Are you looking to build your career from the ground up, to change industries, or to start up your own business? Are you not quite sure what path you want to take? Here are a few tips for finding your sweet spot and figuring out where you should begin.Read More
At my freshman orientation 14 years ago, I learned it was possible to major in music business. I applied to the school undecided because, as I thought, who at 18 knows what they want to do when they grow up? Browsing through the college catalog, I paused at business administration knowing that out of all the majors available to me this was most likely the route I was going to take. I didn't want to teach, I didn't have the aptitude for science, and music performance was beyond my skill level, but as my dad worked in the corporate world since I was young, I knew it was going to be my path too. I kept flipping though, knowing there had to be something there for me and boom - there it was! Music. Business.
Traditional Business Education
I took the traditional route to education, attending a four-year college, taking classes online through my community college, and then attending a graduate program. If a traditional education is more your style, as it was mine, there are abundant options available from business degrees at the certificate, associates, bachelors, and masters levels from nearly every college in the United States. Music business programs are increasing in number, from top tier schools NYU and Drexel University, to state universities California State University, Northridge, the University of Southern California, and Miami University, to liberal arts schools including Lebanon Valley College and Belmont University.
Each program at each school is different. Some will focus more on music management, while others give you more of an overview of the industry, choosing to focus the degree more on business courses. My undergraduate degree focused heavily on business and music, offering only a few music industry courses, while my graduate degree was similar to an MBA program, except all courses were either taught by a professional in the music industry or held a music industry focus to the work.
If you're taking the traditional route to a music industry education, think about where you want to end up in the industry before choosing a program. Review the courses required to complete the degree to see if the learning path matches with your industry end game, and make your decision from there.
Non-Traditional Business Education
I was fortunate to have access to not only an undergraduate education but a graduate education in the music industry. I know that higher education isn't available to some people for a number of varying reasons whether it be financial or a lack of interest in continuing in the education system for another three to four years. Or maybe at the time, you were interested in a science program, majored strictly in music performance, or another liberal arts degree and now you want to transition to the business side of the music industry.
Whatever the reason, know that there are resources available. The Internet and mobile devices opened an incredible opportunity for an affordable, or even free, business education through podcasts, blogs, and business platforms. There are abundant resources available online, beyond the traditional classroom, and these are just a few that motivate and educate me post-college in business, marketing, relationships, networking, and even self-care.
To be honest, I've listened to less music in the last year and hundreds of hours of podcasts. Topics that I listen to range from entrepreneurship to marketing, meditation, and life, and I can honestly say I've am more inspired from listening to these podcasts than I ever was in my formal education. Podcasters interview people who have been in your shoes, and who are now running successful businesses. They give their top tips for everything from building your own podcast, to changing your mindset, their favorite tools to organize their business, and so much more.
Whether you have a long commute, you travel a lot, or you listen while you do house work, podcasts are one of the easiest, most convenient, and cost effective tools to educate yourself on literally any topic imaginable.
Here are a few podcasts that I found incredibly helpful and inspiring for my own business:
Find the right blog and you've hit business education gold. Plenty blogs out there will require you to sign up for the newsletter or become a member of their group to obtain access to more detailed posts and information, and if you have the funds to do so, I would recommend it (but thoroughly investigate the program prior to handing over your credit card number). But you don't always have to pay to obtain access, as many will post great, free articles that give you an excellent background and often, detailed information.
Here are a few that I recommend looking into:
LinkedIn Learning / Lynda.com
I heard about Lynda.com a while ago, but it wasn't until my company signed me up for management courses through the website that I full delved into all it had to offer. I signed up for my own account (so I'm not taking personal courses on the company's dime) and found a wealth of learning paths and courses that I want to explore in business, marketing, music business, and personal development.
A monthly subscription to LinkedIn Learning runs at $29.99, but you can sign up for a free 30-day trial. There are a ton of courses, so to maximize the free trial I would suggest signing up for it when you know you'll have some free time to watch. Bonus: once you complete courses, your newly acquired skills will be added to your LinkedIn profile.
What Route Will You Take?
Everyone is different. Everyone learns differently. While traditional education works for some, hands-on learning through internships, entry level jobs, and learning from mistakes work for others.
My education path may have started out traditional, but as the Internet becomes more prevalent in our lives, even so much as sitting on our pocket, I find myself straying away from formal education to learn from new forms of media. I'm a member of the Her Way Society, taking online courses through LinkedIn Learning, and listening to entrepreneurship podcasts nearly every day.
How will you compete your education?
