Small Business Lessons from a Country Singer

lessons for small business from a country singer


Sometimes in life you get a chance to meet one of your ‘heroes’, and last week it happened to me.

Now I have been a fan of country music all my life, and especially a fan of Randy Travis.

Last week when I was in Nashville with my wife, I saw a sign on Ernest Tubb’s store indicating that Randy was going to be there signing his new book called ‘Forever and Ever Amen’.

Well, I was so excited and stood in line to meet him, which I did, as well as his lovely wife Mary.

It is easy for me to say that meeting Randy was the highlight of our trip for me, and a moving one at that.

You may not know about Randy Travis nor heard his music, and if that be the case, do yourself a favour and check him out as he is a great talent.

He has won almost every award there is in country music, and is a member of the Grand Ole Opry, as well as the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Randy doesn’t sing anymore. Nor does he play guitar, as in 2013 he suffered a massive stroke that left him fighting for his life.

He has come a long way and can now walk and talk a bit, and he has co-authored his new book.

I read the book and what I can tell you about it is this:

Randy’s road to success was not an easy one at all.

No walk in the park for that boy.


Even when his talent as a singer was so evident, he had to work in the kitchen of the famed Nashville Palace bar for years, while he waited for that ‘big break’ to appear.

So, what does all this have to do with being self-employed and building up your small business brand?

Well, I do not think it is a stretch here to say, that Randy’s journey to reach for the stars is that much different than your journey to build your business into a successful thriving enterprise.

One of the things that struck me was the fact that Randy had to work as a dishwasher and a cook for a number of years while he was performing on the side looking for a record deal.

If you think about it, that is what many successful self-employed small business owners also have to do when they start their business.

I have met so many of you who have had to work other jobs on the side, while spending many extra hours trying to get your business off the ground.

In his book, Randy describes the frustration and heartaches he had during the early years, as he constantly got turned down by every record company in Nashville, over and over again.

His supporters would cheer and encourage him to continue, but they did not have to return to the kitchen job to pay the bills.

If you think of it, that’s not much of a different scenario, than that of a self-employed small business owner who believes in their business concept.

They get great reviews from friends and family supports, but just cannot get their business off the ground.

Think of the courage that this takes to continue, when you believe that you are on the right track.

People tell you that you are. However, the universal measuring stick, meaning the “$$’s” coming into your business, do not reflect this.


One word that screams out to me, whether it be referring to Randy Travis or any other self-employed person, is the word “courage.”

Personally, I do not think that enough credit is given to self-employed small business owners and their courage.

Courage is having a belief in something, and aggressively pursuing it against all odds.

This isn’t some business structure where investors come in and say, “OK we believe in you, so here are the funds to build the business up”.

This is where you invest your personal life savings and your own blood, sweat and tears so to speak, with absolutely no guaranty of success at all.

That takes courage and just about every self-employed person has to have this type of courage.

Well, we know that finally Randy Travis made it to the big time and had 16 number one hits.

His business grew to where he had over 40 people on his payroll, and life was good, or at least that is what he thought at the time.

Understanding the Basic Foundations of Business

Unfortunately for Randy, he did not have a great knowledge or understanding of the basic foundations of business and had to leave that part of his life to someone else who mismanaged his funds. And before long he found himself broke.

This is no different to the self-employed business owner who becomes successful from a revenue standpoint, and then loses this success because they do not have fundamental business skills to maintain their success.

Unexpected Challenges

Running your own business can be one of the most rewarding experiences ever, but there are always unexpected challenges.

In Randy Travis’s business, his biggest challenge, even bigger than discovering he had huge financial issues, was dealing with a major stroke that robbed him of his voice and ability to play guitar. In other words, his lively hood.

You would think that this would mean the end of his career. Many would just give up, but not Randy.

He has been able to rebrand himself as an author, and he has even hit the road again with his band.

No, Randy does not perform. However, he is there to meet and greet his fans, old and new, and provide a wonderful example of courage to one and all.

Many times, you can look at a business that is struggling and then see it begin to soar again, because the owner has the courage to change and adapt.

Yes, as I said in the beginning, Randy Travis is my hero and so are the self-employed folks I see every day, who have put everything on the line to build their business.


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