How I Turned My Profession As A Musician Into A $180K/12 months Customized Printing

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Good day! Who’re you and what enterprise did you begin?

My title is Michael Nova and I’m the Director and Founding father of Nova Customized Label Printing. We provide branding and advertising options to companies nationwide. We print something a small or giant enterprise would possibly want…

  • customized label printing
  • inflexible or versatile packaging
  • Signage, together with retail retailer window shows
  • T-shirts, jackets, hats, and customized attire
  • promotional objects
  • Posters, postcards, and enterprise playing cards
  • customized die-cut stickers minimize to form
  • customized decals

We went from being a mom-and-pop small enterprise beginning in 1995 to now serving main companies. Alongside the best way, I realized highly effective classes of the right way to overcome adversity, each in enterprise and in life.


What’s your backstory and the way did you give you the concept?

I used to be working for an occasion planning agency and labored my means as much as the vice chairman, however I used to be by no means actually blissful working for another person. I at all times felt like a slave, though I used to be being paid, I wasn’t free to precise myself absolutely. Since I’m a Sagittarius, freedom has at all times been crucial for me!

Having been drawn to music since I used to be a toddler. I started as a music artist in my late teenagers and questioned if there was a means of merging my musical abilities with my enterprise abilities. I had the innate talent of group in my music profession and thought I would be capable to assist others. So I got here up with an thought to assist different musicians and artists with the enterprise aspect of their music.

I had no thought how my boss would react once I advised him I used to be quitting to start out my very own enterprise, so I used to be stunned when he wished me effectively and supported my resolution.

I attached with distributors that I used to be conversant in and commenced providing my providers to individuals I knew, however I didn’t have an workplace. How was I going to get round this situation? I needed to meet shoppers. I began assembly shoppers at cafés and different public places till I obtained the concept to ask my earlier employer if he would permit me to satisfy shoppers at his workplace if I paid an hourly charge. He agreed and I used to be off to the races. To this present day, I’m grateful to Lyle Benjamin for his mentorship and help of my enterprise thought.

Since nobody needed to cope with the gritty a part of the enterprise, it wasn’t that tough discovering shoppers to work with initially. I got here up with an entire community of distributors that have been blissful to work with me and supply their providers to musicians. I linked them or did the work myself. My aim although was at all times clear. Be certain the shopper is at all times 100% glad. This can be a worth that I nonetheless maintain expensive at present.

Be certain each penny is budgeted for and that you’ve sufficient within the financial institution to cowl your bills for a minimum of six months.

It was an thrilling time, being absolutely chargeable for your self and making a dwelling by yourself was exhilarating, however definitely not simple. I hit a dry spell the place I used to be compelled to actively exit and community. I positioned flyers throughout city in music retailers and locations the place musicians congregated. It was all word-of-mouth, so it was a sluggish construct, and through that point, I needed to search the sofa cushions for free change to take public transit to satisfy shoppers and my weight loss program consisted of numerous pasta and canned tuna fish.

Someway, the New York Instances obtained wind of what I used to be doing and needed to interview me for an article on “the brand new music enterprise”, the place artists have been taking their careers into their very own palms, which is now a typical observe. I used to be on the forefront of that. I used to be capable of department out and meet shoppers at recording studios and manufacturing services. As soon as once more I discovered a mentor in Russ Paladino of Europadisk. I can’t stress sufficient how vital it’s to have mentors in your profession. Folks like Russ and Lyle educated me about enterprise practices and the right way to not solely develop into an excellent salesman however supply excellent customer support.

Over time, I discovered myself gravitating over to different enterprise industries. I used to be being approached by many various kinds of companies to do work for them to the purpose that now 90% of my enterprise is outdoors of the music enterprise.

Take us by the method of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

Properly on the time, I might meet with a shopper and discover out the place they have been of their profession and the place they needed to get to. We’d formulate a plan collectively to go over the whole lot that they would wish. From serving to to search out band members to discovering a rehearsal and recording studio to discovering the correct producer and engineer, all of that’s only the start.

As soon as we obtained by all of that, we wanted to hook up with the correct photographer to assist carry out the perfect of what the artist needed to supply. Then there was the manufacturing of the particular product – CDs or DVDs or each. And eventually got here the promotion, the place we needed to rent the correct publicist and radio promoter.

All of this took an excessive amount of networking. I used to be continuously placing myself on the market assembly individuals who may assist unbiased music artists. Some individuals, sadly, didn’t minimize as a result of their repute didn’t make me really feel comfy working with them. I felt that each individual in my community wanted to be an individual who was reliable and dependable so that you simply artists would really feel comfy as effectively. From the start, I had a way of constructing positive that everybody was pleased with the work we have been doing. I relied on my distributors to present 100% effort to every artist.

