I was recently hanging out in Nashville because I wanted to explore the city. I'd been hearing rave reviews about Music City for a couple of years and decided to finally use some soon-to-expire airline miles and go.
Most of it was what I expected - boots, biscuits, live music and whiskey. However, there's this whole other side of Nashville that I didn't know existed. It turns out Music City is a mecca for creative entrepreneurship. From tech startups to a thriving food scene, Nashville is going far beyond country music in attracting talent.
Not only that, but the people in Nashville can also teach you a thing or two about hustling. Here are just a few of the business lessons I learned while visiting Nashville, Tennessee.
Diversify your income.
Side hustles have been all the rage in recent years, and Nashville takes it to a whole new level. Just about everyone I met was not just holding down a day job (often times a very demanding one in the music industry), but they also had a side gig or two to earn extra money.
For example, I met a lovely young woman who had just opened up her retail shop a few months prior. She'd been working on a style blog on the side of her corporate job for quite some time. When she saw some growth and the opportunity to really do what she wanted, she went for it and opened up a shop.
Be willing to experiment.
One of the things I noticed about Nashville is that people were willing to experiment with different business ideas. And, sometimes, these ideas were a little out there.
The most prevalent example that comes to mind is that of a kombucha bar my friend took me to in East Nashville. It is literally a bar at the back of a tea house for fermented kombucha tea and herbal sodas.
Up until this point, I knew you could buy bottled kombucha and I'd sometimes see it served at health events, but I'd never heard of an entire establishment dedicated to serving the fermented tea, yeast and bacteria concoction that has taken hipsters by storm.
This establishment was the first of its kind in the city and apparently, it's pretty well known all over the country. When I tried to Google "kombucha bar" while researching for this article back home, the first suggestion that came up was "kombucha bar Nashville."
The owners of this place certainly noticed an available niche in Nashville, and they jumped in. Now they own one of the hippest places in town and they've acquired national fame.
Take risks to get what you want.
Nashville has a long history of attracting risk takers. Perhaps it's because of a dream to make a big in Music City, but it seems to run a little deeper than that.
Take the Ryman Auditorium, or as it's otherwise known, the original Grand Ole Opry. It was a woman by the name of Lula C. Naff who helped bring it to fame in the early 1900s.
First of all, this was practically unheard of for a woman at that time. Second, she had the foresight to turn this building - which was originally a house of worship - into the most popular venue in town. She booked everything from concerts to boxing matches in the auditorium in an effort to increase its revenue and pay off the building's debts.
It was Lula Naff who helped put Nashville on the map as an internationally recognized cultural center. Fast forward to 2017 and entertainers of all kinds are still trying to book shows at this historic venue.
Of course, this spirit still runs strong in Nashville. I had the pleasure of seeing a live band perform at the world famous Tootsie's one of the nights I was there. I was so intrigued by this band and their charismatic frontwoman that I began to pretty much stalk them on social media.
What I learned was they'd moved from St. Louis on a hope and a prayer to make it big. They took the risk and they're paying their dues, and I'm sure it will pay off. After all, they're already playing the world famous bar Johnny Cash used to sneak off to.
Nashville isn't just for country music anymore. It's for entrepreneurs and risk takers of all kinds who are willing to chase their dreams and make them a reality. It'll be interesting to see how this city continues to grow in the coming years. Who knows? Maybe Music City will acquire a few more nicknames.