I met Sarah Colby in a super supportive Facebook group that we are both in where we were both promoting our businesses. Sarah is a special education specialist: an IEP coach, consultant, and advocate. She helps parents navigate the special education system and facilitates effective communication between parents and schools to benefit their kiddo’s education. She’s a business natural and also extremely kind, passionate, and generous. I’m touched by her words below “If we’re not lifting each other up, we’re doing something wrong.” In the brief time I’ve known Sarah, this is absolutely how she shows up in the world. Absolute rock star. You can find her at www.sarahcolbyconsulting.com.
First things first – what would your walk-on-stage music be?
I’m not sure why but my first thought was something by the Grateful Dead. I love rock music and there is definitely more ‘walk-on-stage’ bands but their music makes me happy.
When did you start your business, and why did you create it?
I have been thinking about advocating for children and their families for years. Every time I had to sit in an IEP meeting and watch my supervisors make choices that were not in the best interest of children it has made me want to stand up and speak up for kids. Logically I understand that creating a fantastic special education program with basically no money is difficult but I don’t care. Like really really do not care. I believe that every child should get to attend a school / program that fits their needs and allows them to achieve their goals. I believe that every child should get the IEP they NEED, with the services and goals that fit those needs. I believe that every child matters, every child is important, and every child should be loved. The budget needs to stop dictating what kids can get. We need to do better and we need to do more. I can’t make the policy changes to make that happen, but I can help one child, one family at a time to get what they need.
Tell us about your business and what makes you unique in your field.
I’m providing a few services: individual coaching and IEP advocacy, special education consulting (to organizations / schools – training, program design, & general support), and BCBA consulting to organizations and schools (observations & functional behavior assessments).
I want to empower families to stand up for their kids in a new way. Parents already know how but IEP meetings are scary and overwhelming. A bunch of people are sitting around talking about YOUR kid but often aren’t truly including you in the conversation. I want to change that method. I want IEP meetings to be collaborative, team efforts where we all come together to create the IEP that the child needs. And if the school is not on board, then I will stand up and fight for that child because they deserve it. Every child deserves it.
As I scale up and can make it work, I’m going to divert funds from every package purchased into a scholarship fund so that every family can access services. This is a new business so I’m not there yet but I plan to be!
If you could magically give all of your community members one thing in this world, what would it be, and why?
The PERFECT IEP with the PERFECT school placement / program and MEANINGFUL inclusion opportunities. I would love it if every IEP team could be a yes team instead of a no team. If we could create programs to fit a child’s needs instead of fitting a child into the programs we have available.
Has anything surprised you about starting a business?
Yes! I absolutely love all of the digital design and creation. I have loved the marketing and the outreach. I did not think I would love all of the business and marketing stuff but I do! It’s a good thing too since I’m starting an MBA program next month! I have a meeting set up to discuss concentrations and I might do the marketing MBA concentration. Learning is so exciting! I said for years I would never go back and get another masters but here we are ????
I have met a (so far) small group of amazing women who are also creating businesses and it’s amazing. We are capable of so much!
Did you create your own website or hire it out? Do you use WordPress?
I created my own website using Canva. It was so much fun! I have been steadily making improvements. I will have to move to another platform at some point that supports multiple pages so that I can add different types of content but it works for now. I am also using Canva to create digital marketing content.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own business?
Ask yourself – what’s holding you back? Then make a plan to overcome those barriers. Is it money? Time? Fear? Reach out to the women on this blog – I’m willing to bet every one of them would be happy to mentor you and help you achieve your goals. If we’re not lifting each other up, we’re doing something wrong.
If you could go back in time and do something differently, what would you do and why?
I would have done this sooner. I would have done the research and started this business years ago so I could have been building my business and client base. I could have been helping people through the pandemic, when we were all struggling so much.
Do you have an email list? If so, did you start it when you launched?
I do have a (paltry) email list but in its defense I only started it about 3 weeks ago. Hopefully it’ll grow (and I’ll get my act together to make welcome emails automatic and such – clearly I have more research to do). If people want to join, here’s the signup.
How do you promote your site?
I have been using social media and personal referrals. I put myself out there however I can. I am new to this so I’m sure there are better methods available and I’ll learn them!
Who are your favorite bloggers or podcasts right now? Or what is an influential book that you’ve read lately?
I tend to listen to ABA Inside Track if I listen to a podcast and since it’s summer I’m reading fun books. Right now I’m reading historical fiction. The Veronica Speedwell series by Deanna Raybourn has a strong female lead who is defying convention while solving mysteries. I enjoyed that series a lot. I am a voracious reader (like 1 to 3 books per week depending on how late I stay up reading each night).
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
You don’t only get one chance, life is not short, and nothing will pass you by. Tomorrow, and next week, and next year are always out there for you to try again.