I believe that is a very powerful factor you are able to do as an entrepreneur. Just remember to and your distributors are doing proper by your shoppers. I at all times stand behind my work. If there’s any drawback, I instantly contact my shopper and talk about it with them to make it possible for they know that I’m doing the whole lot I can to do the correct factor. Integrity is one thing that could be a precedence for me.

Anyway, this was an amazing quantity of labor as you would think about, however beginning any firm is an amazing quantity of labor. You need to dedicate your self to working greater than eight hours a day to get a enterprise off the bottom.

Typically shoppers would rent me to assist them with the whole lot and generally they’d rent me for under part of the undertaking. Most of the time although, my shoppers have been financially strapped as musicians normally are, so we had to make use of guerrilla advertising techniques to get something finished as cheaply as potential. As an illustration, printing low-cost flyers and stickers at hand out at occasions to this present day is a superb low-cost advertising approach. I began doing that again then with my shoppers, and it helped get the phrase out. We additionally printed value T-shirts that we may promote at reveals to assist artists make a number of {dollars}. Each little bit helps!

This gave me an ideal training into how to economize, which I used to be already nice at, however now much more so.

In case you make everybody a VIP, they’ll inform different individuals what nice service you supply. In case you deal with them like a quantity, you’ll develop no loyalty, and shoppers will solely come to you as soon as after which leap to a less expensive competitor.

In the case of the manufacturing course of, particularly for CDs, the primary a part of the package deal is of course the music. It must be mastered in order that it sounds pristine. We’d work along with a mastering studio to get the sound ranges to the place they should be and take away any pointless sounds from the combination.

From there, we took the grasp CD into the manufacturing course of. On the identical time, we have been engaged on the art work for the album cowl and extra info for the insert. That is the place we work with the photographer to make it possible for the images represented what we needed to convey visually. A graphic designer put collectively all of the images and the textual content right into a accomplished package deal after which we had each the audio and the art work able to go. This was submitted to the manufacturing facility and a number of other weeks later we had the product able to promote!

Now the toughest half could be the promotion. With out promotion, there aren’t any gross sales, so this is without doubt one of the most vital elements of your complete undertaking. It’s extraordinarily troublesome for any artist at present to compete within the market with so many releases popping out each single week. This is the reason the music {industry} is like shopping for a lottery ticket. Typically you’ll be able to win the lottery however most of the time, you don’t. Artists at present depend on music streaming the place they earn pennies for streams on providers reminiscent of iTunes and Spotify.

In Might 2019, 1,560 full-time unbiased musicians have been working in the US. That’s an unimaginable quantity. Everybody is aware of a number of artists attempting to make it within the music {industry}. There are hundreds of thousands of them in the US and solely 1560 are full-time making a dwelling. Simply doing a fast search on-line for music artist failure price, you’ll be able to give you a statistic wherever from 90 to 99%. That is the truth of the music enterprise.

Describe the method of launching the enterprise.

Properly, I believe step one is to get your corporation registered with the suitable metropolis and state authorities. Be sure to have a novel title that nobody else is utilizing which you’ll analysis on-line. Take a while wanting on-line for concepts of enterprise names. Take into consideration phrases that you simply naturally are drawn to and like and the way you would possibly be capable to incorporate these phrases into your corporation title.

Looking out on-line to ensure your title isn’t getting used elsewhere isn’t foolproof, however it ought to provide you with a reasonably good thought should you do an exhaustive search. Search the US Patent and Trademark database as effectively. All of this was finished earlier than I hung my shingle out!

Subsequent, I made positive I had sufficient cash to get by a minimum of six months of powerful instances. It’s essential to have some form of funds to fall again on as a result of cash is not going to begin rolling in. It is going to be sluggish going at first.

My first web site was music industry-based…


From there, as I made my transition into the enterprise world, I began novadisc…


And eventually Nova Customized Printing…


As you’ll be able to see, none of those web sites are what I might at the moment put on-line. They’re all outdated, however on the time that labored very effectively for me.

It’s at all times crucial to check vendor pricing to be sure to’re getting the perfect pricing on supplies. At all times be looking out for higher offers, after which you’ll be able to at all times return to your unique distributors and ask them to match pricing if essential.

