September / October 2020
Editor's Lead In
There was a time when I thought about going into the hi-fi manufacturing business. After all, I'd been in the pro audio business, building amplifiers, foldback speakers, guitar cabs and PA systems before I'd entered the publishing game. But somehow, I just couldn't seem to extricate myself from hi-fi magazines and newspapers, not least because there was always another deadline looming, and I just couldn't seem to see my way to telling a publisher or an editor that he and I would soon be parting ways.
Actually, truth be told, I did really nothing not because of deadlines, but because I was born both a procrastinator and with a highly risk-adverse personality. And while being risk-adverse has often worked against me in my life, both personally and professionally, it has at least prevented me from being sued for defamation, or worse... though I have come close on a couple of occasions. But all of this didn't stop me thinking about it though.
At least one famous hi-fi company was started by a teacher and a freelance writer. But then that company was H.H. Scott, and who's even heard of that company now? There are also many other famous companies that have been founded in garages or back-yard sheds. I'm thinking of Infinity Systems and Mark Levinson, but I'm sure you can think of more. There are also some very well-known hi-fi brands that started off in back rooms or garages, and are still operating out of those self-same accommodations.
In retrospect I am very glad I didn't go into hi-fi manufacturing, because I am now absolutely certain any business I started would have failed spectacularly, because having a successful business is less about having a product that people want to buy than it is about, well, good management.
It's pretty easy to be "in business" if that business is just a sideline (which, by the way, described my 'pro audio business' perfectly), or a hobby that happens to make some money on the side, but if you're planning on earning a living from a business you need a lot more than a product people want to buy and being a good manager.
For a start, you'll need money. Having sufficient capital is certainly a prerequisite for any start-up. Which mostly means having to take out a huge loan, getting investors on board, or having a rich uncle. But as well as all this, you also have to be a creative accountant, an excellent salesperson, have outstanding copywriting and computer skills, be a great 'people person' and not least, have the optimism of an indefatigable entrepreneur, plus the ability to uncomplainingly turn in seven-day, twelve-hour a day weeks, for as many years as it takes.
I could go into quite a bit more detail about all this, but I really don't need to, because someone else has done it for me. If you really are thinking of getting into the hi-fi manufacturing business, I recommend that your first step should be to read an outstanding book written by Jason Stoddard and Mike Moffat called "Schiit Happened, The Story of the World's Most Improbable Start-Up," which tells the completely true and utterly compelling story of how the pair founded Schiit Audio. And if, after reading this book, you still feel like starting out in the hi-fi business, don't ask me for any advice, because you're already beyond help!
Subscribe To Australian Hi-Fi Magazine