Musicians are like many of us, they do what they do really well AND they are running a business. Jacinta has carved a unique niche in her industry.
Where do musicians go for the financial and tax information?
They go to Jacinta O’Connell, the Go To person for the Music and Entertainment industry when they are looking for financial and tax information.
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Or you can read an entire transcript of Jacinta’s interview here.
I’m Ingrid Thompson and thank you for reading this post.
My guess is that you are here because you are curious about what it might be like to start a business?
Perhaps you’ve been wondering if you have what it takes? If your idea will work or even how much it actually costs to build a successful business?
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15 years of experience working with start up businesses are condensed into this book.
It’s your step by step guide to launch your business smarter and faster and I’m so excited to be sharing it with you and can’t wait to hear about your progress.
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Happy reading! Now here is the full transcipt of the podcast.
INGRID: Hello and here we are in Jacinta O’Connell’s office in an inner western suburb of Sydney so if we hear the phone ring or a door bell we’ll know it’s an action packed place! Hello Jacinta.
JACINTA: Hello Ingrid.
INGRID: Great. Well we’ll start off with what is your business? What business are you in?
JACINTA: Well if you asked us straight out, we are accountants and business consultants, but I say we are so much more than that – we are business strategists and business mentors for our clients. And our clients are in a very niche industry, we work with people in the entertainment industry, and more specifically, our clients are predominantly music based.
INGRID: Music based, music industry. Fantastic. That’s very niche.
JACINTA: That’s an extreme niche. And it has broadened a bit in recent years, where it was musicians and bands, we now work with booking agents, managers and independent record labels. To name just a few.
INGRID: So also some of the businesses that support the music industry?
JACINTA: Yes exactly, production people, sound engineers and so on.
INGRID: Great, thanks. So when did you start your business, how long have you been in operation?
JACINTA: In this form, as my own business, I started in 2006. Before that I was in a partnership for 10 years with another individual. I’ve always worked in entertainment, I started out as an office junior in an entertainment accounting firm. So I’ve obviously loved it.
INGRID: Loved it indeed.
JACINTA: And I’ve never left.
INGRID: You’ve never left. So you have had a nice history in entertainment, in an entertainment accounting firm, and then a partnership, and then going on your own. What was your reason for starting on your own?
JACINTA: Having my first child. As I said, I was in business with someone else, and there was no maternity leave for me in that role, and also, I think we were both moving in different directions, and the opportunity presented itself for me to part on the birth of my first child.
INGRID: Nice. So when you started that business on the birth of your first child, what did you want from the business then, your purpose, and what was your reason for having your own business?
JACINTA: It was really a number of things, probably the main thing was income for a family, but also I needed something more. I didn’t just want to be a mother, I am very career driven, and it gave me that balance. I started out working from home, so I was always around my children but I still had that ability to use my brain.
INGRID: This question has created different answers from different people, but when did you feel like you were actually in business? When did it feel like it was yours, and your business? What was the trigger for that, or the sense?
JACINTA: I think I always knew it was a business.
JACINTA: Because I’d already been running a company for quite some time, so I always had that business focus about it. I think probably when it really became a tangible business is only in the last 3-4 years, and that being as my children got older too, and I’ve been able to invest more time in growing it, so I think 3-4 years.
INGRID: And is that when you employed people at that point, did that help it feel more like a business?
JACINTA: Absolutely, because there is only 24 hours in a day, and you can’t do everything, and also scaleability of the business. That really came into play. So guess I was using a lot of contractors, because the client base was growing and growing and growing too.
INGRID: Is scaleability important to you?
INGRID: What does it mean to you?
JACINTA: As I said, I am ambitious, I have great plans for this business, and where I want to take it, and as I said you can’t do that alone, so we need a team around us, and we are growing that team. I’m putting alot of time in growing the team at the moment.
INGRID: Fantastic, thank you. So how did you know, I guess you did know, because you’d been in other businesses, but how did you know that your customer wanted this very specialised niche product that you offer?
JACINTA: The entertainment industry is very small, there are only a, hmm I haven’t counted and I don’t have precise numbers, but I’d say there are less then a dozen businesses that specialise in accounting and business management services in the entertainment industry. The knowledge base of how this industry operates, you are dealing with intellectual property, touring, internal issues, in addition to just general compliance of income tax and so forth, so there are very specific services that these people need. It’s also about talking with them – what do you need, what can we do for you, how do we build a better product for you? And satisfying those needs.
INGRID: So having a really deep knowledge of what the client needs?
JACINTA: I don’t assume what the client needs either. There is no point building products around something that no one needs.
INGRID: And do you find that your people actually do know what they need? Because often they don’t know what they need but they need advice from people like you to tell them what they need. How do you get that balance right for people who don’t know what they need, but at the same time letting them know what would be useful?
