Entrepreneur, musician and business consultant Harriette Hale graduated from City University and The Guildhall School of Music to pursue a colourful and varied career in the worlds of music and business.
She runs The North London Music Academy, The Chocolate Box Music Agency, Academy Mews Dance Studios and Industry Inspired Artists; a growing empire which combines the worlds of music, artistry and education. A recognised vocal expert and coach, Harriette continues to mentor young musicians and leads the way in music education and artist development, with help from world-class musicians and teachers. She has recently developed her own Business Network, bringing together like-minded entrepreneurs in the luxury service industries across London.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and what you do currently
Harriette Hale, age 27, singer songwriter and musician by profession. Originally born in Yorkshire, I moved to London at 19 to study music at university. I set up my first company aged just 19, a music agency providing musicians and bands for weddings and events, Chocolate Box Music Agency Ltd. At 22 I then went on to set up my music academy in Camden, the North London Music Academy. I’ve since also established an artist development company and record label, Industry Inspired Artists; a dance studios, Academy Mews Dance Studios; an artist management company, Angel Management and most recently my business coaching and mentoring business, Music Life Business (an online resource).
Music is my passion, my art and my motivation for creating change in the world. My empire ethos is “To change lives by inspiring, educating, and elevating the musical minds of this generation”.
As a singer songwriter I have just self-released my debut album entitled ‘Listen’, available on my personal website; and as an entrepreneur, business coach, and vocal coach, I’m still very busy inspiring and educating, and doing what I love!
What inspired you to start a business?
Having entrepreneurial parents and witnessing their success and joy in life was always going to put me off taking the 9 to 5 route, plus having some horror story experiences in my first few jobs in my teens was enough to convince me that working for myself was the only way forward! I’m a singer songwriter by profession so being a creative spirit, it’s not really in my nature to be told what to do, and I’m not very good at it!! I’ve always been inspired to make change where I don’t agree with something, so instead of allowing myself to be annoyed or frustrated with something, I do something about it. That ethos was always going to bear entrepreneurial fruits!
What is the greatest challenge and the greatest reward in being your own boss?
The greatest challenge has to be the responsibility. I didn’t give it much thought when I first started out because it was just me and my laptop, but over the years I’ve built up a small army of staff (my awesome team), thousands of clients, commercial property in London, and most recently, a handful of mentees. I have a responsibility to every single person around me to be the best I can be and practice what I preach. Eight years ago if it had all gone wrong, I could have dropped it and taken a job instead. Now that’s simply not an option because I have so many people depending on me. That’s the scariest bit. That said, the rewards are endless!!! I wake up grateful every day for my incredible team who keep us moving and growing consistently, sometimes now without my guidance. I can take days off whenever I like, I go on holiday at least four times a year, I choose my own sleeping schedule, I prefer to not set alarms where possible (although I do like to do a minimum of 12 hours a day when I am working), and I get to do what I love and make a change in the world whilst I’m doing it. Even now, I stop to pinch myself, just to check it’s all real…!
What motivational tips can you give to our members about goal setting and managing both successes and failures?
Fall down seven times, get up eight. And boy you better get back up! The bigger the fall, the harder is it to get back up, but when you do, you usually come back even higher than before. We’re pretty resilient, we just don’t always realise it. Success is a different ball game entirely and when it’s going great it’s easy to forget to be grateful. Never forget how far you’ve come and always acknowledge where you came from. Keep your feet on the ground whilst you aim for the stars.
Goal setting I must confess is an art form I’ve only recently harnessed but it’s a very effective one. I’ve always dreamed, and I’ve always made big statements but I never used to write them down. There’s something about seeing your goals in pen on paper that somehow makes them more tangible. It’s not just a dream then… it’s a to do list! I now keep a Goal Journal and I really can’t recommend it enough. Kikki.K do some gorgeous designs. They are an online store based in Australia I think but they have a store in Covent Garden London (I have no affiliation with them whatsoever, they just sell great motivational tools for entrepreneurs).
What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a business owner?