When I started The Broken Glass Blog and pitched the idea (to myself) of a companion podcast, I knew it was going to take discipline to keep it on track. After attending the She Did It Her Way Summit and returning with an abundance of ideas to create a true business out of this blog, I knew it was going to take more than just discipline. I was 100% willing and committed to taking on the challenge of developing my side hustle so it could one day become my full time gig. I told myself that despite a full time job, classes, keeping myself physically and mentally fit, I could manage this and not let it fall through the cracks like other projects.
Then it happened. As I was already going full steam ahead, I was offered a promotion at my full time job. I readily accepted it for a multitude of reasons, but I accepted the position on a condition: that under no circumstances would I work from home after hours or on weekends. Work-life balance has become so important to me as I juggle multiple projects outside work while maintaining healthy eating habits and a fit lifestyle, and I assumed that if I kept to that same work schedule, everything would remain the same.
Each subsequent day sees me tearing apart the promise I made to myself. I'm exhausted at the end of the day. Mentally exhausted that is, which then translates to physical exhaustion because I just don't want to do anything. I have to make a change. My health - both mental and physical - is one of the most important things to me, and I'm not letting all of my hard work of the last year disappear just because I have a new role.
Managing the Exhaustion
One of the most important changes I'm making is to get back to self care. Taking care of yourself is the base of managing exhaustion. I'm lucky that my managers fully believe in work-life balance, stress management, and fitness. Here are some of the changes that help me positively manage my energy levels in my new role:
This is a big one. When you're hustling through a day job and find yourself absolutely exhausted when you get home, take a look at what time you're going to bed and getting up in the morning. Are you getting enough sleep? Are you burning the midnight oil with your side hustle and then waking before dawn for your day job? Try going to bed an hour or two earlier for a week and see how you feel. You may have more energy throughout the day and you may be more productive working on your side hustle in the evening.
Check your diet. Are you eating nutritious, whole foods? Or are you binging snacks, eating fast food, or indulging in ice cream every night? One of the biggest [things] that drags me down is is eating unhealthy or foods my body can't tolerate, such as gluten or dairy. When I carefully watch what I eat, eating whole, raw foods, I have [so much more] energy, focus, and motivation to work on the blog after work.
In Tips: Self-Care in a Hustle Environment I discussed how even a 10 minuted guided meditation through Headspace allows me to stop, relax, and clear my head. As responsibilities piled on, meditation became even more important in the last several weeks. I meditate in the morning, on my walks, and before I go to sleep. I even started going to Reiki meditation on Friday nights to pull out the negative energy from my body and replace it with positive, calm energy for the weekend.
Mapping out the day
Trello is one of my favorite productivity websites and apps (I use it for this blog and other business tasks) and I took that into work with me. I created a spreadsheet similar to Trello and each day I write each major project, breaks, lunches, and meetings in a "To Do" list. As I start projects, I move them into a "In Progress" column, and later into a "Completed" column when they're done. As I take my breaks and lunch, I delete that cell. It keeps it clean, I can clearly see what I've accomplished, and I'm far less stressed and disorganized during the day.
If you want to take it a step further, use your calendar to create time blocks of when you're going to work on particular projects at work, take your lunch, and even work on parts of your side hustle after work. You'll see exactly what you need to do that day and you've planned out how much time you'll spend on that project.
If you want more information on schedule locking for productivity, check out the She Did It Her Way Podcast Episode 267.
Finding the Motivation
One of the hindrances to working my business after work is a lack of motivation. I've stared at a computer screen for 8+ hours already, why would I want to spend another 2-3 hours after work looking at it again? Even after instituting the above changes, I get home from work and want to just veg with a glass of wine in front of the television. What can I do to push through another few hours? Get past the mental block and write from the heart? Interact with followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram?
First, I have to want it. And I do, I want to build this community, inspire others, and help women looking for a foot in the door.
Second, I need to analyze my body and my mind. Am I past the point of exhaustion, both physically and mentally, or is it just laziness? If I'm past the point of exhaustion then I don't push it. I get dinner, relax, and maybe read for fun. But if it's laziness, or just a lack of wanting, then I push myself. I'll change my environment and find a place where I can sit, focus, and just work. Sometimes a change of scenery is all I need to motivate myself to work a few more hours.
Third, I don't burn the midnight oil. That may mean I only get an hour or two of work in, and that's fine. An hour or two of focused work with a good night's sleep is much more productive than several hours of distracted, unfocused work and a less than desirable amount of sleep, which just perpetuates the problem.
