Notice: Undefined index: reset in /var/www/html/wp-content/mu-plugins/cets_blog_defaults.php on line 733

Notice: register_sidebar was called incorrectly. No id was set in the arguments array for the "left_sidebar" sidebar. Defaulting to "sidebar-1". Manually set the id to "sidebar-1" to silence this notice and keep existing sidebar content. Please see Debugging in WordPress for more information. (This message was added in version 4.2.0.) in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5665

Notice: register_sidebar was called incorrectly. No id was set in the arguments array for the "right_sidebar" sidebar. Defaulting to "sidebar-2". Manually set the id to "sidebar-2" to silence this notice and keep existing sidebar content. Please see Debugging in WordPress for more information. (This message was added in version 4.2.0.) in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5665

Deprecated: define() was called with an argument that is deprecated since version 3.0.0! The constant VHOST is deprecated. Use the boolean constant SUBDOMAIN_INSTALL in wp-config.php to enable a subdomain configuration. Use is_subdomain_install() to check whether a subdomain configuration is enabled. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5497
Matthew Rusk - Student Entrepreneur in Residence

Accordion Forum Launched

Most would agree that forums are a fairly old format nowadays, compared to social media or platforms like Discord, so I got to admit my interest in launching a collection of forums for music students to share tips and support might be one that never takes off. Nonetheless, as an entrepreneur it is always worth trying new things, so I have taken the plunge and decide to create a group of music forums for students to use.

This week we have launched the first of these, the Accordion Forum to connect and discuss topics related to all things accordion.

The Accordion Forum is designed as an open platform for anyone who wants to learn more about the instrument, or even start playing it. Whether they are already a master of the accordion, or just starting out on their musical journey, this forum will hopefully one day provide an invaluable resource…or it might be another ghost town forum! We will just have to see over time if it takes off.

My ultimate aim is for the Accordion Forum to offer users plenty of ways to get involved with other players and enthusiasts from around the world. From forums dedicated to reviews and tips, to virtual jam sessions and Q&As – hopefully something for everyone!

Forum Features

Users will be able to easily create threads, post comments and connect with other accordion enthusiasts.

We also have moderators who ensure the content is appropriate and relevant.

Plus, with subscription notifications, users will never miss out on an important conversation.

All this helps make sure everyone has a good experience, yet the most important aspect is whether the forum can build up the critical mass of users to make it a vibrant community – this is the aspect I am least sure about whether it will be a success.

Connecting With Accordionists Worldwide

My dream would be for the Accordion Forum to be a great tool for connecting with accordionists all around the world.

It provides an opportunity to discuss topics related to playing, learning and teaching the instrument, as well as current news in the accordion community. It would be highlighted to new students as they enrolled in one of our accordion lessons hubs, like Accordion Lessons Edinburgh, to help try to build an online community of learners.

Students could also join conversations about music theory, performance techniques and general questions they have between lessons.

Learning From Experienced Players

I hope by engaging in discussions with more experienced accordion players, we can help students valuable information about technique, composition and performing that may not be readily available elsewhere. Furthermore, these conversations provide an invaluable opportunity for collaboration and mentorship between newer players and those who have been playing the instrument longer, as well as opportunities for teachers to support students between lessons.

Yet this might all just be a pipe dream, rather than a genuine use to our community of students. I will keep this thread updated, as well as cover the launch of several other forums to see if we can progress this as a viable business offering to our music students. At this stage I really don’t know if it will be a success or just another failed business idea – the important thing is to keep trying new ideas as they come along!

Posted under Music Teacher

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on May 7, 2023

The Pros And Cons Of Scaling Your Business Quickly vs Gradually

Scaling a business is no doubt an exciting time, but it can also be daunting. You want to ensure that the growth of your business is sustainable and profitable. One way to approach this challenge is by considering whether you should scale quickly or gradually. Over the years I have tried both, so let’s explore the pros and cons of both strategies so you can make an informed decision for your business.

First of all, scaling quickly could result in big wins for your start-up. You may find yourself with more resources faster than if you had grown at a slower pace; this means access to a larger customer base, new opportunities and higher revenues sooner rather than later. Plus, when everyone involved has the same goal – rapid expansion – there’s often greater motivation across teams to take action quickly and efficiently.

On the other hand, moving too fast may lead to unforeseen problems. For example, it can put strain on yourself or your colleagues as they struggle to keep up with job responsibilities while managing increased workloads due to the quick growth rate. Moreover, expanding too rapidly can deplete financial resources before there are enough sales coming in from newly acquired customers to cover them; this puts businesses at risk of running out of cash flow just as their profit potential starts taking off!

Overall, understanding the pros and cons of scaling quickly versus growing slowly will help guide you towards making wise decisions as you expand your business operations. Keep reading to learn more about how each strategy affects profitability and sustainability!

Preparation Considerations

When deciding whether to scale your business quickly or gradually, there are several considerations you should make.

Firstly, it’s important to consider the resources available to you in terms of financial capital and personnel. If both are limited then a gradual approach may be more prudent as this allows time for additional investment and recruitment opportunities. On the other hand, if resources aren’t an issue then a quicker pace might be feasible.

Secondly, think about what type of growth is necessary for success – do you need to increase sales rapidly or could slow but steady growth serve your needs?

Finally, weigh up the risks associated with each option – scaling too slowly can lead to missed opportunities while growing too quickly can cause disruption within the organisation. All things considered, preparation plays an integral role in setting yourself up for future success no matter which path you choose. As such, it’s essential that you dedicate enough attention and energy towards planning before taking action. With careful consideration and forethought now comes greater freedom later on.

Growing Pains

Scaling a business quickly or gradually can bring its own set of challenges. Growing too fast can cause an imbalance in the resources needed to sustain it, while growing too slowly could lead to becoming irrelevant.

  • Too much strain on cash flow
  • Increased customer service demands
  • Poor communications and delays in processes
  • Lack of clear vision or strategy for rapid growth
  • Unforeseen operational costs

The stress that comes from expanding a business rapidly might be overwhelming, both financially and emotionally. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to scaling. Every company needs to determine if their capacity for growth aligns with available resources, and how much risk they are willing to take. It’s important not just to consider the potential rewards but also the possible downsides. With careful consideration, the right balance between quick and gradual expansion should become apparent.

Managing Complexity

As the business expands, so do its complexities. When looking to grow quickly or gradually, it’s important to consider how this growth will affect the organisation as a whole. Fortunately, there are both pros and cons associated with either approach that can help businesses make an informed decision on what makes sense for their particular circumstances.

Scaling quickly has several advantages. It allows companies to take advantage of market opportunities before their competition does. This can be especially beneficial in rapidly changing industries where staying ahead of trends is essential for success. Additionally, growing at a rapid pace often brings increased investment funding which can lead to greater resources and more personnel needed to execute strategies effectively.

On the other hand, scaling too fast may put strain on existing infrastructure and processes. Without sufficient time to adjust systems accordingly, organisations risk making costly errors due to mismanagement or lack of planning. Furthermore, scaling too quickly might also create instability within the team by disrupting established procedures and protocols that have been carefully developed over time.

Overall, while both methods offer unique benefits and drawbacks, it’s ultimately up to each individual business owner to determine which option best suits their needs. By weighing potential risks against long-term rewards, leaders can develop a strategy that helps them reach their desired goals without sacrificing stability along the way. Having done all this due diligence then sets them up nicely for exploring the next step: understanding the benefits of rapid expansion into new markets

Benefits Of Rapid Expansion

Scaling your business quickly has some major advantages. The first is that it allows you to capitalise on opportunities in the marketplace before they pass. Rapid expansion means you can take advantage of temporary competitive advantages and market shifts more easily than those who grow their businesses gradually. Another benefit is that scaling rapidly gives you a better chance at gaining name recognition, brand loyalty, and customer base faster than if you move slowly with growth.

Additionally, having access to capital makes it easier to scale up operations when needed. This could include hiring new staff or investing in technology or other resources that will improve productivity and efficiency. When done correctly, rapid growth provides an opportunity for increased profits quickly which can lead to higher returns over time.

Lastly, expanding quickly may also help create economies of scale as production costs decrease due to larger volumes being produced and sold. This could result in even greater profitability down the road if the company is able to maintain its momentum after initially scaling up operations quickly.

Challenges Of Rapid Expansion

The primary challenge of rapid expansion is the intense pressure it places on all involved in the business. It often requires long hours and constant hustle, which can lead to burnout if not managed carefully. I have experienced this myself at,  where we kept having to re-build the invoicing system to keep up with the numbers of lessons being logged onto the system – a never ending headache that drew resources away from other areas of operation (like teacher acquisition or enquiry generation). Business owners also need to be aware that they may lack the necessary experience or resources needed to deal with complex issues related to scaling quickly. This could cause delays in production, delivery, customer service, and other areas within the business.

Rapid growth can also bring financial stress when financing isn’t available or secure enough for an ambitious expansion plan. If a company overextends itself financially because of rapid growth, their ability to remain competitive and profitable will suffer significantly. They’ll also face the risk of having debt obligations that are difficult to meet while still providing the quality products and services customers expect.

Unforeseen problems such as legal disputes or market instability can further complicate matters and make it more challenging for businesses trying to rapidly expand. Without proper planning, companies may find themselves unprepared for any potential pitfalls along their path towards success.

Benefits Of Gradual Expansion

The benefits of gradual expansion cannot be overlooked. Taking the time to plan, develop and execute an effective growth strategy can provide numerous advantages in terms of cash flow, resources and customer relations. I have seen this most effectively used for small local operations, like the Yoga Market Harborough start-up, which simply started with one persons interest in teaching yoga and slowly evolved overtime to a thriving yoga school. There was no race to take over the world, but instead steady sensible steps towards building a successful and profitable business.

To begin with, gradually scaling a business allows for more control over expenditures and costs associated with rapid expansion. It gives entrepreneurs enough time to experiment with different strategies before committing larger sums of money or capital investments into their growth initiatives. This is especially true for small businesses that often have limited resources at their disposal. Furthermore, it also helps them avoid any costly mistakes due to inadequate planning or lack of preparation when expanding too quickly.

Another advantage of taking things slow is that it provides ample opportunity for businesses to nurture relationships with customers by providing personalised service and support during the process. This can help build trust among consumers who are looking to purchase from companies they believe will meet their needs effectively. Additionally, this approach also allows organisations to gain valuable insights about market trends which could prove beneficial in the long run as well as enabling them to adjust their strategies accordingly.

Gradual expansion offers businesses many opportunities and advantages but there are still challenges that must be taken into consideration while doing so. The next section outlines these potential difficulties that come along with pursuing a slower path towards success.

Challenges Of Gradual Expansion

Gradual expansion often presents unique challenges for business owners. Many times, businesses that grow too quickly can experience cash flow problems, resulting in missed deadlines and unhappy customers. Though the idea of scaling up your operations is exciting, it’s important to consider how much time you have available for growth – especially if you’re running a bootstrapped business or are limited by staff resources.

Here are four points to keep in mind when considering gradual expansion:

  • Slower growth means more control over finances: With slower growth comes increased visibility into financials and expenses, allowing entrepreneurs to make decisions with greater confidence. This helps ensure that their investments don’t go to waste due to unforeseen costs that come with rapid expansion.
  • Greater stability during challenging market conditions: Gradually expanding allows businesses to adjust their strategies as needed in order to remain competitive. In turbulent markets where larger competitors may be struggling, smaller companies who have taken their time growing will likely find themselves better positioned than those who grew rapidly and found themselves unprepared for sudden changes in consumer demand.
  • More flexibility with pricing models: Growing gradually gives organisations the opportunity to experiment with different pricing models before committing large amounts of money and resources towards one particular model. By taking the time to research what works best for them, they can then invest strategically without risking significant losses due to bad choices.
  • The ability to maintain quality standards: When a company grows too fast, there is an inherent risk of sacrificing quality standards in favour of quantity or speed of production. But when a company takes its time developing products and services over time, they can focus on maintaining consistently high levels of customer satisfaction throughout each phase of development.

It’s clear that businesses should take care not rush into any decision regarding scaling up operations without first carefully evaluating all the potential risks involved – both short term and long term ones alike. Selecting the appropriate path for your business requires careful consideration so you can avoid costly mistakes down the line while still realising your ambitious goals for growth over time.

Selecting The Appropriate Path For Your Business

The decision of whether to scale your business quickly or gradually is a complex one. While there are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches, the best path for your company depends on numerous factors such as how much capital you have available, what type of market you’re in, and how adept you are at taking risks.

If you choose to go the quick route, it can be very rewarding if done properly. You may experience fast growth within a short period of time that provides access to more resources and markets than ever before. On the other hand, this approach requires significant up-front investments that could put strain on limited funds. Additionally, rapid expansion often carries with it greater risk due to increased competition and unsteady customer demand.

In contrast, gradual scaling allows businesses to grow slowly while still being successful over time. It gives companies more control since they’re able to limit their spending until they’ve achieved certain goals and milestones. This method also helps build confidence among stakeholders by providing consistent results that demonstrate long-term viability. However, slow growth means less visibility in the marketplace which makes it difficult for new customers to find them.

Having identified these considerations the next step is understanding the strategies needed for implementing an effective scalable plan.

Strategies For Implementing A Scalable Plan

Scaling a business quickly or gradually is dependent on the goals, resources and risks that businesses have to manage. There are strategies for implementing a scalable plan depending on which approach you choose.

Here are four strategies:

  1. Develop a timeline: A timeline will help businesses measure progress against their goals while also providing an opportunity to adjust course if needed.
  2. Test before launching: Testing products or services before launching them can save time and money in the long run by avoiding costly mistakes due to poor planning or lack of proper research.
  3. Monitor performance metrics: Monitoring key performance indicators allows companies to identify any potential issues early and take corrective action as needed. This helps ensure success in scaling up operations without sacrificing quality or customer satisfaction levels.
  4. Invest in technology: Many times, investing in technology is necessary to scale operations efficiently and securely at lower costs than manual processes would incur. Businesses should look into all available options when looking into how best to invest in technology for growth purposes.

By following these steps, businesses can create effective plans for scaling their operations whether they decide to go fast or slow with the process. Knowing where one stands today helps determine the direction of tomorrow’s future growth opportunities and successes. With this knowledge, entrepreneurs can make informed decisions about how best to move forward with their scalable plan – enabling them greater freedom and control over their destiny along the way!


The decision of how much and how quickly to grow a business is one that should be made with great care. Weighing the pros and cons of scaling quickly vs. gradually can help you decide on the best growth rate for your company. It’s important to prepare well, consider any growing pains, anticipate hiring challenges, and plan for managing complexity as your business grows. Rapid expansion has its benefits but also comes with resistance to change; it’s necessary to come up with strategies for implementing a scalable plan in order to successfully navigate this process. In determining an ideal growth rate, analysing successful results from previous efforts can provide helpful insight into what works best for your particular organisation. To sum up, careful analysis is necessary when deciding between rapid or more gradual growth–it’s key to understanding which approach will work better for both short-term and long-term success.

Posted under Business Advice

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on April 3, 2023

Can you make a new business during the pandemic?

The impact of lockdown on our daily lives, dramatically shifted the way so many of us live our lives. Whether it is the changes to the way we travel, how socialise or new interests we acquired during the strange times where we were mandated to remain at home. For me, the lockdown sparked a new interest that lead to a business idea. Namely, during the lockdown by chance I ended up watching some YouTube videos about Whisky from a New Zealand YouTuber called First Phil Whisky. I had never really been that interested or know much about the subject, but it interesting to learn more about it – and since we were all stuck at home, experience tasting different whiskies that could be delivered and enjoyed at home.