I financed the enterprise out of my pocket and didn’t have many startup prices initially as a result of as I discussed beforehand, I rented workplace house by the hour to satisfy shoppers and in any other case labored at house, and my promotional prices consisted of numerous legwork and photocopies. I might say the preliminary startup value was about $1000-2000 together with state and metropolis charges to register the enterprise.

After a while, I started promoting in music {industry} commerce magazines and newspapers with small adverts that normally ran for lower than $100 per advert. I then started promoting on Google advert phrases. On the time I used to be getting clicks for $.25 every, which is fairly unheard-of now.

The largest lesson I realized from this was to take it sluggish. Take a long-term view of what you need to obtain. In case you attempt to construct the enterprise too rapidly and begin hiring individuals to give you the results you want earlier than you might be prepared for that, you’ll rapidly go bankrupt. Be certain each penny is budgeted for and that you’ve sufficient within the financial institution to cowl your bills for a minimum of six months.

Since launch, what has labored to draw and retain clients?

The factor that we delight ourselves on is excellent customer support. Which means ensuring that each shopper is 100% glad. If we make a mistake, and it’s our fault, we make up for it. We attempt to be as sincere and clear as potential all through the method. I might quite inform a shopper the reality which may harm quite than inform them a lie and make them really feel good within the brief run. We’re at all times working arduous to maintain our enterprise relationships pristine for the long run, and that’s why we’ve saved shoppers for many years.

So far as what has labored to draw shoppers, we’ve at all times relied on sturdy word-of-mouth. While you handle individuals and deal with them as you need to be handled your self, phrase will get round. All you need to do is check out our evaluations on-line. They’re stellar, and we goal to maintain them that means.

Concerning further market efforts to draw new shoppers, search engine optimization (SEO) is essential in your web site. We’ve concentrated our efforts on ensuring that our web site is ranked extremely in the various search engines by giving the various search engines what they need. Which means high quality content material. On our weblog, we discover points that small companies face and the right way to resolve them.

It’s at all times vital to attempt to assist your shoppers in as some ways as potential and placing good, useful content material on the market helps. Moreover, you’ll be able to run on-line adverts, attempt to kind promotional partnerships with different companies the place you’ll be able to refer companies to one another, and put collectively advertising emails to ship to your present clients.

How are you doing at present and what does the long run appear like?

We’ve been worthwhile from day one by protecting our overhead low and never being the most affordable possibility on the market. There’ll at all times be opponents that provide decrease costs, however a very powerful factor for shoppers is getting the perfect worth. Shoppers perceive that after they work with us they’ll get the very best quality for the perfect worth.

We don’t supply on-line pricing as a result of we’re a customized printing firm. Which means that the whole lot is made to order. All of our gross sales come after now we have mentioned the undertaking with the shopper, whether or not that be by telephone or by e mail. This permits us to be extra personable and assist the shopper extra instantly quite than simply treating them like a quantity as most of our competitors does. That is what makes us distinctive.

Breaking down the numbers, on this enterprise, you need a minimum of 25 to 50% markup on customized printed objects. Typically it’s not potential on sure objects, for example, customized printed T-shirts. This market is so aggressive that generally you need to take 10%.

I additionally discover that it’s very useful to present first-time shoppers nice pricing the place perhaps you’ll solely make 10%, however as soon as they expertise the extent of service and high quality you’ll be able to supply, you can also make up for the loss within the preliminary revenue with repeat orders from the identical shopper.

It’s at all times crucial to check vendor pricing to be sure to’re getting the perfect pricing on supplies. At all times be looking out for higher offers, after which you’ll be able to at all times return to your unique distributors and ask them to match pricing if essential. Loyalty to distributors is nice, but when they’ll’t work with you on pricing, then you’ll want to transfer on. It’s simply the truth of the enterprise.

Sadly, this enterprise has suffered for the reason that pandemic started. In 2020, we misplaced about half of our enterprise, and it hasn’t fairly recovered but. Because of this, in case you are taking a look at beginning a customized printing enterprise, I might say wait till the {industry} recovers. Hopefully, that can be in 2022, however it’s but to be seen.

By way of beginning the enterprise, have you ever realized something significantly useful or advantageous?

The primary factor that I’ve realized is that everybody experiences adversity in enterprise and life. Some expertise it greater than others, however you’ll want to be ready for something.

As a music artist, I put collectively a music and movie multimedia undertaking entitled, X: The Human Situation. So many individuals on the planet really feel like an outsider, alienated like they don’t slot in, and I

needed to create a novel undertaking to assist individuals understand that you’re not alone. Irrespective of how totally different and unusual you may appear to others, there are at all times individuals which are such as you, and it’s so vital to really feel that you’re not alone on the planet.

