Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Michael Lake, Founder of Music Savvy, located in Anthem, AZ, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business is providing instruction to musicians who wish to play better, mainly improvising jazz musicians. My instruction is in the form of online courses, videos, and books.
Tell us about yourself
I have been a trombone player and piano player since the age of 8. I spent my career in sales and marketing, building firms within a niche New York financial industry called corporate trade. Besides creating materials for our sales and marketing efforts, I was also in charge of teaching the business to new recruits.
Even though I had always played and written music semi-professionally during that time, I realized at a certain point that I should do full-time what I felt I was born to do, which is music.
My background in sales and marketing taught me how to communicate well, and I have taught people and created learning materials for my businesses through the years. I was well-equipped to step out into the world and teach musicians how to play better. I am motivated to get out of bed each morning, excited to be a voice for music instruction that is different than anyone else's.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Shortly after leaving my corporate job, I created a week-long online summit consisting of both produced videos of interviews with famous jazz musicians as well as live talks. I started conducting the interviews and organizing the summit in the fall of 2019, just before COVID.
Because, at that time, online summits were largely unheard of, I was presenting something new to the world. In fact, many of the musicians I interviewed had never heard of Zoom! I ended up attracting over 10,000 participants and making some money in the process.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest thing is making sure you are spending your time on the most important things and doing them at the right time. It's easy to be distracted by what you like doing or what will provide the biggest short-term benefit, but you have to make sure that all the right plates are kept spinning while you build the business.
Things like infrastructure, finance, your web presence, attracting new sales leads and following them up, keeping abreast of new technologies that can benefit you, and taking care of your body and mind.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Find what you are passionate about. I know that some will argue against that, but maintaining a business is hard, and if you are not excited about your work, it will suffer and die, like that houseplant over there in the corner you forget to water and feed.
- Go above and beyond for your business relationships. Realize that you are not so much in the business of simply closing clients as you are in the business of making long-term friends. Look for ways to benefit people, and you will find their appreciation coming back to you in terms of more business, learning experiences, and referrals.
- Be a life-long learner. There are so many things related to your business that you should know, and they are constantly changing (tech, the culture, your business environment, etc.). You have the best learning resources we've ever had in our history, like the sheer number of books, videos, internet searches, podcasts, communication tools, and more. Use your time wisely to take advantage of learning as much as you can.
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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