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June 3, 2010

16 Answers from an Entrepreneur and Freelancer

Just read Seth Godin's latest. As always, brilliant in its insight and thought-provoking in its focus. He posed some questions that seemed highly pertinent to the space I'm about to enter, so I thought I'd answer them with respect to my efforts to help other Musos become successful Indies. Specifically, I'm talking about my bid to go into business consulting to Independent Musos who want help and also about building Musowiki, which is a large part of my credibility in this space.

1. Who are you trying to please?

Musos, music fans and people who work with Musos. In that order.

2. Are you trying to make a living, make a difference, or leave a legacy?

Mainly the first two (not in that order) though if I succeed at them I will leave a legacy as well.

3. How will the world be different when you've succeeded?

Many more musicians will be able to make a living, or at least reach whatever goals they have set for themselves. That should mean that many more music fans will be able to enjoy more and better music, and enjoy experiences of the kind that enrich their lives.

4. Is it more important to add new customers or to increase your interactions with existing ones?

At this point, definitely to add new customers. As my projects mature, the latter will become more significant but, since I love working with new entrants most of all, I suspect that I will always be looking for new acts, new challenges and new people to meet.

5. Do you want a team? How big? (I know, that's two questions)

Not particularly. I'm happy to work on my own. That said, I would be a hypocrite if I advised Indies to build a team to perform the business tasks they are least comfortable performing but then insisted on doing it all myself ... I'm happy to take on a network of support people as needed. I expect to need a book keeper/accountant, an agent, band mates (The Genre Benders) and so on ... it would be nice to get to the point that I need a manager ... :-)

When it comes to the prospect of hiring someone to do the same consultancy things that I do, thus effectively doubling my output ... I dunno. It would have to be the right person and the right clients. Not averse to the idea but I have no plans to ...

Also, Musowiki will only grow if it is supported and developed by the global music community. There are simply not enough hours in my life to build it on my own. I don't know if you can call that a team ... I prefer to think of it as a network or a community.

6. Would you rather have an open-ended project that's never done, or one where you hit natural end points? (How high is high enough?)

I work best on projects that have an end goal and a targeted outcome. I envision that my consultancy work would be a series of these. To that extent, and to the extent that the online environment will continue to evolve and develop into the future, the overall job is never-ending.

Musowiki is a never-ending project ...

7. Are you prepared to actively sell your stuff, or are you expecting that buyers will walk in the door and ask for it?

THIS is my weak point. I have always waited for people to come to me and wondered why they didn't. In my recent small business course I was made to realise that I have to get out there and sell - certainly at the start. Ultimately, though, as my reputation grows according to my marketing plan, clients will come from a mixture of both.

8. Which: to invent a category or to be just like Bob/Sue, but better?

Excellent question! I actually thought I was developing a new product category but I have come to realise that many people are doing VERY similar things so I have to market myself on a point of differentiation/superiority. Working on defining and developing that now ...

9. If you take someone else's investment, are you prepared to sell out to pay it back?

I have no plans to seek outside investment. I've actually pondered this one long and hard but, since investors are not waving dollar signs at me, the point is fairly moot. My gut feeling says no ...

10. Are you done personally growing, or is this project going to force you to change and develop yourself?

Hell, no! My current projects are just another chapter in the story of my life and I'm looking at them as a challenge. If I stop growing and developing in these projects I will almost certainly look for a new challenge that will put me back on the growth path. At that point, sell out to move on ...

11. Choose: teach and lead and challenge your customers, or do what they ask...

The former. Always. Couldn't work for someone on the latter basis. Might as well go back to being a public servant.

12. How long can you wait before it feels as though you're succeeding?

I already feel like I'm succeeding. I just don't have the cash to show for it yet. Hence my response to question 2. I aim to make a difference and in doing so make a living. The feedback on my involvements in the music community has been met with respect, if not always warmth. Some people love what I have to say and some people disagree. All I'm aiming for is to have people regard my ideas as significant enough to pay attention to. If that happens enough, it's only a matter of time before people offer to pay for it ... I hope. :-)

13. Is perfect important? (Do you feel the need to fail privately, not in public?)

I don't believe perfection exists. Life is about compromise and I don't pretend to have all the answers. I expect my methods and thinking to evolve along with my experience and with the changing environment. I also welcome others' suggestions and criticism. To that extent, I fully expect to make some fairly public mistakes. Hopefully the public will help me fix them.

14. Do you want your customers to know each other (a tribe) or is it better they be anonymous and separate?


15. How close to failure, wipe out and humiliation are you willing to fly? (And while we're on the topic, how open to criticism are you willing to be?)

As I said above, I welcome (constructive) criticism and want as much feedback as I can get. Since I'm starting from nothing I am quite prepared to go back there (or stay there). If I have to get a job to support Musowiki I will continue to build it on my own for as long as I have spare time. Its overheads are trivial and all it really needs is hours of labour ...

If no-one wants to pay for my advice, there's plenty of other things I can do ...

16. What does busy look like?

Busy, to me, means that I get out of bed in the morning with a clear list of things I want to do for the day. That's already the case, and the only change I see is that the nature of those things will become more immediately rewarding in cash terms - the mix of tasks will change. But I already have a long list of stuff to do that's hopefully going to produce returns in the longer term. I'm working through them with the expectation that they will produce rewards in a few weeks/months/years ... depending.

Too busy means my kids get annoyed with daddy for not being there for them.

Posted by Hughie at June 3, 2010 2:00 PM

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