How did you get the idea for your business?
Mike: Andrea and I owned a jazz radio station and it was streaming. I’m a jazz guy, so I always had an idea for a venue, and we saw the need for a venue in Murfreesboro. The idea for Notes, hence the name, is that anything music, including spoken word, anything that had a note inspired us.
We never really thought about being real business owners, or at least not what we are now.
What have you had to do in order to pivot your business?
Andrea: When all the stages were shut down due to Covid-19, we just had to sink some stock. We did everything we could to improve the venue and focus on what makes us unique. We began to notice more restaurants getting live music, so we had to figure out how to counter that.
We decided that we would go in more on the ‘event’ side of things, we found that we could do events, like sports, much bigger than our competition.
How did you make your first sale?
Mike: Our first sale was on March 13th, our opening. We just called up everyone we know and told them that we were opening a venue. Our objective with the venue was to give a feeling of ‘wooow’ once you get into the main area. Once you turn the corner, there’s magic on the inside. I wish we could say that we had this vision, and we did, but most of it was just this feeling that this needed to be right here.
As a business owner, what are some things that keep you up at night?
Andrea: Things that we always know, our opening was March 13th and 14th, then having to close the 15th, along with everything that happened before that. What keeps me up at night, Mike may be different, but what keeps me up is knowing that some people wake up starting at a 1, while it feels like we’re starting at a -3.
Mike: Doing it right. There are a lot of things that concern me, but what worries me the most is our responsibilities. I am responsible for my employees. If you get any of them in here, they’ll probably tell you that I’m stern, but if they really need something, they can just call Mr. Michael. Sometimes it will bite, but you can’t worry about how many times you’ll get bit. You’ve just gotta do what you’ve gotta do.
If you could travel back in time, what business advice would you give yourself?
Mike: Don’t buy all those trash cans.
But in all seriousness, I would like to have a better infrastructure. Marketing and those things are good, but mastering certain things is better. Knowing how every part of your business works to ensure that it runs smoothly.
Andrea: Friends give excuses, business partners give results. We love our friends, but when it came to our business, we needed those results. We understand that our friends just wanted to help us, but we had to draw a line.
From a marketing perspective, what’s something you’re doing to get customers?
Andrea: We’re trying to do an 80:20 split, where we promote our business 80% of the time, but we also promote other businesses 20% of the time. Trying to spread the love and hope they do the same. Specifically, we like to promote the marketplace because we go there all the time.
What’s a business lesson you’ve learned that you’re willing to share?
Andrea: Surround yourself with good people and resources. Whenever I have a problem that I know I can’t handle by myself, I can make a call to someone I trust that can help me. You don’t have to be the sharpest tool in the shed. Mike has taught me the value of accurate information, we have learned to ask, “Is that true, or do you just feel that way?”
Mike: You’re going to have a feeling that, as a business owner, you’re in it by yourself, but we’ve found that many people are willing to interact if you ask them
Do you have a podcast, movie, or book that inspires you?
Mike: The Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes. It’s really good. To me, it’s about you. If you’re a procrastinator, but if you can accept that, you can overcome it.
What do you use for your daily to-do list?
Andrea: Mike has me write down 5 things I have to do, and I have to do the top 3.
What software tools or apps do you use in your business?
Andrea: We use Canva for some social media stuff, but mostly we just use posters on walls. We had to determine what we could do for ourselves, I know that I can’t make a website, but I know I can put together a poster and hang it up in the windows.