but I mean, there are so many more amazing opportunities when you live in the YouTube space with collaborations that I've found to be true since going pretty hard on YouTube the last year or so. That sounds fun. I don't know what you think about that, but I mean, that was . . . You brought up YouTube as the idea, because you know that's where the kids are.
Tiffany: I do. That's because, unfortunately, when you ask my ten-year-old son what he wants to do when he grows up, he says, “I want to be a YouTuber.”
Pat: They're all saying that.
Tiffany: Because he's in the Minecraft, and of course I stand behind him looking at these twenty-one-year-old kids who that's their job.
Tiffany: Yes, DanTDM, exactly. I had to say, “Okay, we have to turn this off for a bit because you're starting to talk like a twenty-two-year-old,” but I think there's got to be a slice of that pie that I can fit myself into.
Pat: There is a slice of that pie. There is.
Tiffany: We've actually identified a place in my basement where I'm going to build my own video studio, and we're going to take one of the stations from the cooking school and put it down there. I wasn't sure when we started that where it was going to go, but—
Pat: That could work.
Tiffany: . . . YouTube is definitely this granddaddy vision that that would be really spectacular.
Pat: I mean, invite your previous students one at a time to come in and cook with you for different videos. You'll still have that interaction with them while they're going and then while they're cooking, and you can have them as guests who come on.
Tiffany: Sure. That's great.
Pat: I mean, they're going to share with their friends like, “Oh my gosh, I was in this video. Look friends, here it is on YouTube.” They're going to text to it to all their friends because they're going to feel like a celebrity, because you're giving them that platform. Versus, it was really cool that you have them in a cooking class, but then after the class is over, well, the class is over. Now, the class is over, and now things can just get started.
Tiffany: That's awesome.
Pat: I love that. I cannot wait. I do want to have, potentially, a few weeks from now, another followup call to see what has come out of this, and whether that ends up on AskPat or not. We'll figure it out, but I definitely love to formally invite you back on later in the year once we've had time to implement and just see what happens if you'd be down for that.
Tiffany: Of course I would be honored.
Pat: Tiffany, this was a great call and very different from a lot of the other ones that we've had, which were more like, “Oh, here's the advertising strategy you should use.” I appreciate you so much for sharing and for being vulnerable and for being honest. It's super inspiring, and I think I can speak for everybody listening right now. We're all behind you. We cannot wait to see what comes out of this.
Tiffany: I appreciate that. I do think that there's a lot of people out there that decided that they couldn't do it and couldn't talk about it. In closing, I thought that when I started this, that what I was going to teach my children was how to dream big. I think the far greater lesson has been how to fail gracefully and to pick yourself up, and that it's not the end. It's just a step along the way. I'm grateful that they have had that opportunity to see me go through that because they will be faced with that at some point in their life.
Pat: And so will everybody listening to this. Wow. Tiffany, thank you so much for that. I'm going to clip that quote, by the way.
Tiffany: Thank you.
Pat: I'm going to clip it. I'm going to share it on social media, because that was amazing. You said it beautifully.
Tiffany: Thank you.
Pat: Where can people go right now to follow your journey?
Tiffany: Sure. It's very simple. KidsCookingSchool.org is our website. On Facebook, it's The Kids Cooking School. Our YouTube channel doesn't have enough subscribers to have a name yet, but it will soon.
Pat: It will get there. It will get there.
Tiffany: It will soon. Yes.
Pat: Awesome. Well, we have all the relevant links in the show notes. Tiffany, thank you once again. I appreciate you.
Tiffany: Thank you. Bye. Bye.
Pat: All right. I hope you enjoyed that episode with Tiffany from kidscookingschool.org. Just amazing. I wish this was in every city. I was watching a future presidential potential candidate talk about how malls are becoming vacant because of Amazon taking a lot of the small business away, and money's going into online and retail and not going into our malls and small mom and pop shops. This candidate had mentioned that one of the things that we could do to stimulate the economy again was to perhaps use to these malls in certain ways for different things that can help the community. Tiffany's idea of the Kids Cooking School would be an amazing insertion into that idea.
I even thought about potentially helping kids with entrepreneurship in those kinds of settings. It's having a trickle down effect with the economies in those local areas next to the mall. Housing prices are going down. Neighborhoods or are becoming less attractive. It's crazy how Amazon and other big online retailers are having that kind of an effect on things that we wouldn't think would be related, but it completely does. Anyway, just kind of a little off topic here, but, again, I'm just so thankful that Tiffany was able to share her journey here so far. I think we're just getting started with all the amazing things that she's going to do and all the amazing kids and the lives that are going to be changed as a result. I'm definitely in alignment with changing the lives of kids too. So Tiffany, thank you so much. Again, check out kidscookingschool.org. I'm a huge supporter of that organization and cooking classes for kids. It's just amazing. If you want to check that out, kidscookingschool.org.
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