Skip to content

S1 E3: Baby-Proofing Your Business: How To Set Up Your Studio So It Can Run Without You

Grab a cuppa, subscribe to Your Studio Podcast and let's get started!
Join Masterclass: It's a free group with monthly training sessions designed to keep you motivated as you grow your studio in an authentic and heart led way - for Studio Owners

New baby on the way and worried about your studio? Don’t sweat it!

In this episode, Chantelle and Michelle share their secrets for “baby-proofing” your business for a stress-free leave and a smooth return. Learn how to create consistent processes, build a comprehensive playbook, and leverage tools like Trello to keep your studio running like a dream, even when you’re busy with your new arrival.

Please make sure to subscribe and review if you like what you hear!

If you’ve got a studio problem you’d like us to solve, leave us a voicemail here:

Be sure to follow us for more content perfect for Studio Owners!
Instagram: @thestudioevolution
YouTube: @thestudioevolution
Facebook: @TheStudioEvolution

And if you’d like some more support, find out how we could help you here:


Michelle Hunter (00:00)

Why don’t you look like you need botox, Chantelle. Look at my lines on my forehead.

Chantelle Bruinsma (00:03)

Nope, nope, nope, nope, look.

Michelle Hunter (00:07)

Look at this, look at this. It’s like you, the contikis there mate. You can see those lines are contiki. Look at

Chantelle Bruinsma (00:08)

Look at this! Look at this.


So how do we sound? How do we look? And be kind.

Michelle Hunter (00:20)

Please be kind.

Chantelle Bruinsma (00:22)

I wish I had washed my hair.

Michelle Hunter (00:26)

headphones it’s fine it’s a stall.

Chantelle Bruinsma (00:28)

wearing headphones. Did you? How’s it feeling?

Michelle Hunter (00:29)

I didn’t wash mine either. And I went to the gym yesterday. You’ve been so proud of me. Yeah.

Yeah, it’s horrible. I cried the whole

Chantelle Bruinsma (00:36)

Hello lovelies. How are you? Chantelle and Michelle here and welcome back for another episode of Your Studio Podcast. We hope you’re enjoying the show. Michelle and I, we’re freaking loving this. It is just such a giggle time. It’s really fun. It’s really fun. And if you are enjoying this, it would mean the absolute world to Michelle and I. If you would pause this podcast right here, right now, and just go and leave us a review and tell us what you’re enjoying about it, what you’re getting out of it.

Michelle Hunter (00:47)

We’re having a hoot!

Chantelle Bruinsma (01:06)

and we would be so appreciative if you would take just a minute to be able to go do this. And then the second thing to go do right now is to click subscribe to this show. And this means you will not miss an episode and it will show up in your feed. So please be sure to go number one, go leave us a review. Number two is to subscribe to our show and then jump on back because we’re diving into a topic that is incredibly close to our hearts, both personally and professionally. Isn’t that right, Michelle?

Michelle Hunter (01:33)

It is. And today we’re going to be talking about baby proofing your business. And, it is so close to our hearts. We’ve done this quite a few times, even the time when we had our second babies 12 weeks apart. no, no, no, no. and also just recently I had my third child who’s now almost nine months old and, we just went through this whole exercise again, just recently a year ago and I came back from maternity leave.

Chantelle Bruinsma (01:47)

We don’t recommend that. We don’t recommend that.

thing that’s most important to us us, I suppose, as as women, as mothers and as business owners is that, you know, creating, setting it up so you can actually enjoy this season of your life. Like it’s so precious. It’s so fleeting. You know, anyone who’s got kids, like, you know, it goes fast, but those initial months are intense and being in the, what we call the vortex, you’re in the vortex. And to be able to be fully,

Michelle Hunter (02:17)


vortex, the vortex we call it.

Chantelle Bruinsma (02:32)

present and being there for the baby, listening to your body and actually having the space and not being stressed off your head about work or even having to think about work. That for us is the definition of what baby proofing your business is. Could we actually entirely remove you from the studio for a few months, you know, three, four, five, six, we’ve had clients do 12 entire months without requiring you. And that is the greatest gift we can give ourselves.

Michelle Hunter (02:58)

Mm -hmm.

completely. And I think you get better at doing it as you go along, right? Because the first time can be a bit daunting. But once you have everything set up and really well planned and ready to go, it gets easier. I think that from the second time I took maternity leave, it was great. And then this time it was just amazing. And even though things didn’t all go to plan, it was still such a smooth transition.

