What Music Has Taught Me About Starting a Business
Yes, that is a picture of me (about 100 haircuts ago).
Music has been a part of my life for a long time. In the 6th grade I signed up to play trumpet in the school band. This introduction into music led me to learn how to play the piano and dabble on the drums. In high school, some of my friends were starting a band and needed a bass player, so of course I ran to the nearest pawn shop and bought a bass. After becoming the singer of the band, we decided we wanted to skip college and become rock stars.
And to some extent, we did. We loaded up a van, booked some shows across the country, and hit the road for months at a time. We worked hard and were finally living our dream.
Even now that I’ve decided to plant some roots, I continue to keep music in my life. I started a 90s cover band (Zoodust) with a group of friends and continue to perform on weekends.
The thing is, music hasn’t only served as a creative outlet for me. It’s also taught me a lot about launching a business. These are the biggest lessons I’ve learned so far.
You’re Not Going to Be an Overnight Success
Even in the Youtube era, odds of a musician making it big overnight are slim. It takes hard work, focus, and time to become successful.
When I launched my coaching business, I had a vision in my head of becoming successful immediately. I’m a hard worker and want to see results right away. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
In every new venture, there is a season of development. It takes time to figure out your niche, what you’re going to offer, how you’re going to present it, and where you ultimately want to go with the business.
When we started Zoodust, we spent close to a year learning songs and rehearsing. Can you guess how much money we brought in during that first year? That’s right; $0. However, it was necessary for us to take that time to develop.
If we started playing shows after only a month of rehearsal, it would have been a train wreck. Putting out a subpar product would give us a negative reputation. Even though we weren’t bringing in revenue that first year, we were progressing as a band and setting ourselves up for long term success.
Learn Your Clientele
A huge part of launching a business is making sure there is a demand for your product. It’s important to search the market for a problem that your product can solve.
Why did we start a 90s band? It’s simple; we loved 90s music and noticed there weren’t many 90s bands in our area. 80s bands had been popular for a long time, so we knew there was a demand for cover bands. We saw a problem in the market and came up with a solution.
It doesn’t just stop there though. We learned that you have to constantly monitor your clientele and make sure you’re meeting their needs. For the first couple of years in our band, we learned a bunch of songs that we liked. However, over time we realized some of these songs were duds whenever we played them live. We had to watch the audience, see which songs were hits, and seek out similar songs to learn. We started out covering only 90s rock. Now, we cover anything that was popular, including pop and R&B.
Accept That Your Product Isn’t for Everyone
This one was tough for me. As a people pleaser, I want my product to appeal to everyone. Why would I want to exclude certain people?
The truth is, trying to appeal to everyone can end up excluding everyone.
Remember that band I toured with? We were a hard rock band that including loud guitars, screaming, and the occasional backflip on stage. This style of music definitely didn’t appeal to everyone, but our target audience loved it.
Imagine if we tried to please everyone. We go on stage and open with a bluegrass tune, follow it up with some hip-hop, and close the night with a death metal song. Even though we played a song for everyone, no one would probably buy our CD. Why? By giving everyone a song in their style, we would give them a handful of others that they hate.
With Zoodust, I occasionally get the request for some grunge. At first I felt guilty saying we don’t play any Nirvana or Stone Temple Pilots. Now I simply tell them we don’t play that style of music and sometimes even offer a suggestion for another 90s band that does. It may look like I’m turning away potential customers, but our job is to take care of our target audience. If he doesn’t fall into that group, that’s ok with me.
Be Patient- Let Your Business Grow Naturally
The frustratingly beautiful thing about music is that no one picks up an instrument and masters it right away. It takes time and practice. There’s no skipping to the amazing guitar solos until you learn some chords. You can’t become first chair clarinet until you learn finger placements and mouth structures
The number 1 cause of a start-up failing is premature scaling. This means a business tries to go too big too quickly. It’s easy for entrepreneurs to look around and see what other businesses are doing and feel pressured to do the same thing. However, if you’re not ready, don’t do it.
Let’s look at my hard rock band, Riot Like Words. As sophomores in high school, we had no other choice but to grow slowly. We started out jamming in my buddy’s shed and playing show’s in a friend’s backyard. It was simple, fun, and a valuable time of growth.
Now imagine if we had compared ourselves to a famous band that was touring, selling records, and producing merchandise. If they were doing it, then we should have been doing it too, right? We could have spent thousands on those things before we ever made a cent. We would have grown too quickly and set ourselves up for failure.
Instead, we took it slow. After we had a few paying gigs, we were able to save up enough to record a small record. The sales from our records gave us enough to invest in t-shirts. T-shirt profits led to more albums, a tour van, and professional sound equipment. It took years to get there, but we did it the right way.
Are you an entrepreneur trying to grow your business? I help entrepreneurs create a financial plan that helps them utilize every dollar to its full potential so they can become more profitable. To set up a consultation, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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