This lead onto a business idea – could there be other beginner whisky enthusiasts interested in receiving a monthly whisky box to help them explore the world of whisky? Ultimately, the business idea was one of a subscription business – a model that has become increasingly popular in recent year, with beauty boxes, snacks and shaving equipment all posted through the door to paying subscribers. Lets explore some of the key concepts behind a subscription business model:

At its most basic, a subscription business model is a revenue model where a customer pays a recurring fee to access a product or service. It can be anything from Netflix, Spotify and more storage space with Apple to products delivered to your home on a re-occurring basis. Even Amazon has been moving into the subscription space with more of its products available for repeat order. Core aspects of a subscription business model are:

  • Customer acquisition: This can be done through various marketing channels with many successful subscription business leveraging social media for growth.
  • Customer onboarding: Once customers have been acquired, they must be onboarded and provided with access to the product or service. This process should be seamless and straightforward, with clear instructions and easy access to the product or service.
  • Recurring billing: The next step is to set up a recurring billing system, which automatically charges the customer’s credit card or other payment method on a regular basis. This system should be easy to manage and flexible, allowing for changes to be made if needed.
  • Customer retention: To keep customers, the business must provide a high-quality product or service that meets their needs and exceeds their expectations. This can be achieved through ongoing customer engagement and regular communication, as well as continuous product improvement and innovation.
  • Upsell and cross-sell: Subscription businesses can also generate additional revenue by upselling customers to higher-priced plans or cross-selling complementary products or services. This can be done through targeted marketing and personalisation, as well as through customer interactions and feedback.
  • Churn management: Churn, or the rate at which customers cancel their subscriptions, is a major challenge in subscription business models. To minimise churn, businesses must identify and address the root causes of customer dissatisfaction, as well as offer incentives to keep customers engaged and satisfied.
  • Data analysis: Finally, data analysis is critical in subscription business models, as it allows businesses to understand customer behaviour, preferences, and buying patterns. This information can be used to optimise marketing efforts, improve customer retention, and identify new revenue opportunities.

Another key area to note about subscription businesses is that they are a very giftable present. If you know a partner / friend / family member is interested in a hobby then a subscription box that meets that interest is a great way of getting something personal, that at the same time leaves all the specifics to the people that know about that hobby. So keep in mind that a good part of the target market might be individuals who are purchasing the subscription for someone else – this might be important in the way you phrase your content, ensuring it is understandable even to those with no interest in the area (who instead are trying to solve the problem of needing a present for someone!).

With this in mind I was keen to have a go at launching a Whisky Subscription business, alongside a Monthly Whiskey Club to see if either gain traction at the first bullet point above: customer acquisition. I will keep you updated with my progress, which so far has started with a Laphroaig 10 Review detailing my thoughts on one of the first whiskies I ever tried. Who knows where this journey will take me, but I am interested and excited to explore an alternative business model to the one I have created around a commission business.

Posted under New Project

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on January 30, 2023


Festival of Entrepreneurship

I am really excited to have been invited to speak at the Festival of Entrepreneurship, alongside two former UoE alumni, to be held on Thursday 16 September at the Innovation Centre.

The topic of the session that I will be involved explores the question “Could I be an entrepreneur?”, with the session itself being called a “Fireside chat with some of our entrepreneurial alumni.” Areas we will explore are as follows: what does it take to become an entrepreneur? How do you turn an idea a viable business? What advice do they have for those of you considering an entrepreneurial path? What lessons have they learnt along the way? More information about the event can be found here.

On the music teaching business front, in recent weeks we have seen a upsurge in the numbers of enquiries coming in – likely due to the easing of lockdown restrictions and the growing confidence of the population that things are returning to somewhat of a new normal. We have seen significant numbers of new teachers joining the platform, both here in the UK where Emili Segulja has joined the Piano Lessons Edinburgh teaching team and abroad where Amanda Pang has join the Violin Lessons Redmond teaching hub based in Washington state, USA.

I spoke with Amanda to find out what inspired to her to start teaching music, as I always find it so interesting to hear what called students to teach. Amanda explained that “My teaching journey began almost as early as when I started. During elementary school orchestra, I was asked by teachers to help tune instruments and lead sectionals. It was also during this time that I ended up picking up the violin quickly as well, despite the clef change. I found fulfillment in helping my peers, and soon enough by middle school, I had my first student and first TA orchestra position.” I can certainly relate to that, often people just start asking you to do a role – helping out someone and then people become to know you for being that person that can help with that thing. All of which leads to it becoming a job role in itself.

Even so, each profession has its challenges – I asked Amanda what she had found challenging as a music teacher. She shared with me that “one of the hardest challenges I’ve found is teaching unwilling students, particularly children who were forced to play an instrument. In most of these cases, I’ve learned that it helps to dedicate a lesson to communicate with the student on what they would really like to do, or what they think would be helpful to take from our lessons.” Motivation is such a key element of any aspect of learning. Interestingly, when I put the same question to Emili she highlighted quite a different aspect of music teaching that has been a challenge: “I would say the most challenging thing is to find the best way to explain different concepts to every student while keeping the lessons interesting. We are all different and learn in different ways and at a different pace. It can be difficult to find what works for every individual student but it is exactly that which, when discovered, makes the lessons successful.” It is always so interesting to hear the thoughts of the teachers on aspects of their teaching like this, as well as continue to develop and grow as teachers.

Posted under Music Teachers

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on September 12, 2021


Drum Lessons Southampton

Today was an important day in the development of, with the launch of our first new music hub since the new platform went live to the public. We are delighted to have started working with local drum teacher Jack Grossman, to help teach drum students of all learning abilities from his central Southampton teaching space. With many years of teaching and drumming experience, Jack has a real passion for playing the drums – having been inspired by drummers like Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters – and has set his sights on passing that knowledge on to future drummers.

We are delighted to have launched Drum Lessons Southampton with him, which marks a significant point as being the first post lockdown music hub for us to open across the entire business. I am certainlly confident that over the coming weeks and months that students will return in their pre-lockdown numbers to attend in-person music lessons with their chosen teacher.

For many teachers, it will mean rebuilding from only a fraction of their previous student numbers, however, as long as the demand returns their books will quickly fill back up again. Alongside this, their skills that teachers have developed during lockdown around teaching online and providing resources to students outside of lessons will stand them in good stead to continue to improve their student retention and engagement between lessons. I am really positive about the future for private music teachers and delighted to have started the road to recovery by launching Drum Lessons Southampton with Jack.

Posted under Music Teachers

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on May 10, 2021


A Return to Guitar Teaching

Covid has hit the music industry hard. The music teachers I work with often pursue portfolio careers in music, meaning that they combine working in function bands, performing in their own original projects, working as session musicians with teaching music to their students. Almost every part of that portfolio came to a halt during lockdown, with performances curtailed and creative projects put on hold until members could meet up again.

Teaching music has been fairly resilient, with teachers offering everything from Zoom Drum Lessons to Skype Guitar Lessons, keeping their students engaged with online learning resources. Teachers within the community itself has shown fantastic support to one another, producing articles and advice on how to move teaching online – for example, one music teacher provided an incredibly helpful breakdown of how to use Zoom to teach online lessons, comparing that to Skype and other similar platforms. It is of real testament to the wider community of music teachers that they are able to come together during times like this to support one another.

This month marks hopefully the start of returning back to teaching, with many music teachers across the country exploring how they can begin to hold in-person lessons again. The guitar teachers I have spoken with in recent weeks are really looking forward to teaching in-person again, everything from being able to crank the volume up on the amp to really feel the power of a power chord, to giving their students the opportunity to being to consider to perform again. After all how many bands that would have formed over the last 12 months simply haven’t as there has been very little opportunity to. Those guitar teachers who enjoy bringing musicians of a similar age together to practice and perform as a group can begin to hope that they will be able to start that process again later in 2021, all being well.

The restarting of guitar lessons is also met with a reflection that learning a musical instrument is certainly not a necessity of life. Indeed, the cost of lessons are a relatively expensive hobby and one that when economic times are hard are quickly cut from an individuals budget. It is certainly on music teachers minds the impact of lockdown on the economy as a whole, as that will determine whether there will be new guitar students coming through the door in the next few months, or whether as things open up actual people are reluctant to commit, for fear of another wave or from the economic impact making music lessons a luxury that is not possible at this time. Only time will tell and I am very hopeful for the music teachers that we will see a strong bounce back this year, returning to more normal times for all.

Posted under Music Teacher

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on April 15, 2021


Why Zoom Saved Us

For so many businesses lockdowns have absolutely decimated their income streams, preventing their customers from attending their premises to purchase the service or products that they provide. In April 2020 I was very concerned that the numbers of lessons taught by the music teachers in our teaching community would take a nose-dive right down to basically nothing, as the entire business had be designed for in-person lessons.

However, I had underestimated the desire, ability and determination that the teacher community had in regard to moving their lessons and their students online within just a small numbers of weeks. To put it another way, the ability for music students to take lessons on Zoom, Skype, Teams and other platforms saved us as a business and enabled us to continue to keep going during the last year.

Of course, not all of the music teachers in our community moved online – for some, the instrument made it challenging to move online. Drum teachers, for example, have had a more challenging time teaching online compared to guitar teachers. For others, the way they taught didn’t suit to online teaching, some singing teachers are a good example of this as they focus a lot on addressing the way that a student’s posture, neck tension and stance impact their voice – something that they just couldn’t translate to the online environment. Finally, for some teachers, the technical abilities required to move online were just a step too far and they felt they couldn’t achieve the results they wanted from a technical point of view.

Nonetheless, this is certainly a smaller number of the teachers within the community than I would have expected prior to lockdown. There are teachers who had previously told me they would never teach online, that once lockdown came moved online and have been teaching really successfully (and dare I say it, enjoying it!). The numbers of online music lessons enquiries have massively increased, perhaps unsurprisingly, during lockdown – creating an opportunity for music teachers to offer lessons to students that are located across the world.

This has enabled students to access incredibly high-quality music teachers that perhaps they wouldn’t be able to in their area, as well as enabling music teachers to do things they never thoughts possible before – for example, move house and retain students in large numbers or consider going on tour and taking students with them virtually. From all of this it is clear that a music business like the one that I run required an online music lesson strategy and we are delighted to announce a new part of the platform dedicated to online music lessons and the teachers within our community who are able to teach them.

It will be really interesting to see the legacy of lockdowns and whether students will continue to enquire in such high numbers for online lessons or whether Zoom lessons – of all types – will be consigned to “that is so 2020”! Only time will tell, but as teachers we have learned so much about teaching via Zoom and I can say that had this not happened then I am sure that many businesses would no longer be with us.

Posted under MGR Music, Music Teachers

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on March 21, 2021


Music Lessons Launches

Each student’s inspiration to start learning to play a musical instrument is slightly different. Sometimes it is parents that encourage a child to learn an instrument, with them selecting the instrument and taking them through the process of learning – for that student to later fall in love with that instrument as they see themselves succeeding upon it. Quite often, however, the motivation comes from the student itself – perhaps inspired by the music that they are passionate about, wishing to replicate it.

I certainly fall into that group, with Nirvana being my inspiration to wanting to learn to play the guitar. It wasn’t that I wanted to “learn to play the guitar” in its own right, instead I wanted to play along with my favourite Nirvana songs. It is a subtle difference but one that meant that I practiced a lot, as I wasn’t thinking I was learning the guitar but instead getting better at playing along with my favourite songs. It is akin to an individual that is trying to motivate themselves to go to the gym, compared to the athlete who is training for an event – for the latter going to and being in the gym is just part of the process, rather than a goal in its own right.

As many academics will agree, the 10,000 hours rule to master a skill like playing an instrument, is so well-document that it really is as simple as the number of hours a student puts in will determine their ability. Therefore, my motivation for playing Nirvana songs simply meant that I was built up more hours spent on the guitar, without really noticing that I was practicing. This was really the secret to me learning the guitar. The second aspect of the hours invested is the quality of that practice or learning. I can certainly say having a guitar teacher to help guide me through the information in a logical way had a huge impact on my learning ability.

This is why I believe there will always be a case for professional music teachers being able to find work, even with resources like YouTube out there. The reason is not a students ability to access content, but the ability for a student to go through the relevant content in a logical order. In other words, it is the teacher’s ability to curate the content and tailor it to an individual student that makes their music lessons so impactful.

All of this has been on my mind this week, as I was delighted to see that the team put live and students can now start to enquire for music teachers featured in the music teacher database. This will help students, with an array of motivations to learn their chosen instrument, to start their journey towards the 10,000 hours. It is a great moment and now we will wait for the first enquiry to come through the database!




Posted under MGR Music, Music Teacher, Music Teachers

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on March 13, 2021


How to Scale

Trying to keep with my daily updates for the new Music Teacher platform, one of the most challenging aspects of setting-up a new online business is how can you plan it in such a way as to make it scale. Often what is easy with a small amount of customers is often unmanagable as the customer numbers increase – specifically business administration, for example responding to customer queries or answering common onboarding questions becomes ever more time intensive. This draws key resources, in terms of people, time and energy, away from continuing to develop the business – after all there is a distinct different between maintaining a business and growing it rapidly.

One common pitful is to design a business model that by the time that you get to the stage that you need to scale the model itself cannot support the hiring of individuals to help validate the scaled model. In other words, while it is founder(s) doing the tasks the profile margin is worthwhile, however, as the business grows and further employees need to come in to support, then actually the cost of employing an individual to do the task cuts so far into the business model that it makes it no longer viable.

This has been an aspect of the project that I am very keen to try to plan for from day one, how can the website scale to 1,000 teachers then to 5,000 teachers, using a model that is sustainable and doesn’t simply overload the core team, reducing the customer experience and team enjoyment. I know I still has so much to learn in this field and would love to get any readers thoughts on how to build a business model that scales from 10 to 1,000 to 10,000 size while ensuring that the business infrastructure can cope with that development.

Posted under Music Teacher

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on March 7, 2021


A New Music Teacher Platform

It has taken many months but it is with tremendous pride to share with you the launch of a new music teacher database, named This is part of a vision to develop the platform into an internationally recognized platform for music students to find professional music teachers, giving them the confidence that they are taking lessons with high-quality music tutors.

With the success of the platform, where I believe we carefully developed a business model and perfected our internal processes, we are now ready to bring that onto the international stage with a website that is easily recognisable and rememberable. I will be updating as often as I can, updating on key statistics like the numbers of teachers who form part of the music teacher community on the platform and the numbers of music students who have enquired for lessons.

The very first steps will be planning the migration of the current music teachers featured on the, moving their profiles over to the new platform and communicating out to teachers the rebranding. This will be a gradual process, individually migrating each teacher’s profile, as well as the pages of the that will find a new home on The old platform will remain live for music teachers to access their community area and the forums, but activity and focus will switch to the new platform over the next few months – with the clear aim of growing the community of music teachers in areas where we have recieved high numbers of enquiries during 2020, namely America and Asia.

The platform itself will be very similar in structure to, with students able to search for music lessons to find high-quality, professional music teachers, able to teach their either in-person or online. These teachers can be located anywhere in the world and will be carefully vetted and interviewed before being included on the new platform. It is a really exciting project to start and I will keep you updated as frequently as I can with the progress and migration to the new home of our international teacher database.

Posted under MGR Music,

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on March 6, 2021


A Day In The Life of A Start-Up: Day 9

A New Lockdown – A Music Teacher’s Point of View

2020 has been such an impactful time for music teachers, not only as many of them are working musicians – so gigging, playing in function bands for weddings and parties which have stopped over the last few months, reducing their income – but also as their music lessons have significantly declined during the national lockdown.

It is true that many of these teachers have done a tremendous job moving their lessons online, however, during national lockdowns, the numbers of enquiries fall through the floor – meaning that lesson numbers decrease and teachers grow worried about the sustainability of their teaching business. This has not been helped by the confusing information given on whether they are able to teach at local music studios – for example from an education provision point of view or whether no lessons should take place either in school or out of school. We have taken the line that in-person lessons are no longer possible from the new lockdown date and will monitor new guidelines as they come through.

Overall, a worrying time for music teachers but the resilience shown by the community during the first lockdown gives great confidence that when this lockdown lifts we will again see students and teachers returning to lessons.

Sitar Lessons London

It is always really exciting for the team when we have the opportunity to work with a music teacher on a new instrument, something that happens rarely now that we work across so many of the popular instruments. However, it was with great pleasure to welcome Tommy Khosla into the team as one of the UK’s leading sitar players.

Tommy will be working with us to launch a new Sitar Lessons London music hub, specializing in helping students from across the capital learn to play the sitar. Winner of UK Awards for Young Musicians in Indian Classical Music, Tommy has had a passion for the sitar for many years and was keen to share his passion with students throughout London.

As you can imagine there is a great cultural interest in learning sitar music, with students travelling from across London to Tommy to take lessons. However, with the impact of the new lockdown restrictions, it appears that this will be online for the moment.

Posted under A Day In The Life of A Start-Up

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on November 6, 2020

Tags: ,

A Day In The Life of A Start-Up: Day 2

Social Media

There is always a challenge for a business to get the most (or anything!) out of social media. Not only are there so many platforms, but the amount of time that can be wasted by a business trying to maintain social media presents with little or no positive outcome is significant. Of course, if your business is one that can sell directly through social media then it makes so much sense to sell through those platforms – almost as if they are a marketplace.

