By T. Perry Bowers
I’m hard wired to think like a business man. I don’t know if I was born this way or I learned it from my Dad, but I’m always trying to do things in the most efficient way possible. I don’t like to spend a single minute more than I have to – on anything!
When I buy personal items I always think of the re-sale value. I try to keep things in good condition so I can sell them if I want to upgrade. I keep all the boxes for my electronics and hunting gear so when I want to buy something new I can sell the old stuff in their boxes for the highest dollar.
When I first got into the rehearsal space business it was partly because I didn’t want to pay for rehearsal space for my band anymore, so I leased a large space, broke it up into smaller spaces and the rent from those smaller spaces paid my own rent. That’s when I knew I had a business idea. It’s my preferred way to start a business – just start moving product.
Method 1. Get everything all set up. Get everything perfect. Then open your doors.
Some people think you need to get all your ducks in a row before you can start a businesses. They register with the government agencies, get business cards, brochures, a website and a checking account before they get started. That’s great if you don’t let it bog you down completely before you actually start your business.
It’s easy to get caught in the minutiae of logistics and spend all your time and resources getting everything to look like you have a successful business before you have brought in a single dollar. Don’t use the act of “starting” as an excuse for not actually running the business.
On the other hand, I’ve seen people get everything lined up and explode onto the business scene ready to go. For these folks having everything done in the background first is the best way for them to feel comfortable starting a business. I respect that a lot. I’m learning about this method too but it’s not how I have operated in the past.
Method 2. Start Selling Things Now
This is my tried and true method. I have never been the type to wait before implementing a good business idea. Sometimes the lack of planning gets me into trouble, but more often than not it makes me more money.
For example, ten years ago I stumbled on the idea of a Band Share. For years, I was renting band rehearsal space by the month. Bands pay me on the first of the month and have their space 24/7 all to themselves. It’s like an apartment where you can be really loud.
Occasionally bands would come to me and ask if I knew any other bands that would like to share their room. I would connect bands, but it was risky because if they weren’t compatible it came back on me. I didn’t want to be responsible if one band’s drummer decided to play the other band’s drum set and broke a cymbal. So I stopped doing that.
I also had bands who wanted to rehearse but they didn’t have a PA. They’d ask me if they could borrow one. I loaned them once in a while, but the PAs would come back in disrepair, missing a knob or painted with sticky liquid! So I stopped doing that too.
In the end I decided I needed to offer a rehearsal space equipped with drums and a PA that bands could use on a daily or weekly basis. I manage the band shares so they are reset every day. I make sure the equipment is in good order and the room is cleaned. Bands bring their own guitars, keyboards and amps so I don’t have to worry about that stuff.
I knew what I needed to do – so I just started doing it. I didn’t have a brochure. The offering wasn’t even up on my website. I didn’t have a contract drawn up for the rentals and I wasn’t quite sure if the drums or the PA I had were going to be adequate. But I tested it on a few bands and it was a big hit. It wasn’t completely flawless out of the gate, but I quickly made adaptations to remedy any issues.
I started this side of the business just by talking to bands. They call me asking about my monthly rooms. Often I have no rooms to rent but I always have a band share slot available. Theoretically, I can get three bands in and out of a band share in a day. That rarely happens but it’s possible.
It worked really well for some bands and wasn’t a great fit for others. It all came together in a matter of days. I saw an opportunity, put some gear in a room and called it a business.
The only real risk I was taking was giving up a room as a monthly rental. I could get five hundred dollars per month for renting that room to just one band. Now I can make upwards of a thousand dollars per room. Sure, it takes a little more work and upkeep, but I’m doubling my money. Some months are better than others, but overall it’s a success.
Eventually it was time to make it official. Once I had the details hammered out in real world scenarios, I started to advertise Band Shares on my website. I hope I don’t sound like I’m trying to blow my own horn when I say this, but I think I was able to change the culture of rehearsal space in Minneapolis.
Right now my band shares are fully booked. Every single day I have a band in one or both of my band share rooms. In Los Angeles and New York this kind of offering is the norm. Real estate is too expensive for bands to rent spaces all for themselves. So I saw the opening; I took it; it worked; and now Minneapolis has band shares, just like the big cities.
In business you have to find your style. Maybe you’re like me and you just like to plunge ahead and do it. Maybe you need to have everything perfect before you even say a word about what you’re going to do. That’s all good too as long as you’re not getting started because you’re scared. You have to push through the fear and no amount of business cards or certificates on the wall will get you through it.
Make your first sale. That tends to dissipate a lot of anxiety.