Chantelle Bruinsma (03:23)

I mean, I will bring you in. So Michelle created, I actually didn’t count up how many pages that Michelle handover document was, but I’m estimating it would be in the realm of like 160 pages worth of kind of like notes. Like the woman prepared so generously. And like, that sounds like a lot, but that was so kind actually, because the whole team and I were incredibly clear of timelines and expectations. And we knew exactly how to,

keep the ship going. My goal for Michelle Maternilli was don’t burn the ship down. That was my only outcome while she was off.

Michelle Hunter (04:01)

And I think I lulled you all into a false sense of security. Cause I said, here’s the maternity leave document. And it was like six pages and like, this is amazing. But then like every section linked to a different section of the playbook document. But it was great because that kind of high level scaffold, like you didn’t need to see everything because we have quite a few departments with managers who run everything. So you had a whole holistic view and then the team who needed to have, you know, access to those.

Chantelle Bruinsma (04:07)

No. To 24 pages of notes.


Michelle Hunter (04:27)

recordings and those processes and those timelines of what happens at this timeline and happens at this week of the pillar. It was just so easily accessible for the whole team and for you to have like a bird’s eye view as well.

Chantelle Bruinsma (04:27)


You were so calm and you were totally off, like, which is rare for you to do. Like Michelle, like is incredibly present in this company, but it was really beautiful to see you completely surrender to this maternity leave and just be off entirely for, you know, was it at least four months.

Michelle Hunter (04:53)

At least, and it’s, and look, full transparency. It’s been a big journey for me to be able to do that. I think we’ve always had the systems in the business to support that. But I think it’s that personal piece of letting go. And I see this with a lot of studio owners who love and care so deeply, like I do of the business. but again, I could think the systems were so well planned. I really was able to surrender. and I think I had no choice cause, you know, I’d send you photos at four o ‘clock in the morning.

of all the kids in my bed with the newborn. This is my reality right now. But it was dripping with children and milk and all the things, but it really was beautiful. And I think that’s so important when you actually give yourself the space to fully surrender, not just like partially like, I’ll just be off for the first couple of weeks and then tap in here, answer a phone call there. You’re not going to come back in the zone.

Chantelle Bruinsma (05:26)

That’s so cool.

You are dripping with children, dripping with children.

I’ve heard horror stories. I’ve heard of studio, like dance studio owners particularly up teaching a class within six days. And I’m like, your pelvic floor is not designed for that. Like that is not, you know, the care, sorry.

Michelle Hunter (06:00)

But just like emotionally, I can’t, you know, we’ve been there now a few times and just having to hold that and walk that and that pressure to go back in, baby proofing is huge. And we stress it a lot in evolution and in our programs. It is such a big part of the business and it’s not just having a baby. Let’s be clear when you’re baby proofing your business, you actually proofing your business for emergencies. You’re proofing your business and getting it ready to sell.

Chantelle Bruinsma (06:13)


Michelle Hunter (06:30)

When you baby proof your business, you’re actually getting it ready to run on autopilot completely.

Chantelle Bruinsma (06:36)

And really it’s so true because like when you can demonstrate that the business can operate without you, the founder, the kind of the face, and it can continue to sustain and, you know, continue to uphold the quality of what you deliver. You’re the asset you’ve built is actually huge. Like it becomes more saleable. It becomes more replicable. And that is, it’s like a gift. So like go have a baby. If you’re feeling like you’re kind of like, like you’re in it too much, like go have a baby everyone. Like this is really great advice.

Michelle Hunter (06:51)


Chantelle Bruinsma (07:05)

just to like, because it shifts your relationship, you’ve got to get more systems in place. And it kind of nothing like a deadline to motivate you to get those systems built, right?

Michelle Hunter (07:05)

Yeah, it is.


So, so true. So, so true. And I think we’ve seen it in the business Chantelle and for a lot of our, you know, studio owners in our community. Babies can bring a lot of abundance into the business.

Chantelle Bruinsma (07:17)


my goodness. my goodness. It’s, it’s, it’s quite beautiful. You know, even the process of having a baby, it’s so creative. Like I myself had a huge surge of creativity in my pregnancy. And there’s like a prolificness and like, you know, depending on how your pregnancies go, right? You know, some people struggle horrendously and like everyone has their own experience. But for me, it’s this lovely thing of.

There’s such joy and such wonder in welcoming a baby into the world and you know, you have this really precious, precious moment in your life when everything comes. And what I’ve seen happen many times is that as you bring this creativity in and your community gets excited, like there is this like outpouring of love towards you and it just kind of like attracts more of that. So I’ve seen a lot of studio owners grow their business in that kind of 12 months after having their baby.

