As a part of celebrating my tenth year of DJing, I’d like to share ten things I’ve learned about running a successful small-business. I hope you find a gold nugget or two among them. Let’s go:
Understand That There Is No “Magical Secret”.
Just as there is no “magical pill” for weight loss, there is no “magical blueprint” for business. You either work really hard, or you don’t. That’s the blueprint successful people have followed for years. Find me a person that sells the dream of working a few hours a week while living the rest on a beach, and I’ll show you somebody who worked really hard to sell that dream to gullible people.
Face Your Fears.
Remember standing in line before your first ever ride on a roller coaster? Looking up at that big drop and thinking, “WHAT AM I DOING?!!?!” Or maybe you played Little League and kept bailing out because you were afraid to get hit by the pitch? We fear the things that are unknown and uncomfortable to us.
There is nothing to be fearful of in business. Write that first blog post! Create a Facebook ad! Step out from behind the booth and speak from the dance floor! If you fail, cowboy up, learn from it, and become better. Be gritty.
Live Below Your Means, Become Debt-Free & Invest.
For the majority of my first ten years in business, I paid myself just enough to cover my bills. The rest stayed in retained earnings and were used to reinvest back into the business, which was a part of my business plan. It has allowed my company to make the necessary purchases to gross more income. When your business becomes debt-free, you can prioritize your company, your clients, and your employees first, not your bank. That’s huge.
Last year, I set a goal to pay off all of my personal debts, so I cut back even further on my personal spending. Today, I proudly tell others that I’m celebrating six-months of being debt-free (except for my house, be there in a few years!) with a fully funded emergency fund, while contributing 15% of my income towards my retirement accounts – all before the age of 30. As Dave Ramsey would say: “I’m weird.“
Everyday I’m Hustlin’.
Except for NFL Sundays or major holidays, I show up every day ready to do work. That’s the hustler in me. But as a hustler knows, doing busy work isn’t hustling. Go out, make connections, engage with people, and create yourself business opportunities. Here’s an example: If I was a wedding photographer, I’d go around to local businesses and offer to do free head shots, in exchange for having business cards and/or a small display set up. Talk about giving something of tremendous value, while adding a new sources of referrals.
Stick To A Schedule.
I schedule EVERYTHING out, including the tasks I want to get done. Why? Prioritization. The things I truly value, care about, and want to make a priority actually get done. My morning walk with my bulldog, Chesney, is always at 7:30 am on weekdays. When I eat, workout, answer emails, prep for events, meet with clients and customers, yada yada, all scheduled out. If it is important to you, it will get done. If it isn’t, it’s not the end of the world. It’s okay, and sometimes necessary, to say no or delegate to someone else.
Practice, Practice, Practice.
“You talkin’ about practice!?!” Damn right, I am. Always try to be better at your craft. One thing I’ve never understood: how one can be a DJ for twenty years and still not know how to beat mix.
I’ll never, ever release it but I found a mixtape I did about eight or nine years ago. It was probably my first one ever and… well, it’s garbage. If there is one thing I strive for, it’s to be better each year. I don’t want to feel as if I have ever hit a plateau. The same can be said for the skills I learn and develop as an entrepreneur.
As I alluded to in the last section, I’m not the business owner I was ten years ago. I don’t crave knowledge and read books because I’m dumb, but because I want to be better. The “how we do…” is always changing: technology, society, the world, etc. For me, the key to making it in the wedding industry is to stay current. We get older, but brides and grooms still – for the most part – stay young. As I talked about in this post, their primary screen isn’t the desktop or laptop – it’s their smart phone. They scroll up and down quickly and the social media platform of choice does change. Keep up with it.
80% Of The Time, We Don’t Have To Be Perfect.
When I was younger, I remember spending way too much time perfecting a vendor partnership flyer for clients looking to book a photographer and DJ at a discounted price. In retrospect, it was wasted time, as the concept crashed and burned shortly thereafter.
Now, I’m not anti to-do list, but this is why I prefer scheduling to-do items on my calendar and allotting them a specific amount of time that I believe it will take to get them done. Don’t get bogged down in the details, keep the big picture in mind. My graphic work for this image about tomorrow’s Periscope Q&A is basic – I spent three minutes on it – but it gets the message across. Successful people get things effectively done at an efficient pace. Those things that need to be perfect? Hire a professional to do them.
Be Present In The Moment.
I’ve found this to be especially true in maintaining a good work-life balance. Cut the distractions and focus in on exactly what you are doing at the moment. Here’s the best tip I can offer you: PUT YOUR CELL PHONE AWAY. Especially during personal matters – whether it’s I’m out on a date, out to lunch with my mom, etc. – I’M ALL IN.
I like to think in terms of “Am I on stage or backstage right now?” When I’m “on stage”, whether it’s a coffee shop meeting, performing for my clients, whatever it is, I eliminate all distractions and be in that moment. You’d never catch a performer checking their phone on stage, unless its part of the script. If you want to check your phone, find a “backstage” area and do so.
Give Value. Be Generous.
I saved the best for last, and that’s because it’s my favorite one. First, make sure the content you are producing gives value to your audience. Hopefully you find what I write of value. If you do, the only thing I ask is that you don’t just be a taker, but share it. Or write a comment. Or subscribe for more content. That’s feedback I value.
More importantly, be outrageously generous. Follow the 51%/49% rule and give more to your clients, your colleagues, and your family then you get from them. Trust me, their reaction, as well as the look on their face – especially if its done as a surprise! – is more rewarding and satisfying then anything else. Be more to your clients than just a DJ who plays music really well.
This post was originally published on September 10, 2015 at www.TonySchwartzBlog.com
Filed Under: Business
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