STG 104: 7 Guitar Teaching Excuses I Never Want To Hear Again


complete guitar player

If you’ve been thinking about taking the plunge into teaching guitar lessons but you haven’t found the motivation to actually get started, then this episode is for you. There are lots of excuses we’ve all made at one time or another for staying on the bench, but today is the day to face them head on and start taking some action.

In this episode, I’ll get into seven common (but lame) excuses I hear all the time for not getting started as a guitar teacher. I’ll explain each one and give you a friendly kick in the pants if you happen to be using any of these excuses yourself. I’d love to never hear any of these 7 guitar teaching excuses ever again for as long as I live…hopefully after this episode, you won’t let any of them hold you back any longer!

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Podcast Transcript

If you’ve been thinking about starting out as a guitar teacher, but for some reason you haven’t taken the plunge yet, maybe it’s because you’ve been making one or more of these lame excuses that I’m going to talk about in this episode today.

Now, I’m not trying to offend anybody. I’m not trying to give anybody a hard time. But a lot of times, we make excuses that we think are perfectly acceptable for things that we know that we know that we want to do, that we know that we should do, that we know are going to be great things for us to do, but we make these excuses and we end up never doing them. It’s really easy for that to happen with your aspirations to be a guitar teacher. So, I’m going to get into these seven ways that we make excuses. These seven specific excuses that we make. And honestly, I hope I never have to hear any of these excuses again. But if you hate your job, if you’re tight on money, or you just need some kind of creative outlet, then teaching guitar lessons is definitely something you should look into. It’s an awesome thing to do.

But procrastinating because of fear, or just making excuses for whatever reason, won’t get you a single step closer to where you want to be. Yes, you do need to think this thing through. Yes, you do need to plan well if you want to be successful as a guitar teacher. But at some point, the excuses need to stop and you need to take action. So, this episode will hopefully encourage you to do exactly that. So, I’m not going to waste any time. Let’s jump right into the seven excuses.

Excuse #1 – I Don’t Have Enough Money

The first one is: “I don’t have enough money to start teaching guitar.” That’s a common excuse. It’s a common reason for people to want to hesitate. They think that they need to have more money to get started. Maybe you think that you need to go and rent this really fancy teaching space or you want to save up money to run these magazine or TV or radio ads, or something like that. But honestly, you don’t need a lot of money to start teaching guitar. And if you have a lot of money, that means you’re probably going to waste a lot of money getting started. Just like most businesses that have a lot of money when they get started, they waste it. They buy a bunch of fancy stuff that they don’t need and they spend money on all kinds of things that don’t even make a difference as to whether they succeed or fail.

So, if you don’t have enough money to start teaching, don’t use it as an excuse. It’s an asset! It means that you’re going to be lean and mean, and that you’re going to be very selective about the things that you do spend money on. So, what you need to do is you need to start at home. Don’t go out and rent teaching space unless you can get a screaming deal on it, or get it for free or whatever, but start in your house. Start small. Don’t feel like you have to become this huge music school from the very get-go. Start out small, and then work with what you’ve got. You don’t need a lot of money. You don’t need a lot of resources. You don’t have to be super-duper professional right out of the gate. Work with what you have, and then don’t waste money on less important things. Focus the little bit of money that you do have to get your website going, to get your email list going, to get your online marketing going, and to start building up referrals and things like that.

Don’t waste it on things that don’t matter at the very beginning, like paint and carpet and gadgets, and expensive real estate, and things like that. Work small. Work from your house. Work with what you’ve got. It might take you a little bit longer, but remember there’s no rush. Just take your time and enjoy yourself when you do this. It’s better to go slower, to start out lean and mean, than to never get started teaching guitar at all. So, do it. Don’t use it as an excuse. And if you’re completely broke, if you don’t have two pennies to run together, then just start teaching anyway. Inaction, just sitting there, making excuses or complaining about your finances is not going to get you anywhere. Go out and talk to everybody that you know, and find two or three students and go. Don’t let lack of money stop you or keep you from getting started or make you procrastinate, because the sooner you start teaching, the sooner that you start getting some actual paying students, the more money you’re going to have.

