Category Archives: Business

Various aspects of Business tips that i’ve learned and want to help others with

Non-business owners – ‘They may not understand’

Hi there!

Thanks for reading my blogs, been a while since my last post!

The idea behind this blog is to help create awareness for non-business owners as to how to communicate/act better when employing the services of a self-employed professional / wanting to help/advise someone you know who runs a business.

Non-business owners:

1. You may not understand. From my experience and excellent advice from some thought leaders in the business world, IMHO those who’ve actually started up a business from scratch, invested their own money, energy and taken the risks to create their own businesses/ coached successful ones, are the ones I personally will take advice from the most

As starting a business can be very risky (I don’t as of yet have a mortgage so less risky for me at the moment), in terms of the investment etc, often a business owner can be very protective of the way they run things and in a sense do not like being told what to do. The ‘They may not understand line’ was given to me by someone who is a thought leader, and has stuck with me ever since.

2. Having a business degree/ marketing degree does not make you a thought leader on business/marketing. I know lots of people who have bits of paper saying that they have expert knowledge in business/marketing. For me unless you have taken a big leap into starting your own business/ have a proven track record of coaching/improving businesses, for me you cannot be considered an expert. This is because the learning curves are so steep when starting a business. Learning to do all your accounts, schedule your daily activities, social media, advertising, marketing, client management, bookings, T & C’s, planning, etc constantly have to be improved due to various things that happen when you start out/uncontrollable situations.

So if you do not run a business, be careful what you may think is advice you are giving as many business owners (from my experience) will take it personally. Think of it as similar to when football players get annoyed at pundits that have never played the game.

3. Being aware of some of the myth’s surrounding running a business/ being self-employed 

The amount of times I here people say ‘being a guitar teacher must be so easy, you get up at midday, sit around all day in your dressing gown, teach Wonderwall a few times then repeat the process’. Here’s a list of things that a private teacher may do:

1. Advertising – it could be flyers, going into schools, putting your details on community forums, trading websites (for me something like Uk musicteachers sites)

2. Payments – sending out invoices, paying in cheques, checking online banking, business banking, chasing late payments, payment reminders

3. Research – seeing what other teachers are doing, looking at blogs, tweets, youtube for inspiration/ideas

4. Rescheduling & booking lessons/work – imagine say 5 clients a week want to rearrange. A business owner may have to reshuffle 10 clients in order to accommodate them into the schedule

5. Exercise – this may seem baffling as you are not getting paid for this. The amount of people I know who’d benefit from 2 hours week exercise is unbelievable. Often the excuse is ‘there is not enough hours in the day’, however as most research has suggested, if you went for a quick jog, bike ride, your productivity & concentration levels would rise significantly, which’d mean you’d actually get more work done. I used to be renowned when I was younger for having a cold all the time. Now I’m ill as lot less often (hope i haven’t jinxed that!). I genuinely believe that is about 70% to do with the running I do and how I organize my days.

 6. Social media – A friends company I know, employs 1 person solely for Twitter. So Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, WordPress, Google+, Instagram can be a huge investment of time/sometimes money for a business owner. It’s essential for creating awareness about your brand/product + SEO for websites.

7. StrategyIf you are an ambitious entrepreneur like myself, you’ll want to constantly find ways of improving every day. That may be a small change like changing the way you receive payments or upgrading your equipment. It could be large scale, like employing staff

8. The things you get paid for – your actual job – teaching, plumbing, etc .-  How many hours will be dependent on how good you are and how much of the above you do/outsource etc

9. Administration – Reconciling lessons, producing teaching material for your lessons, liaising with parents etc, accounting, monitoring income and expenditure, tax returns.

10. Websites – manufacturing & maintenance of a website


4. Jealously Jealously will not get you anywhere. You may not like your job, you may not like the hours you work, you may not like your boss. If a friend of yours owns a business, it may seem pretty easy to criticize. However, praising them will be a better option. Smart people can also read jealousy a mile off. That way they won’t cut you out of their social circles. Being surrounded by successful/positive people breeds success. Being surrounded by negative people breeds negativity. Richard Branson for example is great at promoting this type of thinking

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this! Will be interested to hear any comments!

Many thanks

James Schofield


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Posted by on September 29, 2014 in Business


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The issues with ‘Mates Rates’

Hi There,

Thank you for reading my blogs so far and hope you find them useful.

