I Left My Carreer As A Professional Musician To Begin A $180K/Yr Customized

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Hiya! Who’re you and what enterprise did you begin?

My identify 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 may 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 firms. Alongside the way in which, I discovered highly effective classes of overcome adversity, each in enterprise and in life.


What’s your backstory and the way did you provide you with the thought?

I used to be working for an occasion planning agency and labored my method as much as the vice chairman, however I used to be by no means actually blissful working for another person. I all the time felt like a slave, regardless that I used to be being paid, I wasn’t free to precise myself absolutely. Since I’m a Sagittarius, freedom has all the time 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 puzzled if there was a method of merging my musical expertise with my enterprise expertise. I had the innate ability of group in my music profession and thought I would be capable of 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 instructed him I used to be quitting to begin my very own enterprise, so I used to be stunned when he wished me effectively and supported my choice.

I connected with distributors that I used to be aware of and started providing my companies to individuals I knew, however I didn’t have an workplace. How was I going to get round this difficulty? I needed to meet shoppers. I began assembly shoppers at cafés and different public areas till I obtained the thought to ask my earlier employer if he would enable 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 today, I’m grateful to Lyle Benjamin for his mentorship and assist of my enterprise thought.

Since nobody needed to take care of the gritty a part of the enterprise, it wasn’t that onerous 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 provide their companies to musicians. I related them or did the work myself. My objective although was all the time clear. Ensure that the consumer is all the time 100% happy. It is a worth that I nonetheless maintain pricey immediately.

Ensure that each penny is budgeted for and that you’ve got sufficient within the financial institution to cowl your bills for no less than six months.

It was an thrilling time, being absolutely accountable for your self and making a residing by yourself was exhilarating, however definitely not simple. I hit a dry spell the place I used to be pressured 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 food plan consisted of plenty of pasta and canned tuna fish.

By some means, 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 standard apply. I used to be on the forefront of that. I used to be in a position to department out and meet shoppers at recording studios and manufacturing amenities. As soon as once more I discovered a mentor in Russ Paladino of Europadisk. I can’t stress sufficient how necessary it’s to have mentors in your profession. Individuals like Russ and Lyle educated me about enterprise practices and not solely turn into a superb salesman however provide excellent customer support.

Through the years, 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 exterior of the music enterprise.

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

Nicely on the time, I’d meet with a consumer 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 all the pieces that they would want. From serving to to search out band members to discovering a rehearsal and recording studio to discovering the fitting producer and engineer, all of that’s only the start.

As soon as we obtained by means of all of that, we would have liked to hook up with the fitting photographer to assist deliver out the most effective of what the artist needed to provide. 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 fitting publicist and radio promoter.

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

I feel that is crucial factor you are able to do as an entrepreneur. Just remember to and your distributors are doing proper by your shoppers. I all the time stand behind my work. If there’s any downside, I instantly contact my consumer and focus on it with them to be sure that they know that I’m doing all the pieces I can to do the fitting factor. Integrity is one thing that may be a precedence for me.

Anyway, this was an incredible quantity of labor as you may think about, however beginning any firm is an incredible quantity of labor. It’s important to dedicate your self to working greater than eight hours a day to get a enterprise off the bottom.

Generally shoppers would rent me to assist them with all the pieces and generally they’d rent me for less than part of the undertaking. As a rule 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 attainable. As an example, printing low-cost flyers and stickers handy out at occasions to today is a superb low-cost advertising method. I began doing that again then with my shoppers, and it helped get the phrase out. We additionally printed value T-shirts that we might promote at reveals to assist artists make just a few {dollars}. Each little bit helps!

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

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

In relation to the manufacturing course of, particularly for CDs, the primary a part of the package deal is of course the music. It needs to 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 must be and take away any pointless sounds from the combination.

From there, we took the grasp CD into the manufacturing course of. On the similar time, we have been engaged on the paintings for the album cowl and extra info for the insert. That is the place we work with the photographer to be sure that the pictures represented what we needed to convey visually. A graphic designer put collectively all of the pictures and the textual content right into a accomplished package deal after which we had each the audio and the paintings 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 can be the promotion. With out promotion, there are not any gross sales, so this is likely one of the most necessary elements of all the undertaking. It’s extraordinarily tough for any artist immediately to compete within the market with so many releases popping out each single week. Because of this the music {industry} is like shopping for a lottery ticket. Generally you possibly can win the lottery however most of the time, you don’t. Artists immediately depend on music streaming the place they earn pennies for streams on companies corresponding to iTunes and Spotify.

In Could 2019, 1,560 full-time unbiased musicians have been working in the US. That’s an unbelievable quantity. Everybody is aware of a number of artists attempting to make it within the music {industry}. There are thousands and thousands of them in the US and solely 1560 are full-time making a residing. Simply doing a fast search on-line for music artist failure charge, you possibly can provide you with a statistic anyplace from 90 to 99%. That is the truth of the music enterprise.

Describe the method of launching the enterprise.

Nicely, I feel step one is to get what you are promoting registered with the suitable metropolis and state authorities. Be sure to have a novel identify 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 just naturally are drawn to and like and the way you may be capable of incorporate these phrases into what you are promoting identify.

Looking on-line to verify your identify just isn’t getting used elsewhere just isn’t foolproof, nevertheless it ought to provide you with a fairly good thought if you happen to 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 means of no less than six months of robust occasions. It’s essential to have some sort 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 possibly can see, none of those web sites are what I’d presently put on-line. They’re all outdated, however on the time that labored very effectively for me.

