Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in music but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Dustin Olde, Founder of COLORADO AMP, located in Arvada, CO, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are a non-profit with the goal of making pop music instruction available to families who wouldn't be able to afford it normally. We feel that music, for youth in particular, has the potential to strengthen both academics and social interactions and that, in relation to the increased use of electronic devices and the pandemic, it is in shortage for our kids. We want to accommodate kids who have creative instincts but who lack the outlet for making use of their skills because either their social or financial resources are limited. By giving them exposure to writing, recording, and performing, we are instilling them with self-esteem and success.
Tell us about yourself
I have worked for a long time in music and with youth. I served in Americorps, working with at-risk youth in a public school setting, as a paraprofessional in Denver Public Schools, and as a conflict and anger management counselor for teens. But, prior to that, I was a music performance major with a Bachelors Degree in Guitar Performance from Willamette University in Oregon. I perform locally in a couple of bands playing bass, guitar, mandolin, and banjo. But around 2005, I realized that these skills were not paying the bills for my family. I did a complete restart of my career and began learning about the automotive industry. In 2007 I opened a general automotive repair shop that was also an espresso café. Lube and Latte was our creation that grew to what is today 4 locations and two brands. We opened our second store, Automotive Evolution in 2017, our second Automotive Evolution in 2021, and our second Lube and Latte is slated to open this May. The profits from these stores allowed me to return to my original dream of working with youth and teaching music. Colorado AMP (Afterschool Music Project) was hatched in November 2021 and encapsulated all we ever wanted with owning a business, which was the ability to pay our bills and give back to the community.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
In the first years of owning Lube and Latte, I had many naysayers people who thought the idea was ridiculous and would never take root. But through the building of relationships and establishment of ourselves as a legitimate player in the automotive repair industry, we became a healthy shop with the ability to expand. I've never let anyone tell me I couldn't do anything again. Colorado AMP is proof that we can make money but put it back into the betterment of our neighbors and supporters.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
It is difficult to juggle all the responsibilities that I have. Running four brick-and-mortar shops, a non-profit, playing in two bands, and still finding time to spend with my beautiful wife and two daughters has been a struggle. Somehow I am able to do it by working diligently and investing in my staff. I still wrestle with finding time to get all my work done, but somehow I make it through with determination.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Commitment: Many people think that owning a business means leniency in the schedule because there is no longer a "boss" to report to. But, it is the exact opposite. You must be committed to your customers and your staff and always put money back into your ventures.
- Kindness: I have discovered that many people are in business to reap monetary returns. This, in my opinion, is the wrong way to look at things. The money will come, but only when people believe in what they do. You must approach what you do with the ultimate goal of helping others, and, by extension, you will discover wealth.
- Staying calm: There are so many bumps in the road as you navigate a new venture and make it grow. Financial hardships, staffing issues, angry clients. The list goes on and on. But, if you are doing honest and good work, the bad apples will fall to the ground, and the good apples will flourish and grow. You have to stay calm and be optimistic.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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