Erin O. Anderson | Crain's Nashville

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Erin O. Anderson

Background:  

Nashville-based Olivia Management is an artist management company that helps musicians grow and get to the next level while planning long-term strategy. The company also offers consulting services to emerging artists, helping them navigate the music industry, as well as project management for album releases or short-term projects. Erin O. Anderson said she founded the company after realizing she missed Nashville and wasn’t a fan of having bosses.

The Mistake:

The mistake I made was trying to do too many things at once and not letting my main thing be my main thing.

I have a tendency to get really excited about new opportunities and take a lot of things on at once. This year, I decided I wanted to start a second business and use my connections and love for the music industry to start a summer camp for kids who wanted to learn about the music business. I'm also an adjunct professor at Belmont University, so I have a passion for teaching and thought it would be a great fit.

I started this second business thinking it tied into all my passions and fit all my strengths perfectly, and I knew what to do and I knew how to do it. But what I didn't think about was that I just didn't have time to do it. I have this management company where I have artists that depend on me to grow their careers. I love doing it and it's my main source of income, and I found myself at the end of a long management day not having the time and energy to work on my second business. Ultimately, I decided to postpone the summer camp and I realized I had to focus on my management company right now. I do want to hopefully start the camp in the next year, but I need to be realistic about time management and hire great help.

I've taken on too much multiple times in my career. Recently, O'More College of Design asked me to teach a "foundations for entrepreneurs" class for their spring semester. At the time, everything was running really smoothly at my management business, so I decided to take on this class teaching in Franklin, not thinking that it meant spending hours in a car each week.

I committed to it in the fall, and then I discovered an artist that I really wanted to sign, and suddenly my workload doubled. Teaching this class felt kind of easy when I committed to it, but I should have said, "Thank you, but I'm trying to focus on growing my business right now." I ended up teaching the class because I was committed, but I just didn't sleep for six months. I made it work, but I don't ever want to do that again.

Sometimes it's really hard to say no, but it's really valuable to say no.

The Lesson:

Keeping my eye on the prize is sometimes hard for me to do because I have so many interests. For me, it was a lesson in if you start to feel like there's not a lot going on in your business, dig in deeper in your business and grow it, and don't look outside of it for things to fill your time.

I don't need to focus on anything else; not until my business gets to the point where it can kind of run itself and I've got great employees who can take over so nothing changes if I leave for a week. I learned to not get distracted by other opportunities, and I definitely learned time management because I'm worse at my job when I'm tired.

Sometimes it's really hard to say no, but it's really valuable to say no. I've been able to get better at saying no, and now that I've learned this skill, I feel like my work-life balance is better, and I'm better at my job because I do say no to the things that pull me in too many directions.

I think a lot of entrepreneurs struggle with time management because they get excited about new ideas and we just want to try them, but I had to learn that just because I might be able to do it, I may not have the time to do it.

Follow Erin O. Anderson on Twitter at @erinolivia.

Photo courtesy of Erin O. Anderson.

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