4. Spend your money wisely
Here’s a home truth: You have to spend money to make money. Nobody just starts magically making money without financial input, and even if you reckon that you’ve already bought/got the gear and you’ve got gigs lined up (so in theory you don’t need to spend money to “become” a mobile DJ), actually you still do.
At the very least you’ll likely need to pay your accountant a bit more (if you have one, if not you’ll need one…) to handle this extra income source, and you may need a business licence, and business cards. At the very least.
Most likely, though, you will need to add at least something to your mobile DJ setup. (Remember earlier when I said I’d touch on the biggest thing people waste money on? This is it – gear. New mobile DJs tend to spend far too much on their mobile DJ setup, and often on the wrong things. Hint: You need less than you think, and you can always hire gear, using gig deposits to cover the cost…)
You’ll also need to spend on music, on marketing, and all kinds of other things you can’t predict at the beginning.
The problem is, it’s a bit like the “time” issue in point 3: Knowing where to spend your money is important, because your money is limited – and you’re in this to MAKE more money than you SPEND, right?
In the building where I work (the World Trade Center, in Gibraltar, which is where I am sat typing this now), a relatively young company that had employed quite a lot of people recently collapsed. The problem, it turns out, was that they’d been given a big budget from their shareholders, but they spend that money as if they were already making money – and in the end it ran out.
The shareholders weren’t prepared to put any more in, and so that was the end of that. It affected people I know and their families, and indeed we had a lucky escape ourselves, as a family member very nearly took a job with them when they set up a couple of years back.
Yet it could so easily have been avoided, if only they’d spent their money wisely.
So while of course your stakes aren’t as high as they were for that company, the principles are exactly the same.
So four tips I have for you are:
- Use “sweat equity” – ie count your time and the time of anyone willing to help you as “money” that you don’t have to spend. Call in favours for things like getting help building your website, designing your logo, setting up ads – in other words, get friends and family to help you, rather than paying
- Only spend when absolutely necessary – Put up with inconvenience if it means you keep your cash in your pocket. That means using the spare bedroom for your gear rather than hiring a lock-up; avoiding buying a van when you can squeeze everything in your car, at least for your first few gigs; hiring lights rather than buying them; and so on
- “Bias” towards spending money that you can see a fast return on, and track the results! – Want to spend on advertising? Stop that spending if it doesn’t work! Business cards are probably worth the cash, but once you’ve printed them, give them out (they won’t make the money back sat in a box in your drawer). Set up a website, but do everything you possibly can to make sure your (easy to fill in) enquiry form is being used, and if not, change things relentlessly until it is
- Don’t go into debt – or if you have to, make it “soft” debt. Much better to spend money you’ve already earned (so, the proceeds of gigs) rather than to borrow, gambling on the gigs coming in the future. But if you do borrow, make it from family (ie “soft” loans), where you can pay it back as and when you have it. Of course you will pay it back, but that flexibility is crucial
Now read this: Bumper list of resources for new mobile DJs
So if these are all ways of avoiding spending money, where should you spend it?
One of the best things to “buy in” is expertise. Wake up call: This is not as easy as it looks, and you don’t have all the answers, and you’re putting your time and money on the line here. Much better to get the right advice so you don’t make expensive mistakes. Investing in knowledge is actually a way of saving money, for this reason.
It could mean taking an amiable local DJ (who’s close to retiring and happy to help you) out to lunch a few times, to get tips and advice. It could mean paying to join a local DJ association chapter, and attending their training days. You may buy a ticket to attend a DJ conference and go to all the seminars (you may even see me there, presenting one!).
Signing up to an online course with a school such as ours is one of the most cost-effective ways of paying for expertise, because for a one-off fee you get sufficient access to knowledge, you get coaching, and you get a community of DJs who are on the same journey as you, meaning you’ll feel less alone along the way.
However you do it, though, don’t skimp on investing in knowledge – otherwise, you may find yourself spending money blindly, wasting your time doing ineffective things, and generally not giving yourself the best chance of succeeding.