If you keep waiting around for more money, then chances are you’re not going to make any because you’re not doing anything to earn the money. Go out and teach some guitar lessons, make some money, and then you’ll have some money to pour into your business. Don’t use the lack of money as an excuse. I hate that excuse. It’s a lame excuse. If you’re making it, and I know because I’ve made all of these excuses myself at one time or another, and I’ve learned from them, so I’m passing this on to you. Don’t let a lack of money stop you from getting started as a guitar teacher.

Excuse #2 – I’m Too Busy

Excuse number two: “I’m too busy to start teaching guitar.” You’re too busy, hm. Well, let me see. If I look at my life, I am one of the busiest people that I know, and I have time to teach guitar lessons. So, if I can do it, you can do it too. You know what. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. I have the same 24 hours here, in Colorado Springs, that you have wherever you live, and you can accomplish a lot in 24 hours if you take the attitude of someone that’s going to be effective. So, we all have the same 24 hours a day. The question is what are you going to do with those 24 hours. What are you going to do with that time?

Well, let’s talk about time for a second. You can’t buy more time. So, what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to make some. That’s what everybody else does who starts a business. They make sacrifices. They give up other things so that they have time to make their business get off the ground. So, what do you do? Well, turn off the TV. You know, I don’t have the statistics in front of me, but a lot of people, most people, unless you’re Amish or something and you don’t have a TV, but most people spend way too many hours watching TV. Two, three, four, or five hours a day watching TV, watching Netflix, watching videos on YouTube, watching broadcast television. You know what. Turn the TV off. I mean even if you just cut that in half, if you spend five hours a day watching TV, only spend two and a half hours a day watching TV and spend the other two and a half hours teaching guitar lessons, or planning your business, or doing something that’s going to get you close to your goal of being a guitar teacher. Don’t let the TV hold you back.

Another thing you could do is stop hanging out with your friends, socially, quite so much. Now, I’m not telling you to give it up completely, but if you go out with your friends three nights a week, and you go and drink beer, shoot pool, throw darts, or whatever it is that you do, watch sports, you know, maybe only do that one night a week or two nights a week and dedicate the other night to teaching guitar lessons. I don’t know. It sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

Another thing you could do is you could stop sleeping so late or going to bed so early. Now, I realize you can’t necessarily teach guitar lessons first thing in the morning or last thing at night before you go to bed unless you’re doing Skype lessons with someone in a different time zone, but you know, there’s a lot of planning and a lot of actual execution work that you could do to get your business going if you get up a little early or go to bed a little bit earlier than you normally do. Sleep a little bit less. As long as you’re getting seven or eight hours of sleep every night, you’re good. Your body is not going to shut down. You’re not going to fall asleep in the middle of the day, at work or something. So, dedicate an hour or two every morning when you get up, before you go to work, or before you start your day and work on your business. Work on your teaching skills. Work on putting your curriculum together. Work on building your website for your teaching studio. Work on gaining more knowledge about how to be more successful as a guitar teacher. Listen to one of my podcasts.

Another thing you could do, and this is why I record audio podcasts, is you can listen to them in the car on your way to work. So, you can kill multiple birds with one stone. When you’re driving, when you’re commuting, when you’re going to the store, when you’re going to work, bring your iPod with you, plug it into your car, and listen to the podcast. Listen to training materials. Listen to inspiring, motivational business materials when you’re doing other things. When you’re mowing the grass, when you’re doing things that don’t require a lot of thought, when you’re exercising at the gym. You can’t buy more time, but you can make some. So, I want to encourage you to re-prioritize the discretionary time that you have available to you and set aside a couple of hours a day to teach guitar lessons and to work on you teaching studio.

If you really want it bad enough, you will make the time to do it. So, start with looking at your downtime hours; stuff that you could consider to be discretionary. Find out what you can eliminate to make time for teaching, and then start doing it. Don’t let the excuse of busyness keep you from stepping out into your dream of being a guitar teacher.

Excuse #3 – I’m Waiting For The Economy To Get Better

Lame excuse number three: “I’m waiting for the economy to get better before I start teaching.” Man, I wish I had five bucks for every time I heard that as an excuse for why people don’t want to teach guitar. You know what. Really? You’re waiting for the economy to get better before you start teaching. Why? You know, there’s never a bad time to start a great business. And I’m assuming that you want to start a great business, right? That you’re not going to start an average, mediocre, or a poor business that is not going to take good care of people and not going to provide a good service. The focus of Start Teaching Guitar is to help you have a great business, and there’s never a bad time, economically, to start a great business.