People management! Oh my goodness I never imagined how hard HR would be, and customer service too. Give me accounts and complex digital marketing funnels any day of the week! Having to ‘reprimand’ staff, or deal with tricky customers I used to find really awkward and uncomfortable. I guess going into business at 19, for the first few years I was mostly dealing with people a lot older than myself and so lines were blurred and I found myself allowing people to walk all over me and make decisions for the businesses that weren’t true to me. Eight years later I have a much better handle on it but I still avoid those inter-employee dramas like the plague, I’m too chicken to get involved!
How have you benefited from mentoring or coaching?
I’ve never had a proper business coach myself. I have a lot of older friends who run their own businesses and I’m always able to turn to them for help and advice when I need it. My parents have been the most consistent form of ‘coaching’, and to this day they are my biggest inspiration and motivation. I’m beginning to think there’s nothing they can’t do or don’t know!! Interestingly, I seem to be learning more from my own mentees. Since I started business coaching for my own clients, I’ve been forced to push my entrepreneurial knowledge much further and search for options and answers outside my comfort zone. It’s taught me a lot about myself and I’ve surprised myself how strong my knowledge and leadership is in business, as well as how beneficial my creative mind is when it comes to finding solutions to problems for other people!
What advice can you give about the benefits of networking?
Love it, live it, swear by it!! Now this is the ‘people’ part of business that I can really enjoy. I go to regular networking nights, I’m part of a members club for entrepreneurs and creatives in central London and I always always carry business cards with me and make sure I make new acquaintances everywhere I go. There’s a well known saying which states ‘you are never more than 6 people away from whomever you want to meet’ and it’s true. You never know who you might meet and there’s certainly never any harm in starting a conversation with someone new. I would always recommend you have your ‘elevator pitch’ sorted though before you jump into networking. You don’t want to lose great opportunities with the right people because you didn’t present yourself well.
What are your tips for scaling a business and how do you plan for and manage growth?
Automation, delegation, and self-belief. It’s a great age for technology, and there’s so much these clever little robots can do to save us time and money as business owners. I automate everything from my social media scheduling to my accounts. My number one tool is Zapier, a great little bit of kit which can pretty much automate anything software based including your mailing lists, bookings, marketing funnels, book keeping and much more!
Delegation again is key. You can’t do everything yourself. I’ve tried. Several times. Trust me, at some point you just have to let go of certain things and let someone else handle it for you. Knowing what you’re great at and knowing what you’re not so fabulous at is crucial to this process. You need to focus on doing what you LOVE so the passion never dies for what you’re doing and trying to achieve. The stuff you hate, the tasks you battle with and procrastinate on… hand them to someone else. It will be worth the money invested in the right person. Virtual assistants can be great if the expense is an issue.
Finally, self belief. How many times have you doubted yourself? I bet there’s loads. I’m my own worst critic, I know I am. I have moments of thinking I’ve done it all wrong, and I’ve made bad decisions, and that nagging little voice pipes up in the back of my head saying all the negative things that I really don’t need to hear. Moments like those are designed to test us. We do what we do because we believe in a product, or a service, or change, yes, but mostly because we believe in OURSELVES. We are the key piece of the puzzle and we are all we need, to grow, and move forward, and smash those goals. Self-belief and positive self-talk is definitely the number one tool in business. If you believe you can do it, don’t let any one else tell you different, especially not that annoying little voice that pops up in moments of doubt!
What does the future hold for you?
Big question!! I’m not even 30 yet ha! Husband and kids would be nice, although the creation of a few more businesses is probably more realistic. I’m in love with what I do and I have no intention to slow down just yet. I currently have six businesses under my belt, some much bigger than others. I’d like to have seven before the end of 2016 but we shall see. I’m a big believer in multiple revenue streams and passive income. My first love is music, and whilst all my companies are in the music industry, I’ve created this foundation for myself so that I can one day focus on making and releasing my own music, purely for passion and certainly not for profit. I’m almost at that point and once I’ve achieved that dream, who knows?! I’ll set another list of goals, write them down and make them happen!