Mark Montgomery went to Nashville with $800 and dreams of a music career. That didn't pan out but he didn't stop playing music, he just started making money, lots of money, in other areas. In an interview with Andrew Warner of Mixergy, Montgomery shares his story and the business secrets he learned along the way. The short version is a neatly packaged story of success. But the long version shared in the interview gives one not only a sense of the struggle and uncertainty of entrepreneurship but a look back at how the web introduced new opportunities that required a change in focus to succeed.
Mixergy is a great resource for digital entrepreneurs with lots of business lessons for any entrepreneur.
Though Montgomery failed at building a fulltime music career, he went on to build EchoMusic which sold for $25 million. Now he's helping artists with big audiences build businesses at FLO and participating heavily in Nashville's efforts to create a more supportive environment for tech startups.
An Important Lesson From Mark Montgomery's Dad
Here's a great lesson that Montgomery learned from his dad that I'm going to figure out how to apply to my current project:
"I started my first 'company' when I was fifteen, which was a lawn care business. And that’s knock door to door, 'Hey, can I mow your lawn?'"
"He wisely said to me, 'You know, what you ought to do is go to a real estate company and offer to mow all the lawns of all the unoccupied houses that they have up for sale.' You can go knock on one door and get 10 accounts instead of going one-to-one. I learned that lesson early and have applied it multiple times in my career."
"In the early ’90s, after I moved here, one of the businesses I started was a company called Empire, which was a CD manufacturing brokerage. You can talk to individual bands, or you can go to recording studios who are talking to individual bands all day every day, and you can cut a deal with them. Instead of getting one account, you get 50 over an annual period..."
"I have applied that in that fashion. I have also applied that as it relates to advising my young start-ups. In the deals that I’m an investor in, we’re always talking about where we can go fish where we can get 10 fish in the net instead of one fish. That’s a huge piece of the puzzle."
Great lesson. From there Montgomery recaps his business history which is quite complex and takes a major shift in 1994 when he realizes that ecommerce was moving to the web.
Check out the full interview. There's both downloadable audio and a transcript.
PS - I've actually encountered this idea before, most recently in an indie movie with a guy who was starting a lawn care business, but sometimes ideas don't seem important until you need them. I needed this one so I'm sharing it with you.