However, when selling music lessons I know that the team has always struggled to try to develop a strategy that helps to promote our music lessons to the diverse group of interested individuals who take lessons. For many years it has been clear that this was a strategy that didn’t give the results that we were keen to get from it – in other words, the input time compared to the numbers of enquiries coming through social media wasn’t scalable.

With this in mind, a lot of time in 2020 has been spent by the team on developing a social media strategy that would help to develop the business. This moved the focus away from trying to generate more student enquiries through social media and instead of using social media to highlight the open teaching positions that the business had. Essentially, the team refocused from student enquiry generation to using social media to fill vacant roles and almost immediately the results of the time versus success completely changed. The team has been able to use the mgrmusic Facebook page to highlight the job opportunities that teachers could apply to with real success.

They have also grown out the closed teacher community on Facebook, to give teachers a space to seek advice and provide support to other music teachers, this has been a really effective place for music teachers to feel part of an online community during covid-19. At the same time reducing the number of platforms that we use for social media has helped to focus the strategy, closing down the Instagram account and reflecting on whether the Twitter account has a significant impact on business development.

Guitar Lessons Wimbledon

It is always a real compliment when a teacher who is based in one location move to a new location and is keen to continue working together in the new location. Charlie English, an experienced guitar teacher who we have worked with for many years recently relocated to the south-west of London, keen to launch a new Guitar Lessons Wimbledon music hub. He has been a fantastic guitar teacher, helping students of all ages and abilities to develop their playing ability in Southampton and I am sure that he will make the Guitar Lessons Wimbledon music school a real success for the local learners.

Of course at the moment almost all the lessons nationally are taking place online, but it has been positive to see that enquiries have continued to come in with a geo-relevant search pattern – meaning that students in say Reading are interested in taking lessons with a guitar teacher in Reading, even if that is just online for the moment. Many enquiries say that “when this is all over I would like to take in person lessons with you, but for now do you teach online?” – of course, that said there has been an increase in online enquiries, but it has been really reassuring that these are less compared to those that are still geographically relevant to the music teachers. Lets hope this is a theme that continues moving forward, as local music students need local students to teach – as much to keep them enthused about staying in the private music teaching business as it is to form a sustainable income.


Posted under A Day In The Life of A Start-Up

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on October 30, 2020


A Day In The Life of A Start-Up: Day 1


For a long time now I have been keen to write a daily overview of how a business develops on a day to day basis. This is partly so that entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs could both recognize the common challenges faced with growing a business and see under the hood at what happens in any one particular day to contribute to the success of the business.

Partly inspired by the recent Amazon series “All or Nothing” about professional football teams Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspurs, where fans were brought behind the scenes in professional football to see the day to day workings of the club. Not that I think that there is anything as interesting as that in this case, but who knows!

I was also keen to write on a more frequent basis on a personal level to document overtime what the team at works on and how these projects go. As a student of History at the University of Exeter, documenting is a great source of resource in the future to assess why decisions were taken and reflect on how things could have been done differently. My original plan was to start writing these from 1 January 2021, but I wanted to start by giving it a go over the next month to see if I really could commit to providing daily updates on the work that the team at had done.

Piano Lessons Faversham

The main focus of work by the team on Wednesday 28th October 2020 was conducting interviews for the open piano teacher role for the Piano Lessons Faversham teaching hub. Originally a page focused on generating students for a piano teacher named Jess France, it has been left vacant in recent months as Jess relocated up to Cambridge. With a flow of new piano student enquiries coming through the team was keen to bring onboard a new local teacher to help tutor these piano students. However, the interviews that the team conducted yesterday look likely not to resolve that quite yet, as finding the right candidate to onboard is more important than bringing onboard any teacher that might be able to help.

For example, it is quite common at the moment for teachers who are not geographically located near the locational where the enquiries are coming in, to get in touch and offer their services in an online capacity. While they are correct that the majority of music lessons will take place online for the foreseeable future, it is not a long term solution to local students who would be keen to return to in-person lessons in 2021 when the wider situation allows it. Ultimately, a long term resolution has always benefited the business more than short term fixes – so that logic again will need to apply here.

Sitar Lessons London

For the first time in a long time, the business opened up a new teaching hub for an instrument that we had previously never offered lessons upon – the sitar. I know the team was delighted to have the opportunity to start working with Tommy Khosla, Winner of UK Awards for Young Musicians in Indian Classical Music, who has a deep passion for sitar music and helping to teach the sitar to new learners.

His enthusiasm for the sitar was infectious and I know that the team were delighted to work with him to launch Sitar Lessons London – the business’s first attempt at developing a dedicated sitar school in the UK. One of the most interesting aspects of instruments like the sitar is that as students recognise it is a more unusual instrument they are more like to travel, or be willing to take lessons online, as clearly the number of local sitar teachers is lower than say guitar or singing tutors. With this in mind, opening a London wide Sitar school made a lot of sense for the team – rather than focusing on a smaller area of London.

Posted under A Day In The Life of A Start-Up

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on October 29, 2020

Tags: , ,

Teaching in Rolling Lockdowns

Currently, the teaching world is facing a few potential bumps in the road, as are many other sectors in the arts and beyond.

Since the initial UK wide lockdown started to ease over the summer and schools returned to normal, many music teachers were able to resume their duties providing their environments were safe to do so.

For many teachers this means working in more controlled spaces with additional measures put in place to ensure safety. This could be wearing PPE, using hand sanitizers, and introducing social distancing measures to teaching areas where possible.

As we start to fast approach the tail end of 2020, the normality we’d hoped to have seen by now seems to be moving further away as various regions of the UK move in and our of more localised lockdowns. Currently called circuit breakers or fire break lockdowns.

What does this mean for many teachers?

Many teachers will be unable to operate during these rolling lockdowns. This means both teachers home studios or business premises will be closing temporarily as they are considered non-essential services.

Now is a better time than ever to have a backup plan.

The easiest way to try to maintain your workload through this constantly changing time is to speak to students early and bring up the idea of temporary online lessons.

Many teachers around the country have found much success in taking their lessons online during this testing time so as things continue to evolve, it’s certainly worth bringing that topic up with students.

Check with your students and see if they’d be interested in Zoom or Skype sessions for the duration of any periods of “lockdown” to ensure their learning is not disrupted.

Online lessons are a different dynamic to face to face lessons, but in our industry, we currently have to do what we can to survive.

Guitar Lessons London

I’m thrilled to announce that we have begun work with Lucas Polo who will be heading up our Guitar Lessons London page.

Lucas is a seasoned touring musician and I look forward to him bringing all this experience and knowledge to our base of students. He is based in the centre of London and will be servicing his local area of future guitar stars.

I welcome Lucas onboard and look forward to many years of continued success.

Posted under MGR Music

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on October 27, 2020

Planning for a Rainy Day

In the business world, and the working world, we’ve all heard the saying “for a rainy day”. This typically means being prepared for when things are bad.

A rainy day is usually considered by be a period of unemployment, low workloads or a period of poor health, but is anyone ever prepared for a global pandemic?

As we move out of one of the toughest years many small businesses have, and probably will ever, face, we must consider how we can prevent hardship in future days.

Many small business owners simply cannot go a year without working. It’s the lifeblood of their existence. By this point you’ve already put everything on the line to pursue your passion. You’ve turned your dream into your career. Now we’re all fighting just to stop it slipping away.

Let’s explore three main talking points that could potential help you the next time we see a little rain in the world.

1. Broaden Your Reach – Embrace the Internet

If you’re a local store that offers products to your local community, perhaps an eCommerce option would help add a little safety to your future plans. If you rely on selling locally that’s perfectly fine. However, in the event of current events happing again in another form, your local community may not be able to sustain your business. Get yourself online and make your product available to the wider world.

2. Conduct Business Virtually

If you’re a service provider such as a music teacher, therapist, nutritionist, trainer or anyone else who guides people and helps them realise their potential, then you’ll know that being in a room with someone is essential to conduct business… or is it? These days with services like Zoom and Skype, your clients can be anywhere in the world at anytime and you can still deliver the same level of service you would face to face.

3. Put a Little Aside

This is easier said than done, but if this year has taught us anything, it’s the need to be ready. Try to put a little extra money aside each month just in case you ever find yourself in this unfortunate situation again. It doesn’t have to be huge amounts, but a small amount on a regular basis adds up. This can really help keep you going in tough times.

Singing Lessons Oxford

It brings me great pleasure to welcome Zoe Mace onboard as the person heading up our Singing Lessons Oxford page.

Zoe has done a huge amount of charity work as a singer, including recording three classical charity albums which raised in excess of £200,000 for various children’s charities.

I know Zoe is going to be a fantastic teacher and our base of students are going to love lessons with her. I want to welcome her onboard and I look forward to seeing her career grow.

Posted under

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on October 25, 2020


Socially Distanced Performance

As the UK prepares to enter another wave of potential lock downs, the hospitality industry is once again dealt a blow.

Venues are still not able to host regular performances by musicians, comedians and performers. Theatres still face closures and bars are unable to host their weekly singers.

Let’s talk about socially distanced gigs. Can these be a viable way of reviving the live music industry or are they too far removed from what we expect from a live music experience.

The pros of a socially distanced gig are:

Performers can Perform: This is a big one. Over the last 6 months many performers who depend on their gig based income will be able to take the stage again and perform their music. This includes artists who write their own music and working bands who perform at weddings, functions and bars.

Smaller audience sizes mean more intimate performances: Imagine getting to see your favourite band of all time, but only 50 other people can attend. That makes it a very intimate and personal experience. You could be up close and personal with an artist that you might normally see with a crowd of 1000 plus.

Venues, staff and technical crew get to keep on working: We’ve all seen the massive knock on effect Covid-19 has had on the behind the scenes staff. It’s easy to remember that musicians and performers have lost work, but don’t forget about the sound guys, the lighting guys, the riggers, the stand hands. Socially distanced gigs allow them to get back to doing what they love too.

Now let’s look at some potential cons:

Reduced audience numbers means less ticket sales: If you rely on your income from performing, then it may not be a reliable income stream with these measures. You’d have to perform to smaller numbers which means less ticket sales. The only way to keep your earnings up would be to raise ticket prices, but the major risk there is in alienating fans. You don’t want to price yourself out.

Venues may struggle to cover costs: Venues have overheads. Staff costs, security costs, running costs. Many grassroots venues work with local talent to work out payment deals where the venue get their costs covered from the bar/door and a little of the profit goes to the performers. Can venues still earn this additional income with smaller numbers in attendance?

The feel just won’t be the same: Many musicians live for that feeling of stepping out onto a stage and feeling the packed rooms energy. Will this energy still be present with a socially distanced crowd?

This topic is going to be a big talking point over the next 6 months as musicians and performers all around the country try to find a way to keep their show on the road. Do you think it’s possible to successfully put on a socially distanced gig and is this potentially the future of the arts industry?

Bass Lessons Greenwich

Here is a quick business update from

We’ve just teamed up with the fantastic bass teacher Flo Moore who will be heading up the Bass Lessons Greenwich page.

Flo is a graduate of the Royal Academy and has performed at the Royal Albert Hall, The Barbican, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and other prestigious venues.

I look forward  to hearing from students who get to share the experience and knowledge of Flo in her lessons and I’m excited to see her success grow.

Posted under MGR Music

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on October 20, 2020


Is Social Media Important for Music Teachers?

A question many teachers struggle with is “Is social media important?”.

Social media is a fantastic way to connect people. For teachers it is potential to reach out direct to your audience. It allows you to promote your business directly to potential students.

With so many people living their lives and making important decisions through social platforms, it’s no surprise that the way businesses are marketing themselves has changed.

The three big social media networks are Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Each of these platforms offers a unique way to connect with students and potential students alike.


On Facebook you can set up a page specifically for your business. On this page you can list all your business details and you can also share content such as text, videos and images. This content can be educational based, but you can also use it to share information such as changes to your business, or articles you think will be of value to your students.

Facebook also has a fantastic Ad Manager program that allows you to create paid-for advertisements for your business. Using this platform you can create adverts that tailor them to specific demographic within a specific radius of your business.


Instagram is more image and video based. You can post images and 60 second videos. For music teachers, this is especially useful if you want to communicate short educational messages or show people what you’re doing. Instagram is a very personal social media and creates a sense of community with the followers and the business.

Videos are useful to show your ability at a musician. This can really help attract potential students.

If you run a Facebook ad, it will also be run on Instagram as the services are both owned by Facebook.


Twitter is great as a customer service platform. It allows you to exchange short messages with followers. You may not have much luck with longer educational content here, but if you want to reach out to someone quickly and efficiently, Twitter is a great place to start.

Twitter is also a great platform for you as a teacher to connect with other entities in the business world. It allows you to reach out to companies or organizations you might want to built rapport with.

So as you can see, social media can be useful for music teachers. It allows you to create a presence online and a place to engage with and connect with your existing students and potential future students.

The advertising capabilities of social media are growing from strength to strength on an almost daily basis and right now, they’re some of the cheapest ads you can purchase.

If you are a music teacher but you’re not on the social media train, you should consider jumping onboard and connecting with an audience that’s out there just waiting for you to come along and inspire them.

Trumpet Lessons Swansea

I’m very excited to bring Neil Southgate onboard with as the teacher for our Trumpet Lessons Swansea page. We haven’t featured many trumpet players but as we grow into this area, it’s very exciting to work with someone of Neil’s calibre.

Neil is a very active musician who plays with a popular Soul group and he holds a Masters in Musicology from Cardiff University.

He has been teaching for over 6 years and I am thrilled that Neil will be sharing this knowledge and expertise with students.

Posted under Business Advice

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on October 20, 2020


Make Your Teaching Space Safe

If you’re a music teacher and you’re able to resume teaching, either from your own music studio or from a school premises, you have to consider how you’re going to make this as safe as possible.

There is plenty of advice out there from the UK Government on what measures need to be in place. You can use this information to start to form an idea of how to ensure the lessons you offer are as safe as possible.

Let’s look at a few safety measures and discuss how they could benefit or hinder a music lesson:

Face Coverings: The main advice from the Government is around the wearing of face coverings. It is possible to conduct music lessons while wearing a face covering. This reduces the transmission risk of the virus and keeps you both safe. Many students will probably be more than happy to comply with wearing a face covering, especially if you work from a home studio or a professionally owned studio. The potential negatives are around communication. Some students may find it harder to hear things you say while wearing a face covering, so you may need to reinforce some points.

Hand Sanitizer: Hand sanitizer is a great way to reduce risk and it should be essential in any teaching area, especially where instruments are shared. The downside is that for people who play stringed instruments such as guitars, hand sanitizer can tenderise the fingertips.

Social Distancing: This is the easiest one to implement if you have the space to do so. If your teaching space allows it, you can simply set up slightly further apart than you usually would. There are not really any potential negatives to this, other than minor inconveniences such as sharing sheet music would be made more difficult due to sitting further away from the music stand.

Online Sessions: Many teachers have taken to the internet to maintain their schedules. If you are in a position to do so with certain students, it might be worth exploring if Skype/Zoom lessons are suitable. You’d need to make sure you both have a stable internet connection. It will change the dynamic of the lesson so it won’t work for everybody.

Plexiglass Screens: If social distancing in your teaching space is tricky or not an option, perhaps looking into a plexiglass screen divider would be beneficial, similar to those you now see in supermarkets and bars. This would allow you to be a little closer to your student but still safely protected by the screen. This, combined with face coverings would really improve the safety levels.

As you can see, there are a lot of options to consider when it comes to teaching in a safe and compliant way. It’s very important to keep checking for the latest advice and keep up to speed on all the latest suggestions for keeping you and your clients safe during this time.

Singing Lessons Wimbledon

I am very excited to announce that we have just started working with the fantastic Melissa Toy who will be taking on our Singing Lessons Wimbledon page.

Melissa is a fantastic singer and teacher. She has over 10 year experience and teachers across all genres. She is a qualified Voice Specialist and holds a first-class BA (Hons) in Creative Musicianship.

I am very excited to see how Melissa career grows and I look forward to hearing from students who benefit from her experience and expertise.

Posted under MGR Music

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on October 13, 2020


The Importance of Having a Great Website

Having a great website is so important for a business. They are your central hub and a place to reinforce your branding identity. Your website will tell potential clients and customers about you and the services you offer.

Most business rely heavily on social media, which his fantastic for community outreach, however, you can only take the branding so far. A website will give viewers the full story about you and your business from the first click.