I myself, we had our biggest revenue month ever when I was eight months pregnant with Delilah, my second child. Like it was a lot. I’ll be honest with you, it was a lot, but it’s amazing.

Michelle Hunter (08:33)


Yep. It was amazing. And, and yeah, it’s, but it is, it brings a lot of creativity and Chantelle, your mind is a wonder. I often think how, how your mind works, but when you’re pregnant, it is on another, another level. Some of the biggest models that you’ve created in our curriculum and how we actually run the business. I remember you distinct, I think maybe you were pregnant with your first child.

Chantelle Bruinsma (08:58)


Michelle Hunter (09:06)

and it was really hot and you sent me a voice memo and you were trying to nut out a certain structural, model in our business and it dropped for you and you, you messaged me and I thought you were gonna tell me the baby was born, but no. And.

Chantelle Bruinsma (09:08)


No, no, I was, I was nine months pregnant because I was overdue with my first and I was, it was the peak of summer and I spent all day waiting in the pool, like a hippo. And I would just set myself up at the edge of the pool with the book and a notepad. And I would just like go from one side to the other, lolling about like a giant hippo because I was so comfortable there and just cool. And I would just think, and I think it was so true. It was absolutely like the entire structure of our company now came from that moment when I was like,

Michelle Hunter (09:24)

That’s right.


Chantelle Bruinsma (09:48)

peak of pregnancy and just allowing myself a bit of space. And that’s the beauty again of this process. So when it comes to actually preparing for the baby proofing time, we’ve had a lot of, there’s a few different ways you can approach it, but essentially what we’re looking is for number one, looking at how we can possibly reduce the kind of variables.

Like that is the heart of this whole process. How can we produce the variable so it’s more consistent, it’s cleaner and it’s more, it’s easier for your team to maintain. So we’re looking for how can I make things sustainable for the team to deliver while I’m off. Now, the biggest kind of issue that often comes up for studio owners is the money factor, right? And that if you’re doing the lion’s share of teaching,

It’s a really difficult financial model to kind of work out how is the business going to sustain this and how am I going to make money if I’m not kind of taking the profit from the teaching. So how I would like to encourage you to think about that is when you run a business like this, it’s kind of like buy your own maternity leave. Like right now it’s a short little season of time. And if you can just know that, okay, for these, you know, four to six months,

I’m not gonna be taking home as much. And if you can save in the interim until then, that’s going to allow you to have the time and you will pick it up from there. So that’s the first thing to be able to really think of is that you are in a place to be able to give this to yourself if you allow it. This time is so precious, we don’t want you to squander it. This time with your baby is really, really important for both of you. And the next thing is building out the system’s manual, which…

allows your team and it’s exactly what Michelle gave to us when Michelle went on leave, she created this unbelievable handover document that let us know kind of what to do and how to do it and when to do it. So do you want to talk about the playbook Michelle and how we set that up and and how it comes into play in a in a baby proofing situation?

Michelle Hunter (12:02)

Yeah, I love to. And the playbook is the pinnacle and the cornerstone and, you know, the heart of so many, well, for our business and for so many studio businesses, for studios that have come through and worked with us and done the playbook project. And essentially the playbook is, think of it like your one stop shop Rolodex that has everything in there from all your operations, your marketing, pretty much all facets of your business.

Chantelle Bruinsma (12:12)


Michelle Hunter (12:32)

you know, procedures in the studio, you know, things of like where everything’s logged for your curriculum, everything in there, back to front and all the systems are not only documented, but there’s a brief for each system. So there’s really some context of the intention around the system, what you’re trying to achieve with the client or the staff member or the team that that’s working on that at the time. And then we also have corresponding video trainings and really good indexing and resource references in there as well.

Chantelle Bruinsma (13:01)

The video training bits gold you want to kind of talk about how you do that, huh?

Michelle Hunter (13:05)

100%. I think when building the playbook, there’s a bit of a, you know, we’ve had ours now for like eight years. So it’s been going a very long time and we actually refine it every 12 months because you know, businesses and systems evolve and technology and software, you know, improves efficiency. But in each area of those, we kind of do like an audit or refinement of the process for beginning to end. And then once we go through the refinement process, we actually,

Each process has a video. So showing you how to log into that tech software, what the tech software does, then actually shows us doing the actual process and then the follow up into the next task. And by doing this, we’ve actually decreased onboarding time with staff members from weeks to like days. So it’s so gold in regards to that. And then for handover for baby proofing, it’s just a.

constant resource that when you’re not there, they just go back to the playbook. They can use the search function. They can look up the contents and all the index page and it’s all there at their fingertips. And the video is really like in real time. You’re recording as you go and you’re screen sharing, they’re seeing it all.

