Katie DePalma and Laura Hyman started their music school in a one-room studio that DePalma, a violinist who also plays viola, piano and drums, had been using as a practice space. DePalma started by reading Small Business for Dummies and teaching two students during her days off from her full-time retail job. Hyman contributed financially from her full-time income and managed marketing.
As they increased DePalma’s teaching hours, DePalma was able to cut back on her retail work until she finally quit to teach and run the business full-time. Now DePalma and Hyman are expanding to offer a wider range of services. Their offerings include lessons in violin, viola, ukulele, piano, guitar, music theory, and music history, as well as recitals and group outings.
DePalma attended SCORE’s small business orientation on her days off and worked with two mentors, including Dave Baier, who she says, “always gives us the guidance, experience and insight we need, whether we’re making major decisions like choosing a legal structure or managing day-to-day administrative obstacles.”
She adds, “SCORE taught us the importance of thoroughly developing a business plan and maintaining complete and accurate records. SCORE also gave us invaluable guidance navigating through all federal, state, and local taxes and regulations.”
DePalma is aware that their work is far from over. “Neither one of us are business experts; we’re far from it. Laura has a B.A. in English and Katie has a B.A. in Music with a concentration in Violin Performance,” she says. “But discovering a need in our community and filling it by doing the work that we absolutely love to do has made all of our mistakes and frustrations beyond worth it.”
In their first year of business, DePalma and Hyman grew their business from teaching just two students to 20, allowing DePalma to quite her day job.