What do starting a band and starting a business have in common? This sounds like the start to a riddle, but it isn’t.
Over the last several years, I’ve grown a successful business by teaching online and in-person guitar lessons. I handle the accounting, marketing, promotion, and communication, as well as the actual teaching. But before I turned my passion into a career, I was a musician, playing gigs in bars around Baton Rouge with a group of buddies who also played music.
As I’ve refined my business skills, I’ve noticed that many lessons I learned when I was in my band helped shape me into the businessman I am today. My experiences booking gigs, collaborating with my bandmates, and handling promotions have all provided valuable insights that I’ve been able to apply to my career now.
From band to business
Choose your partners wisely. Being in a band is about a lot more than just playing songs in a garage with your friends. Reaching a certain level of success where you are paid to play music requires discipline and collaboration - in fact, I’d even say that we spent more time handling logistics, finding bars to play in, and handling financial situations than we did practicing. This is why it’s vital to find partners that you trust and can work well with.
A few months into playing in the band, I realized that some of my band mates weren’t pulling their weight when it came to this logistical work. They were good friends and musicians, but some didn’t have the level of dedication that it took on the business side of things to be successful. In the same way, it’s important to surround yourself with colleagues that are as committed to your shared goals and vision as you are. Take the time to vet the people that you choose to bring into your business, and make sure they have the necessary skills and dedication to help move your company forward.
At first, you have to commit to doing things you don’t necessarily love. Many people start their own business because they want to work for themselves, and because they have a passion and the necessary skillset to make it happen. When I started my guitar lesson business, I knew I loved teaching.I had seen success teaching ski lessons, and teaching myself how to play instruments. I also loved the guitar, and I was enthralled by the idea of getting paid to do something I enjoyed.
However, even if you’re committing to a business idea that allows you to fulfill your passion, there are many aspects of the job that probably won’t be inherently exciting. When I first started playing music, I had to handle my own recording. I had to buy my own equipment and teach myself how to record, even though it wasn’t an aspect of music I enjoyed.
In the same way, entrepreneurs have to handle human resources, accounting, and administrative tasks besides the core work of their business. When you continue to grow your company, eventually you can have the resources to hire people to handle these aspects - but at the beginning, keep in mind that you’re committing to the non-glamorous facets of your business, too.
No matter what, keep growing and learning. There was a point in my business where I had enough students to pay my bills, and was living comfortably. I was coasting. I realized this was dangerous - if you’re not growing and continuing to improve, you’ll find the quality of your work slipping. Many bands also fall into this trap. They book a few gigs, master a few songs, and start coasting.
The people who get ahead, both in music and in business, are the ones that will see true success. I decided to start online courses along with my in-person courses, which accelerated my business more than I could have hoped by just staying stagnant with my regular lessons. By pushing yourself to innovate in your company, as well as committing to all aspects of the business and finding key business partners to collaborate with, you’ll push yourself closer to your goals.
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