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Taking the leap to start your own business can be daunting, but, if it proves a success - it can be highly rewarding to do something you are passionate about every day. This is something Ben Huggett, Director at Asaph Music Co. Ltd , knows only too well. After gaining experience in the industry during university, Ben went full time with his business in 2019 and sought advice from our expert solicitors in relation to the terms and conditions of his services.
Here, we chat to him about his venture, and find out his biggest learnings over the last couple of years.
The business trades as AMC Audio, and we are all about helping people to sound their best. Primarily, this is done working with customers on podcasts, or music tracks that require mastering – the final part of the music creation process before distribution.
AMC was incorporated in March 2017, but remained a part-time venture for me until around July 2019, when I left my other part-time employment to set sail full time with AMC. Our service offering has evolved and changed a lot since then, partly in response to COVID, but we’re still here and growing.
The idea for the business can be traced back to my days studying at the University of Huddersfield. Whilst completing my BMus and MA there, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to record several albums, for friends and strangers.
I absolutely loved getting the best out of their own creativity, which made me realise I’d love to do something like this as a job. At the same time, I knew the music industry was hugely competitive, and I also wanted to set a new culture within it, rather than simply be absorbed into what has, historically, been an industry with many flaws in its culture (think unfair and exploitative recording deals for artists, disrespect of women, zero consideration for mental health…we’ve all seen the news stories).
I think all that has certainly been on the road to improving over the last five years, if studies and initiatives led by UK Music and their member organisations such as the Musician’s Union, BPI and MPG are anything to go by. But still, that’s what drove me to set up the company originally. So after my studies, I joined the University’s Enterprise Hub which supports graduates who want to set up a business, drew up a business plan, got advice from various business-minded people I knew, then went for it! No investors, no grants, no loans, just a lean start-up.
Probably how to work well alone. Not something I do by preference for sure, but it certainly set me up well for when COVID-19 hit!
Also, learning a lot of business administration and strategy related things. I was completely uninitiated in the workings of a business before I set up – not even an A-Level in business studies to my name. Four years later and I feel confident with it all, at least enough to keep things running smoothly. I’ll be forever grateful to family and friends who helped me to learn, not least my wife who is a marketing genius and business wizard, with a degree in it to boot.
What piece of advice would you give to anyone looking to take the plunge?
Firstly, set up a product or service that’s awesome, rather than set up a business – the business is simply the vehicle through which to sell and deliver your offering. Originally, I had a mentality of ‘I’ll set up a business that offers music production services in everything.’ That was hard to sell or market. The internet is literally saturated with people who do the same. But once you find your gap, your USP, niche down into it, suddenly things start to click in place. Find your thing and be really good at it! And secondly, make sure you have trusted friends or mentors to talk to, who know their stuff. Both their wise questioning and affirming reassurances can be so crucial in decision making.
I find physical activity is key, especially at the moment when working from home the majority of the time. Have a fitness regime, keep active daily. The impact on the mind is huge.
I haven’t succeeded at that all the time, despite Joe Wicks’ best encouragements to me in his HIIT videos, but motivation absolutely takes a big hit when I’ve been sedentary for a day or more. I also find listening to entrepreneur themed podcasts helpful – especially ones specific to your industry. I guess they help to combat that imposter syndrome and build up your self-belief by encouraging you with other people’s success stories and how success is made possible.
Looking to take the plunge and start your own business, but unsure where to begin? Speak to our experienced solicitors today for advice on start-ups. Call us on 01484 821 500 or fill out our online enquiry form.