This applies to all sectors. For, our website gives potential students and teachers a place to explore what we have to offer. It gives them a list of the teachers in their local area and it allows them to reach out with any questions. It also centralizes everything into one place. Imagine having to create a social media page for each individual location your business operates in.

A website will also allow you to learn about SEO. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. This is the method in which Google looks for and ranks businesses and websites according to a range of factors. If you ensure your website has good SEO, when people search for your service on Google your website will rank higher in the results.

Web design used to be an awfully expensive thing. Now, in 2020, we have so many tools available to us that allow us to build professional websites from our own home. All you need is a few simple things:

1. A Domain Name – This is your websites URL address. There are many domain registrars that you can purchase a domain from. It’s always good practise to aim for, or if you want a more localised website. Domain names, for the most part, are very affordable. You can expect to pay £10-20 a year on average to have your own domain.

2. Web Hosting – Web hosting is a place on the internet where your website is stored. Hosting suppliers are companies that run servers all over the world from data centres. You rent space off them on a monthly/quarterly/yearly basis to place your website on their servers. When people access your URL, they get redirected to the hosts servers and then to your website. Hosting pricing can vary based on the company, web traffic, website size and more.

3. A Web Builder – Ok, I did say you can do this yourself, but some people just aren’t comfortable with this aspect. Tools like WordPress and GoDaddy make web building much easier these days. If you feel up to it, give it a go! You can download so many plugins, themes, add ons and more that will make web building a breeze. If you still don’t feel confident, or you want someone to build you something very specific, you may need to contract a good web developer.

Now that you know what it takes to have a good website, it’s time for you to get building. Stamp your brand authority all over it and get that SEO on point so your website ranks high in Google. Whatever your sector, from guitar teacher to solicitor, having a good website is your authority mark in your field.

Zoom Cello Lessons

Just a quick business update from my side, I’m very excited to announce we’ve just launched our Zoom Cello Lessons website. With the restrictions brought on by Covid-19, we’ve worked hard to get teachers online.

I am so pleased to be working with Viki Steiri who will be heading up the Zoom Cello Lessons page. Viki will be hosting online lessons for cello students from all over. She is bringing her 15 plus years of experience and knowledge to the table to share with students. Her experience and list of accolades speaks for itself.

I look forward to watching Viki’s online lessons grow and flourish.

Posted under

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on October 3, 2020


Moving Your Teaching Business Online

Many teachers all around the country are being forced to rethink and restructure their business models. Covid-19 has thrown a giant, pandemic shaped spanner in the works and it’s affecting out industry on so many levels.

If you are a teacher as part of a music school, or you teach in a range of local schools, you may find that you are currently able to work as normal under the guidelines providing you adhere to the protective measures set out.

However, the hardest hit has been the private tutors. Those teachers that work from their own home studios or the houses of their students.

The teachers that deliver one on one lessons anywhere, anytime. Their livelihood has changed and could remain in a state of limbo for some time.

So, what can teachers do to help keep business flowing.

Embrace the internet.

We can now teach our students over various video call programs like Skype, Zoom or Facetime. If you are new to this world, it can seem daunting, but don’t worry. It does not have to be.

Teaching online has never been easier to get started with. You just need a few simple things to get started:

Access to a Video Calling Platform

You can download Skype or Zoom for free. If you have Facebook or an iOS device you can also video call contacts that way. For teachers who don’t want to use personal profiles, you can stick with Skype and Zoom.

They both offer you a range of options such as screen sharing, screen annotations, a chat feed and more.

A Good Quality Webcam

You’ll need a good webcam for your student to get the best visual experience. HD webcams are very affordable and readily available. Try to get one that works in 1080p resolution.

An Audio Interface

An audio interface is a USB device that allows you to connect speakers and a microphone to your computer. You can also connect guitars directly. A good interface will allow you to have microphones set up so your student can hear you and your guitar. Built in microphones to laptops and webcams work fine, but they aren’t always the best quality.

A Stable Internet Connection

Video calling can use a lot of bandwidth so a stable connection is vital to preventing dropouts during video calls. If you run off a WiFi network, consider a cabled connection. You can connect your PC or laptop straight to your router with an ethernet cable. If this is not an option, perhaps you work from a room far form the router, consider a WiFi Range extender.

This is a product that plugs into a wall socket and boosts the wifi signal.

Use Internet Resources

Post-covid even the simplest tasks have become far more challenging, for example, often guitar students turn up to their first lesson with an our of tune guitar. In the old days it would be as simple as tuning the guitar for them, after all tuning isn’t the very first thing that a new student needs to learn. However, in the online world it has to be addressed by the student themselves as the teacher cannot just step in. The route around this is to utilise some fantastic resources that exist out there on the internet, everything from how to tune a guitar to recommending the best electric guitars for beginner students.

Bass Lessons Colchester

Here is a small business update for this week to round topic off. I am thrilled to start working with Craig Tyler who will be leading the way with our Bass Lessons Colchester page.

Craig is a great teacher and musician and I am excited to see him grow his career.

He has already done a lot of high profile work in the music industry including performing at Royal Ascot, The FA Cup Winners Party and the 21st World Scout Jamboree infront of HRH the Duke of Cambridge and 50,000 spectators.

Posted under Business Advice

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on September 29, 2020


Teaching During a Pandemic

If anyone out there is a teacher, you will know the impact that the last 6 months has had on the typical day to day working methods of a teacher.

It doesn’t matter if you are a teacher at a large school or you run a private tuition business, like many of the teachers I work with under, thing have changed. We as teachers, and business owners in a broader sense, need to adapt to this.

So, one conversation I’ve had many times since March is relating to what teachers can do to continue working both in a safe and controlled manner that does not go against any Government guidelines.

The simple option is move online. Many teachers I work with have moved a majority of their workload onto online platforms like Skype and Zoom. This allows them to continue working with students over a video call.

Teaching over video presents some new challenges that face-to-face lessons don’t present, but most teachers are able to quicky adapt to this.

Now that things are slowly returning to some form or normality, many teachers with teaching studios big enough, or indeed those who work at schools, are able to resume face-to-face lessons with social distancing measures in place.

If you teach one on one, this could be as simple as keeping your distance and wearing a face mask. Some teachers may want to look into a plexiglass screen that can be placed between you and the student, similar to those you see at supermarket checkouts.

While there are many challenges currently in the way, and with more to probably come, teachers are now being made to think outside the box more than ever.

Assess your teaching environment and see if you can make it safe for resuming your day to day work.

Guitar Lessons Sheffield

Here is a small business update for this week to round this off. I’m delighted to announce that we’ve recently partnered up with Robbie Chapman who will be heading up the Guitar Lessons Sheffield website. Robbie is a fantastic teacher and it brings me great pleasure to bring him onboard during this turbulent time.

I look forward to seeing his business grow and seeing him pass on his knowledge and experience to all his students.

Posted under

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on September 17, 2020

Running a Small Business During Covid-19

Covid-19 has really shook the business world. There are many areas of business that have been forced into fight or flight mode. In my own business with I have faced many challenges.

The industry we operate in is that of music education. Working with teachers and students all around the UK to deliver high quality instrument lessons.

The big challenges stem from this being a job that is predominantly face-to-face for all involved. Covid-19 has meant many restrictions needing to be in place which ultimately led to a lot of lessons being cancelled.

All businesses will have learned many lessons in this testing time, but unfortunately not everyone will have been able to weather the storm.

So what can we do better? How can we as small business continue to operate and be ready for whatever comes next.

  1. Secure Online Provisions for Trading – If you deliver a service such as music lessons, or you are able to provide your customers what they need via an online platform, now is the time to set up. Look at Zoom or Skype for client facing roles or if your business provides products, look into eCommerce solutions.
  2. Implement Safety Measures – If your role absolutely demands face-to-face interaction then it’s worth checking out some ways you can better protect your environment and give your customers piece of mind. Keep plenty of hand sanitiser and wipes near by. Perhaps a plexiglass screen between you and a customer if you meet face to face regularly. Look at ways you can make the work place a safe place.
  3. Plan, Plan, Plan – Plan everything. Plan for the good days and plan for the bad. With a situation like the one the world is currently in, nothing is as it was. Your regular routines may not return to normal for some time. We have to anticipate that some appointments and customers will now be gone and perhaps new customers timeslots in our working world may need to be spaced out for us to better prepare the space we work. Factor all this in to your planning.
  4. Keep Checking the Advice – Keep looking at the Government advice and speak to your local councillors to ensure that your work place is Covid compliant and that you are able to trade safely and securely.

It’s a tricky time for us all. If we are prepared and we use a lot of forward thinking, we can get through this. For all the small business owners out there, you are not alone.

Drum Lessons Guildford

Here is a small business update to round this off, although Covid-19 has proved tricky for many teachers we work with, we have been taking this opportunity to expand our teacher base. We recently welcomed Russel Bradley onboard as the drum teacher for the Drum Lessons Guildford website.

I am very excited to have Russell on board. He is highly qualified and very experience and I look forward to seeing how he passes this knowledge and experience onto his students.

Posted under

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on September 12, 2020


The Importance of a Good Website

Websites may feel slightly outdated in 2019. After all, everyone talks about social media being the be all and end all of online advertising. While, to an extent this is a true fact, websites are still relevant and here is why.

Think of your website as your online hub. It can be seen as a central repository for your business. You might be driving your customer interaction on Facebook, showing service demos on Youtube and delivering customer service via Twitter, but your website is going to be your central place for discovery and traffic direction.

If you have a good website, it will not only confirm your business as a serious entity (Who doesn’t check Google first when looking for a business) but it will also show your clients a portfolio of what you do, what your business offers and what your mission is.

When a client navigates to your website, they should see a series of links. Links to pages within your website for various topics but also links out to your social media pages. As I said, you may drive engagement and content through your social media channels but imagine your website as your big, digital business card.

This is the place your clients will see what you offer and see how profession your service is. Websites are also a great place to host client testimonials and newsfeed/blog items that are too long for a social media post.

If your business is a business that sells a physical product, or a service, clients are going to be more trusting of a website to handle payments. Your website is an invaluable tool that will really help your business stand out from the crowd. Make sure it’s of a high standard and show the world what you can do.

Posted under Advertising Online

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on December 8, 2019


How to Advertise Yourself Online

When you get into business, one of the big considerations is how to correctly advertise the service that you’re offering. These days, we live in an age where the internet rules the circuit. Everything that we do and subscribe to, comes from our usage of the internet.

Our conversations with friends take place on social media, our memories are stored on photo sharing sites, our music and film choices come from huge streaming libraries and the knowledge we consume comes from forums, webinars and blogs. So, how can we levy this when it comes to just running a business.

Advertising is key to any business’ success, especially if you have a product of a service that is offered in return for a monetary value. There are a number of services that we can use to advertise online including:

  • Facebook/Instagram Ads
  • Youtube Ads
  • Google Ad Words

All of these advertising channels allow us to cater adverts to a specific audience. The great thing about social media is that everyone puts their own personalities and tastes into it so we can use this information to target them. If your company offers driving lessons, you could target ads to people in that age bracket in your area. If you’re a company offering a business service, such as an accountancy firm, you could target self employed people in a much wider area. You are in complete control of the demographic of these adverts.

Social media has allowed this method of advertising to become very visual so when setting up an ad campaign online, ensure that your photos or video content is eye catching, informative and to the point. You want the viewer to understand exactly what you are offering from the moment that your ad lands in their feed. 

Each social media ad method allows you to view analytics to see how many views the ad has received and how many of those views are converting customers.

Google Ad Words is slightly different as this works on keywords. You would need to list all the keywords associated with your business and create an ad campaign based on this. It will target your demographic audience when they use those specific keywords.

Online adverts almost always are cheaper to run than printed or physical media ads and certainly have more scalability potential. They are so under priced so look at them and see how they can benefit you today.

Posted under Advertising Online

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on November 21, 2019


Teacher Hiring

This week I’d like to talk a little about hiring. It’s been a very productive week for us at and we’ve hired 8 new teachers. Hiring is something that many small businesses struggle to fit into their already jam-packed schedules.

When we hire new teachers, we have a process that we like to follow.

First of all, we have to find teachers that I feel will be a good fit for what we do. We want to speak to individuals who are motivated and hungry to grow their business and we hire based on locational needs. When we’re building a new page for a new town, we then have to find a teacher to fill that space.

My usual process involves an initial outreach where we initiate contact to get the conversation going before scheduling a call. Once a teacher signs up via the online form we provide, we then schedule a follow up call to get them geared up for the next step which is getting into our systems and seeing how it all works.

Once we’ve hired a teacher, we spend time with them to be sure they know how to use the platform and perform all the admin tasks. This is similar to the training that you’d typically go through when starting any job. We schedule some phone calls/Skype calls to walk over everything that needs to be discussed and be sure that everything is in place for that teacher to start receiving lessons.

For anyone who runs a service based business, they know that on boarding clients correctly is a core part of the sales process – after all this is it the first time a new client (in our case teacher) interacts with your business/product, so you want to make a great impression. It is also a time where they are likely to have the most questions, so ensuring that the support is there to help them in those early days is so important in setting up a long lasting partnership.

Small business update this week, one of the newly onboard teachers has joined as a Piano Teacher in Bournemouth, named Alicia Sanchez. Alicia is originally from Madrid and moved to England in recent years to study a for a Masters in Health Psychology at Bournemouth University.

She runs her piano lessons business as a mobile teacher and works with students around the area to share her knowledge. Alicia specialises in Classical music and is very well educated in the works of Chopin, Bach, Beethoven and Liszt. She can also teach a wide range of other styles. We are delighted to have her onboard and really excited to have now opened a new music hub in Bournemouth for piano lessons.


Posted under, Music Teachers

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on October 10, 2019


UK Guitar Show

On the weekend of the 21st and 22nd of September I travelled down to London to attend the UK Guitar Show. I had been planning to attend for a few months in order to facilitate some face to face relationships with companies I had already started speaking with but also just to catch up with people I already knew.

Events like this are wonderful for networking and getting to know the people behind the business. I spoke to a bunch of vendors from both big and small companies and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The show was so well organised, and everything was really easy to find.

Some of my favourite discussions happened with some great companies that manufacture guitar amplifiers such as Orange and Blackstar. Both companies make incredible amps and we often find teachers and students of singing the praises of small and large amps from both companies.

One really cool conversation was with the owner of a company called Chicken Picks. They produce high quality guitar picks using some unique design and manufacturing methods. We spoke at length not only about the product but about the ethos of the company and the people behind the brand. It was really interesting to find out how they make their picks and how they get them to market.

They engineer their picks from a thermosetting plastic which is harder and denser than standard guitar picks, therefore harder wearing and will last longer and more resistant to breaks and chips appearing with heavy use.

If that wasn’t cool enough, their manufacturing is based in Belgium and Germany where they actually give back to local communities. They employ staff from a company called Fivelingo which is a sheltered employment organization. Fivelingo prioritise employment opportunities for job seekers and they also provide income support to low income workers.

They offer workshops and opportunities for anyone to learn a skill and secure a great job. Sometimes we forget just how personal the supply chains of some smaller companies can be. We should do more to support companies like this.

We have recently brought onboard the amazing Greg Mudd as a bass teacher in Southampton. Greg is a highly respected player and has performed across the world in some fantastic venues. He has also taught bass at some incredibly prestigious institutions.

He is currently based at Portsmouth Naval Base where he works as the Professor of Bass Guitar for the Royal Marines Band Service and a lecturer of Developing the Musician at Southampton’s Solent University.

His list of qualifications is also impressive including a Masters Degree in Musicology, BA (hons) in Humanities and Music, Diploma in Music and more. We are excited to have Greg onboard and look forward to working with him in more detail.

Posted under

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on October 7, 2019


Why YouTube Can Help Grow Your Business

Has the internet changed the way we all teach? I certainly think so. In 2019, there is a growing hungry for visual media. Many teachers are taking their cause to the internet and teaching via the medium of video. This could be pre-recorded lessons or live on Skype.

The reason for this is that the internet simply allows us to connect with more people. If you teach face to face, you’re somewhat limited geographically, but if you teach on Skype, location is no longer a factor. If you are a good teacher, you could teach from LA to Sri Lanka and everything in between, time zones permitting of course.

Many musicians are looking to places like Youtube to host their content to educate everyone, and the great news for the consumer is this is FREE. Video allows people to consume media anywhere, anytime and with the fast-paced ways of the modern world, this seems to be getting more and more normal.