So, an average business that depends on outside factors is not really what you want to build anyway. Nobody knows, honestly, what the economy is going to do or how long it’ll take for the economy to completely turn around. And you know what. It always goes in cycles. So, if it’s going really good now, chances are, in a few years, it’s going to go down again, and vice versa. If it’s not good now, it’s going to start getting better again probably pretty soon. So, if you’re waiting for the next economic cycle, you might be waiting a long time. And you don’t have to because there are people in every economy that are going to take guitar lessons if all of the factors in your local area are right.

Now, if you live in a town of, you know, a thousand people and you have a hundred guitar teachers in there, there’s a ratio of ten people for every one guitar teacher. Then you’re probably going to have a hard time. Okay, even in a bad economy. But you know, people in Detroit, Michigan. You know, that’s one of the worst economic places in America right now. And I apologize to you if you’re listening in Detroit right now. I realize that not every area of Detroit is bad, but a large portion of it is pretty bad off economically, and they have guitar teachers and music schools in Detroit that are staying in business and making a living. So, if you could teach guitar lessons successfully in Detroit, then you could teach them pretty much anywhere else.

And you know what. In a bad economy, tons of great businesses were started during an economic recession. Let me name a few. You probably have heard of these. Have you ever heard of a little company called Microsoft? Yeah? Microsoft got started during an economic recession. FedEx, the shipping company, got started during a recession. General Electric got started during a recession. Revlon, the makeup and hair company, start during a recession. Hyatt Regency Hotels got started during an economic recession. It is totally possible to start a successful, thriving, amazing business when the economy is bad.

And this is another thing to think about. If the economy is bad, then that means you have fewer competitors. Did you ever think about that? If people are going out of business because the economy is bad, that means you have fewer people to compete with. It also means that the people that you do compete with, the other guitar teachers are going to be weak. They are not going to be at the top of their game in a down economy, which gives you an advantage. It means you can sweep in and you can fill in gaps in the marketplace and build a business that no one else ever saw coming. If the economy is bad, it also means that more things are going to be cheaper for you, like if you do decide to lease teaching space. You can negotiate better terms on studio space in a down economy because there’s going to be a lot of empty commercial buildings.

Okay, there are a lot of advantages to getting started when the economy is not doing very good. And if you get started when it’s down, and you grow your business right along with it as the economy goes up, you can ride that wave and you can be more financially successful, and it’ll be a better situation for you. So, man, I’m so tired of hearing this one. “I’m waiting for the economy to get better. I’m waiting for the economy to get better.” Stop waiting for the economy to get better and start teaching some guitar lessons. There’s never a bad time to start a great business, so don’t let that be an excuse either, because there’s always going to be something going on in the economy that could be used as an excuse. Don’t let it stop you. Just get started.

Excuse #4 – It’s Too Risky

The next excuse is: “It’s too risky giving up my job. What if I fail?” I hear that one a lot. It’s too risky. You know what. It is risky. You know what. Yes, you could fail. There are no guarantees that you won’t fail. The question is what are you going to do about it. Are you going to pursue your dream of being a guitar teacher or are you going to just sit there and spend your life wondering about what could have happened if you would’ve taken the plunge? There’s this famous quote by a hockey player, Wayne Gretzky. He said, “You’ll miss one hundred percent of the shots that you never take.” If you never assume a little bit of risk and take a step and jump out there, you’re going to miss one hundred percent of the time. You’re never going to experience the things that you want to see because you’re never going to try.

So, what do you do? Well, you learn how to accept reasonable amounts of risk. I’m not saying that you do something crazy. I’m not telling you to do something foolhardy and quit your job today, when you only have one guitar student. The smart thing to do is to limit your risk by planning well and by starting small. Don’t spend a lot of money upfront. Work up a good plan on how you’re going to attract new students, and then start attracting them, and then work your teaching business part-time while you still work your day job until you get to the point where you are making enough money teaching guitar lessons that you feel like you can take the plunge.

