Maestro Learns Business Side of Music with Help from Florida SBDC at Hillsborough County

Music finds people in many different ways. For some people, it was the guitar their parents bought for them as a child. For others, it was the tunes their parents played on the radio. For Maestro Matthew Maines it was his parents’ old piano.

“At six years old we had an out of tune piano and I started playing it,” Maines said. “I realized that what I was playing sounded like what I was hearing on the radio and in the cartoons I watched. So I just kept exploring that my whole life.”

After many attempts by his parents encouraging him to “get a job that’s going to make you money,” Maines stuck with his passion. He got a job as a music teacher but always knew that he wanted more.

Maines followed his dreams and opened up Maestro Maines Studio LLC in January 2015. He kept his job at Mabry Elementary and taught lessons at his studio in the evening. In August 2015, Maines officially left the school system and committed full time to being an entrepreneur.

Maestro Matthew Maines, owner of Tampa Music School, with Janette Blanco, Florida SBDC at Hillsborough County consultant
Maestro Matthew Maines, owner of Tampa Music School, with Janette Blanco, Florida SBDC at Hillsborough County consultant

The first months working full time on his business were far from a dream. Maines had a great space, plenty of instruments, and kid friendly lesson plans, yet no one was walking through his door. With a wife, three children, and a fourth on the way, the pressure was rising.

“I came to realize that you've got to know what business is, how to run a business and I knew none of that,” Maines said. “I was a very good music teacher and I thought if I built it, it'd come. That’s what drove me to research the SBDC and start attending classes.”

In September, Maines took advantage of the no-cost consulting at the Florida SBDC at Hillsborough County. He soon teamed up with business consultant Janette Blanco and began working on getting customers through the door. Blanco completed a competitor analysis for Maines and quickly discovered that there were dozens of music schools in the South Tampa area, with seven of those schools within a five-mile radius. They took a look at the names and came to the conclusion that Maines had to change his company’s name. Maestro Maines Studio LLC was soon changed to Tampa Music School.

Maines continued working with Blanco on marketing issues and within a relatively short amount of time business was booming. Tampa Music School is currently 75 families strong and now has another problem: they’re sold out. With the help of Blanco, Maines is currently working on an employee handbook before he begins the hiring process. Together they’ve been weighing the pros and cons of hiring employees versus contractors.

While it’s never fun having business problems, Maines says that for the moment he is enjoying the fact that he needs employees. He plans to continue working with Blanco and the Florida SBDC at Hillsborough County throughout the growth process.

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For somebody that was already established and in business and failing miserably at it, I took advantage of the classes,” Maines said. “They had free services and counseling and coaching. You would be crazy to not take advantage of the Florida SBDC at Hillsborough County’s services.”

Matthew Maines, Owner — Tampa Music School