The benefits as I said are that you can connect the whole world to your cause with relative ease and with social media as the biggest marketing tool, you could reach an audience of millions armed with only your knowledge and a camera.

Making this content is not always easy, it does often require good quality equipment that can capture high quality video and audio and the ability to manipulate these recordings after they are made to ensure they are polished and ready to go.

If you are just getting started with the idea of video lessons, a good quality HD camera and a small home recording set up will give you the ability to do this. Audio and video editing is an art form in it’s own right so there is certainly going to be some additional learning for you as you get into this process. There are plenty of resources out there to help you become a fantastic editor and have your videos looking polished and professional in no time.

We are excited to be working with the wonderful Toby Huelin as our Piano Teacher in York. Tony is a fantastic teacher, offering custom tailored piano lessons across all genres to his students. He is an incredibly versatile teacher and can play anything from Classical to Jazz as well as being as holding experience teaching in schools at KS2 through to A-Level in Music and Music Technology.

He has also taught music at Victoria College, Jersey College for Girls, Jersey Academy of Music and Blackheath Conservatoire. Toby also holds a First Class Degree in Music from the University of Oxford and a Masters in Composition at Distinction level from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Outside of teaching, Toby works as a composer for theatre, film and concert halls. His music has been heard in venues such as Maida Vale, Wigmore Hall, The Barbican and Abbey Road and performed by ensembles such as The BBC Singers, EXAUDI, The Cavaleri Quartet and more.

Posted under

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on September 26, 2019


The Power of Partnerships

We at are a corporate partner of ISM, the Incorporated Society for Musicians. The ISM provides a huge range of benefits for working musicians as well as some fantastic opportunities for networking, which is a topic we’ve discussed a few times in these blogs.

ISM recently held a Drinks Event which allowed many of their corporate partners and members to meet up and network. It was fantastic for some of the team to be able to attend this event and network so many of the other companies that provide services into the music education sector.

Through this, we were able to speak to a bunch of different companies and individuals at the event which I believe helps strengthen those business to business relationships. You may recall that I mentioned the importance of relationships between two businesses lies with the people behind the business. These sorts of events allow those face to face relationships to flourish behind the business.

As a corporate partner, we have a good relationship with ISM but I think it is essential to meet up regularly and spend time getting to know the people behind the service. As well as catching up with various members of the ISM family including their Head of Marketing, the Creative Content/Publications Manager, the Membership Officer, the team spent time building new relationships with business that we might form new partnerships with moving forward. This might give us further opportunities to provide content to some of the leading music education services in the UK.

These events allow your business network to grow and also increase the potentials for any opportunities that may arise. Sometimes you don’t know a partnership is even on the table until you speak face to face with someone. I often find that even in informal discussions about business you often find that there are ways for us all to help each other and to continually grow where we are in the business world. So if you ever have the opportunity to get out of the office and network with other businesses that operate in your sector then it is well worth making sure that your business is represented there!

I am thrilled to share with you that we have recently taken on a fantastic Singing Teacher in Whitney named Marlin Shakaj. Merlin comes to us as an experience singing teacher, but she also has background in teaching flute.

Merlin offers some very exciting and enjoyable lessons and her students can’t speak high enough of her teaching ability. She is a graduate of the Tirana University of Arts where she holds a Bachelor of Music and she also played with the National Radio and Television Orchestra of Albania as their principal flutist.

She has worked alongside some very highly regarded conductors such as Anna Volchenko, Uwe Theimer, Mateusz Moleda and Noorman Widjaja as part of her work with the orchestra.

Posted under Building Partnerships

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on September 19, 2019


How to Use Social Media to Advertise Your Business

It’s hard advertising your services online. There are so many other great businesses and competition is tight. Let’s take a minute to think about how social media could be a huge game changer for so many of us when it comes to getting our business out there.

So, the chances are you probably spent some time each day scrolling through your newsfeed on Facebook, Instagram or any other social media platform and in amongst the baby pictures from friends and cat memes, occasionally you might come across an advertisement of some sort. Possibly from a local business that are sponsoring posts.

Right now, social media plays a huge role in not only how we consume content, but how we visualise business. That business advert you are seeing is a carefully targeted advert. You are seeing it because either your phones tracking cookies are linking it to content you’ve viewed online or because the advertiser has chosen someone of your demographic to see the post.

You can apply this to your own marketing strategy right away with a few small clicks. Start off by writing a list of who your business or product appeals to. Then, check out Facebooks Ad Manager. You can create tailor made adverts to push your business post or video into the news feeds of the people who fit your demographic.

You can set a daily budget (Which by the way is very under-priced for the exposure you receive) and set your radius and let the systems algorithm do the rest. You are now advertising your business on the worlds largest directory of potential customers.

Don’t have any budget? Not to worry. The great thing about Facebook (And other social media platforms) algorithms is that they recognise when content is popular and make it appear in more newsfeeds. The more it’s seen and interacted with, the further it goes. Get your friends and family to share the post on their own pages. This means connections they have that you do not have will see the post and it will help the organic reach grow which increases the chances even further of it being seen.

Social Media is yours for the taking. Make yourself seen.

Posted under Advertising Online

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on September 17, 2019


2Factor Authentication – Why Security Should be Central to Your Business

Security seems to be a recurring theme in these posts but once again here I am to discuss the importance of security to a business website. Over the last month I’ve been making a conscious effort to improve the security on the platform to ensure that business can run smoothly and safely for myself, all the teachers we work with and any students that use our platform.

With the increase of hacking attacks and viruses that you hear about targeting websites and their plugins, I’ve decided to upgrade all the security systems that keep things safe for us.

The biggest change that I have implemented is the inclusion of 2 Factor Authentication on all our website and email log ins. For anyone unfamiliar with the term 2 Factor Authentication (2FA for short), this is essentially an addition step to logging in that involves a second stage of verification. Many websites already use this as an option such as Facebook who will prompt you to enter a code displayed on your mobile when logging into an unrecognised device.

I have decided to go with Google Authenticator for the same purpose so when myself, other employees and teachers log into our platform, they are prompted to enter their email and password as usual, before being prompted to open an app on their phone to obtain a security code, this is the second factor of the authentication. This code allows the security software to know the person logging in is indeed the person who it should be.

So many big businesses get hacked on a regular basis and the impacts range from a temporary loss of service to a long-term loss of income. My goal as a business owner is to ensure that all the people that use my service never have to deal with the outcome of such attacks. I want my platform to be secure and reliable for all that use it.

We have recently welcomed the incredible Hannah Rose to the family under the Piano Lessons Manchester page. Hannah holds a Bachelor of Music from the Royal Northern College of Music and specialises in pop and classical music. She has an unbeatable work ethic, teaching at two music institutions in her local area as well as running her own private tuition business.

She works over graded curriculum with students and also provides lessons based around their own musical tastes and interests to ensure very dynamic learning. We look forward to seeing Hannah’s business grow and we are thrilled to have her onboard with us.

Posted under

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on September 13, 2019


Business Partnerships

Let’s talk about networking and the power of community in business. Every business you see has links with other companies. There intertwining threads through business are the veins that carry the company’s lifeblood. Can one company exist without another? Sure, but it does help to have connections.

Building relationships in business is a powerful thing and it should never be overlooked. When it comes to relationship business it’s often worth remembering that you aren’t building a relationship with the company as an entity, but with an individual (or individuals) within that business. These relationships should be viewed almost like your friendship circles. The people within the companies that you have relationships with as essentially your “business friends”.

It’s these close-knit relationships that allow you to maintain a great working relationship.

Never underestimate the importance of face-to-face networking. This is often a great way to get started with building relationships. I find that cold-email or cold-calling a company that you want to work with is often met with barriers, because to that company, you don’t have a face.

If you really want to network and get to know the people behind companies, get out there and meet them. Whatever your industry, check online and on social media for any networking events. It is often possible to see which companies will be attending, and sometimes even the person at that company.

If you feel you have a relationship worth building and you can offer them something in return, you can make it your aim to meet the person on the other end of that potential partnership. Things will blossom more in a face-to-face setting.

The digital age allows us to stay in touch electronically, and any face to face relationships that you build on, you can follow up with emails shortly after to keep that contact up. What is your business and what sort of companies do you think you would be able to form a beneficial partnership with? Make a list and get out there and shake some hands.

Now for a business update, we’ve recently taken on a new teacher in Liverpool heading up our Piano Lessons Liverpool website. Her name is Sophie Leaver and she is a multi-instrumentalist who graduated with a First in Music from the University of Liverpool. She also holds a Masters Degree in Music Performance and Pedagogy which she obtain in September 2018.

Sophie is an accomplished pianist, singer and guitar player and has performed at a range of festivals, sporting events and even on the ITV series Victoria.

Sophie started teaching in 2017 in New York before moving her teaching business to the Merseyside area of Liverpool.

Posted under

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on September 3, 2019


Continuous Systems Improvement

Off the back of me discussing some of the lessons learned from the recent spam attack, I took the opportunity to make some important updates and implemented some new procedures to increase security and also improve a lot of other administrative processes along the way.

One thing that I’ve recently improved is the websites database systems. Due to the nature of the business, we receive a high volume of enquiries from potential students all around the UK. The unfortunate nature of dealing with high volume in a small business is that sometimes things could get missed, or as I’ve also seen, technology plays a part in the item not arriving with us even though the customer has submitted it.

I’ve made some back-end updates to the website which now provide a timestamp to all submitted entries. This means, even if an email physically does not arrive in our inbox, there will be a marker of this in the database. This means if a customer contacts us to say they got in touch but did not hear back, I can simply retrieve the entry from the database and deal with it right away. This saves us extra time and saves the customer from having to resubmit their request.

These increased records will improve our overall efficiency and also free up some all-important time to work on other aspects of the business too.

I have also made some important updates to our phone service which now provides each locational webpage with its own local phone number. This allows us to retrieve voicemails much faster and send them to the local teachers in a timelier manner. Previously the voicemails all collected in a central repository with no location indicator.

Quick business update, we’ve recently taken on a new singing teacher based in Newcastle that will be heading up our Singing Lessons Newcastle. We are so pleased to welcome Jay Hepple onboard to share his knowledge and experience with students.

Jay is not only a fantastic singing teacher, but he also performs up and down the UK on a regular basis with his band Groove Allstars at weddings and functions. You may also have heard him sing as part of SoulTown at one of the many Haven Holiday Parks around the country. He’s even sung on stage with Take That on their recent Greatest Hits Tour as part of their choir. Pretty cool huh?

Jay holds a 1stClass BA Honours in the Music Industry from the Academy of Music and Sound in Gateshead.

Posted under

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on September 3, 2019


Spam Email Attack

So this week’s business update here, and this time it’s got a valuable lesson attached. Recently, some of the website contact forms fell victim to a spam attack. This type of attack is a bot-based attack which doesn’t directly affect the website, but the bot uses the contact form as a proxy to send emails out to multiple recipients.

These types of attacks work based on the contact form replying to the submitter with an auto reply. For instance, if you typed in the body of the text “Win £100” and entered your email in the field, our system would generate an auto reply to you and a copy of the text you submitted. The bot had used out system to email spam to a substantial number of emails, as we pay per email it also incurred a quite significant bill. Indeed, it was a bit of a perfect storm that highlighted a security vulnerability in our systems that needed resolving.

So, what did we learn? I mentioned last time that I was working on some integration with ReCapcha and we have rebuilt our contact forms from the ground up to prevent this happening in future. I have also been keen to increase security across the business, adding in 2 factor authentication on all business email logins and will look to do the same with websites. I would recommend that you do the same as well for your start-up, after all the cost of getting it wrong can literally put you out of business – no matter what size your company is.

One aspect of this that I really want to share with you is that as business owners we abstract business problems away from clients – it is part of the service we provide by default. Certain things should never make it to the client view of the business as it’s not something they should ever have to worry about when using your service.

In my case, I don’t want my teachers to be concerned with web security or the websites running as planned, but due to this attack I had to take various websites offline for 24 hours to increase security measures which placed this issue in the view of my teachers. This broke that invisible shield that you as a business owner abstract away from the client, suddenly teachers wanted to know why their websites were down and what was the cause of the attack – in other words the client became concerned with a business issue.

A good example of this scenario is in recent years when KFC changed suppliers and various branches ran out of chicken due to a change in suppliers. This meant, instead of the customers arriving and just using the service they expect (ordering their bucket of chicken!), they were then aware of issues with the supply chain. Not a great look for the company, after all you just want your customers to be thinking “wow this is great chicken”.

It is these moments, often of very high stress that you see how your company can cope with a setback and then how you can improve your systems/processes by resolving it in such a way that it could never happen again. This is what I hope that we achieved this week.

Piano Lessons Nottingham

Here is a small business update to round this off, we’ve recently started working with the fantastic Chloe Leak who will be the teacher on our Piano Lessons Nottingham page. Chloe brings many years of experience along with her and we are very excited to have her on board.

Chloe obtained her music teaching diploma in 2017 and knew from the age of 10 she wanted a career in music. She was committee to playing piano from a young age and now wants to share that knowledge and experience with students in the city of Nottingham

Nottingham has a thriving music scene with lots of new bands and great venues all around so it’s wonderful to see a new generation of musicians coming through under Chloe’s guidance.

I look forward to seeing Chloe’s business grow and grow.

Posted under

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on August 24, 2019

Tags: ,

New Website Designs

I am always looking to present my business in the best possible light, be that via face to face meetings or just the general online perception of what MGR Music does.

In recent weeks I have turned my attention to my website and how it looks. I always strive to ensure my website meets all the expected standards of the modern-day web surfer. I want the website to always look modern and contemporary while still maintaining a very small business feel. I don’t feel a grandiose, corporate website would work for my business because we are not a global enterprise, we are a small team of musicians and music teachers who are passionate about creating sustainable careers for other teachers.

I decided to revisit the overall design of some of my location specific webpages and see if I could enhance them even more. Over the last year I have attended many workshops on web design and I wanted to put some of my new skills to the test. Here is a little preview:

I want to streamline the user experience and give them all the information they need in a short, concise manner on a website that is easy on the eye and cross compatible across multiple platforms. After all, most people browse the internet on their phones and tablets these days, it makes sense to make that a big consideration when designing something.

I am very excited to roll this new design out, but it is not without its challenges. I’ve been working to integrate the ReCaptcha tool to the contact form that you see on many websites, this presented many challenges which I will cover in more depth soon.

Piano Lessons Solihull

A small business update here for you, we’ve recently started working with the fantastic Callum Fisher who will be the teacher connected with our Piano Lessons Solihull website. Callum is a mobile teacher who travels to students within his covered region and he provides some very high quality and informative piano lessons.

We are extremely excited to have Callum on board with us and we look forward to growing his student base and seeing his business really blossom in the coming year.

Posted under MGR Music

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on August 16, 2019


Why Customer Feedback Is So Important

As a small business, our customers are our lifeline. It is of utmost importance to us, and to them, that the service we deliver is always the best it can possibly be. We never want to let down these people. They are the most important asset in what we do or what we sell, and they are keeping us in our position of being the business owners we are.

Customer Feedback is so important, especially in the age we live in. These days, everyone has a voice and a platform to express that voice. If we offer a service or product, we want to take on board our customers voice. Let your customers give you their feedback, or better yet, you ask them the question:

“What can I/we do to make this experience/service/product better for YOU?”

This makes the customer see that you really do value their custom. While we have the vision for the business, our customers are the ones who know what they want and how they want it delivered so this should never be overlooked. Remember the old saying, the customer is always right? This is true to an extent.

We often see big businesses asking customers to complete surveys to say how they rate that interaction or to provide feedback but in the world of small business this is often overlooked and it shouldn’t be. In our world, we have a much closer connection with our customers as we often know them all by name and interact with them on a more regular basis. 

In my own business, I regularly ask my customers how they find the service and if there is anything, they would like to suggest I’m always open to having that discussion. Customer feedback can lead to growth. We don’t have to take everything our customers suggest on board, but it’s certainly food for thought. Let’s get behind our customers and let them help us. 

If the customer is happy, they will keep coming back time and time again. Happy customers often lead to word of mouth spreading. Let’s aim to deliver the best service we can!

Posted under Uncategorized

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on August 12, 2019


Graduate Acceleration Showcase 2019

It was fantastic to meet Joe Pearce and Emily Davies after the Graduate Acceleration Showcase at Deloitte in late June. Similar to the event I was fortunate enough to be invited to as a student, where SETsquared university students pitch their business ideas to a room of entrepreneurs and experts, this event was aimed at recent graduate entrepreneurs.