Yes, it’s going to be a little bit risky. Anything worth doing is going to be a little bit risky. And if you fail, so what? Learn from your mistakes, get up, and try again. It’s okay to try to teach full-time for a while, you know, once you get to a certain point. And then, if things don’t work out, you can go get another job and you can still keep teaching part-time on the side while you correct the mistakes that you made before, and then you can eventually teach full-time again. It’s totally cool. These things can operate side-by-side. So, don’t let the excuse of risk stop you from taking the plunge as a guitar teacher. Plan well, start small, and then you’ll be amazed at what can happen if you’re willing to just step out and do something.

Excuse #5 – I Don’t Have The Skills Or Experience

Okay, the next excuse I hope I never hear again. “I don’t have the skills or experience to be a good guitar teaching.” Man, I probably hear this more than anything else. You know, I get emails from people that are thinking about getting started as a guitar teacher, and that’s one of the most common things I hear; is: “Oh man, I don’t know if I have what it takes. I’ve only been playing for a year or five years, or you know, I’ve never taught anybody before. I don’t have a music degree.” I hear all of these different things, where people just feel inadequate about their abilities to be a guitar teacher. You know what. Just stop it. Stop that, man. Stop doubting yourself. Stop thinking that you’re less than you really are. You may not have all the skills right now, or you may be using this excuse: “I don’t have the skills or experience I need to be a good teacher.” You know what. You’re probably right about that.

You know what. Nobody knows everything they need to know when they first get started. You don’t even know what you don’t know until you jump in and actually start teaching guitar lessons. You’re probably right. You don’t have the skills or experience to be a good guitar teacher, but you need to add one word at the end of that sentence, and that words is yet. You don’t have the skills or experience yet, but if you step in and you keep learning and growing and getting experience, before too long, you will. So, accept the fact that you’re going to learn along the way. You’re probably going to learn from some mistakes. And you know what. That’s totally okay. Mistakes are not fatal. Mistakes are not final. They are lessons that help you and teach you, and make you a better guitar teacher, a better business owner. You’ll learn as you go. It’s okay.

So, what I want to encourage you to do is take some action and do something to increase your skills and experience. What do you do? Well, you get started. You actually start teaching a few people, but take a course, like Group Guitar Launch Formula, for example. Buy a book or hire a coach. Take some lessons from another guitar teacher, at least, and ask them to teach you about their business. Ask them questions about their business. You know, it’s totally okay to do that. Some of them may get a little nervous about that. They might not want to tell you too much because they might afraid that you’re going to compete with them, so maybe you go and study with someone in the next town or maybe you study with someone online via Skype. But you ask them: “What do you think makes a good guitar teacher? What are some secrets to your success of being a good guitar teacher?” And take notes and try to apply them to your own life and your own business.

Another thing you can do is you can pay other people to do the things that you have a lack of skill or experience with. So, if you want to, if you have some extra cash, you can hire a bookkeeper or someone to do your accounting and your money for you. You can hire someone to build your website for you. There are a lot of things that you don’t have to do yourself. You can get someone else to do it if you have a little bit of extra cash. So, don’t let that excuse stop you from getting started. If you don’t feel like you have the skills, you don’t feel like you have the experience, well, then start learning the skills and start gaining experience. And things that you can’t do yourself: get somebody else to do it. Don’t let that hold you back from getting started as a guitar teacher, because the sooner you jump in, the sooner your skills and experience are going to grow and catch up with you.

All right. Kind of feels like I’m ranting a little bit in this episode. Man, I hope it doesn’t come off, sounding like I’m irritated or something like that. I’m really not. I’m excited about this and I really want to encourage and motivate you guys.

Excuse #6 – People Tell Me _____

All right, number six. The excuse number six that I never want to hear again is: “People tell me [blank].” So, fill in the blank. People tell me it’s too hard to be a guitar teacher. People tell me it won’t work if I start my own business. People tell me I’m too young to have my own business teaching guitar lessons. People tell me I’m too old to have my own business teaching guitar lessons. You know what. Whose business is it? Is it your business or is it their business? If it’s your business, I’m going to tell you it’s none of their business. People that tell you crap like that, a lot of times, are just insecure. They are afraid. They feel threatened by somebody else’s success. They’re the ones that are negative. They are the ones that are defeated, and they’re so afraid that they don’t want to see anybody else take a risk and take a chance on something that can make them happy and successful.

