Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in music education but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Phil Circle, Founder of Phil Circle Music, located in Los Angeles, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Phil Circle Music is a private music coaching facility for adults. We work with anyone from the absolute beginner to working professionals, on the assumption that everyone has a creative voice and unlimited potential to grow and excel. We work with the whole artist, helping each student or client see how their understanding of the human condition informs their work as musical artists. From the standpoint of my work specifically, I also help working musicians understand that the key to their creative freedom lies partly in their understanding of the creative aspects of being an entrepreneur. In other words, by finding a comfortable way to approach the business of what we do, we can open up more opportunities for the creative work we do.
Tell us about yourself
My mother was a musician, producer, and writer. My father was an entrepreneur. I was always drawn to both. I found business exciting. I found the arts therapeutic. When I was hospitalized near death at age 22, I made a choice to pursue music full-on. I knew that I could use my skills in business to advance my music. Along the way, I always had some kind of side hustle. Eventually, these side hustles became the ecosystem I have today, where everything is connected to my deeper purpose as an artist and mentor. For instance, I also have an online store with music accessories recommended by my fellow musicians, teachers, and clients.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
There have been many successful hurdles along the way. Each obstacle we overcome is an accomplishment because it leads to growth as a human being, and thereby a better artist or creative entrepreneur. That is, if you see the teaching moments as analogous to something in your work, they help you succeed. But, certainly, the latest big accomplishment was opening my school to other teachers during the pandemic and establishing a team of professional musicians who were empowering other aspiring or working musicians. And now, exactly a year after starting the Chicago school, coming to Los Angeles and opening the school here is definitely a big accomplishment. It's pretty exciting to be capable of ignoring the auto-excuses that most people use not to follow their dreams and aspirations. As my wife points out, I tend to jump out of the airplane and make my parachute on the way down. Of course, I bring tools, so it's not totally reckless.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
For me? Taking a day off is a real challenge. This comes with really loving what you do, of course. But my wife, who's an actor, is the same way. So we make specific plans to take a day and do nothing important. It's become pretty easy with the ocean 20 minutes away and being surrounded by mountains. Studies have even shown that being amidst nature is truly soothing. Literally, hug a tree, and you'll reduce stress. And if you really love what you do, then you want to do it well. And you can't accomplish this when you exhaust yourself. Intentionally staying busy is ego-driven. "Look how important I am; look how much I love what I do." So, it's also a great ego check to go chill.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Know who you are. To the best of your ability, have a sense of who you are and what you truly stand for. Assume this will evolve. But start with, "I'm this human who believes this thing," and builds from there. This will lead you to tip #2.
- Have a purpose. And don't make it "I wanna be a millionaire." That's cool, but what will you do with the money? In most cases, you'll find extremely successful people place a purpose ahead of their job. This purpose informs their decisions and is exactly what keeps them going when times get tough. Which they will. There's no such thing as an easy life. Obstacles and hardships are a given. But you can live it with ease if your purpose drives through those times. You'll also have tremendous appreciation for the good things. This leads to tip #3.
- Have gratitude. Studies have shown that when we thank someone, the positive chemicals generated in the brain are greater in us than in the person we thank. In other words, expressing gratitude is good for our health. Literally, and from a very practical, non-hippy standpoint, it also helps us find perspective. Maybe something didn't go exactly as you planned (it rarely will so be adaptable!), but you can see how it led you to a better outcome if you're not busy complaining. And then there's the gratitude for the constant opportunities to grow that being an entrepreneur or creative artist gives us, which again informs our work.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Assume that everything is always evolving, including yourself. As the man said: "Be the change you want to see in the world." As you may have noticed, I snagged that and adapted it for my school's slogan. That's partly, so I never lose hope. Because you see, nobody can change for me. Only I can make the changes necessary to learn and grow. This attitude keeps us from blaming our environment for problems we encounter. If we also focus on being of service to people in whatever our chosen profession, it's pretty hard to fail. Unless we just quit. So, you know, keep going. I can tell you with certainty that if you never give up, you will succeed.
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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