Music We Remember brings live, interactive musical experience to seniors around Oregon, engaging minds and hearts with memorable melodies and unforgettable songs! Founder John Van Beek started working with the PCC SBDC in 2018 when he participated in Business Builders, a 10-week business training program designed to help entrepreneurs start their businesses with confidence. Now performing over 80 times a month, John continues to meet with his business advisors to strategically grow his business to meet demand. This is John's story.
Read more about John's entrepreneurial experience below!
Thank you for sharing your story with us, John! What inspired you to pursue your business?
I began working at a retirement community back at the end of 1999, in the maintenance department. Not too many years prior, I had taken up guitar, and was regularly playing at the same retirement community for the chapel services my parents conducted. Over the years I became the in-house entertainment for the monthly birthday parties, and would also play some music in the memory care several times a week toward the end of my time there. Sometimes on weekend when there for chapel services, I would see a resident from memory care who may have been non-verbal all week long, suddenly perk up and sing all the words to familiar hymns, then on Monday when back at work, I would observe that they had reverted back to their prior state. It struck me that musical memories work in some different way.
Over the years I met some residents who had been musicians, and would sometimes be able to play music with them, which was fun for everyone. I came to realize I enjoyed performing and entertaining far more than snaking Depends out of the plumbing, but only after taking on the responsibility of a family, did I seriously “do the math” and set out on a course to provide music full-time to senior living sites all over town. I’m very pleased to say that my monthly performance count has surpassed pre-pandemic levels, and I am now faced with the problem of fitting all my client requests on the calendar!
Before coming to the SBDC, what challenges were you facing in your business?
I wasn’t aware of many challenges, but wanted to ensure that I found out about any that I may not have considered before encountering them. At the time I came to the SBDC, my main challenge was spreading the word to new clients about my services, and filling my calendar to levels I deemed adequate. I had given a 9 month notice at my job (now of nearly 20 years), and was working there on Fridays while the rest of the week was filled with marketing and performances.
What types of services did you receive and/or in which programs did you participate?
I attended an orientation with Jackie B Peterson on December 5th, 2018, after which I enrolled in Business Builders, beginning in April of 2019. The classes were engaging, covered the gamut of topics one would encounter as a small business owner, and the cohort was a lot of fun; interacting with other people looking to make their mark in a wide range of different fields was truly eye-opening, and hearing about and attempting to brainstorm as a group in regard to their unique challenges, was always a rewarding exercise. I have since had a number of consultations with Jackie and Kim Allchurch Flick, who are ever encouraging, and a delight to engage with.
What have you done differently in your business since working with the SBDC?
One of the big boons was simply making use of Google Business Listings and regularly asking clients for reviews. I think this was covered in one class, so I took the time to do it, and now have a QR code I carry with me to produce whenever I have a client gushing to me about how much they LOVE my service. “Would you mind saying that on Google? Here, scan this!” 41 five-star reviews later, I’m recommending this path to my clients now, and offering a few tips on QR code generation along the way.
How is your business doing now?
I was very pleased to find that when September 2022 ended, I had performed a new, monthly, record total of seventy three performances. Fitting all my new clients into a schedule for 2023 is my current challenge, while dreaming up a way to scale operations via subcontractors.
What would you say to other small business owners thinking of working with the SBDC?
In my experience, the SBDC can really lay a solid foundation for you to build your business on. There are so many potential issues you may be entirely unaware of; having some advance warning to their existence is invaluable. Sure, none of us saw the pandemic coming, but in regards to the day-to-day operation of a business in “normal” and even some “abnormal” circumstances, I would recommend anyone in the process of launching a new venture to check out the small business training programs.
Want to learn more about how the PCC SBDC can help you start or grow your business?
Programs and services are provided to the public on a non-discriminatory basis. Language assistance service are available for limited English proficient individuals. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Please contact us at 971-722-5080 or email@example.com, to request accommodations. Oregon Small Business Development Centers are funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the Oregon Business Development Department.