How to Start your Business

If you can play a musical instrument such as the guitar, piano, or any other, or if you sing well, you may consider starting your very own music-teaching business. It is a lucrative business option and can be done from the comfort of your home. You can take classes at home and also train students over the Internet, thus reaching a large number of students. This business requires less initial investment and can prove to be a profitable venture. There are some music teachers I know, who are earning pretty well through a music-teaching business. Knowing how to start this business can help you begin on the ‘right note’.

Conduct Background Research
Conducting a background research is of utmost importance before starting any business. In case of a business in teaching music, do some online research to understand the number of music teachers in your area, what they teach, how much they charge, and the response they get. The answers to these questions will help you gauge the viability of your business idea and tell you whether investing in this business would be profitable. If there are quite a few music classes in your locality, consider starting your business in some other area. Choose the location wisely.

Find a Mentor
Try to speak to a person who has worked in the field or someone who owns a similar venture. Talking to him will help you understand the nitty-gritty of the business. However, if he is from the same city/locality as yours, he may not divulge too much information with the fear of competition. Look up on the Internet for someone who has achieved success with a music business. Consulting him will help you know about all the aspects of starting this business. Maintain good relations with him. Sharing a good rapport with a successful music business entrepreneur is sure to benefit you.

Have a Business Plan Ready
Before you start the business, you need to have fool-proof plan ready. Start by deciding a name for your music class or academy. It should be striking and inviting. Other things to be planned include, whether to conduct one-on-one lessons or take group lessons, how much to charge as fees, and which musical instruments (or any other equipment) to use. It is also important to decide the target audience and devise ways to reach them. Pertaining to the financial aspect of your business, ways to raise funds for the initial investment, salaries of the people you may need to hire, expenditure on the infrastructure and equipment, and the record-keeping system to use, are among the important things to consider. It is important to think about ways to expand your business, and also have an exit strategy ready, in case your business is not a success.

Find a Good Location
You can either rent a facility or use a part of your house. Renting a facility will be costly. It is good to start small. To start with, use a spare room in your apartment or the basement. See that it has a separate entrance so that movement is easy, and ensure that this arrangement does not disturb other residents of the apartment. If time and distance are not your constraints, going to each student’s place to teach him, is also a good option.

Source Instruments and Course Material
Decide the number of students to be accommodated in a single batch. Accordingly, decide the number of instruments (and accessories, if any) that need to be sourced. After a few months of training (once the basics are taught), the students can be asked to get their own instruments. Prepare the course material and source books and song sheets accordingly. Make lesson plans for beginner level as well as expert level students. Arrange for the course material to be printed and given to every student who enrolls to your class. You can also make instructional DVDs for the same. This will save you a lot of time and effort.

Complete the Formalities
You will have to get the license to teach and buy insurance for your business. Look into the zoning and land use rules of your community. Also, don’t forget to get a business liability insurance. You can browse through the government’s Small Business Administration website to understand the formalities that need to be taken care of. You may have to register your business name as ‘Doing Business As’. Complete the necessary paperwork as per your state’s requirements. You will also need to register your business with the IRS. Take professional advice for accounting and taxation.

Do Good Networking
Visit local music shops and leave your visiting card, resume, and fliers/brochures there. Meet the managers personally and explain your business to them. Visit school teachers and ask them if they can give your reference to students who want private lessons. Firstly, this will help you get students. In addition to that, it might get you work as a sub-contractor for a marching or jazz band. Contact local band directors. Even they may help you get students. If you have a college degree, or if you have received formal education in music, you may get hired on an adjunct position in a community college or university. Word-of-mouth promotions work wonders for a music-teaching business.

Use the Media for Promotion
It is important that you promote your business strategically. Use attractive visiting cards, brochures, and fliers, and circulate them in music stores and cafes. Advertise through local community newspapers and specialty magazines. For any business to succeed today, a strong social media presence is important. Make Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles for your business. Keep updating them with interesting photos and information. Try to have a Fan page on Facebook. People tend to visit these pages to see how many people Like them before deciding whether to join the classes. You will benefit immensely if you start a YouTube channel and display your musical talent in weekly video updates. Create a separate email account and website for your business. Advertise your business effectively.

Watch Your Conduct
Leave your flip-flops and that rugged t-shirt at home when you go for networking or invite students for a musical demonstration. Dress smartly and neatly to make a positive impression on the people you interact with. When communicating with them, be polite. Be approachable.

Make the Classes Interesting
Fun activities, educational games, and contests make learning a fun experience. Feature the best students on your website and/or social media pages. Once in a month or two, host a musical night so that your students get a chance to perform. Such events help promote the business. Even the students and their parents feel motivated to continue with you. Introduce discount schemes, lucrative offers, and/or allow the students to pay in installments. Schemes like these help attract more business.