Ahhh…February. I love February! For me, it’s when the new year really starts to take hold. January is an extremely busy month; generally, retail sales are still strong, and we find ourselves spending half of the month attending the NAMM Show and our state music educators’ convention. So, February is the time where I can dive in and begin to work on my business, instead of just in my business. So, with that in mind, allow me to share a few of my favorite ideas that invigorate me for the new year.

Here’s a quick take for what you should schedule this month:

  • Contact someone you met at the NAMM Show and ask that person how he or she handled a situation with which you are struggling. That will give you a new perspective, while also building your network of industry friends.
  • Look at your travel schedule for the year and arrange some extra time to visit good music stores during your trip. Reach out beforehand and arrange things a month in advance.
  • Pick one or two people you would like to have as a mentor, and then reach out to them by phone or e-mail and ask for their guidance.
  • Create your monthly focus: your plan of attack for each month of 2017.

The first—and perhaps most obvious—one is to attend the NAMM Show. Now, by February, it’s too late if you didn’t go in January. So, if you missed it, make plans now to attend next year. Take as many of your staff as you can, so they can get inspiration to work on your business, as well. Obviously, the new products are always exciting; if you spend time in the NAMM Idea Center, too, though, you will come away with many ideas that will make your business better. Also, make it a goal at each NAMM Show to meet new people and strengthen the industry relationships you already have.

‘Fortune favors the bold.’
—Latin proverb

Are you planning any travel this year? If so, then arrange some time to visit other music stores during your travels. I love to drive when possible, primarily so that I can spend time visiting other music stores during my trip. This past November, I took a trip to Ohio for a three-day meeting. I made a week out of it and visited three other music stores. I reached out to them before my trip and asked if I could get a tour of their business. All three stores welcomed me, and I was introduced to their people and processes. During that trip, I took pictures and notes, and I followed up later with additional questions.

I’ve already implemented many of the things I saw during that trip. If you don’t have any travel planned, then make it a working vacation and get out there! Use Google Reviews to see which stores are highly respected. Also, check the NAMM Top 100 Dealers list and see if any of those folks are within driving distance. Seeing how other stores handle the issues we all deal with can be incredibly enlightening. Plus, it’s a great way to build your network of industry friends.

‘Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen and a push in the right direction.’
—John C. Crosby

Find an industry mentor. Is there someone in our industry whom you respect greatly? Reach out to him or her, and ask that person to be a mentor. Granted, that, too, will require some boldness on your part, but the worst-case scenario is that he or she says no, and then you’re back to where you started. That’s not that terrible of an outcome, if you think about it. And, in reality, the more likely scenario is that he or she will agree (or, perhaps, he or she will decline a full-on mentoring relationship but agree to talk to you occasionally when you are stuck).

Several years ago, I heard one of the icons of our industry present at the NAMM Show. I had always admired him and his business. So, I built up my nerve and, realizing that the worst he could do was say “no,” I reached out to him and told him about my business and myself. I shared how I respected him and his philosophy on business, and I asked if he would be willing to allow me to reach out to him when I had questions. To my surprise, he agreed, and that relationship has been very beneficial to me over the years.

‘If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.’
—Benjamin Franklin

Lastly, plan your year. Sit down with your calendar and develop your plan of attack for 2017. At this stage, just look at big-picture items. I like to look at each month at a glance and determine the major things I would like to accomplish that month. These should be things that, if completed, will make you look back on 2017 as a successful year. As you approach each new month, set aside some quiet time to work out the broad details. Consider doing this off site…maybe at a local coffee shop. (In my case, I usually do this at my local cigar shop. Nothing like a good cigar to inspire you to think deeply.) Then, gather your team, who will execute the goals, and have them flesh out the specifics.

I hope you are now inspired to plan to make 2017 a success for your business, your people and you! If you have other ideas that you’d like to share, please drop me a line at donovan@springfieldmusic.com.

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