Every morning, Facebook Memories shows me my past posts from several years ago. Usually, these memories are pictures of my kids but this morning one particular memory grabbed my attention - My 2010 post on the 19th May announcing that I was going to move my studio to a commercial space and that I was going to start a recording business.
This article tells the story of what I did before I started my recording business, how I transitioned from employment to independence and the challenges I faced in the early months of my recording studio business.
The Day Job
Like many who "take the plunge" into business, I had a regular 9-5 job. My role was in the public sector - Technician of The Music Technology Department at a local Secondary School. I worked there for three years and enjoyed my time there, however, in my last year I started losing heart for the job. Management wanted me to train and qualify as a full Music Technology teacher and that scared me as I didn't want to commit to a career path I had little heart for. This was the catalyst - I felt it was time to stand on my own two feet and develop myself in the world of creative business.
I left behind a well-paying secure job that rewarded me 12 weeks holiday a year. I had some money saved for living expenses, my recording studio gear and a room that I was going rent and trade my business from... Suddenly, I realised that from here on in I would be fully responsible for every aspect of my earnings - I didn't have to do that when I was employed.
After doing some research on how to transition from employment to independence I realised I had to write business plans and goals to work by so that I would have the headspace to focus on developing my creative service business without living in fear of uncertainties.
- Business Plan - The Fun Part
- Will I be a sole trader or Limited Company?
- What am I good at?
- What do I not want to do?
- What services will the business offer?
- What services and rates are my local competitors offering?
- How can my business offer more value?
- How will my business advertise services?
- Who will be the business accountant?
- Finance Budgeting - The Scary Part
- What business bank will I use?
- What are/will be the monthly business expenses?
- Commercial room rent
- Business utilities
- Business rates
- Tax savings
- Directors Wage
- Consumables - CD-Rs, paper, coffee, toilet paper, guitar strings etc
- How much do I personally need to earn as an income from the business?
- How much will the business charge clients for services?
- How much money does the business need in savings to cover quiet periods over 1, 2 or 3 months?
- Exit Plan - If It All Went Wrong
- Be aware of pending failure and quit while you're ahead - Don't spend money the business doesn't have.
- Confirm notice period with the trading address landlord.
- Make sure a certain amount of funds are available in order to transition either back into employment or another business opportunity.
Business Opens - Trading Starts
When the decision was made to transition from employment to independence I knew it was incredibly important to get the most out of whatever was available to me at the time. When I was employed I had 12 weeks annual holiday a year with the largest portion of that time-off being the 6 week summer holiday. I gave my notice at the school at the start of that six week holiday so that I was "paid" for the time off - this was legit holiday time I was owed to me. That last wage paid over the holiday meant I had living expenses and time to build the foundations for my new business. My exit plan was only to be used if I failed to grow even the smallest interest in my new business in those six weeks.
Luckily, the room I rented for the studio backed on to a guitar shop located on a busy high street. From day one this great location and room provided my new business with a great footfall of musicians. Before I knew it my business was busy five days a week.
Even though I had a fast growing client base, business plans, budgets and goals I lived in fear of everything going wrong within the first few months. I look back now and feel sorry for young Dan as he had to learn the fundamentals of running a business based on no prior experience in a very short time, often punishing himself for the smallest of mistakes.
Now, seven years into my independent recording business I can honestly say I still don't know how to run a business. Many factors I have no control over constantly force me to develop and reinvent myself and my business as trends change. I suppose what I'm trying to say here is that challenges in business are present from day one and every day following.
Do You Run A Business?
If your journey into starting a business is similar to my story then please share your experiences with the Pro Tools Expert Community in the comments below.