Lessons with Ben, Ben Brill
My greatest success has been to earn enough from self-employed income to be able to support myself and resign from my day job. I spend most of my time teaching lessons, educating myself, practicing instruments, and serving all of my students as best as I possibly can. This resulted from about 9 months of extreme focus on this one aspect of my business and bringing a high level of care to what I do. A nice bonus of this is that I can now feel good about bringing back some puppet shows and entertainment for young kids. Since this income was much less regular than music lessons, I had always felt irresponsible about putting much focus on this, even though I truly love it. Now I can start to do both.
My next goal is to create a structure for serving a larger number of kids. I'm thinking of something like a summer camp or workshop series to give kids experiences with creating music and multi-media content.
For me, the problem was having too many ideas and uncertainty about which ones would be most sensible to focus on first. I managed to get past this by listening to my mentor's guidance and allowing myself to put most of my focus on a primary project, teaching kids to play guitar, drums, piano, and ukulele in a way that is extremely engaging and fun.
When I met with my SCORE mentor, Cathy, I had several active or semi-active projects that involved working with kids in a musical context: a puppet show, an interactive music show, a few music students, and a video series for kids. Although each of these activities was related to kids and music, I didn't really have the focus to help any one of these projects grow to be truly successful. My goal was to make a living doing this, and I wasn't really clear on whether it was possible or not with some of these ventures, especially in the short term. Cathy first gave me some encouraging feedback about what I was doing, then helped me start thinking in a more focused way about how to reach the goal of making a living with this work.
Cathy has a very fun and curious personality, and we had a good time coming up with new ideas for how my work could serve the community and become more visible. She offered her well-informed opinion on some basic accounting and business structure questions I had, and this allowed me to take action quickly, rather than stay stuck in uncertainty like I had been for some time. Cathy also enlisted the help of a second SCORE mentor, Marc, when it was time for me to do some development on my website. Marc's deep knowledge of SEO and Google helped me implement some good practices for my online presence.
SCORE is a true blessing. The generosity of all of those involved is really incredible...it reminds me to give back to others.
His advice to budding entrepreneurs? Avoid trying too many things at once. Also, reach out to SCORE!