Work in Progress
It may look easy from the outside, but let me tell you - this is a work in progress. I'm always testing what works and what doesn't work, what makes me feel good and what burns me out. I probably won't ever have a rigid schedule for my side hustle while I work my full time job, and that's okay. I'm doing what's best for me: for my physical and mental health and my business.
What About You?
Do you have a side hustle with a full time job? What works for you?
You've decided you want to start a creative business. Awesome! Now comes the daunting (and sometimes not so much fun) part for us creatives: organizing the business.
If you're in the same place I was about two months ago, I'm sure you're now trying to navigate through all the programs, websites, and applications built to help entrepreneurs and corporations alike manage their business. There is a plethora of free and subscription based programs out there to organize and manage each and every part of your business. But which are the best? Which are user friendly, integrate with your current systems and each other, and offer the best bang for your buck?
I've tried several programs and applications for each need, and here are my 5 favorite tools that help me manage my business efficiently and effectively:
Google Docs and G Suite
Google Docs has been my savior since grad school. Since it lives in the cloud, you can pull up your document on literally any device with the app or an Internet browser. I use it all the time for the blog, freelance writing, and other business ventures. Documents can stand alone or be moved into specific folders, and changes save automatically. While documents don't print quite as pretty straight from Google Docs as they do from Microsoft Word or another processing software, it's easy to access for note taking, quick adjustments, or to type out ideas while you're on the go.
G Suite is new to me, as of this week in fact, but I'm loving it already. For just $5 a month, I can create an email account with my name at thebrokenglassblog.com. How cool is that?! I thought I'd forever be stuck with an @gmail email address, but G Suite saved my life (okay, I'm being a bit dramatic). It is seriously cool though. Now all my Google Docs and Sheets are attached to my business account, I can create a calendar for the blog, connect other Marketplace apps and AdWords, create mailing lists, and more. G Suite is used by corporations around the country and it's on the top of my recommendation list for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Okay, I'm going to just admit it. I'm still living in the stone age. I have to have a physical planner on me at all times. If I don't write something down, and merely type it, I'll most likely forget about it. My brain has learned to shut off conscious thought when I type, so handwriting something allows me to clearly remember meetings, tasks, and events.
I do have to say though, there are some excellent calendaring websites and software that I've utilized in conjunction with my old school planner. While programs such as Google Calendar and iCal are free and have their own merits, I've found Acuity Scheduling to be one of the best systems out there for scheduling appointments with clients and interviewees.
Rather than back and forth emails trying to find a mutual time, you or the client can simple schedule an appointment during your availability. Acuity can be embedded into your website for easy client access, or you can send clients a direct link to your scheduling page. Acuity can sync with your other calendars, you can customize appointment types, and require clients to complete an intake form to prepare you for the meeting.
Visual Content Creation
i am not a graphic designer by any means. I know the basics of Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator, but can't design visual content to save my life. That's where Canva comes in for me.
Canva (www.canva.com) provides templates for any kind of marketing material you may need, both digital and printable, and also gives you the option to create custom sized documents. There's a library of stock photos, backgrounds, shapes, text options, and varying layouts for you to customize to your liking. And that's just the free option.
The premium option of Canva (for which there's a free 30-day trial) gives you access to additional stock photos, the ability to save templates with your logo, and invite up to 30 team members in addition to so much more. All those pretty Instagram posts on @thebrokenglassblog are created in Canva, and I highly recommend this site for the non-designer.
With all the different website builders out there - Wix, WordPress, Squarespace, Weebly, among others, it's hard to decide on which site to design and host your own website. Each has its own merits, with different templates, free and premium options, and integration options. I've tried pretty much all of the well-known builders and found Squarespace to be the best fit for me. Not only does it integrate into my email program, MailChimp, it's easy to set up, requires no coding experience (unless you want to go that route) and seemed to be much more easily customizable than the other options. In fact, this site is hosted on Squarespace.
The one downside to Squarespace is that the only free option available is the 2 week trial period, but I don't mind shelling out a little bit of money if it means I can manage the website on my own without a developer or other assistance.
Financial Applications and More
AndCo is free online business software that not only tracks invoices and expenses, but helps you create proposals and contracts, manage projects, track time sheets, It also integrates with apps you may already use such as MailChimp, Slack, PayPal, and Stripe and connects seamlessly with Shoeboxed to manage any paper receipts. Best of all, it's simple to use, creates clean looking documents, and did I mention it's free?
Are you starting up your business? What tools do you find useful to organize your business? Comment below to share!