“The most difficult thing about being a musician these days is not talent. It’s sustainability.”
–Robert Sirota, President, Manhattan School of Music
This great quote applies to more than just the music scene (or any other profession “it’s really hard to make a living at” such as photography or art). You can certainly make a fabulous living doing what you love – and that includes absolutely anything – but you have to marry your passions with some common horse sense and business savvy.
Setting specific goals in business is essential. You can’t approach your business with a goal like “I am a successful…” or “I make $20,000 a month.” While those are great goals, they are not specific enough as commands to your brain. Your brain is much like a heat-seeking missile; it lasers in on anything you tell it to, and it will hunt relentlessly until it has found it.
Remember the last time you bought a car? You picked out the car you wanted, and suddenly you noticed it everywhere. That is no coincidence. You gave a command – “this is what I want” and almost magically, you started noticing that particular car, where you had barely noticed it before. It works the same way with business goals.
Here are some business-oriented goals that will take any passion from hobby to profession. Each of the following can be made into goals with a deadline – and they are the foundation of your business. Don’t neglect any of these even if you think it may not apply to your industry (somebody has to be the first… why not you?)
1. Learn about the industry, the market and your audience. Read about your business; find out everything you can about your competition; study up on the latest cutting edge trends and above all, learn about your audience (potential clients). You have a talent and a skill – and knowing how, where and to whom to present it to, is essential. Using the musician example, you may consider teaching in addition to performing – but you’ll have to learn how to teach (not everyone is a natural!).
2. Consider internships or apprenticeships to learn more about your craft; and if your industry doesn’t commonly offer these (as in the arts) then find someone to mentor you.
3. Find innovative ways to connect with audiences. No matter your niche, personal networking is GOLD. Be highly attuned to what people want, and you’ll notice opportunities that your more traditional competitors might miss. For example, a personal trainer might sponsor a local cycling club (traditional)… and through one of the members, get a lead on a bird-watching club – these are usually older folks (most people don’t associate bird watching with fitness)… and don’t overlook collaboration with people in industries that complement yours. Finding innovative ways to connect with new audiences means becoming tech-savvy. Are you? Remember to think in terms of global marketplace now. ANY industry can reach a wider audience if you’re creative about it.
4. Develop multiple streams of income. Going back to the musician example, if you limit yourself to performing and teaching in person, you won’t be as successful as you would if you blog, offer workshops or seminars; do workshops; create an online instructional series; write an e-book or two or twelve…
5. Become a leader. Anytime you offer workshops, seminars or find a way to engage the community, you become a leader. Great goals in this area include organising fundraising functions in your community. Get yourself out there; be noticed and be a leader!
6. Make it a goal to learn something new about your craft, constantly. You can never stay at the cutting edge if you don’t stretch yourself through learning. Don’t be yesterday’s news – stay fresh, stay interesting to your clientele, through constant self-improvement and learning.
So whatever your niche, make each of the above into specific goals that you build your business on. Most importantly is of course identifying what your audience wants (or thinks they want – you can influence this); and go about it with an intent to meet their needs.
Inspired by a post by Gerald Kickstein on www.musiciansway.com