I've always loved playing the piano since my very first lessons as a child. My first teacher was so inspirational to me and planted the idea in my head that I could do music as my career. I played all through school and then auditioned and got into a B.Mus program at the University of Manitoba. Through a university referral program, I got a few gigs playing background music for parties and weddings and I loved the freedom and fun of playing at these kinds of events. After school and when I moved to Toronto I built my website and started advertising myself as a professional pianist for events. That was back in 2013, and since then the business has grown to servicing over 100 clients each year. Due to my drive and following my passion, I have won several awards for wedding music including "Best of the Knot.com". I am also featured on the preferred vendor lists of the hottest venues in Toronto.
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or to make significant changes in an existing business?
How did the idea for your business come about?
I just really love playing the piano and I thought, how can I make money doing this? I had discovered that it was really hard to be successful trying to become a famous classical pianist, so I diversified into all genres (pop, jazz, etc.) and targeted events that need live music like weddings, corporate events and private parties. I found that not a lot of pianists were actively doing this so I aimed to own the market.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
Being new to a big city was a bit daunting, but not overwhelming. I needed to learn as I went what equipment I needed, how to make contracts, the best strategies to book and satisfy clients, how to get repeat business, etc. - all of this I learned while doing so the first gigs were a lot more stressful than they are now.
What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?
I inhale fiction, especially thrillers! Right now currently reading "No One Knows" by J.T. Ellison. In terms of business books, I really like "The 4-Hour Workweek" by Tim Ferriss. I read this book at the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey and it really changed my life. It confirmed what I knew about myself - that I never wanted to get trapped in a 9-5!
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?
How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
Not really; no one in my family is an entrepreneur though so in a way they didn't know what to expect. My extended family are all very impressed and continue to be baffled by my success in music. I've been working and independent since I was a teenager and have always been very resilient and resourceful so I don't think they ever worried.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
My drive for success and willingness to do whatever it takes.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
If I could go back and talk to myself in 2013 I would just say "keep going, you are on the right track" - I don't have any regrets.
What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?
That thing that you want to do is possible if you are in the right place and serving the right audience. Some ideas flourish in some areas more than others so be flexible and be willing to do what it takes to make your business and yourself thrive.