JACINTA: At the same time I’ve got history, and I see the same things playing out, things haven’t changed that drastically. And I think businesses in start-up mode, there are certain things I know they need, and even just having that conversation with them it comes out naturally. I think deep down people will seek out help when they really need it. And asking for help is the thing.
INGRID: That’s an interesting point. Do you think your music people think of themselves as a business?
JACINTA: No. I said that fast (laughs). I think being creative, they don’t realise they have such a talent and at what point does it become a business. And that’s interesting you bought it up because a number of conversations I’ve had, where a number of clients have been in front of me and it suddenly dawned on them, ‘Oh I’m in business aren’t I? And I’ve got responsibilities’. So, very good point Ingrid.
INGRID: Because they really are musicians first, aren’t they?
JACINTA: Absolutely, cause that’s what they love and that is their passion. So that’s why we are here, to take away all those difficult compliance issues, and that is why we made the decision to put back and reinvest into growing it further.
INGRID: And do you have an exit strategy? You don’t have to tell us what it is, and do you talk to your bands and your clients about exit strategies for them?
JACINTA: I’ll speak about the clients first. Often with our clients they may not choose the exit strategy. Obviously with entertainment, very few acts these days have the sustainability that they did 10 or 15 years ago. So not specifically but what I do do, is work with them at the inception of their careers to make sure we set them up, so if it all ends tomorrow they are in the best possible position and have invested wisely, so they do have something to move onto and are left with.
Ahhh, for myself, and this business, I don’t have an exit strategy per se. I know that with age, I will probably outgrow my welcome with younger acts, and I’m starting to look at other business opportunities and other niche areas to move into.
INGRID: I’d love to come back and talk to you when you have those sorted out.
JACINTA: Yes, love to.
INGRID: Ok a question about pricing. How do you, you can talk in specifics or generalities, how do you come up with a pricing strategy. How do you work out how much to sell what you do?
JACINTA: The wonderful old traditional charge per hour. That’s the historical accounting and professional services way to charge. We do still operate somewhat under that pricing strategy and that is based around what the market will pay from that perspective. But also now we are moving towards packaging, and that is what I’d like to really focus on for the future as well.
INGRID: And where do new customers come from? You started off with just you, and then you had customers, where do you get more customers from?
JACINTA: I’d say minimum 90% are referral based. The entertainment industry is a small closely knit industry so we find that our referrals are mainly through the managers, record labels, booking agents and so forth and through relationships that have been built up over time. And also the acts, they all know each other, so if they have a good experience here, they are likely to refer us to their friends. But at the moment again we are looking at new marketing strategies because whilst the client based is predominantly music based, we are working with creatives in general. And I’d like to work with more people in those areas because it’s an area I love and I think we have a lot to offer those businesses too.
INGRID: And especially because it is so specialised and they have such unique needs. And the average corner accountant doesn’t have the specified knowledge.
JACINTA: You are actually spot on there. Creatives do have very specific business processes and even tax and specific tax laws that apply to them, that the average corner shop accountant wouldn’t know that.
INGRID: And tax has become so specialised that it’s difficult unless it’s a big team of people to have individual knowledge across all industries.
JACINTA: Yes you are seeing a lot more of that these days, and accountants are specialising in different areas.
INGRID: Because it so complex and nobody wants to go to gaol.
JACINTA: And especially the accountant doesn’t want to go to gaol for the client. (laughs)
INGRID: Did you encourage your clients to tell their colleagues or other musician friends to tell them about your business, or do you allow that to organically take place?
JACINTA: I don’t overly promote it, but as I said when new clients come in here it’s always ‘I know so and so’, and it often comes out naturally in the conversation.
INGRID: So you look after your clients really well?
JACINTA: Yes we have a really close relationship with our clients. I personally feel, and you’d have to ask them, that we are their confidantes and their mentors and go that extra mile to help them solve their problems, in the financial sense.
INGRID: I wish I was a musician and I’d come and see you. (Laughs) So when you were starting your business, maybe the partnership as well and then you on your own, is there anything you wish you’d done differently? Had a sense of ‘gosh if I’d known that’ I’d have done something differently.
JACINTA: This might sound like a contradiction in terms but I do often wonder whether I should have taken on a couple of different niches at once. Can you out-niche yourself too much where you do paint yourself into such a one-industry area, because obviously the times are changing so quickly? So I think I’d say to people really think hard about the niche you choose to go into. Be adaptable in that sense, even looking at what careers will be in the future. Things are really changing.
INGRID: Yes that’s a very very good point. So what do you wish you’d known from the start, is it still around that?
