You can buy a million things these days, but you can’t buy good customer service. You have to relate to your customers and be grateful for them and genuinely enjoy them.
Aman Sahi is an entrepreneur with a background in computer science. In NYC he transitioned to writing ad music which lead to multiple Telly awards. Due to the fast paced ad music scene, he designed what was to become Little Blondie microphone, a work horse microphone which can be used on multiple sources, cutting down on recording time. Friends and colleagues began asking how they could purchase one, and it was then that Sahi realized he may have a business opportunity. Today, Little Blondie microphones ship to 43 countries and have been used on multiple Top 40 records. A portion of every sale goes toward St. Jude’s, where Sahi is a partner-in-hope member. As well as launching a new software outfit, Aman is also the co-founder of Brain Stamp Music, a full-service music creation and production company based in Nashville, Tennessee.
Where did the idea for Little Blondies come from?
I had a personal need for them to solve an issue I was having. Microphones were way too application-specific. Some microphones are only good for acoustic guitar, and you need another one for electric, or drums, or horns. I wanted one workhorse microphone that did it all. I was in the jingle-writing industry and you had to work quickly as well as churn out quality sounding recordings. So I set out to use my background in engineering to research and design a microphone for myself. It took about a year, but when I was done my friends wanted it also. I was a Partner-of-Hope member for St Jude’s and I decided I could raise more money for them with that. I put the mics online and they went viral, and that’s how I knew I was onto something.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I wake up and make myself breakfast and coffee, then check my email and respond. After that, I get ready to start my day. I have a task list on my phone that I want to tackle that day. I prioritize it the night before, if it is location-specific (such as the factory where the mics are made) then I do everything in that one location. If it’s computer-specific then I group all computer tasks together. About 2-3 hours of research and design on a daily basis, this includes either hardware based solutions or software. If I schedule meetings I tend it do it as far from rush hour as possible. My list consists of the busy work I have all the way down to what I will cook that day. I go down the list throughout the day so my schedule really varies depending on what I have going on. There are a lot of 12-hour days so it’s important to stay on task. But it’s not a grueling 12 hours, it’s a blast for me.
How do you bring ideas to life?
You have to start, that’s the hardest part. Give yourself two minutes to work on something. People have a natural tendency to keep going once they start. If you find yourself struggling to do more than 2 minutes then take a break and come back to it later. Split large ideas into multiple tasks, the more you do it the better you’ll get at identifying all the steps.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I’m excited that the younger generation is taking more pride in craftsmanship, down to their daily habits and even what they respect. Big box stuff seems to be taking a backseat and quality is more important than quantity. Which kind of goes with what the Little Blondie microphones represent.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I write reports for myself. This organizes all the abstract clutter in my head to a series of linear thoughts. Some of these reports are pretty long; I could spend a week doing one report that is very data-specific. Writing pain points for problems that come up and then researching them allows me to see what features to focus on and which team members are the best for carrying out those tasks.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I wish I would have focused more on connecting and learning from people who have already done what I’m doing. Hitting up more networking events, and starting the data research earlier. Don’t shy away from learning from people who have failed, either. There are a lot of lessons to be learned.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
There’s a tremendous amount of new affordable audio gear coming out each year which is just as good, if not better, than what top professionals used even 3-5 years ago.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
You have to organize your thoughts. Write your idea and see if data supports your idea. The second it isn’t supported, find out why and adjust. Many times people get an idea and don’t know what steps to take next, so they continue to take steps even though the data would tell them to pivot their strategy. Read studies, look at market data, and see how they apply to your idea.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Solid customer service. You can buy a million things these days, but you can’t buy good customer service. You have to relate to your customers and be grateful for them and genuinely enjoy them. I think it speaks volumes that someone is using something I created for myself because I love that product myself, and now it’s helping them somehow. That’s my bond with my customers.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
On one of my first ventures that I did was a wine importing company. I didn’t do all of my research and didn’t realize how much overhead everything would take. It was bankrupt before it even started. From then on I never made a business decision without looking at data. It taught me that it’s never about, “If you build it they will come.”
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Look at the data of baby boomers getting older. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Even if it’s a franchise offering what baby boomers need during retirement (healthcare, etc), that’s probably the best way to get a good return on investment while making a difference.
Also, a lot of millennials want to start businesses but don’t know how. If there was something to automate the process for them, there would be a market for that.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I bought a new tennis racket. I’ve played since I was a kid. Exercise is important because keeps me active and lets me reset my brain, so I can look at a problem in a fresh way.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
On Shape, it’s a product design CAD platform. It lets me prioritize my ideas and build my designs.
Slack is also a life saver, it’s like group texting mixed with email.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
There a lot of staples out there but I’m going to recommend something different. “The $100 Startup”. It’s a great look into thinking creatively, taking chances, and doing something as simple as just starting.
What is your favorite quote?
I don’t know if anyone said it, but my personal mantra is “Have a heart big enough to let inspiration in, be clever enough to push inspiration back out.” I don’t know if I heard it from somewhere or what, but I think it applies to many aspects of both business and personal life. Be open enough to be inspired, and be dedicated to inspiring others.
- You can buy a million things these days, but you can’t buy good customer service. You have to relate to your customers and be grateful for them and genuinely enjoy them.
- I wish I would have focused more on connecting and learning from people who have already done what I’m doing.
- Split large ideas into multiple tasks, the more you do it the better you’ll get at identifying all the steps.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.