This is the reason I began the undertaking and thought of it my mission to finish it. Sadly, everybody that I took it to within the music {industry} thought it was not achievable. It was discouraging, however I felt that I used to be on a mission to unfold this constructive message and assist individuals.

I used to be turned down time and time once more to the purpose that I ultimately determined to fund the undertaking myself. This meant funding it out of my enterprise.

With no movie {industry} expertise, I took it upon myself to see this undertaking by to the tip however grew to become overwhelmed with the educational on the job that I needed to do whereas self-funding the undertaking on the identical time. Though I had improbable assist from individuals who volunteered to assist make a distinction with this undertaking, there have been nonetheless enormous bills to tackle, and at one level I discovered myself close to the brink of chapter.

This was an extremely troublesome time in my life and it was about to develop into essentially the most troublesome. The stress grew to become so huge that I grew to become significantly sick and nearly went blind because of sickness. The whole lot stopped. I needed to absolutely flip my consideration to changing into effectively and needed to borrow cash from my household to maintain my enterprise afloat.

Finally, I recovered, paid again the mortgage from my household, and obtained the enterprise again on its ft once more as I used to be capable of launch X: The Human Situation to rave evaluations. After talking with so many individuals who skilled comparable adversities, I based the web site,, the place I started to share tales from different individuals who overcame setbacks.

To this present day, I nonetheless run the web site, nonetheless sharing tales of individuals overcoming challenges worldwide. Individuals who have overcome homelessness, starvation, critical sickness, even Civil Struggle, floods, and earthquakes to develop into profitable. What I realized from this expertise is that overcoming adversity is the human situation, and thru the web site, we’re making a group proving that “you aren’t alone”, which is what I got down to do within the first place with X: The Human Situation.

Fact actually may be stranger than fiction!

What platform/instruments do you employ for your corporation?

We use QuickBooks for financials which is crucial. It’s not the one software on the market, and I don’t significantly suggest it, so I might counsel testing different choices however a bookkeeping program is crucial. Gmail and Thunderbird are what we use for e mail, and we submit day by day on our socials, together with Fb, Twitter and our Google enterprise web page.

We ship our customized printed merchandise by UPS, USPS and FedEx. Sometimes we rent freelancers when wanted by Upwork.

Recommendation for different entrepreneurs who need to get began or are simply beginning out?

I might say try tales from different entrepreneurs on the web site,, the place individuals have shared challenges that they’ve overcome in changing into profitable in enterprise. As for myself, I can share a number of suggestions:

  • Perceive that it’s going to take time to construct a enterprise. Chances are you’ll not get the cash rolling in for months from now, so just be sure you have a nest egg put apart to hold you thru the powerful instances. There can be powerful instances. Anticipate that and it’ll come as much less of a shock when it occurs. Be ready for the worst, however work arduous to attempt to keep away from the worst from taking place.
  • Construct the enterprise slowly. One of many best methods to go bankrupt is to maneuver too rapidly. In case you begin hiring too many individuals and begin promoting like loopy, spending ridiculous quantities of cash, it’s possible you’ll be losing that cash when you would be utilizing it for one thing extra vital. Take your time and plan the whole lot out forward of time so that you simply don’t all of the sudden run out of cash. Correctly finances the whole lot from day one.
  • As I’ve talked about beforehand, deal with shoppers the best way you need to be handled your self. In case you make everybody a VIP, they’ll inform different individuals what nice service you supply. In case you deal with them like a quantity, you’ll develop no loyalty, and shoppers will solely come to you as soon as after which leap to a less expensive competitor. Supply great worth that they’ll’t get wherever else.
  • The web site relies on the Japanese proverb, fall seven instances rise eight. That’s the place we obtained the title. That suggests that each time you fall, you’ll stand up once more. Don’t let the autumn dissuade you from getting up off the bottom and attempting once more. A few of the most profitable individuals in life failed many instances earlier than they succeeded.
  • Lastly, alternatively, understand that you could solely bang your head towards the wall so many instances earlier than you need to understand {that a} path may not be achievable. Know when to take a detour when it’s provided to you. To realize one thing, it could be essential to not go for it straight on, however discover a again entrance or a aspect entrance. That may imply delaying gratification by taking a path that’s provided to you, the place you’ll be able to then come again to your unique aim.

The place can we go to study extra?

When you have any questions or feedback, drop a remark under!


Michael Nova
Founding father of NOVA CUSTOM PRINTING

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