The event itself was the “culmination of a 5-month programme to hone each graduate company’s pitch”, helping students to critically develop their business idea, as well as promote it and network with other likeminded entrepreneurs. Taking students through this process I think is a great approach to focus minds on start-up thinking – helping students to understand and communicate the problem that they are trying to solve, the solution that they offer and the business model that can make money by providing that solution.

It also encourages students to put into words their business ideas. Learning the art of business model creation, developing support and exercises around it, is every bit as important as the businesses themselves at this stage. As Joe always says, “we back the jockey not the horse” – in other words the University of Exeter is continuing to invest resources into developing entrepreneurial students, giving them the skill sets to develop businesses that achieve various degrees of financial success with a profound impact on the development of the student(s) themselves. If you are interested in applying to a future Graduate Acceleration programme simply email .

Here at the team have been delighted to announce the launch of Singing Lessons Cambridge, working with a fantastic singing teacher called Rossella Pugliano. Rossella has many years of experience teaching singing lessons, helping her students to rapidly develop their vocal ability. She is based in central Cambridge and is able to provide singing lessons to students of all ages, across a wide range of different musical genres. It has been fantastic to have Rossella join the team as launched its latest music hub. The plans are to continue to launch music hubs across the UK, offering music lessons with experienced and professional music teachers – alongside a wider international growth strategy. As ever I will keep you up to date with how the team progresses these plans over the next few months!

Posted under Student Showcase

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on July 8, 2019

Tags: ,

Scratch – Student StartUps Magazine

It was awesome to receive Volume 2 of “Scratch” the Student StartsUps Magazine, wonderfully produced Think Try Do at the University of Exeter. Packed full of interviews with current and form entrepreneurial students it is a must read for current students with an interest in creating their own business.

There were interviews with familiar faces for anyone who has read this blog – with articles on Alex Nechoroskovas, James Wild and Jacob Marsh. Yet, it was the article on Lyster Surf Craft that really caught my eye. Founded by Duncan Lyster the story of Lyster Surf Craft is the perfect example of a “hobby” that had the potential to grow into a business opportunity. Duncan had been making wooden surfboards for 4 years, with only the last two years seeing him create wooden surf boards a business proposition.

Not only are the boards much better for the environment but they are literally works of art. Duncan’s real challenge has been to create a board that is as light as a traditional polyurethane board without it being overly labour intensive to manufacture. After 18 months of developing he is now ready to start making his first sales – with such a strong product that is clearly anchored in Duncan’s own personal connection to surfing and passion for the idea it will be really exciting to see how it develops. It will be really interesting to see how he approaches the marketing of the product now that he is ready to make sales, as I think the brand and product itself is so strong. Hopefully this will be able to capture the interest of fellow surfers both here in the UK and abroad to enable the orders to start flowing in. You can see how he is getting on by visiting

Here at MGR Music Tuition the team has been working really hard on launching new music hubs across the UK. I know they are delighted to announce the launch of the Singing Lessons Bournemouth, Guitar Lessons Southampton and Piano Lessons Manchester music hubs during May, working with a range of professional music teachers to deliver these lessons. Enquiries across the teacher database are increasing month on month, with the team focused on ensuring that they are putting in the infrastructure to grow the business significantly over the next 24 months.

Alongside this the has started generating enquiries in the USA which is fantastic news, bringing an influx of 40 new teacher sign-ups from the USA during May alone. I know that the ultimate ambition for the platform is to be an internationally recognised platform for music students to find music teachers – so the team will continue to work on fulfilling this vision on step at a time. On of the big successes on this front was the launch of Drum Lessons Berlin, working with Barney Riley – a drum teacher that we used to work with in Leeds before he relocated to Germany. Having seen enquiries come in for Barney in Berlin, with students booking lessons with him I am confident that the team can apply what they have learned from Drum Lessons Berlin to other cities across Europe and beyond.

Posted under Scratch Magazine

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on June 11, 2019

Tags: , , ,

The Deck Wall of Fame

It was amazing to hear from Emily Davies of Think, Try, Do earlier in the week to say that the University of Exeter is putting together a “Wall of Fame” showcasing student entrepreneurs past and present. I am delighted to say that a guitar that I gave to Joe Pearce when I finished my role as the Student Entrepreneur in Residence will be included in this showcase.

It was a guitar that I had bought as part of a different business idea called “Amplified Art”, where I would get local airbrush artists to airbrush famous guitarists onto guitars. I trialed this with about 5 guitars, with the one that I gave to Joe featuring Jimi Hendrix on it. While I managed to get the guitar into a local guitar shop to see if it sold the business itself never took off…turns out people aren’t really that interested in buying a guitar with a famous guitarist airbrushed onto it.

It is kind of interesting that this guitar will be used to showcase MGR Music Tuition LTD, as it was actually an example of another one of my failed ideas…of which there were many during university. So the real story behind the guitar is one of continuously trying to create business models and products. After all you only need one business model to take off – so keep making ideas and testing them out.

I would really recommend trying to gorilla test ideas and products, essentially making the lowest cost version of your product/business model to test it out. Get it out into the real world then see whether it works or not. If the answer is that it does then you can increase the investment into the idea and let the product develop from there. I have met a lot of entrepreneurs who look to gain a huge investment into their website for example, even though they have never sold one of the products they wish to feature on their website. My advice – get out on a market stall and see if you can sell the product. This is still something that I know the team at are learning – the hardest thing to do is actually get into the world and start selling, it is a lot easier to put it off. Keep focusing on developing the product etc. without doing the thing that brings in the money…which is of course the art of selling the product as it stands today.

It will be great to see how the Wall of Fame looks and I really hope that I get an opportunity to see it. If I do I will post some photos of it on here, highlighting some of the other products that have made it into the “Hall of Fame”.

A small update this time on progress. The team has been really excited to start working with a partner in the USA to feature teachers in the USA on the music teacher database. This will hopefully help us to start generating enquiries for music teachers in America, as well as here in Europe. We also had the great news of launching the Singing Lessons Edinburgh music hub with professional music teacher Joe Revell which is tremendous news. We had previously worked with Joe in Glasgow as a singing teacher so we were delighted to team up with him again to deliver professional singing tuition in Scotland’s capital city.

Posted under Music Teachers

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on May 12, 2019

Tags: ,

Impact of Brexit / Piano Lessons Leeds

I think everyone is tired of Brexit, no matter their individual views on the outcome they want for the process. With the impact of the second delay effecting small-businesses I thought I would be interesting to explore specifically what this impact is and how start-ups might be able to mitigate it.

After talking with start-up owners it is clear that Brexit impact is very much dependant on the type of business model that a start-up runs. For example, those business models that require the import of resources or the export of products to EU countries and beyond have some of the most direct concerns about any change in cross border trade-deals.

This can be contrasted with eCommence websites that are focused on selling British made products or re-selling services in the UK. Changes to cross border relationships is less impactful, so concerns quickly turn to the impact of Brexit on consumer confidence and spending power. This approach certainly falls into broader business fears of an economic downturn post-Brexit that would cause lower sales for start-ups.

Unfortunately, from my conversations with start-ups there was little optimism about Brexit – even from pro-Brexit start-up owners. The main reason for this is no-one I spoke too could define with confidence at this stage how Brexit would turn out, so inevitably they worried that it would be a type of Brexit that they didn’t want. One that would negatively impact their business.

As we turned to ideas about how to mitigate against the start-ups most feared impacts of Brexit talks became more positive. For example, all the start-ups I spoke to acknowledge that surviving economic downturns are part of running a successful business over the medium to long-term. So investing time in planning how would we run our business if we had a 30% decrease in sales during 2020 is worth doing regardless of Brexit. I remember reading James Caan’s book, where the former Dragon’s Den investor wrote about how he had to “button down the hatches” to survive one economic downturn that effectively stopped major companies hiring for several months…a problem if you run a recruitment start-up! Therefore, having a strategy in place for economic downturns is no bad thing regardless of Brexit.

Exploring how to deal with changes in cross-broader relations fell into two categories (1) understanding what the changes meant so that the business was compliant, could rebuild their supply chains with a clear understanding of timings and also continue to build positive relationships with suppliers or buyers in the EU was key.

Category (2) was the specific short term impact of Brexit that might disrupt supply chains in such a way that would negatively impact the business, frustrating customers and loosing short-term business. As we have heard in the new stockpiling is a common response to this, though a costly expense for a start-up to undertake.

While it goes beyond the scope of this article to provide specific advice for start-ups planning for Brexit one thing that became clear from my conversations with start-ups was that having open discussions about Brexit and its impact on your business is a healthy thing to do. Several start-up owners actually said they felt better having spoke about the impact of Brexit on their business – simply having a conversation about it seemed to have helped them to air their fears.

So do reach out to other businesses through your network and speak to business owners like yourself to explore how you industry is planning for Brexit. Even if the outcome of these talks is for you to put something in place to plan for an economic downturn that is no bad thing to have planned out.

Piano Lessons Leeds

A small business update is that the team have been delighted to launch the Piano Lessons Leeds music hub earlier in April. Working closely with local piano teacher George MacDonald, who is a professional piano tutor with many years teaching experience, the team is looking to built one of the leading piano schools in Leeds over the next few years.

George is well placed to be able to lead this development having graduated with a BA Hons (Music) in Jazz Piano at Leeds College of Music. This local knowledge of music education within Leeds is combined with a wider network of musicians that George has performed with through the various bands. Enabling him to connect students to local musical opportunities as they develop their piano playing to a level that would enable them to perform. I know that the team are delighted to have him onboard and I wish him a warm welcome, as well as every success to the new Piano Lessons Leeds school.

Posted under MGR Music

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on April 28, 2019

Tags: ,

Inside The Mind of An Entrepreneur: Matt Morley

A series of articles that focuses on interviewing current and former University of Exeter students who have launched and ran successful start-ups. These articles will explore more than simply a student’s “success story” and will delve into the psyche of an entrepreneur to find what motivated them.

If entrepreneurialism is a mindset then university might well be an ideal support environment to develop these thought-processes, the right skills sets and network opportunities to launch start-ups that will profoundly change the world we live in.

“Certainty” has a Value, especially in an uncertain world.

My interview with Matt Morley of Tickbox, Explaain & Savvy 

The Entrepreneur & The Opportunity

Matt Morely studied a History BA at the University of Exeter. Inspired by a growing interested politics he canvased independently to find out what voters were really thinking.

Across the political spectrum voters and non-voters experienced similar feelings; either an uncertainty in who to vote for or (when certainty existed towards a candidate/party) apprehension as to whether that candidate/party really represented their views.

This was a problem. Especially as functioning democracy requires engagement from the popular with the political process. If the population felt uncertain and apprehensive about the democratic process this would, theoretically, increase disengagement and apathy towards elections.

Consequently, a logical question and one that Matt posed was “how could this uncertainty be reduced”. Keen to create something that could be used by the entire voting population Matt knew that the answer would combine technology with accurate information.

The Start-Up & Successes 

TickBox was developed as a possible solution, with a mission to “to make interacting with voting and democracy as easy as possible”. This would be achieved by “putting all the information you need online and in one place, allowing you to search for the information you need about the issues you care about”.

First deployment, with fairly limited resources, was for the 2014 University of Exeter Students’ Guild Sabbatical elections. This trial “required a lot of work to get right and taught us a lot about what we did and didn’t know”, more importantly it demonstrated that “a demand for such a service”. Clearly the solution had to be improved, streamlined and suitable for the masses – yet, even in its first stage it worked as a solution.

Refined and ready to go for the 2014 European Election was when TickBox really demonstrated it potential, as “strangers” in their thousands used the platform “to create the change they wanted to see in the world”. Over 40,000 users had visited before the election was over, with some amazing feedback from users: 

By 2017 General Election these ideas had been further refined to see the platform have over 2 million users and national press coverage (

Beyond Elections

The success of these platforms, combined with the realisation that drawing revenue from election platforms was fairly limited Matt pivoted his ideas. In recent months he has been working on a new project called Savvy. Significantly, it uses the same approach of helping people quickly gain information to provide more certainly. He highlights this as a fundamental human need, that we inherently desire a more certain and organised world to live in.

Savvy is a Chrome extension that enables users to rapidly search their Google Drive for information in a search sidebar. For companies this can mean a team of employees can rapidly request information from Google Sheets without having to open up the documents in question. It streamlines the process of information retrieval, essentially enabling you to “Google” your own documents

This project is currently in development and I will update you on its progress. Having used Savvy first hand I know the potential that this extension has for many millions of users around the world.

However, what Matt was keen to highlight was this was a different approach to the same ambition he has of increasing human certainty. With a different approach to the same aim a business model might be developed that is sustainable or more viable than another. Recognising when to pivot can define whether, in Matt’s case, his platform used by millions  of voters with relatively little income or his Chrome Extension which might be used by 500 top companies with significant income helps him achieve his own personal motivational aims.

These personal motivations are always interesting to explore when it comes to entrepreneurs. For Matt he visualises that one day in the future he will be able to spend time with his future children, not having to work as hard as his contemporaries will do. This underlying motivation is what pushes him to commit so much of his life in the present to achieve this aim.

Motivation and the Entrepreneurial Experience

Lets explore more of what drives Matt as an entrepreneur. As Matt saw it during university, the world we live in is dramatically changing. Whole industries that are traditional forms of employment will be gone in 5, 10, 15 years time. After all, training to be a typewritest in the 1960s seemed like a strong career decision, yet by the end of the 1970s the industry was in terminal decline.

Observing this macro-trend, against the university backdrop of producing ideal candidates for industries that tech will replace Matt was both “pulled and pushed out of uni”. There was no doubt in his mind that he got the best of both worlds, leaving with “half the student debt, having never done a dissertation” while having met some “amazing people”. University itself, as Matt highlighted was an ideal “safe harbour” to test and launch a business.

Core to Matt’s personal motivation is that he wants to “invent the future”. Approached not from a grandiose or arrogant mindset, but from a humble belief that humans have an infinity ability for improvement as long as they break free from traditional thought paths and accepted “truths”. Radical change takes place at an apex where great new ideas are met by a society that is willing to let go of the “baggage of the past”.

After leaving university Matt became the University of Exeter’s Entrepreneur in Residence. This gave him the “breathing space needed” to develop his start-up, with the help of Joe Pearce. Matt was influential in the development of the “Think, Try, Do” project, helping to triple the amount of money invested in student enterprise. With some of the businesses that received their first £5,000 investments under Matt’s watch now having gone onto receive multi-million dollar investments.

Crucially, as Matt points out the Think, Try, Do program was about developing student enterprise on a very individual basis. Not every business created will be a multi-million pound enterprise (or as Matt put it “not everyone needs a rocket to go to Mars, if all they want to do is go to Bristol) and that is absolutely fine. Instead, helping students gain the skills required to develop a start-up business to its full potential is the objective.

How Matt thinks about the world

By understanding his motivations we can now explore his approach to business. Matt explained that you must always look at what people are using everyday as bench-marker to your ideas. This means if you are a tech company then users expect the speed of Google and the usability of Uber.

Secondly, you should be obsessed with creating the solution to the problem or opportunity that you have identified. Explore what your prejudices are, as well as those of your users (they might think they know what they want, but actually they haven’t imaged a better solution).

Thirdly, selecting the right team will make or break your business. If your idea is good but you simply don’t have the personal or the correct investor to execute it as a project it will fail.

Finally, there is also no rulebook (as long as it is legal!). So create many ideas, focusing on those that are in your sphere of interest. For Matt he explained that he has idea generation times often during/directly after exercise and before sleep. Developing time to generate ideas and starting the thought processes of (a) what problems can I identify (b) how could I solve that problem using my skills (c) is that something that someone will pay me to solve, will go a long way in an entrepreneurs early stage development.