Chantelle Bruinsma (14:16)

It’s so It’s that really smart thing. Cause you’re already doing this stuff. So when you were looking at baby proofing, you’ve got this, the few months to kind of really lock this down and you’re doing these things every day. So let’s say you sit down at your computer and you’re going through, okay, okay, this is how to enroll a new student. You open up zoom, you click share screen, and then you just share what is ever on your screen and you talk over it. Okay. So first of all, I’m going to click here and I’m going to click this button.

Michelle Hunter (14:21)

You’re doing it.

Chantelle Bruinsma (14:42)

which is gonna allow me to select this dropdown menu here because this student is da, da, da, da, da. Then I’m gonna go down here and the important thing to remember when you go here is X, Y and Z. Then I click submit here, but then the next step after this is to go to this mail, kind of our CRM system and bring them onto our automated email list. And that’s gonna be in part two of this video. And then you click done. Like it’s simply talking through how you do things so that…

they don’t have to come to you and be shown again and you don’t have to sit down with them necessarily and show them. You can ask them to see the watch the video if they’ve got questions come to you. So there’s, but then when you’re off, they don’t have to like, which was the drop down option I needed to choose? Like that’s what’s gonna drive you insane and what you do not want to be doing. It’s the best thing ever.

Michelle Hunter (15:26)

It’s the best thing. And like level two, like 2 .0, I see a lot of our, you know, our operations manager is just like the automation, automation wizard here at Studio Evolution. Nic, she’s amazing. And with the playbook, she actually then embed certain trainings from the playbook into our Asana. So like a project management task software. So as they actually go through sub tasks and they click mark off, those videos are also kind of embedded as they go into their working process. So it’s actually,

The playbook is like the heart and it can just speed up processes because you know, one video or section of that playbook might be used in six different areas of the business, like even for marketing. And that’s when the leverage of the training and the systems and baby proofing your business is really, is golden. And when you’re off, all the answers are there. They have it all at their fingertips.

Chantelle Bruinsma (16:04)


What we love, so what we provide with our clients in Studio Evolution that makes this really quick is Trello is a project management software. It’s free. It’s a really, if you haven’t got something kind of like organizing everything going on in your business, we really recommend Trello because it’s what a lot of our clients use. And there’s a fabulous kind of fun little Trello trick that we’ve created a spreadsheet with kind of columns of like different categories of your business. So we’re going to have a.

you know, an onboarding column, we’re going to have a marketing column, we’re going to have a retention column, we’re going to have a team column. And we’ve actually mapped out all of the kind of essential categories of topics of things that you probably need to, you’ll be doing in your business. You’re going to have a section of like how to promote a workshop. You’re going to have a section of like doing re -enrollment. You’re going to have like a section of like what to do when a student decides to leave the studio, what to do when a credit card bounces, like all of these, literally everything you can think of, we’ve put into one spreadsheet.

And you can actually just copy, you just kind of select it all and then you just upload it into Trello and it goes ding. And what we love about this project that we work on with our clients is that pretty much your goal is to fill in those cards. And so you now have a full spectrum of, okay, these are the things that my team need guidance in, in order for me to not be responsible for guiding them through it. Like they’ve got somewhere to go to ask the questions without having to come and knock on your door, which is.

when you’re dripping with children, not easy and not what you want. And we actually do like a traffic light system with our clients so that you can actually label them red, orange or green. And so the red ones, the labeled in Trello little card, this is like, I haven’t yet done, I haven’t yet done a video of like how to, when a credit card bounces. And then like when you, your wife, you’re kind of, this is my kind of next, my like short list of the next 10 ones I’m going to do. I’m going to put them orange.

And then when you’ve done the little video of what to do when a credit card bounces, you turn it to green. So then you can see at a glance, like literally on one page of this Trello board, you can see which of your systems have been built out in your playbook and which ones are still yet to come. And it’s just an unbelievable feeling of when you start building this asset out more that we are just really, really advocates for. Because the cool thing about this, Michelle, is that when you have a baby,

there is a real tendency, you could just step right on back in and do everything you did before, right? But you actually have choice, which is quite fun.