In this blog i’d like to share with people my thoughts on ‘mates rates’ and why if you’re a business owner you should think carefully about whether you should be offering them.


From time to time in both my covers band and guitar teaching business’s, I’ll sometimes get asked ‘what are your mates rates’, ‘Do you do mates rates’, ‘do i get special rates for being such a good friend!’

When i started off both business’s I assumed this was the norm and offered reductions in prices for both business’s. I’ve come to realise that the only time mates rates are acceptable is in an exchange of services. So for example I’m providing cheaper rates for my wedding band in exchange for slightly cheaper rates for website design. This way both business’s aren’t affected financially + loss of time.

So some examples to why Mates rates shouldn’t be offered:

If my guitar lessons were £30 for 45 minutes and I taught on average 20 lessons a week = £600 x 4 = £2400 per month x12 = £28,800 per year

If I were to have for example 5 mates as pupils offering £20 per lesson and they were having 1 lesson a week that would equate to £550 a week , £2200 a month and £26,400 a year. So essentially I’ve taken a pay cut of £2400 within the year if I were to go down this route.

So thoughts:

  • As any business owner knows there is a fair amount of risk in running a business so anything that can cause a reduction in income is not a good thing
  • Some people asking for ‘mates rates’ may have full time jobs, earning a reasonable steady income that can easily afford your prices, so by asking for ‘mates rates’ they are actually doing the opposite of being a mate! This is because if they were a good mate they would insist on paying full prices as they’ll not want to see you take a pay cut
  • ‘Mates rates’ do not occur in standard 9-5 jobs. So for example if your mate was your boss would you be willing to take a pay cut?!

So for my 2nd business (covers band business playing special occasions such as 30th, 60th parties and weddings) friends will be paying a lump sum of money for a very special occasion.

Say if for example I charged a friend £800 for a wedding instead of a standard price of £1200. Based on market research £1200 seems to be fairly standard for a 4/5 piece wedding band.

So say if we did 50 gigs a year @ £1200 = £60k

If 20 of these were offered at mates rates = (800 x 20) + (1200 x 30) = £52k

That means the band has missed out on £8K.

In the covers band business there are a lot of costs that many people booking will not be aware of

£1200 will take into account rehearsal fees of around £200, band payments £375, P.A hire £250, Van hire £50, website, business cards, insurance etc etc £75)

As you can see from the above costs if we were to offer £800 we’d actually make a loss on the gig.

So conclusions:

  • If you wanna be a real mate – pay the full prices 🙂

Hope you’ve found this blog useful – more guitar related posts next!

Many thanks


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Posted by on September 4, 2013 in Business


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The Hotel from hell + Pricing your service/product.

Hi there,

Thanks for reading my blogs so far.

This blog will be slightly differ in content than all of my guitar related blogs, whereby it focuses on more about the business side of guitar teaching and how to apply this to any business.

I recently had a bad experience with a Hotel in Paris that has inspired me to write a blog. Having experienced this situation made me think more closely about customer service and business expectations. Think a negative experience like this can be turned on it’s head to prevent future occurrences.

So the little facts:


The room was 200 euros a night – so although this was Paris and an expensive city, you’d expect a fairly decent size room and decent customer service. The room was very small and nothing like on the photos from the website.




The waiter/chef that dealt with cooking and delivering the breakfast was consistency late throughout our stay and often made mistakes with the orders. This was combined with poor communication with the reception staff which meant even more mistakes.

The receptionist on the last day was very rude, argumentative and gave us a bill that was way over what we’d expected. This was due to various mistakes of the previous receptionists and waiter/chef, meaning that we had been charged extra for their incompetence.

So after having this experience I was clearer about:

Price – Being one of the most expensive teachers in Berkshire, I often get asked why i’m so expensive. So I explain that i’m in a different league to my competitors and can fully justify my prices by the following:

– excellent teaching facilities – Great valve amps, Mac with great speakers, whiteboard and utilising a wide range of interactive teaching materials like backing tracks and home made pdfs

– 6 month reviews that cater for every age and ability with clear aims, guidelines. This provides parents with feedback and gets rid of the beauracracy of weekly homework (pupils spend time on different sections of their review every week)

– Homemade transcriptions (that are produced outside of lessons) on Guitar pro that pupils can access at home for the pieces that they are learning.

