5 Mistakes That Are Made When Setting Up a Music Lesson Business

By: Blink Lesson

1) Not understanding the industry and local market

While making sure you have the right skills and setting up your music lesson space are very important, you need to love students and for them to love you, too. It’s not about just knowing how to teach, it’s about being able to connect with people.

It is also critical that you study the music lesson market and understand who your target audience will be, what their needs are, and what they can afford. This includes understanding the demographics of your local area as well as studying your music lesson/studio competition.

We recommend that you conduct a survey in your area (and possibly even other locations) in order to find out more information on how parents think about music lessons. It doesn't have to be a large-scale survey. Sending out the questions to 20-30 people you know can give you great feedback. A couple of questions asked could be: 'Do you think it's important to pay for private music lessons for your kids?' And 'How much would you expect to have to pay for music lessons?'

2) Not Understanding your personal strengths and weakness

Your personal strengths could include your ability to communicate with others, the way you problem-solve, and the level of confidence that you have.

The best way to utilize your strengths is to use them as your selling point when you are marketing to prospective music lesson clients. When people know why they should take music lessons from you - other than because you “teach music lessons” - they'll be more likely to choose you over someone else.

You may not know how to build a website or how to design a logo for your business, but that does not mean that those are weaknesses. By hiring someone else who is knowledgeable in these areas, it allows you more time to handle the things that only YOU can do in your business.

Write out the knowledge and skills you have that no one in your community (or online) has. Can you teach banjo? Great, banjo teachers are rare. Guitar teachers are not rare, but ones that teach classical guitar and jazz are harder to find. Do you have a special method you use to teach that speeds things up? Whatever it is, market it.

3) Not understanding marketing and promoting your studio and offerings

There are many different kinds of marketing. For example, SEO (search engine optimization) means creating content that helps you show up in search engines when people look for what you have to offer. Content marketing is a more specific type of SEO, where you create content that answers people's questions about your service or topic. Gorilla marketing is another type of marketing; this means using unique tactics and strategies to get noticed by the right audience. Marketing can cost a lot of money—or very little! It depends on how much time and effort you put into it.

If there’s one thing I would like you to understand about marketing, it’s that this isn’t something that should be done “on the side” or as an afterthought. It should be part of your planning from day one because marketing takes time to build momentum and make an impact on your business.

I hate to see music studios open their doors with a website and nothing else—no Facebook page, no Instagram profile, Google Local (maps), not even a Yelp listing! If you want students to find your studio online and take music lessons from you, then don’t skip any steps: start working on your social media profiles now (yes, before opening your studio), start working on content for your website now (yes, before opening your studio), start thinking about what kind of photos will help tell the story of who you are as a music educator now (yes, before opening).

4) Not understanding financial goals and their purpose

As a business owner, you need to ensure that your business is bringing in enough money to cover all of your expenses and has money left over for you (profit). You must set financial goals for your music lesson business. Here are the basic financial goals that music lesson studios have:

a) What You Need to Take Home: In order for a business to be successful, it has to make more money (revenue) than it spends on expenses (i.e. rent, pay other than owners, marketing). The difference between revenue and expenses is called profit.

For most small businesses, "profit" will be what you, the owner, take home. You must have a profit goal that covers your personal living expenses, as well as savings for retirement and so on.

b) Money for Your Long-Term Vision. The larger the business, the more expensive it becomes to operate. When you start out, you might be able to teach music completely out of your home. If you want to expand to a studio space with multiple teachers and good instruments, you'll need more money.

The key when you're starting out is not to get ahead of yourself. Masterpoint "a" above before "b". You must focus on your take-home (profit). Remember, you need money to eat.

5) Not understanding expenses and forecasting

Underestimating expenses. Sometimes music studio owners only focus on things like the costs of renting a space and buying instruments. It's important to recognize that there are other expenses, such as computers, software, marketing and promotion, taxes, and insurance.

Failing to create a budget. Without a budget, you don't know exactly how much money you need to make in order to pay for all your expenses. You should not be spending any money on your business that is not part of a pre-determined budget. This will keep you from running out of money quickly. This will lead to not earning enough money from the studio which can cause you to give up before you've had a chance to make it successful.

Forgetting about taxes. Taxes are often forgotten when planning your music lesson studio business because you might be used to receiving a W2 from an employer. In most cases, as a sole-proprietorship or LLC, you will not be taking taxes out of what you make (profit). You will need to pay quarterly estimates to the IRS or set money aside. Consult a tax professional in your area. The last thing you want to end up with is a 10k-20k tax bill come April 15th.