Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in music education but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with James Testani, Founder of Good Guitarist, located in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I teach guitar to over 425,000 subscribers through my YouTube channel "GoodGuitarist" and offer a variety of premium courses for those who want to hit the next level and achieve their goals on the guitar. Tens of thousands of music lovers of all ages from around the world, especially older beginners, tune in and learn everything from the very basics to intermediate and advanced guitar.

Tell us about yourself

My first real job was as a teller at a bank. I quickly realized selling credit cards wasn't for me and opted to pursue music "for real." I received a University degree in Jazz Guitar and became an in-demand 1-on-1 instructor. I was happy but felt more could be achieved. I don't remember exactly what made me do it, but something compelled me to purchase a camera from Amazon and some cheap lights.

I filmed a handful of lessons and put them on a YouTube channel to provide extra materials for my 1-on-1 students to work on. Somehow it started catching on, and a few of my videos climbed to the top. Comments started pouring in, and I realized how much my channel was helping people who couldn't afford lessons or who tried and couldn't learn guitar by themselves.

I get up every day and work on my channel and the business surrounding it because I know it genuinely helps people achieve their dreams of playing guitar. I know first-hand how much it can enhance everyday situations, playing for your friends and family, and to know that I made that happen for people... it's just an amazing feeling and enough to drive anyone to keep going.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Turning a YouTube channel into a full-time job. Creating content was really just the first step. It's tempting to sit back and watch a handful of successful videos ride the YouTube algorithm to the top, but all good things come to an end. To turn it into a viable, reliable business, it takes constant daily effort that is usually without immediate reward.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Achieving a solid work-life balance. At the moment, I have two young children (1 and 3 years old), and while parenthood brings me the ultimate joy, it is all-consuming, as is running a business. I try my best to step away from work at 5 pm every day, but things come up. Sacrifices need to be made.

Usually, it's a no-brainer - the family comes first. Regardless, it's hard to sit back anxiously, missing out on leads because of some small issue that could otherwise be easily resolved if I had more time. I've spent a lot of time internally, ensuring that my feelings towards work don't come out in my personal life, and even though my workspace is in the next room, I do my best to keep it far, far away when I'm with my family.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Ideas are worth nothing. I have probably a thousand documents and voice memos outlining some really good ideas. It was fun and engaging to brainstorm them, and they poured out of me in a matter of minutes. But to take a single idea and bring it into reality takes hundreds or even thousands of hours. Even with outside help, it takes a lot of time and effort to turn a 30-minute brainstorming session into something real.
  2. Persistence is key. One of my guitar teachers said these three words, and I've lived by them since. My YouTube channel didn't generate any real revenue for four years, but I kept posting 1 or 2 videos a week. I put thousands of hours into it, and it's just paying off now, in the past few years. Everything I take on, I go for with 100% of my ability and with the confidence that I will achieve what I set out to.
  3. Get as much help from an expert as you can. I've spent a lot of time learning about marketing, SEO, and all these other things related to my business. But at the end of the day, it would be pretty egotistical to imagine that learning about marketing in my spare time is going to be comparable to someone who invests their entire self into it. You need to go out on a limb, network, and find people you can trust to help your business grow.

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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