Friday, June 20, 2014

Days of the Week = Opportunities for Growth

Hey all. Perhaps this is a bit formulaic of me (or even downright stupid) but I've come up with a bit of a business practice that I've found helpful to me in the studio environment. The idea is basically that I have a one hour thought experiment every day of the week targeted to a specific area of the studio. Working 70 hours a week as an audio engineer, having a studio, teaching classes, and trying to grow my business can be very daunting, and hard to find time to really focus on what's important, and focus on what needs improvement and when. If you just look at everything in one huge sum, it seems very overwhelming, but if you have a specific task every day of the week on which to dote, you can really accomplish much greater things. Think of it like a 1hr workout, but for your business, every day. I'll give you an example of what I mean.

Mondays - Marketing. I spend an hour thinking about ways to get the word out about the studio. Could be something simple, could be something complex. I try to brainstorm ideas and come up with new ways to not only attract new business, but stay in touch with current clients and continue to bring value to their lives as they have brought value to mine.

Tuesdays - Talkback. On Tuesdays I try to send an email, text, FB message, or make a phonecall to a client, just to say hey, see what's up, ask how they are doing. Could be a simple hashtag on Facebook or Instagram - just to let people know they matter to me as clients.

Wednesdays - Wash day. On Wednesdays I clean the studio. Sweep, vacuum, mop, clean the glass, dust, etc. Not exactly a thought experiment, but certainly good practice.

Thursdays - Throwback - but not how Instagram does it. I try to listen to old mixes and see things I liked, things I didn't like, how I could have done them better. I just listen to a few and think about them a bit, maybe make some notes on cool things I did that I haven't done in a while, or open up the session to take a peek under the hood.

Fridays - Finance. On Fridays I take a look at my finances, make some predictions and calculations, and try to plan ahead as much as possible. You may find it hard to believe, but I actually went to school for business management and accounting - and if it says something about how nerdy I am, I particularly LOVED accounting...but I digress. Anyway, so in addition to looking at data, I May do some gear shopping or pricing out, making plans for the future, trying to figure out what I need, what I don't need, and what's most important. Sessions will often tell you the gear you need - when you run into situations where you say "man, if I had X, we would have accomplished a LOT more in the studio today" - those are usually high priority. Things that you say "oooh...pretty..." those are usually low priority. ;)  Because the studio is often an unsteady income varying vastly week to week, month to month, I have to make a game plan to keep the lights on while still improving the studio.

Saturday - Seven Improvement Ideas. I spend an hour trying to come up with 7 things that could improve my studio, and I do mean the physical building. Maybe building some shelves for more storage, reorienting a room for better usage of space, adding on, consolidating, re-routing things on the patchbay, reworking the headphone system, need some new XLR cables --- ANYTHING. Whatever seems to need improvement, or anything I can do that will make my job easier and make the experience more enjoyable for clients.

Sunday - On Sundays I try to take an hour to listen to my favorite music coming through the Barefoot speakers at a low volume, drink a glass or two of whiskey, and just chill out. Making time to relax is very important to me. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your business is to step away from it a little while and recall why you got into it in the first place; in my case, it's because I love music.

As simpleminded or cheesy at it sounds, I've found it to be very helpful. I once watched a seminar about "removing everything in your life that causes you anxiety," and how people should strive to do so. It's very interesting to me, the idea that you CAN conquer all of the problems in your life either by fixing them, or removing them, and that anything you dislike, you have the power to change. Although this isn't always true, it's a positive message. The studio is a very stressful job, and doing this is almost like a meditation for me - just to take an hour of my day to really sit and think about something, with nobody around, no phone, no distractions. Just quality time. Give it a shot, whether you're a business owner, a musician, an engineer - you may find it very rewarding.