Q 1. Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.

Ans: Moscow Music Academy, located in north central Idaho, is a full service ​music lesson provider for the young and young-at-heart. We teach all levels from beginners to advanced, and nearly all styles of music from Renaissance to Rock. In addition to providing music instruction we also provide performing opportunities for our students and look for ways for them to share that with the community at large (recitals, jazz festival, community outreach and so forth).

Q 2. Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).

Ans: I earned my Masters in guitar performance from the University of Idaho’s Hampton School of Music in 1993. That same year I opened GTR Guitar Studio (which later became Moscow Music Academy), and joined the teaching faculty at Spokane Falls Community College teaching private guitar and guitar class.

Q 3. What inspired 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?

Ans: As a grad student my major professor chose me to teach the guitar class for non-majors. I discovered I had an affinity for and really enjoyed teaching and sharing what I knew about playing guitar with others (he also had me take over his teaching post at the community college). I was fortunate to study with some incredible music faculty ​at the U of I ​ who were more like mentors in the way ​that ​their teaching connected to me personally. They had a way of making their subject matter interesting and relevant in a holistic way.​ That approach is what inspired my teaching philosophy. I set out to multiply my passion of how music should be taught by ​assembling a​ teaching staff that is talented, qualified, and ​who share my same philosophy and goals for music education in that every student receives individual music instruction, tailored to their age, personality, and learning style​ in a fun and engaging way.

Q 4. What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Ans: In no particular order – 1. Have a team of people that can help you grow your skill sets, grow your business, be an objective sounding board. 2. Figure out your strengths, weakness and don’t be afraid to delegate tasks so that you can free up your time to improve and grow your business. 3. Do what you love, have written goals and a plan on how to grow your business. Invest in yourself and learn everything you need to know to make your business a success, including working with a mentor or business coach.

Q 5. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

Ans: Focus and determination in everything that you do, Marketing (the more I study it the more I love it!), Resiliency and self-reliance.

Q 6. How many hours do you work a day on average?

Ans: 10 (sometimes as much as 12 depending on what projects, tasks and events I have lined up)

Q 7. To what do you most attribute your success?

Ans: Pushing myself outside my comfort zone. Also finding, recognizing and surrounding myself with quality people that help me grow as a person and entrepreneur, aren’t afraid to hold me to task but are also encouraging.

Q 8. How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?

Ans: Studying and learning the art of direct response marketing has been a big game changer as has understanding how to effectively use social media.

Q 9. Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?

Ans: Personal funding (savings, working more than one “other job”, taking a “pay cut” to save up capital), and some help from family.

Q 10. What is the best way to achieve long-term success?

Ans: Have a plan, have a business coach/mentor, be focused, have faith in yourself, ACT!

Q 11.Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?

Ans: I want to have grown enough that I can have more teachers on staff so that I can focus more on improving and growing my business without having to be on-site all of the time. I’d like to be able to travel more and do volunteer work in communities where there is a need.

Q 12.Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?

Ans: Disney

Q 13. How important have good employees been to your success?

Ans: Having people that understand the vision, mission and goals you have for your business AND who can willingly help you carry that out is vital.

Q 14. How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?

Ans: Until it shows no further signs of being viable and/or it reaches the point of diminishing returns

Q 15. How do you generate new ideas?

Ans: Talking with family, friends, colleagues, reading, observing and listening to others (especially outside of my primary area of expertise)

Q 16. How do you define success?

Ans: Being able to accomplish something

Q 17. How do you build a successful customer base?

Ans: Provide excellent customer experience and service.

Q 18. What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

Ans: I get to innovate and create

Q 19. What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

Ans: Expanding services to offer instruction for a wider variety of musical instruments and being able to have a teaching staff to help teach and grow my school.

Q 20. What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?

Ans: Entrepreneurs seem to have drive and determination for doing and being better at whatever it is that they do. They don’t shirk at putting in 10-12 hour days seven days a week, will get up early and go to bed late to have time to get more accomplished. Like most people they have fears and doubts but they are willing to push past those things rather than let those fears and doubts hold them back. They invest in themself (personal growth), are more likely to take ownership of their successes and failures (personal responsibility), and have a willingness (sometimes a compulsion) for taking risks.

Q 21. What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?

Ans: This industry typically is populated by solo teachers that have a very outdated approach to teaching lessons; they think it’s just about showing someone how to play an instrument. The same goes for music instrument stores that happen to provide space for someone to teach music lessons. Neither tends to be terribly focused on or committed to providing a quality customer experience (having a qualified teaching staff, making sure students have motivational programs, performance opportunities, have organized scheduling, consistent hours and so forth). I strive to ensure we have an open, welcoming, encouraging, and most of all fun vibe at our school. As much as possible, it is well organized and clean. I do my best to set this tone by how our facilities are designed and maintained, in how I select and hire teachers, how I market to attract our ideal clients and get their feedback on how we are doing, to the type of programs, activities and support I have in place for our students, their parents and our teachers.

Q 22. In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.

Ans: Unstoppable

Q 23. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?

Ans: Believing that all things happen as they’re meant to, I’m not sure I would do anything differently as each thing has ultimately helped me get where I am now.

Q 24. What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?

Ans: Not living up to my potential and letting myself, my spouse and amy family down. I do my best to manage that by reading and listening to success mindset focused books and audio, talking with my spouse and family, networking with other entrepreneurs, and having a written “to-do” list.

Q 25. How did you decide on the location for your business?

Ans: I wanted to be part of our central “downtown” community. Another business friend and associate connected us with a building owner that had two vacant suites at a major intersection of town; at the corner of a three way stop. The price was right and the building provided plenty of space for signage that was visible by those driving by as well as those on foot.

Q 26. Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?

Ans: Yes, always be willing to grow (personally and professionally)

Q 27. If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?

Ans: I would want to talk to my great grandfather. He was a barber so it would seem entrepreneurship runs in the family (I also had an uncle with his own dentistry practice). I would want to know what challenges he faced being an entrepreneur.

Q 28. Who has been your greatest inspiration?

Ans: Definitely my dad

Q 29. What book has inspired you the most? (OR what is your favorite book?)

Ans: As an adult and entrepreneur, The E-Myth by Michael Gerber has probably inspired me most.

Q 30. What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?

Ans: Not trusting my “gut” about someone or thing

Q 31. How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control? Borrowing from the

Ans: In the restaurant industry I work on “reading the table” and practicing “what if” from the perspective of whatever I’m dealing with to anticipate and head off problems in advance . Damage control is done with a “buck stops here” philosophy. I take ownership, do my best to acknowledge the problem/concern, issue a sincere apology, offer an explanation if one is warranted and let them know what will be done to correct the issue.

Q 32. What makes you happy?

Ans: Spending time with family and friends, playing music, cooking a special meal (especially ones that my father taught me to make or that we would make together), helping others.

Q 33. What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?

Ans: Take a personal cut in pay whenever there’s a dip in business clients, not take trips or visit family as often as I would like to pick up new clients that can’t be scheduled with anyone else or to prepare for an upcoming event

Q 34. If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask?

Ans: Do you prefer to provide written or aural answers?


Company Detail:

Company : Moscow Music Academy
Contact : Michelle Karel-Ward
Address : 207 S Washington St
City : Moscow
State : ID
Zip : 83843
Phone : 208-882-6733
Email : lessons@moscowmusicacademy.com