It’s all the time crucial to match vendor pricing to be sure to’re getting the most effective pricing on supplies. At all times be looking out for higher offers, after which you possibly can all the time 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 dwelling, and my promotional prices consisted of a number of legwork and photocopies. I’d 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 advertisements 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 most important lesson I discovered from this was to take it sluggish. Take a long-term view of what you wish to obtain. Should you attempt to construct the enterprise too rapidly and begin hiring individuals to give you the results you want earlier than you’re prepared for that, you’ll rapidly go bankrupt. Ensure that each penny is budgeted for and that you’ve got sufficient within the financial institution to cowl your bills for no less than six months.

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

The factor that we satisfaction ourselves on is excellent customer support. Which means ensuring that each consumer is 100% happy. If we make a mistake, and it’s our fault, we make up for it. We attempt to be as trustworthy and clear as attainable all through the method. I’d somewhat inform a consumer the reality that may damage somewhat than inform them a lie and make them really feel good within the brief run. We’re all the time working laborious to maintain our enterprise relationships pristine for the long run, and that’s why we’ve stored shoppers for many years.

So far as what has labored to draw shoppers, we’ve all the time relied on robust word-of-mouth. If you maintain individuals and deal with them as you wish to be handled your self, phrase will get round. All it’s a must to do is check out our evaluations on-line. They’re stellar, and we intention to maintain them that method.

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

It’s all the time necessary to attempt to assist your shoppers in as some ways as attainable and placing good, useful content material on the market helps. Moreover, you possibly can run on-line advertisements, attempt to kind promotional partnerships with different companies the place you possibly can refer companies to one another, and put collectively advertising emails to ship to your current clients.

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

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

We don’t provide on-line pricing as a result of we’re a customized printing firm. Which means all the pieces is made to order. All of our gross sales come after we’ve mentioned the undertaking with the consumer, whether or not that be by telephone or by electronic mail. This enables us to be extra personable and assist the consumer extra immediately somewhat 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 no less than 25 to 50% markup on customized printed objects. Generally it’s not attainable on sure objects, for example, customized printed T-shirts. This market is so aggressive that generally it’s a must to take 10%.

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

It’s all the time crucial to match vendor pricing to be sure to’re getting the most effective pricing on supplies. At all times be looking out for higher offers, after which you possibly can all the time return to your unique distributors and ask them to match pricing if essential. Loyalty to distributors is nice, but when they will’t work with you on pricing, then it’s good 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. For that reason, in case you are beginning a customized printing enterprise, I’d say wait till the {industry} recovers. Hopefully, that will probably be in 2022, nevertheless it’s but to be seen.

Via beginning the enterprise, have you ever discovered something notably useful or advantageous?

The primary factor that I’ve discovered is that everybody experiences adversity in enterprise and life. Some expertise it greater than others, however it’s good 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 earth 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 might sound to others, there are all the time individuals which might be such as you, and it’s so necessary to really feel that you’re not alone on the earth.

Because of this I began the undertaking and regarded 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 finally 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 means of 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 similar time. Though I had incredible 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 tough time in my life and it was about to turn into probably the most tough. The stress grew to become so huge that I grew to become critically ailing and nearly went blind resulting from sickness. Every part 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.

Ultimately, I recovered, paid again the mortgage from my household, and obtained the enterprise again on its toes once more as I used to be in a position to launch X: The Human Situation to rave evaluations. After talking with so many individuals who skilled related adversities, I based the web site, RiseUpEight.org, the place I started to share tales from different individuals who overcame setbacks.

To today, I nonetheless run the web site, nonetheless sharing tales of individuals overcoming challenges worldwide. Individuals who have overcome homelessness, starvation, critical sickness, even Civil Warfare, floods, and earthquakes to turn into profitable. What I discovered from this expertise is that overcoming adversity is the human situation, and thru the web site, we’re making a neighborhood 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 what you are promoting?

We use QuickBooks for financials which is crucial. It’s not the one instrument on the market, and I don’t notably suggest it, so I’d recommend trying out different choices however a bookkeeping program is important. Gmail and Thunderbird are what we use for electronic mail, and we publish each day on our socials, together with Fb, Twitter and our Google enterprise web page.

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

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

I’d say take a look at tales from different entrepreneurs on the web site, RiseUpEight.org, 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 ideas:

  • Perceive that it’s going to take time to construct a enterprise. You might 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 robust occasions. There will probably be robust occasions. Count on that and it’ll come as much less of a shock when it occurs. Be ready for the worst, however work laborious to attempt to keep away from the worst from occurring.
  • Construct the enterprise slowly. One of many best methods to go bankrupt is to maneuver too rapidly. Should you begin hiring too many individuals and begin promoting like loopy, spending ridiculous quantities of cash, you could be losing that cash when you may be utilizing it for one thing extra necessary. Take your time and plan all the pieces out forward of time so that you just don’t immediately run out of cash. Correctly funds all the pieces from day one.
  • As I’ve talked about beforehand, deal with shoppers the way in which you wish to be handled your self. Should you make everybody a VIP, they may inform different individuals what nice service you provide. Should you deal with them like a quantity, you’ll develop no loyalty, and shoppers will solely come to you as soon as after which soar to a less expensive competitor. Supply great worth that they will’t get anyplace else.
  • The web site RiseUpEight.org is predicated on the Japanese proverb, fall seven occasions rise eight. That’s the place we obtained the identify. 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 number of the most profitable individuals in life failed many occasions earlier than they succeeded.
  • Lastly, however, understand you can solely bang your head towards the wall so many occasions earlier than it’s a must to understand {that a} path won’t be achievable. Know when to take a detour when it’s provided to you. To realize one thing, it is perhaps 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 possibly can then come again to your unique objective.

The place can we go to study extra?

When you’ve got any questions or feedback, drop a remark under!


Michael Nova
Founding father of NOVA CUSTOM PRINTING

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