If you want to find out more about developing your thought process to become an entrepreneur then please contact

Further Reading – The Resources Matt Recommends:

As part of this series of articles I asked each entrepreneur to submit the books, videos, podcasts and other materials that has influenced their journey. Below are the materials that Matt recommends:


1. Sapiens – Yuval Harari – Everything we do in business has to serve the basic ‘homo sapien’ need. I always like to work back from first principles. In what I do that means looking at emotions like fear and delight – when you design and build something you’re always appealing to an emotion as well as reason

2. Life 3.0 – Max Tegmark – If you only read one book on AI it has to be this. Everything we do as a species going forward will be in partnership with AI

3. Hit Markers – Derek Thompson – A brilliant book on product and the human needs products solve.


Sam Altman, 10 Rules for Success (

Start with Why, Simon Sinek (


Masters of Scale podcast with Reid Hoffman (


Business Update

Since my last business update I am pleased to announce that is continuing to grow its teaching locations with the addition of the Guitar Lessons Coventry webpage with professional teacher Arthur Stanley. Arthur has been teaching privately in the Coventry area for just over 3 years and works with students from age 5 and up. He is a fantastic addition to the MGR Music family and is a wonderfully versatile player who teachers all styles from his comfortable home studio and also at students homes via his mobile teaching service.

Arthur is currently in his third year of a BA Music Performance degree and juggling this with his busy teaching schedule shows how hard working he is. I have been looking for an experience, versatile teacher in the Coventry area for some time now and Arthur is the perfect addition. I am looking forward to hearing how many great things his new students will have to say about him.

As a teacher that thrives off seeing student growth I will be very interested to watch how Arthur grows as a teacher as we connect him with some great students. Coventry has a fantastic music community with a lot of educational options available via the local College and University as well as a community project called the Coventry Music Hub. In 10 years time, I hope Arthur’s students will be the leading musicians in this area. I am looking forward to seeing this growth. Over the course of 2019 I will be looking to grow MGR Music Tuition in many new key locations around the UK, working alongside the small team we have a to achieve that.

Posted under SEiR

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on February 27, 2019

Tags: , ,

What can Young People Achieve

I am always reminded of how young people can rapidly rise to the top of their profession when watching football. As the England team prepared to travel out to Russia for the World Cup, with one of the youngest squads of all time, it is a clear reminder that individuals in their late teens to mid-twenties can be leading figures in their profession. After all, the 23 players picked represent the best footballers that England has to offer across all generations – yet, the average age is 26.

I am also reminded by it when commentators refer to players as “young men”, for example, when Raheem Sterling played for Liverpool in his early career. Already playing at one of Europe’s leading professional football clubs, earning tens of thousands a week Sterling was also a father by 18. Indeed, similar to the current Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp who had his first child at 19 and yet was a professional footballer in the German leagues before becoming one of Europe’s top managers.

Clearly sport favours those with younger bodies, so younger players have the opportunity to out compete older ones. Yet, there is nothing stopping you from developing your mind as a teenager to “out compete” even experienced business men and women. I believe that culturally we accept industry leaders as older generations. Yet, when it comes to certain industries like football it would be unimaginable to send out a group of 45 year olds to represent England.

The narrative that young people can change the world and be the industry leaders is one that is not often told. When the narrative does form it is an uneasy one, look at Mark Zuckerberg and the uneasy relationship the media have with a really young industry leader. My feelings are young people have the ability to see business opportunities faster than older generations and with the right support the potential to become industry leaders rapidly. One good example is E-Sports, where the leading commentators have a similar average age to the England squad. Compare that to the commentators who will be presenting at the World Cup and I am fairly sure that the average age will be double that of the England squad.

I would go even a step further and say that they have the power to create entirely new industries. So if you are in any doubt about what young people can achieve just look at the musicians, actors/actresses, sportsmen & women, who can rise to the top of their industry between their late teens and mid-twenties. What is stopping you doing the same in the business world?!

Business Update – Guitar Lessons Nottingham

Since my last business update I am delighted to announce that we have started working with Joe Egan, a professional guitar teacher who offers guitar lessons in Nottingham. Joe has many years teaching experience, helping students from the ages of 6 upwards to learn to play the guitar. He is based in central Nottingham, from a teaching space with easy access from across the city. This makes a huge different for students, enabling many more guitarists to come to access the newly founded Guitar Lessons Nottingham guitar school.

I was also keen to work with Joe as he is a jazz guitar specialist. Drawing on his many years of playing guitar in an array of jazz bands this knowledge is something that enables him to stand out from other guitar teacher in Nottingham. Jazz music is the ultimate expression of musical creativity and improvisation, skills that I think are so valuable for students to master. After all, learning to repeat music is very different to learning how to create music. In addition, Joe covers a wide range of different musical genres – drawing on this creative playing approach across all playing styles.

It is wonderful to see how the music business is continuing to rapidly expand. Over the next few weeks I plan to meet some influential businesses within music to form working partnerships that will help drive our music schools forward. I will, as ever, keep you updated with the process, challenges and developments of what it is like to run a business as a young person.

Posted under Uncategorized

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on June 10, 2018


GDPR / Piano Lessons Bristol

GDPR – SME Panic Grows

Another week and more panic in the business world about GDPR. I think small and medium sized companies have been spooked by big companies trying to “re-consent” their users/newsletter lists. This has prompted SMEs to try and do the same, often resulting in less than 5% response from their newsletter listings. In other words, they have decimated their newsletter lists, now panic that a core sales route for their business can no longer be used and are extremely anxious about the effect of GDPR on business.

The EU is driven, in many ways, to facilitate greater trade between EU countries. What a travesty it would be if the introduction of an EU law, like the GDPR, has such significant implications that it caused a sudden drop in trade. Especially in the SME sector, where margins are often tight and livelihoods are always at stake. However, in recent days I have also seen several articles that say the “re-consenting” emails that keep appearing in our email inboxes, might be unnecessary (and in some cases illegal!).

For example, BBC Technology Correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones investigated this subject further. He interviewed a data protection legal specialist who explained “90% of the emails are unnecessary – it doesn’t have to be re-consented unless you didn’t get consent in the first place” (GDPR: The great data privacy panic). Essentially good data practices before GDPR would be recognised after the 25th May 2018 – after all the law cannot be retrospective.

Another interesting read was a WordPress Guide to GDPR: (GDPR Compliance – Everything You Need to Know. Most interesting thing being the cost of non-compliance, that, according to the article, in most reasonable cases, starts with a Warning, then a Reprimand, then Suspension of data processing, the a Fine. Like most legal disputes I am sure it is in the interest of both parties to resolve an issue without having to go to court. This article suggests that businesses that act reasonably and react reasonably to complaints should be able to avoid more serious ends of that disciplinary process.

There is no doubt that the introduction of GDPR has caused a panic in the business world. Its impact might well be negative in regard to damaging reasonably run SMEs, fearful that they might be non-compliant simply stopping sales routes that actually are reasonable uses of data. Nonetheless, it is clear that reform around data was needed. What is most evident that SMEs need more support to understand what an introduction of a new EU law like this is to their specific business case.

Piano Lessons Bristol

Away from GDPR, this week has seen the launching of a new music hub in Bristol. Bristol is one of the most important cities for music in the UK. It has a thriving music scene with a very engaged population of Bristolians who enjoy supporting all arts. Indeed, Bristol was the second city I expanded into when I first created the business from my Lafrowda flat (something you can read more about in The Tab). Over the last few years this has been focused on guitar lessons, singing lessons and drum lessons. However, I am very excited to announce that the Piano Lessons Bristol music hub has been launched this week.

Dan Somers, who is a mobile piano teacher in Bristol, is a fantastic tutor to take on piano students in the city. With his many years teaching experience, combined with his Music Performance and Production degree from the London Centre of Contemporary Music, Dan is already one of the leading piano teachers in the city. His ability to provide students with lessons in the comfort of their own homes makes his lessons accessible to many more students across the city – including those that face mobility and transport challenges.

Like many of the music teachers I know across the UK, Dan is an active musicians. Alongside his piano lessons her regularly performs in a swing band called Ruby & Her Howlin’ Boys. It is so important as a music teacher to have a creative and performance outlet, alongside working as a music teacher. After all, if the only time you play the instrument is during beginner music lessons with students you quickly loose your own enjoyment of playing. All musicians have to continue to push themselves to continue to develop, learn new styles of music and broaden their musical horizons. I am really excited to see how we can develop this music hub in Bristol, having launched it earlier this week.

Posted under GDPR, MGR Music, Music Teachers

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on May 25, 2018

Tags: ,

GDPR / Guitar Lessons Leeds

Continuing my weekly updates on what it is like to run a small online business, you can check out below what I have been working on this week (7th – 12th May 2018):


The upcoming introduction of GDPR was the main focus of this week. I was contacted by many of the music teachers I work with about what the introduction of GDPR meant for them, as well as communicating with entrepreneurs that I know to assess how best to approach GDPR compliance. Like most of us during the last few weeks I have been inundated with emails from larger corporations explaining how GDPR would impact the way I received communications from them.

This has sharpen the minds of many smaller businesses to assess what they need to do to be GDPR compliant by the 25th May 2018. Adapting to new legislation as a small business is certainly nothing new, all entrepreneurs at some stage will face this challenge. Often the real challenge is understanding what the legislation means and how it specifically relates to your business/industry. A significant portion of my week was assessing the GDPR’s impact within the music education industry, drawing together my thoughts for other music teachers to read: GDPR Guide for Music Teachers.

Having spoken with many different entrepreneurs over the last week about the GDPR their processes have been similar to mine. Assessing what they currently have in place in regard to securing the data they collect. Examining how and why they are collecting this data. Researching and seeking professional advice to ensure that they will comply by the 25th May. A good article to get you started on what you need to know as a small business about the GDPR can be found here: What is GDPR for Small Business (

Guitar Lessons Leeds

I was delighted to launch the second “music hub” this week in Leeds, UK. Based in Leeds the music school will be run by Kieran Gunter, an experienced professional guitar teacher in Leeds. This marks an important stage in the expansion process for 2018, with Kieran being an ideal guitar teacher to bring onboard to support this. I have been so impressed by his enthusiasm for all forms of guitar music, from classical guitar right through to modern genres.

His holistic approach to teaching, ensuring that students learn the many different aspects of how to play the guitar; from helping students understand the rhythmic aspects of music to teaching them exercises that build finger strength. With Kieran as Head Guitar Teacher at this local music hub I am really excited to see how it develops as a local music school with our support.

This week also saw the start of a potentially interesting relationship with the Trinity College exam board, in relation to their Rock & Pop exams. As our music teaching community are are mainly focused on teaching “contemporary” music styles, due to the high student interest in modern genres, there might be some really exciting opportunities to explore with Trinity College.

Posted under Music Teachers

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on May 12, 2018

Tags: ,

MGR Music Progress Update & Guitar Lessons Manchester

Progress Update – Introduction

It has been over six-months since I wrote my last progress update on the development of the national music teacher database. As we are edging towards the summer again I thought I would write a group of mini-blog updates on how everything is develop in real time. This will give entrepreneurial students a real insight into how businesses develop day by day, week by week. I have found from first hand experience that while progress can feel slow on any one day, by making multiple good business decision overtime that progress is multiplied dramatically. Conversely, the consequences of a poor decision can significantly impact speed of growth, especially when the pace of growth increases.

In this mini-series of blog posts I will take you inside each of the key decisions made each week, providing insight into why these conclusions have been reached and analysing the results of these decisions. By doing this I hope to take you with me in my entrepreneurial journey. Enjoy!

Think, Try, Do – News

One exciting development away from the business is that I will be working with Emily, Katie and David of the Think, Try, Do team on a new project that will be released later this year. The project will focus on interviewing 50 current and former University of Exeter student entrepreneurs. It will not only explore their “success stories” but also examine the motivations behind their entrepreneurialism. Asking some of the more philosophical questions behind what really makes a successful entrepreneur and how can we help develop other students with this mind set. There will be more on this to follow in due course, with the first interview of Matt Morley, of Savvy, having been the first to be interviewed for the project.

MGR Music – Six Months of Development

In my last post (August 2017), I talked a lot about trying to get the national music teacher database off the ground. Comparing it to a plane taxiing along the runway, not fully knowing if when the plane stopped and the throttle was applied the plane would take off. I also talked a lot about my determination to make the platform into an online community of music, using it as almost a “Facebook for music teachers”.

Nearly six months on it is really interesting to reflect on this (part of the reason why I write this blog!). Firstly, I am pleased to say that platform has taken off, developing as a place where students can find highly-qualified music teachers in their location. Interestingly, having trialed the platform during early 2018 as a “social media” platform for music teachers, I ended moving away from that idea completely.

Two reasons became self-evident; firstly, put simply music teachers didn’t use it (or want to use it) as a social media platform. While we have forums on that are active, music teachers continue to prefer to post questions and seek advice in our Music Teacher’s Group on Facebook. As much as I wanted our music teacher community to engage with the platform as a the location to create the community upon the true was Facebook provides a better frame work to do that. A realisation therefore was we should concentrate on developing the Facebook group since that is the place where music teachers feel comfortable to engage with one another.

Secondly, being a small team we cannot compete with multi-million pound online social platforms. It sounds obvious when you say it, but when you are developing something that you really want people to use you can convince yourself that people will use it. However, compare it to a platform like Facebook and you can see the limitations of our platform. Matt Morley summed this up perfectly to me – “users expect the speed of Google and the user friendly app feel of Uber”. The platform we made was good, nonetheless, it isn’t our core business to provide a social media platform for music teachers. It is obvious to those music teachers that the platform, while being full functional, isn’t as good as Facebook…and why should it be, considering the cost investment of the two platforms.

Two months ago I have such a clear thought. It was a true moment of realisation; “as a small business we should only concentrate on our core business”. With such a small team we don’t have the luxury to input a lot of time into projects that are not absolutely central to the business. Reflecting on this I would say that over the last two years I have developed a lot of different ideas, with an array of success, however very few of these ideas where absolutely central to the core business. Once I realised this it became obvious for me what I needed to do; sandbox projects that did not contribute to the core business and re-focus on making the core business awesome.

MGR Music – Guitar Lessons Manchester

Refocusing on the core business was the significant change of business strategy that has taken place during 2018. Specifically, this has meant the planned creation and launch of local music hubs. Each music hub will have a high-qualified and experienced music teacher, offering lessons to students in that area. I am very proud to say at the start of May 2018 we officially launched our first music hub, Guitar Lessons Manchester.

This was a huge step up from what we had previously offered, which was essentially a database of music teachers. This left the student to find a suitable teacher for themselves, rather than creating the infrastructure for great music teachers to provide professional tuition to students. Although some areas had consistent steams of enquiries, including for drum lessons in Leicester and guitar lessons in Manchester – as mentioned in my last post in August 2017 – I felt we could do so much more in locations where high numbers of music students were getting in touch. Therefore, in early May we appointed Dan Hall as Head Guitar Teacher at Guitar Lessons Manchester, creating our first music hub.

Dan is an extremely experienced guitar teacher, having taught the guitar for over 10 years both privately and in local schools. He is a qualified guitar teacher, having gained a FD Pop Music and Performance University of Salford. His impressive experience and knowledge as a guitar teacher is backed up by a fantastic approach to the lessons. Adopting a “no pressure” style of teaching Dan works hard to ensure are inspired to learn, rather than forced to. This approach to teaching, that draws a lot upon what the guitar student wants to learn, really resonated with me as a guitar teacher. The music hub will be based in the Stretford area of Manchester, with great transport links from across the city. Dan and I will work extremely closely together to provide the highest-quality guitar tuition that Manchester has to offer. This focus and investment in these music hubs will provide opportunities for guitarists of all abilities to rapidly progress in an environment that is ideal for guitar lessons.

It was fantastic announcement to launch Guitar Lessons Manchester with Dan this month. I have plans to launch a small number of dedicated music hubs across the UK over the next 6 months and I will keep you up to date with this progress. After nearly 6 months of development of the platform it is wonderful to feel that I am taking the next steps in my entrepreneurial journey and look forward to sharing this experience with you.


Posted under MGR Music, Music Teachers

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on May 5, 2018

Tags: , , ,

Music Teacher Database – Progress Update

Six months on from launching the national database of music teachers, known as, I thought I would be a good time to give a progress update on the development of the platform, both from a business and design point of view.

It has been an exciting first half a year of fast paced development: the teaching community has grown rapidly, with 208 music teachers, across a wide range of different instruments, joining the website during those first six months. We have had student enquiries coming through as well, the first ones coming in as early as the 26th March, with consistent enquiries coming through for drum lessons and guitar lessons, far more than I could have hoped for in what remains an incredibly early stage of development.

The website too is able to interact with users from social media in a way that is entirely new for me, both as it is able to service users located anywhere in the UK, as well as music teachers wanting to use their profile pages to promote themselves via their own social media streams. This inadvertently helps to promote the websites as a whole, generating more enquiries for the wider teacher community every time a profile or article is shared. The blog has been a real creative outlet for myself, enabling me to promote some of the more interested items of news that pass across my desk to the teacher community – from competitions at Marshall Amps HQ in Milton Keynes to local festivals, music teacher job opportunities and educational resources.

