Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Always treat knock backs as positive

I have some very disappointing news today. A business/music project that I've been working with friends for a year to develop, is not going to be proceeding, at least not in the shape we had envisaged. It is a huge shame as London is absolutely crying out for what we were looking to deliver.  Had the project proceeded, we'd have delivered a massive upgrade to Mill Hill Music Complex facilities. A key part of this would be to deliver a holistic element to the practical requirements we've been delivering for the last 40 years. One of the major challenges facing musicians is the lack of financial, business and mental health support that they receive from the industry. There is an old saying that when you are on the up, everyone wants a piece of you and when you are on the down, no one wants to know. Our project was hoping to pull together partner companies, to provide a full and comprehensive back up for musicians as well as mentoring and career development training, advice and backup. Our partners have a strong track record in this field and all of the feedback was positive. The only stumbling block was that to fully deliver this we required investment of £2.2 million. We put a business plan together and reached out  to financial organisations, investors and other interested parties.

What scuppered the project was that all of the people we approached saw the proposal purely as a building development project. As this was the major expense in the scheme, this was a not unreasonable position for them to take, as it is their money, but ultimately meant that they did not wish to proceed on what I passionately believe is not only a brilliant investment opportunity, but something that London is crying out for.

This is not the first time I've had knock backs when trying to develop my business. Every time I've ever approached a financial organisation for loans or high net worth individuals for investments, they make it absolutely clear that they do not get the music industry and see it as high risk. What this has ultimately meant is that I've had to work ten times harder, had to set up other business deals to finance the schemes and take on second and third jobs to realise the schemes. Ultimately, this has been a good thing. It has taken far longer to get there, but the only debt in the company is to me as an individual, and I've acquired a whole range of other skills on the way.

So the first task of today is to to take a long hard look at our proposal and see how we can deliver the scheme through other means. I have no doubt that we will succeed. I have no doubt that the road will be rockier, there will be more grey hairs and that it will take longer than we hoped. I also have no doubt that in five years time, we will have got there, we will be delivering the things that we need to deliver in Mill Hill and that ultimately, it will be financially better for us as we will have more control and less people to share the spoils with.

My mantra has always been that if you let obstacles on the path stop you, then you didn't really want it in the first place. It is frustrating, it can be difficult but ultimately if you want something you will get there. The important thing is to recognise that there are always lessons to be learned and also that you will have acquired knowledge on the way. Every life lesson, whether positive or negative will give you a new set of tools to add to your personal toolkit. I believe that everything happens for a reason and once you can see that, you can derive something positive from every experience.

For me, the greatest  pleasure is seeing people coming down to my business to live their dreams. When we started, Mill Hill had no real musical facilities. No people travel across the globe to use the studios. That is great, but so is when we see local families bringing their youngsters down for ballet and violin lessons. I am a strong believer that the future is bright if we invest in the next generation. That is what drives me to keep on working.

I was trying to decide what video or picture I would add to accompany this blog. I settled on this clip from 2010. We sponsored a project back then called Soundskool that gave young people the opportunity to participate in music courses and then gave them the opportunity to perform in public. The scheme was an amazing success, but once the funding period finished, unfortunately the scheme moved out and is now based in Camden. At the time our studios were a building site as we were building our new block and we were operating out of a portacabin. The fact that we could deliver such an amazing program in those circumstances and benefit so many local young people just shows what you can do with faith. There is an obstacle in our path. We will get around it. We always do!

If you want to get involved in making this happen, feel free to get in touch and we can have a chat. They say charity begins at home. We are not looking for charity, just people who want to invest in their own local community and help us get facilities fit for the amazing young people we have in our community.

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