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“Teach less. Charge more.” That was the advice I gave to a friend of mine who has graduated from college and been pursuing his career as a professional musician for a few years. He has moved to Nashville and has steady work as a session drummer and a touring musician.

Not long ago, he came to me and asked for some guidance about being more successful as a self-employed musician. We talked a little about where he is earning most of his money (performing and studio work) and his ambition for his musical career. His true love is to perform, to play gigs, to tour.

He is a talented musician. He has already been on a national tour and performed on Late Night with Seth Myers. I respect him because he dreams big. When I asked his dreams, he said, “To be recognized as one of the best drummers in the world, to become famous as a drummer, and to be paid well for performing and touring.”

When we talked about how he was spending his time, however, I learned he spent a chunk of most weeks teaching drumming. He was charging $40 per hour. I asked how he arrived at that figure. He told me that was what most other drum teachers in Nashville charged.

I asked him if he wanted to teach drumming and he said that his first love was really performing. “So, you’re not a drum teacher; you’re a rising touring musician,” I said.

I asked him what he thought it would cost him to get a great drummer who was busy touring and performing to come to his house to give him lessons. You know—a drummer with a four-year degree from a leading commercial percussion program—one who has toured nationally and performed on late night TV.

He got my point. The truly excellent touring musician on his way to being recognized as the best in his field probably wouldn’t even respond to the request for lessons. I asked him to consider what he was really making when he factored in the time to find students, to set appointments, and the commute to and from their homes.

When you have a dream as big as becoming a world famous drummer, you have to give up some small things to get there. You can’t do little. You have to focus your energy on big, on what you really want.

You may or may not have big dreams for your business. Maybe you want to make enough money to be comfortable. Maybe you want to be the best in your city or state.

If you have a big dream, you can’t do little stuff, but you also have to be willing to devote consistent attention to marketing. When I started doing small business consulting, I charged $1,000 a day. I liked sharing with others and helping them build their businesses.

I spoke at industry events. I wrote a monthly column for industry publications. I wrote several books to help small business owners be more successful. I created a website and regularly added content designed to attract people who needed consulting help. I sent press releases, did interviews, and had stories written about my auto-salvage consulting practice. I marketed my consulting.

You know what happened, right? My book got full. It got so full that I doubled my daily price to $2,000 and still had more work than I could do. Then, I doubled it again and still regularly turn people away at $4,000 per day because I have more consulting work than I want.

Once my drummer friend thought about what he really wanted, he understood why he needed to raise his lesson rate to $100 an hour and to work on marketing himself as a performer. The higher price will help him reinforce the quality of his musicianship because he charges more than twice what others charge for lessons.

Whatever you want to achieve from your business, get clarity on the goal. If it involves working less and charging more, make certain you market yourself. Do it right and will be get to the goal you set.

Published in the November 2017 Edition of American Recycler News