TURNING AN AVOCATION INTO A BUSINESS

ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS NOT JUST FOR THE YOUNG!

Al Colombo began his adult life as a public school music teacher but after several years changed professions and entered the business world as a salesman for a large publishing firm. After a successful and rewarding career, he retired and decided to return to his true love – music. Although he had performed occasionally during his business career, he now wanted to make the most of his retirement years by performing as a solo violinist.

Over several years he acquired a cadre of clients needing his skills and talents as a strolling violinist at restaurants and events such as receptions and weddings. When one restaurant representing a large percentage of his bookings went out of business, Al’s income was reduced considerably. Prior to this, Al had relied primarily on word of mouth and referrals to acquire new clients and bookings. He soon realized he needed additional ways to gain business and joined his local Chamber of Commerce, hoping to network and attract new clients. During one meeting he was introduced to Larry Struttmann, also a member of the Chamber and a long-time SCORE Counselor.

Together Al and Larry reviewed the situation and established a three part marketing plan. First, they created a list of potential clients needing his services and developed a set of marketing materials. Al then mailed these materials to his prospect list and followed with phone calls and personal visits when the prospect showed interest. Secondly, they looked for a new market segment and found one – assisted living facilities and nursing homes. Using his marketing materials, Al began contacting these prospects and within a relatively short time had acquired 20 new clients.

Lastly, Larry helped Al with planning his actual performances by suggesting he create music sets built around themes. This new approach generated enthusiasm and interest among his listeners, which in turn brought additional clients through referrals and word-of-mouth.

Since the initial plans were implemented, Al has begun using technology to attract additional business by partnering with on-line booking agencies, and after just a few weeks has acquired several new clients and bookings.

Al’s experience with SCORE demonstrates several important points for all businesses – networking is crucial to success, there are almost always new market segments for your products and services, and you’re never too old to learn new ways of doing things!