Doing What Everyone Else Does Is Killing Your Startup

are you doing what everyone else is doing?
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Written by: Greg Rollett | December 26

Want to see a video version of this article? Watch it here.

My friend Chris and I both came from the music industry. He is still in it, booking shows and managing some bands, while I have opted to live the life of an entrepreneur, starting Celebrity Expert Marketing, as well as Ambitious.com.

One afternoon we were having lunch and while munching on some street tacos, he starts telling me that he is getting more and more frustrated with the music industry. More specifically,he’s frustrated with managing bands.

For some context, a typical music manager will get 10% of artist revenue generated. Not bad if you manage Justin Bieber, like Scooter Braun. Not so good if you manage a rising artist who is playing gigs around the country and making $100–200 per night.

If you are the manager, you are then making $10–20/day. As you can see, it’s not the best way to make a living and strike it rich, even if you love the music industry and believe in the band you are managing.

During our conversation, I ask Chris, “why don’t you switch your business model? Why don’t you look at things with a different mindset and way of thinking your relationship with your artists?

“Instead of working for a percentage of their earnings, why don’t you work for a fee?”

His immediate response was, “Oh, musicians don’t do that.

That is probably the same mindset and response you would give if I asked you the same question. This is small ball thinking and prevents you from achieving everything you want to achieve in your life.

I’m not a fan of thinking small so I questioned Chris as to why. This is a question you should ask yourself from time to time when you are not getting the results you desire from your business.

“Why don’t they do that? Why don’t musicians pay people on their staff?”

As a former touring musician myself, I do know why musicians do not pay people on staff. They too, are broke and scraping by to make $100–200 per night and splitting that 4 ways.

However, the way to grow in any business, as a musician, as someone working weekends at the farmer’s market, in an online business or even opening a brick and mortar store, you need great people around you, who believe in your mission and want to propel you forward.

And yes, you do have to pay these people.

Our conversation progressed and I started talking to him about a coaching and consulting model that, I think, all young people can easily do to start or grow their business.

Why?

Because you have skills.

You have unique abilities that other people can benefit from. This can be as simple as knowing how to set up a printer or hooking up an iPhone or you know how to create a Facebook Fan Page and get fans or you know how to speak to a crowd to get them motivated and inspired. No matter your unique ability, you can teach people how to do those things, from improving their life, to how to improve their relationship.

The cool thing is that you can charge for it. That’s what a coach does.

Going back to Chris, I told him rather bluntly, “Why don’t you become a consultant to these musicians? Why don’t you get paid for the work that you do? I know that you work your butt off. You should be getting rewarded for that hard work and not worrying about where you are going to eat tonight.”

I go through this conversation with him and I make my closing argument by saying, “The next band that you talk to, why don’t you say, “Hey, you know what, for about $500 a month, let’s jump on the phone twice a month and we’ll do a 60-minute coaching session. I’ll tell you what venue to contact. I’ll talk to you about the marketing for it and what you need to be doing to pack the venue with raving fans.” That way, as a consultant, they go take your advice and they implement it to get the benefits of your unique skills and abilities.”

“Here’s the kicker. You only keep getting paid if you keep delivering value to them. You are ensuring your own job security by doing a good job for them. Your sales conversation with the band might go something like this, “Look, it’s $500 bucks a month. I’m going to make you a bunch of money and get you’re a ton of new fans. I’m either going to help you grow your career or you don’t have to pay me anymore.”

Chris gets on the phone with the first musician about an hour after pounding down a few street tacos together.

Without creating a website, without worrying about any logistics whatsoever, he simply has a conversation with this band that he was contemplating managing.

He tells them, “ I’m actually a music business adviser. Here’s how I work. I’ll jump on the phone with you and I’ll tell you what to do. You go do it and you will book more shows and get more fans. If you don’t get the results that we mutually agree upon, you can cancel anytime.”

3 hours later, he sends me the first contract that he had signed from that band, just from that one phone call, because he got off his butt and he took action.

He did the things that he needed to do. He’s got now money coming in. He’s not worried about his bands going out and only having 10 fans show up and no one making any money.

Most importantly, Chris didn’t wait until he had the fanciest website. He didn’t wait until the perfect moment or until he was comfortable talking about the way he was going to operate. He didn’t wait until things were perfect.

Chris internally told himself, “Let me go talk to someone who needs my help and let me actually help them.”

That’s what success is all about. That’s what being an entrepreneur is all about. That’s what being ambitious is about.

He didn’t have a perfect sales pitch. He didn’t have a website to send them to with hundreds of testimonials. He just said, “Here’s how I can help you. If you want me to help you, here’s how much it costs.”

You can do this too and actually get paid to do what you love. First you have to get off your ass and help someone get what they want.

Want to see a video version of this article? Watch it here.

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Greg Rollett

Greg is the CEO of Ambitious.com and writes most of his posts while eating burritos for lunch or drinking Mexican beers or island rum outside with his laptop and a pair of Beats headphones over his ears, listening to good ol 2000's hip-hop like Master P or Jay-Z (before Tidal). Follow his ambitious antics on Twitter, @gregrollett