I recently interviewed Chris Bianchi, whose boutique agency for musicians, CB Entertainment, has signed over a dozen record deals and whose clients have sold over 25 million albums. As he started his business with few resources, I thought some elements of his story might be useful for readers of Inc.
So, here are 8 pieces of advice from Bianchi:
1. Find - and do - something at which you are great and about which you are passionate.
"This is easier said than done, and finding your niche can take time to identify," says Bianchi. Sometimes, you may not even know you are great at something until you try it. Remember the adage that "If you do something you love, you never have to work." Bianchi loves music and the music business; by the time he graduated high school he was a member of a band with a record contract.
2. Believe in what you are doing.
You have to believe in what you are doing, both to ensure that you have the internal drive to put in the time and effort needed for success, and, because other people can detect if you are not a believer in your own work. If prospects and clients - many of whom may already be squeamish about doing business with you because you are less established than your competitors - see or sense that you do not adequately care about that in which you are involved, they will likely scatter quickly.
3. Deliver better service
If you deliver better service - fulfilling every reasonable request a client makes in the timeframe that you agree to do so - you may beat bigger competitors for deals.
4. Be true to your word and deliver what you promise.
On the other hand, if you are not true to your word your reputation will suffer, and your startup may fail as a result.
5. Do not take NO as a final answer.
"No" now does not necessarily mean "No Forever." It is crucial to understand why someone is telling you "No" - the rationale may provide you with the information that you need to make necessary changes to a product or service offering to get to "Yes." In some cases, for example, Bianchi was told that his firm was too small - after he landed several clients, he was able to convince the original naysayers to trust him with their representation.
6. Set short and long term goals for everything important.
Bianchi said that goal setting was critical to his success, as doing so gave him metrics against which to measure. He says that in addition to long term goals, and business-related goals, he also sets short term goals in his personal life. "It is great for the mind to see things achieved daily: Crossing them off a list provides great satisfaction."
7. Understand your value
"You need be affordable without underselling yourself," says Bianchi. "Communicate your past history of successes." You may need to offer goods and services for less than established competitors, but that does not mean that you should be "giving them away."
You might not have access to significant capital - but if you deliver success and develop a reputation - through word of mouth, online information sharing, social media, etc. - you can still build a business and capital will follow.