Nonetheless, there have been setbacks too – from decisions to sandbox other projects like and to focus on this project, as I believe it has real potential – one greater than those previous two ideas, to implementing upgrades on the website that are not supported on legacy browsers (alienating some of the teacher’s with older PCs who are unable to access the website – something that will be resolved in the next few months). I always feel launching a new project is a little like being at an airport, you wait around for ages for your flight, constantly checking your passport and tickets, finally board the plane and slowly start taxiing on the runway, the plane then stops, with the engines gearing up for full throttle before you start a very bumpy acceleration down the runway – we are certainly at this stage now, accelerating down the runway and believe me it is bumpy and uncomfortable, yet filled with the hope that we will get up into the air and the project will take off.

As soon as I feel that we have left ground, continuing the metaphor(!), I am incredibly keen to develop a teacher community area on the website similar to the one that have developed and cultivated on the MGR Music Tuition platform with 150 teachers I work with directly. This community area could be ten times bigger, and therefore ten times more useful, for the teachers within the community – providing peer support, ideas around best practise as well as a space to network and engage with one another in what can be quite an isolating job. This would see the database become somewhat of a dedicated social network for music teachers, where they can interact both with students and other teachers on a national level. My plan over the next six months is to take it to a place were the website has a micro-community of engaged active teachers using the platform, with around 500 teachers in the broader community. I will keep you updated how it goes!

Posted under Progress Update

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on August 3, 2017

Tags: ,

Music Teachers

Over the time that I have ran MGR Music Tuition Ltd, since launching it during my first year studying at the University of Exeter in 2009, I have always been limited to generating enquiries for music teachers located in large cities across four instruments – guitar, singing, piano and drums. This restriction put a top limit to the size of the teaching community that I could grow, indeed, as of 2017 we are almost at full capacity in terms of teaching community I can grow within the UK.

This is why over the last 12 months I have been so keen to develop a national platform to enable me to generate enquiries for teachers located anywhere in the UK, across all possible instrument types. After months of negotiations I finally managed to acquire and then develop a new national database of active music teachers in the UK and Ireland called – it is designed so that students can select the type of instrument that they want to learn and then enter their postcode, with the search results providing them with teachers that are the most local to them.

Music Teacher is a new national database of active music teachers located throughout the UK and Ireland.

Music Teacher is a new national database of active music teachers located throughout the UK and Ireland.

Having researched a lot of the other music teacher databases in the UK, I have found that they lack some of the critical information that can help inform students as to whether the teacher is suitable to teach them or not. For example information as to whether a teacher holds a valid DBS Check, up to date public liability insurance, or has the necessary qualifications and teaching experience to tutor to a professional level. I made sure, therefore, that all of this information would be included in every one of the tutor profiles featured throughout the website. Students can also leave reviews of teachers which is a fantastic way for teacher to build up an online reputation of providing high quality music tuition, that is then presented back to future students.

Leo Wood's Music Teacher profile, including the review that a student left about her private music tuition.

Leo Wood’s Music Teacher profile, including a customer review and information about whether she is DBS Checked, has public liability insurance and relevant qualifications.

Over the website provides a brilliant platform for me to continue to build a community of music teachers, as well as expand into new locations by offering piano lessons in Bristol, guitar Lessons in Leeds and singing lessons in London. It is also incredibly exciting to be able to grow the community to include saxophone, violin and other music teachers of all instruments – including some of the more unusual instruments like ukulele, djembe and cajon. My ambition for the Music Teacher website is to develop it over the next two to five years into the leading platform to find music teachers in the UK and Ireland.

Posted under Music Teachers

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on April 5, 2017

Tags: , , ,

Home Gyms

Working as the Student Entrepreneur in Residence I met many entrepreneurial students studying at the university, though I knew that these students were only the tip of the iceberg in the numbers of students at the university running successful business. Over the summer I was lucky enough to meet a former student at the University of Exeter, Jamie Brown, who never made it up to the Innovation Centre but had been running a remarkably successful online eCommerce website called Body Massage Shop, selling massage equipment to buyers throughout the EU.

After talking a lot about our respective businesses, where it was clear we shared many of the same challenges, gained similar but complimentary skill sets and both motivated to start new business ventures we agreed to explore the possibility of new projects. This experience re-inforced my view that connecting entrepreneurs, whether to share business growth issues or to engage in seed idea development, is an integrally worthwhile exercise.

As so often is the way one of the reasons Jamie never made it up to the Innovation Centre was as he was so busy running his business he didn’t have time to take out to explore the opportunities that the Innovation Centre / University of Exeter as a whole had to offer to early stage entrepreneurs. This paradox is something that we are certainly looking to address and if you have a business please do get in touch with the Invocation Centre to network with other business minded students.

From our early stage talks, followed by extensive research Jamie and myself decided to start a new business selling home gym equipment, from free weights to treadmills. The new business, called, will be developed during late 2016 and launched in early 2017. I am hopeful that with our combined experience of running successful online businesses, and the skills the we have developed during our time operating these startups, that we can create new business model that can grow into something major. I will keep you updated! is a new project started with Jamie Brown a former University of Exeter student.

Home Gyms is a new project started with Jamie Brown a former University of Exeter student.

As for an update on the new Wedding Band project I have started receiving a few enquiries starting to come through the website, though I have to say overall I have been slight underwhelmed with the level of traffic coming to the website. It will mean I will have to go back to the drawing board and reevaluate the data I have to explore whether the project as a whole is a viable one. Though we are still in the early stages of the project I had expected a greater flow of traffic to be coming to the website, similar to that of the music tuition websites, however, the data sets are really quiet different in terms of click through rate. So still work to be done on this project I think!

As for MGR Music Tuition the business is still continuing to grow rapidly, with recent months seeing new websites like Piano Lessons Belfast, Singing Lessons Rotherham and Singing Lessons York all being launched, or under development. With over 130 teachers both in the UK and Ireland the business has grown significantly during 2016 and with strong growth prospects for 2017 as well – though issues around Brexit, Scottish Independence and economic prospects on account of these do add to a more uncertain picture moving forward.

Posted under Home Gyms, New Project

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on October 26, 2016

Tags: ,

Entrepreneur of the Year 2016

On the 8th April I was invited to attend the Express & Echo 2016 Business Awards, held at Sandy Park in Exeter. With the encouragement of Joe Pearce I had entered an application for MGR Music Tuition to be up for an award, that of Entrepreneur of the Year 2016. I was really pleased that the business was nominated for this award and come the night of the event, where I met loads of amazing individuals, I was totally blown away to actually win the award!

Express & Echo Business Awards 2016 - Matthew Rusk, Entrepreneur of the Year Winner

Express & Echo Business Awards 2016 – Matthew Rusk, Entrepreneur of the Year Winner

I have to say it was a huge surprise for me as I hadn’t ever won an award like this in my life and for the business to be recognised in this way was absolutely amazing for me. As you will see by reading through this blog throughout the years I have written it music tuition is what I am truly passionate about, dedicating most of my life to it – so I was really moved to be presented with an award that highlighted this work. I know that I wouldn’t have been able develop the business so much without the help of a few individuals, namely Joe Pearce & the Innovation Centre, Nick Terry (who showed me what real academic work was!), Matt Pocock, Tom Morgan, Mark Hamilton, as well as more widely all the students that I taught guitar to and all the teachers that I have worked with over the last four years.

As amazing as it is to reflect on what has happened over the last four years I have to say I am way more excited about the development of new projects during 2016! The most significant of which is the development of a music tuition agency, helping clients to find their perfect wedding band. I will be aiming to launch the website in the mid-summer, bringing onboard around 10 bands to launch in three locations, namely Leicester, Bristol and of course the big one London. As mentioned in my previous post it will be a gradual process of identifying the right bands and artists and bringing them onto the website, while at the same time highlighting to this area of the market that there is a dedicated website that lists verified wedding entertainment, as opposed to music agencies that list bands of all abilities and experience levels. I already have some great bands and artist involved in the project, from dedicated 80s tribute band “Rubix Cube” to professional solo singer Gemma Louise Doyle. For me it is really exciting as it is a new area of the music industry, in this case music entertainment – meaning that I have plenty to learn if it is going to be a successful project. As ever I will keep you updated with the project, the next challenge is preparing everything for a successful launch in the summer!

Posted under Entrepreneur of the Year 2016, Wedding Band

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on April 17, 2016

Tags: ,

National Business Awards & Wedding Band

There has been a lot happening since my last post in August 2015! Firstly, I was very privileged to be able to join the University of Exeter at the National Business Awards in November, where the university had been nominate for the Duke of York Award for University Entrepreneurship. Despite Exeter missing out on the award to the University of Leeds I think our invitation and nomination was testament to the progress that the University of Exeter had made in recent years in terms of entrepreneurial support, with the likes of Joe Pearce and Tracey Costello needing to take a lot of credit for driving forward this programme. I was joined by other current or graduated students that had benefited from this investment, both financial but far more importantly in terms of an investment of time and skill development. While not all of the “student entrepreneurs” can continued to run their businesses post graduation everyone of them that I spoke to talked of the impact that it has had on their career being involved in creating a start up business.

The National Business Awards

The National Business Awards

That evening was also made very special by the keynotes speech given by Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on The Moon. Buzz, spoke with passion about the “space race” and the ingenuity and invention needed to achieve dreams that no one had thought possible before, alongside the respect needed for those that had achieved feats of human endeavour (for example his respect for Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space) as well as the often unseen consequences of achieving these feats. Clearly his experience on The Moon had deeply impacted him as he talked about the “magnificent desolation” of The Moon’s surface that was covered in a “soft grey talcum powder”, indeed, with something so profoundly different from any experience another human had had (apart from a small number of NASA astronauts) I was left wondering whether Buzz’s life thereafter had shown signs of undiagnosed post traumatic stress disorder – a topic that I had studied at university in regard to WW2 soldiers.

Two things he spoke about will always stick with me – firstly a story from Buzz that upon hearing that the USSR had successfully got the first man into space in 1961 President Kennedy was determined that the USA should demonstrate their space capabilities…by sending their astronauts to Mars. Gathering his scientists together he sent them away for a weekend to plan it, only to have the news presented to him on the Monday that the scientists didn’t think it was possible and that the USA “should shoot for The Moon instead”. Kennedy was devastated (according to Buzz), but eventually came onboard with the new plan – one that Buzz Aldrin was able to execute alongside Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins.

Secondly, that Buzz was utterly convinced that the human race should be aiming to land astronauts on Mars, as well as set up a colony on Mars as soon as possible. Indeed, he had even written a book about it noting the benefits that such investment in space travel would bring in terms of technological advances, advances in communications, medicine and material designs. While he acknowledge it was not for his generation he made clear that the future of the human race depended on it – such passion for an idea that I am sure many of us would say is a bit barmy (though one that he & Kennedy might well be right about!) was interesting to listen to because the initial reaction is simply to dismiss it as “too crazy”. However, this really only goes to highlight our own barriers in terms of what we think is possible and of what we think the human race is capable of – strangely while many of us around the table agreed that “humans will one day live on Mars” none of us thought it should be our generation that took the risks to go and work out how to make it possible! Overall it was great night, with Buzz’s talk something I will take away with me for the rest of my life…after all it isn’t everyday you get to listen to someone that has stepped foot on The Moon!

Buzz Aldrin, the second man on The Moon, in full speech about why we should go to Mars!

Buzz Aldrin, the second man on The Moon, in full speech about why we should go to Mars!

Here at MGR Music Tuition I have been working very hard over the last few months creating a centralised platform to enable the teachers I work with to complete the admin side of things; specifically reporting the lessons that they have taught and making payment for these lessons. I was really excited to launch this in February 2016 – the platform also enables teachers to engage with one another in an interactive forum, a space where they can share best practise and gain advice about the many challenges of being a private music teacher. The team of teachers I work with has now grown to over 125, likely to peak at 150 later in the year, when the business will reach its full potential in terms of music teachers within the UK. Once that is reached this will mark a different stage of the business, moving from a start up business, through a phase I have jokingly referred to as the “teenage years” (sometimes temperamental but certainly more mature than early on) to something that is more akin to mid-twenties individual (more independent, with characteristics of its own). The analogy of comparing the life of a business to a humans, with a “birth”, early stages where the business needs constant attention before it can slowly become more independent, is one that I have heard about from other entrepreneurs and I would certainly that this has been my experience as well. With the music tuition business become more settled I thought I would explore launching a “project on the side” to work on during 2016.

With many of the teachers that I work with being active local musicians, driving their musical careers forward alongside their teaching, I decided to explore whether I can help them develop this aspect of their careers. Knowing that many of them generate revenue from “function band” performances and having researched the area thoroughly I decided to launch, a website where local bands can list themselves, enabling clients to select them for their live wedding / reception music. Having spoken with a lot of the teachers that do wedding gigs that major complaint was that often the gigs where long distances away from where the band is actually based. Therefore creating more gigs in the specific area where the band resides would be an incredibly useful service for these musicians. The website is just at a prototype stage at the moment but I am excited to try and develop it over the next 12 months to see if I can get bands onboard and ultimately make their experience as musicians even better!

Wedding Band

Posted under Business Innovation, National Business Awards, New Project

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on March 28, 2016

Tags: , ,

National Business Awards

This morning I heard from the Innovation Centre that the University of Exeter has been shortlisted for the Duke of York Award for University Entrepreneurship. This is a great achievement for all areas of the university that have worked tirelessly to improve the support of students with business and product ideas. It is also a special moment for the Innovation Centre which has been one of the key partners in the this development of entrepreneurial provision at the university. I had the fortune of see this first had during the Exeter Start Up Weekend in July, where the university had clearly invested a lot of time and money into a fantastic conference to enable current and former students develop their business ideas within 54 hours before pitching them to a group of business experts.

National Business Awards

This shows how far the support for entrepreneurs has come during the time that I studied at the University of Exeter (09-12), where even basic provision was hard sort for. As an entrepreneur at the university you can now find support and help everywhere from the Careers Centre and Ignite at the Students’ Guild to specially tailored advice by business experts at the Innovation Centre. The appointment of a Student Entrepreneur in Residence enables students to approach a former student who has experience of running a business while studying a degree, this is invaluable as balancing your workload, business and social life can be an isolating challenge.

To know that there are students just like you, dedicating their spare time to start a business while at university is undoubtedly a liberating discovery – indeed, while individual businesses are different in what they produce the core components of a business are often very similar. Student entrepreneurs therefore often face the same challenges, whether it is cash flow, holding too much stock, product development, quality control, sourcing products, advertising, client experience, profit margin, scalability to name a few. If you are a student at the University of Exeter who has, or is thinking of, starting a business don’t hesitate to get in touch with . You can find out more about National Business Awards Finalists on their website.

In terms of MGR Music Tuition I have been continuing to launch new websites across the UK, most excitingly for me releasing the Guitar Lessons York website, following drum, singing and piano websites released in York and where we already have a large group of active music students and talented teachers. It has been an extremely busy time in terms of the infrastructure of the business, having moved all the websites onto a Virtual Private Server (giving me far more control over the hosting and management of the website, preventing them from crashing due to unwelcome updates).

In addition, I have spend the last few days adding a server monitoring service to these VPS. This will enable me to record all the server data, including any downtime of the server or websites – in which case I will be notified by a call/sms/email depending on the time of day so I can jump in to ensure that the website never go down without me knowing about it. If you run a busy website, whether eCommerce, news or social facing it is critical that your website downtime is extremely low (as noted by Mark Zuckerberg’s character in The Social Network film: “let me tell you the difference between Facebook and everyone else, we don’t crash EVER! If those servers are down for even a day, our entire reputation is irreversibly destroyed! Users are fickle…”. Therefore as any business builds up, investment in safety guards and contingency plans, is a wise choice (and perhaps highlights a gradual change within a business from a start-up to a more mature going concern).

As such here at MGR Music Tuition it has been a year of re-investment into the business, to ensure that I can keep it growing in a manageable manner by laying strong foundations to build upon. I hope to see the results of this in early 2016 and as ever I will keep you updated with my progress!

Posted under Business Innovation, Innovation Centre

This post was written by
Deprecated: get_the_author_url is deprecated since version 2.8.0! Use get_the_author_meta('url') instead. in /var/www/html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 5213
Matthew Rusk on August 6, 2015