Michelle Hunter (18:48)

Totally, totally. And it’s that letting, letting go piece, right? And normally what you find, if you’ve set this playbook up and you’re hand over so well, you come back and you don’t have to go back to everything. And you know, that was a huge turning point for me when I came back and then it was like, well, then what do I love to do? And where is my time best spent in, in growing and growing the business and, and serving our community? So.

for a studio owner coming back, we’ve had a studio owner who was in our program and she completely baby -proofed her business, Chantelle, and I know you know exactly who I’m talking about. And she was on a timeline and her studio was in a regional remote area. And when she came back, she actually had twins, so what a way to baby -proof a business. And when she came back, she returned.

Chantelle Bruinsma (19:37)

Hands full.

Michelle Hunter (19:42)

The baby proofing was so successful. We’re watching her building these systems as she was pregnant in the program. And, and just to hear when she actually returned, she returned to teaching the classes that she loved. She came back from her maternity leave on her terms and it’s a really beautiful story and into a story, but it’s also a huge learning piece and development piece as a studio owner as well.

Chantelle Bruinsma (20:05)

To be able to go, well, if the team are doing this, do I need to take it back? And if I were to just take back what I absolutely love doing, what would that look like? And could I, you know, have my time diverted to high level things to kind of really, you know, more strategic time in the business. It’s really exciting. And we’ve had a lot of people join the program simply with the anticipation of wanting to have a baby, but knowing like,

My life is unsustainable right now and there’s no way I can bring a child into the world and continue this level of work. There’s no way I’m not going to do it to them. So they joined the program to get their systems in place and to kind of learn how to automate it. And then many, many of our clients have babies. We have a lot of babies in evolution. So many babies, a lot of babies. We love that. We love all the babies, but it’s really beautiful when we whisper too. It’s so, but these microphones.

Michelle Hunter (20:48)

A lot of babies, a lot of babies.

I’m sorry.

Chantelle Bruinsma (20:59)

we’re still getting used to the kind of the the intensity of these quality of microphones. But it’s it’s really beautiful to see you know studio owners lives change because they they decided to have a baby they then you know really devoted themselves to getting the systems in place so that they could be the mother that they wanted to be or the father like depending you know you know even for dads here this is the exact same principle you want to work less a baby is going to give you such motivation in order to make that happen and this is

Michelle Hunter (21:03)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.


Chantelle Bruinsma (21:27)

just a powerful time for you to shift the relationship of maybe the baby, you know, our studios are our first babies. I’ve often kind of, I’ve got three children. I’ve got studio evolution and then two actual children, right? But there comes a time when that the first baby, that studio baby isn’t a newborn anymore. You know, it’s kind of even, and then as children grow they’re.

you know, they step into preschool, they’ve got a little bit more independence. And then like they’re at school five days a week and then they become a teenager and then they’re an adult. Like there should be a progression with the business. The follow is that in the early days, newborns need so much love and attention and, you know, 24 hour care. But as they grow, your children should require less of you. And the exact same is the truth with your business. And so that’s what we’re seeking to do. And through the playbook, it’s totally possible. And it’s also just really staying connected to,

What do I want to do and what do I need to do in this business? And if my team are really capable and running, what else could be possible if that’s true?

Michelle Hunter (22:29)

And that’s when we see those studio owners who come back and think what is possible. And that’s when we see, we see dramatic growth when they come back and step in on their terms and what they want to do when working on the business.

Chantelle Bruinsma (22:42)

Yeah, it’s the best. So if you are in the stage right now of looking at baby proofing your studio for this next period of time, the best advice we can give you is to build out that kind of playbook and really think through all of the kind of recurring tasks that you do and just kind of jot them down. And then as you’re doing them, just open up Zoom and record yourself as you just talk through it. Like you’re already doing this stuff every bloody day.

Michelle Hunter (22:44)

So good.

Chantelle Bruinsma (23:10)

just kind of talk through it and start building out this library of assets. I think that my cookbooks, like it’s like a recipe, like you need this, here are the steps to follow, off you go. Like it’s, it’s, so it should be like straightforward.

Michelle Hunter (23:16)


And then once you read that recipe so many times, it’s like ingrained in your head, right? And that’s going to be saying for your admin team, your teaching team, your marketing. Yeah.

Chantelle Bruinsma (23:28)

Yeah, love it, love it. Well, we are cheering you on in your baby -proofing efforts. It’s a beautiful thing to do. And yeah, remember that babies do bring abundance. Babies do bring that surge of love and creativity into your studio that is just only for the best.

Michelle Hunter (23:46)

Thanks friends and we’ll catch you soon. Bye.

Studio Evolution favicon
Join Masterclass: It's a free group with monthly training sessions designed to keep you motivated as you grow your studio in an authentic and heart led way - for Studio Owners

Read More