– Annual school concerts with a pro backing band, free blogs, tweets, emails, dropbox access etc etc

So with the price comes expectations and this Hotel clearly did not deliver.

1349781133-figures-announced-there-are-less-independent-businesses-being-created_1511525 I’ve also realised that a local music shop (despite me sending a few of my pupils there for cheap guitar setups) was asking my pupils how much I charge. When they found out how much, they suggested a name of one of my competitors (just on the price alone!). So although I tad disappointed to hear this from my pupil (they are obviously still with me as they know i’m worth that little extra), this was a lesson in realising their whole business was positioned around cheapness. The qualities of the guitars, leads, and everything else was cheap and sub standard.

I now recommend one of the best guitar tech’s in the country who sets up Slash’s and Ronnie Wood’s guitars.

When you take this guitar to this guy, he sits you down and has a chat about your instrument and is keen to get to know you. After he’s done a stellar job on your guitar (he makes it infinitely better sounding then when it came out of the shop) he’ll provide you with a sheet explaining every single adjustment he may have made.

So ‘you get what you pay for’ isn’t always a true reflection on a service or product as we’ve seen:

– If the Hotel hired more competent staff and a waiter/chef that turned up on time then they would begin to justify their prices.

The local music shop serves a need for start up guitarists as they do offer cheap products and parents often don’t want to spend much on their child’s guitar. They will however refer you to local tutors with price just in mind. This could lead you wasting years and lots of money on a tutor that isn’t good enough. Quite a few of my pupils have come from these local competitors.

– The new guitar tech and myself charge more than our competitors but are worth it. Obviously just being expensive doesn’t necessarily mean great as we’ve seen from the Hotel.

So to conclude:

  1. When looking to purchase a service or product the business should make it clear what the customer is getting. (I send out a 2 page document for every new student detailing expectations).
  2. Provide some sort of discount if your service hasn’t lived up to your offering. (The Hotel should’ve offered a discount on our stay). I’ve made a few mistakes in the past (double booking, had to cancel last minute) – I rectified the situation by offering their next lesson for free.
  3. Price can be misleading – The music shop offers cheap equipment, they may refer you to other cheap services that may not be of a good standard. The Hotel was over priced. The guitar tech and myself can justify our prices way beyond our competitors. Think the key here is to be clear about what you are/are not getting.

Hope you’ve found this blog useful – feel free to add any experiences of your own/suggestions for improvement!

Many thanks


You can find me on twitter @jsmusicschool for regular free guitar tweets

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Posted by on April 9, 2013 in Business


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Being conscious of your language

Hi There,

Thanks for reading my blogs so far.

The majority of my posts so far have been of a technical/theoretical nature on all things guitar related.

This lesson will help you to understand that the language you use on a day to day basis in your head and out loud can have a huge impact on your progress as a musician.

Js Music School attracts clients that are motivated and dedicated individuals, so that they don’t have to be asked on a regular basis to practice. There are however, lots of other useful ways to help you improve on your practice schedules by being conscious of the language you use.

As a professional coach I’m aware of how language can have a big impact on a pupils progress, especially when they are at a young age and still absorbing a lot of new information.

If you are a guitar player, it’s just a question of starting to be more aware of what language you use on a day to day basis.

Some pupils I’ve taught in the past with low self-esteem tend to use the word ‘try’ far too much. (I was the same before I was coached out of it!) . I’m ‘trying’ to get this scale right, or I’ve been ‘trying’ to practice quite a bit this week. (instead of just working on getting the scale right or practicing quite a bit !!)

If you become more aware of this, you can start to cut out some of the language and replace it with something more constructive. Use more direct language. So If I was to say to a pupil ‘try and practice the pentatonics this week’ it has much less of an impact than ‘practice your pentatonics this week’.

Another very important phrase is that of the ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’.

When you see a band live and the guitarist let’s rip on an amazing solo, if you say to yourself ‘i’m never going to be as good as him’ that turns that thought into reality. The reason being is that you have convinced yourself before picking up the guitar that you will probably only reach a certain level of ability.

Obviously there are many other factors of becoming a great guitarist, but you can see from the above that little changes in your language patterns could prove to be very beneficial!

Many thanks for reading.

Other useful tips can be found on twitter @jsmusicschool

Feel free to like our new facebook page!

Many thanks

James Schofield



Posted by on November 19, 2012 in Business


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