At Patriot Software, we’re committed to providing accounting and payroll software that lets small business owners keep their time and money for what they love: running their business!

Our #PatriotSpotlight customer success stories celebrate and inspire U.S. small business owners across the country. For our March small business spotlight, we spoke to Rachel Beard, founder of The Harmony Garden Music Center, a business which offers Kindermusik classes, private lessons on a variety of instruments, and children’s choirs.

But, the New York-based business does more than teach students music—since opening its doors in 2013, The Harmony Garden Music Center has grown into a community.   

Can you tell me a little bit about what you do and offer?

Where do I start? I went to school for Music Education and spent two years teaching in public school. School districts across the country were slashing music and sports due to budget cuts, so there were no jobs to be had.

I started teaching cello and piano lessons out of my parents’ living room. Then, I began teaching Kindermusik, which is a mommy-and-me style music program that focuses on whole-child development.

The Harmony Garden Music Center’s Kindermusik program is about developing all areas of the child through music and movement. We’re not just making little Mozarts—we’re also engaging our students’ motor, speech, and communication skills. It’s joyful to watch. I’ve had some students since birth who are now going into kindergarten!

We also offer private lessons and a children’s choir. Our guiding mission is to nurture the hearts and minds of our students through music.

What gave you the idea to start a music center?

I had a lot of teachers who made me want to go on to be a teacher.

Growing up, I had to drive 40 minutes to go to my music lessons. When I was a teenager, I thought that I needed to change this—I wanted something for students and adults locally.

At The Harmony Garden Music Center, I get to work one on one with students so I can better meet their goals. And, students can work at their own pace, which is important because students are very stressed out nowadays.

What’s your favorite part of owning The Harmony Garden Music Center?

I work all the time, but it’s nice to have that level of control over my schedule and what my day-to-day looks like (even if it’s busier than I want it to be).

Professionally, it’s been an absolute joy to watch younger people grow up, and for me to be a part of that in a really huge way!

And now that I have employees, I’m in a position to be a leader and create this legacy through The Harmony Garden Music Center.

How did you come up with your business’s name?

On a basic level, it’s pretty. Plus, I like gardening and flowers.

On a more poetic level: Harmony is, by definition in music, two or more sounds happening together. The studio has become not just a place of learning, but also a community and family.

If someone’s car breaks down and they can’t take their child to the studio, someone else will jump in. We’ve had tragedies, and without hesitation, people will ask where they can deliver a casserole to help.

The garden aspect represents growth because we’re helping people grow through music.

What are some of the biggest challenges of being a business owner?

New York state. Haha! I mean, you go into it with this happy little plan of teaching music, and then you realize that your taxes are that much.

When I first started, I was flying by the seat of my pants, trying to figure out what to do. I filed taxes by myself for a couple of years. I went in blindly, so I didn’t know the ins and outs of things like handling tax bills or getting approval from my town for the sign. But, I’ve always worked within my capacity, which has enabled me to operate my business debt-free.

Dealing with the flu is another challenge. How much Lysol can I apply to these surfaces?

On another note, the educational landscape has really changed in the last 15 years. It’s different because the stressors and responsibilities on kids are more.

Unfortunately, the industry is not recession-proof. Music is not a necessity, so if a family goes down to one income, they have to cut it.

How many hours do you typically work per week?

[Laughs]

Right now, things are a bit hectic.

I’m teaching seven hours a day and am also at my desk for two or three hours. I also do a half-day on Saturday and take work home on weekends to crunch out a newsletter.

How does Patriot’s payroll software help you run your business?

I just ran payroll this morning—I think it took me 20 minutes because I like to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s seven times.

I was really worried about going into the whole employee thing on my own, but it’s very streamlined and easy to navigate. The support team has been there whenever I’ve had a dumb question, too!

I was also so grateful to you all for all those links that you have on becoming an employer!

How does Patriot’s accounting software help you run your business?

Before, every single year I had a huge stack of receipts that I had to type by hand for my expenses. But now, I sync up my bank account, and it’s all there. It’s a lot easier than a spreadsheet of teeny-tiny receipts and going, “Oh wait, did I put that bill in?”

What are you most proud of when it comes to your business?

That I did it.

I hear the dreaded, most businesses don’t make it more than three years, but I’ve made it more than seven years—naivety and all. I guess I’ve had a long string of good luck … not that it was easy to do at all!

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to people thinking about starting a business?
Really to not go into it blindly. Ask questions of anyone you can. Network with people, and don’t be afraid to make friends in the business sphere—because everyone has something to offer.

Connect with The Harmony Garden Music Center: