The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but it’s often hard to know where to draw that line.
Something I’ve observed. . .
When it comes to new enterprises of any kind, the most time and energy is expended not on moving forward but in figuring out the right path.
This is one reason why a pro can move a company from zero to millions in short order. He’s spent his entire life learning to identify the point of highest leverage; he can take immediate action without muddling about.
The rest of us? Well, we muddle about.
Where to draw the line?
Besides intelligent study and mentoring, I’m not sure if there’s a huge shortcut around this – because it really does take time to learn how a field works. Maybe it just takes a lot of failure and beating around the bush before you figure out how to be efficient.
In running my piano business, I’ve noticed this problem with many fellow teachers. They might desperately want more students, or to teach independently, but they just don’t know how. As a consequence they spend quite a lot of time on low-value tasks that don’t get them many students.
Learning From Experience
I had my first piano students when I was fifteen, which meant that by my early twenties I already had a lot of experience in what really works in building a piano studio. I also had a lot of experience online with building websites, and even some experience attracting customers. So, it was easy for me to apply this extremely high leverage knowledge to my piano teaching business.
Without even realizing it, I had learned the essentials of building a music studio from scratch through several years of trial and error. To me, it seemed very easy and obvious: I had a skill people could pay for, I knew how to effectively market that skill, and I could set up shop.
Applying Past Experiences
What’s interesting is that this knowledge – which seemed very obvious to me – simply isn’t obvious to everyone. Many people prefer to work for someone else and make less money rather than have to figure out the steps involved.
As I try to move more business online, I find myself in a similar position: what must be obvious to others feels hazy to me. I’ve had some experience with online business in the past – but I’ve never sold my own product. I feel as though I’m not moving efficiently, but I don’t know exactly what to do about it.
So here’s the very obvious thing I’m just now realizing:
Every single business I’ve started that has succeeded has had a clear product in mind from the very beginning.
In other words, at least the end point of the line was clearly marked.
For instance, I started advertising for piano lessons before I even had a studio to teach in! I had to improvise, and make a lot of corrections, but having the product (my teaching) as the end point made be get there far faster than I otherwise would have.
Because of this I learned extremely fast from the feedback of my clients – some of which was hard to take. And I took action that I never would have without having that endpoint in place.
So this seems to be the straight line I’ve been missing – my own product. I’ve developed sites like pianoblog.com – even grown a bit of a following, but I’ve never had a particular product in mind. And I know my industry well, so I certainly don’t run the risk of designing a useless product if I do the proper homework.
I think I’ve done the opposite in my online endeavors. I’ve spent way too much time studying all the of the issues surrounding my goal- how to market, how to build an effective website- and not enough time on the goal itself. Namely, something to sell.
So that’s where I’m at now. Stay tuned and you’ll see where it gets me.
What do you think? What mistakes have you made in your business? What time have you wasted and what would you do differently in retrospect? Let me know in the comments section!