JACINTA: Yes, pick your niche well. Think about – guess it’s that thing about – think about that product or service before you offer it. You might want it but does everyone else want it. If you are going to specialise in that area, make sure there is a demand for that.
INGRID: And that there will be in the future.
JACINTA: Yes, exactly, not just a 5 year thing, but a long term business in the future.
INGRID: So apart from yourself, and you’ve mentioned your husband and family, but who has been greatest assistance to you? Have you had mentors along the way, you don’t have to name them, but who has contributed to your success and your ongoing business?
JACINTA: I love learning. I’m a huge reader. I love reading business books. And yes there’s been a number of mentors in that sense, I won’t mention by name. But I’ve learnt so much from books. Joining business networking groups, and I’m constantly going to courses and always trying to find new ways to learn about business, marketing and growing your business in general. So yes, do not stick your head in the mud and think you know everything because as we said previously, times are changing fast so you need to keep up.
INGRID: I read somewhere recently that people need to spend between 10-15% of their energy learning new things and investing time in learning.
JACINTA: I couldn’t agree more. Absolutely.
INGRID: As the business leader.
JACINTA: Absolutely. Its not just technical knowledge, its also leading your team, and having a mindset. There are so many things as a business owner that you need to be across and I invest a lot of time in me in that respect.
INGRID: Yes, do you encourage your team to do the same?
JACINTA: I’d like to think so. Because they also have a set of skills that over time needs to change, and that is part of business now, we do need to have ongoing mentoring and learning in the workplace.
INGRID: Yes, great. Apart from the niching, if someone was to come to you about starting a business what would be your piece of advice? You have mentioned think seriously about the niche, would you tell them niching is a good thing?
JACINTA: I’d certainly recommend niching. I don’t think you can be a jack of all trades, and that is often why businesses fall over because people think they can be everything to everyone. I think you need to niche but as I said before, you should research research research the area that you would like to niche in. As I said, speak to people, join business groups and sound people out. You don’t have to give away your idea, but talk to people and get feedback. I love to get feedback from friends and business associates. That’s the only way to be a leader in your business.
INGRID: And that is what keeps your business current too. And how you know what businesses are needing.
JACINTA: And also don’t be afraid to seek out help. That’s…
INGRID: Why do you think people don’t?
JACINTA: Ahh, fear of looking stupid perhaps?
INGRID: You do – you ask for help don’t you?
JACINTA: I always ask for help, if I don’t know how to do something you are better seeking advice from someone who knows how to do it. It may cost you money if you need to hire someone who is a professional in that area, but the time it will then save you so you can invest in what your skill is, is fundamental.
INGRID: Yes fundamental. So our last question. What characteristics that you think you personally have Jacinta, that makes you successful in business, and do you think they are the characteristics that a start-up needs, or do you think they need something different? So what do you have, and what do you think people need?
JACINTA: Hmm, I think I have perseverance. If I say I will do something I will absolutely see it through to the end. I think I’m trustworthy, which is good for an accountant. And I think I’m resilient. And for a business owner all those 3 things are key, especially resilience because there will be knock backs and downtimes, and you need to be able to bounce back and bounce forward, not bounce back, and move on.
INGRID: So what builds resilience? How do we get to be resilient?
JACINTA: I think it’s through time and experience – I know in the nearly days I could be knocked for a 6 if there were setbacks. But I’ve learnt you have to pick yourself up and keep moving forward otherwise there won’t be a business. If you get completely bowled over, and there are setbacks everyway when you run your own business, some minute and there can be some really big ones, so if you can’t bounce back from that you will have a hard time staying in business.
INGRID: I think whether we see them as setbacks or seeing them as learnings, and learning is part of the normality. It’s all part of the journey.
JACINTA: It is part of the journey in business. And also celebrating the wins. That’s a big thing you know, don’t take on board all the bad things that happen in business, also celebrate the great things and celebrate them with your team.
INGRID: Do you set goals for yourself?
INGRID: Short term, long term?
JACINTA: Both actually, at a minimum, 3 monthly goals.
INGRID: And do you celebrate the achievement of those goals and milestones?
JACINTA: Probably not as much as I should, but now you are making me think about it. I’ve set goals and now I’ll celebrate more. Thank you for that.
INGRID: That’s a pleasure. Is there any other advice from Jacinta that you would give a business start-up?
JACINTA: Enjoy the journey. When things are going well, you never question anything and it’s exciting. And if you love what you are doing, follow it with a passion and realise there will be setbacks but hey, enjoy the ride!
INGRID: Thanks very much Jacinta.
JACINTA: Thanks Ingrid.
Musicians are like many of us, they do what they do really well AND they are running a business. Jacinta has carved a unique niche in her industry.