So, whose business is it? That’s my question. If it’s your business, then it’s none of their business. For every single teaching business that succeeds, honestly there are probably ten people who said it would fail. Seriously. And that’s not just with guitar teachers. That’s every business. Every business that succeeds, there are probably ten people who said that it would fail and they were just waiting on the sidelines to say I told you so when it actually did. But you know what. Even the smartest business people in the world don’t know for sure if their business is going to be one hundred percent successful or not. Even the Donald Trumps and people like that of the world that start things on a much bigger level, they don’t know for sure if it’s going to succeed. There’s always a chance that it won’t. There’s always an element of risk.

You know what. If the smartest business people in the world don’t know for sure if they’re going to succeed, don’t waste your time listening to, you know, your aunt who lives in another state that is always giving you a hard time about stuff, or your friends that you work with current that say, “Oh, no, if you do that, you’re going to lose your house, man. You know, it’s not going to work. It’s too hard. You’re too young. You’re too old.” Don’t waste your time listening to them. If even the smartest people about business don’t know for sure, they are certainly not going to know, so don’t listen to them. Listen to your gut. Believe in yourself. Work hard. Start your business and then prove them all wrong. Don’t let other people’s negativity keep you from doing the things that you believe in and that you are passionate about in your life. Seriously.

Excuse #7 – I Don’t Know What To Do

Okay, and the last excuse that I never want to hear again is: “I don’t know what to do.” I don’t know what to do first. I don’t know what to do next. I don’t know what I’m going to do a year from now. I don’t know what to do. Okay, this might be true. Guys, girls, Start Teaching Guitar audience, it might be true. Right now, as you’re listening to this, it might be true that you don’t know exactly what to do, but don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about it. Honestly, you’ve never had so much useful information about how to teach guitar lessons available to you today. You know, you have more available now – information – than there has ever been available in the history of mankind.

My website. My podcast has more information about teaching guitar lessons that you could probably ever consume. There is training available to you at low cast that can teach you what to do. There are also tons of small business experts available to teach you what you need to know. There are people available in your local community. There are people available online. People like me that can serve as a consultant and a business coach that can help you be successful. Help you get started right. Help you know what to do next. So, what you’ve got to do is you have to focus on learning as much as you can about the business side of teaching guitar.

Your passion for what you do is going to make a wave for you, and the knowledge that you need is going to catch up with you after a while. Learn what you can about business, but get started. Man, get your feet in the water. Get your toes in the water. Get your foot in the door. Take a step towards building your teaching business, but towards getting started with teaching guitar lessons, because honestly, once you get started, everything starts to kind of unfold before you as you start moving forward. You want to build momentum. You want to get your business rolling to the point where it’s successful, but it’s never going to happen if you never get started. So, don’t let not know what to do next keep you from getting in the game.

In Conclusion

Okay. So, my challenge for you today is I want you, if this is you. If you’ve already been teaching and you’ve already taken some steps toward building your business and you’re getting started, cool. But if you’re one of those people that are sitting on the sidelines, I want you to stop complaining. I want you to stop procrastinating. I want you to stop making excuses, whether it’s one of these seven or another excuse that I haven’t even mentioned today. I want you to stop making excuses and I want you to start taking action. You don’t have to jump out of the plane and quit your job and dive into this full-time tomorrow, but what I want you to do is I want you to make a plan and I want you to do something. It’s never going to be perfect. It’s never going to be exactly like you think it should be before it’s time to start. You’re never going to have as much money as you think you need to have to get started. You’re never going to have as much time. You’re never going to have as much confidence. Those nervous jitters and the feelings of fear are never going to completely go away and so that you would know that it’s time to start.

It’s never going to be perfect. But if you don’t get started, then you’re guaranteed to fail. So, realize it. It’s never going to be perfect. Just make a plan to start teaching guitar lessons and do it.

Thank You For Listening!

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Feel free to use the comments section below to let me know what you think about this episode, to suggest a topic for a future episode or just to join in on the conversation with other guitar teachers.

STG 104: 7 Guitar Teaching Excuses I Never Want To Hear Again was last modified: May 12th, 2014 by Donnie Schexnayder