Elliott Smith has been a professional magician for twenty years and has written a book about his experiences.
What's the name of your business?
I actually have two businesses. I've been a full-time Magician since 1988 and I founded Happy Medium Books in 2004. Both businesses are located in Ottawa, Canada.
Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
Happy Medium Books published "Highway to Success" which is the essential business system for part or full-time entertainers, entrepreneurs, home based and small business owners. This commonsense system provides all the information to set up, operate and thrive as a business professional. From basic business structures to legalities, from advertising to closing the sale, this system will refine the magician's business practices and increase their clientele and level of success. Based on proven methods and practical experience, this effective system works. Our book is also used as a platform to conduct workshops, lecture and training seminars.
As a professional magician, I have entertained corporations, television audiences and travelers across Canada, the United States, Europe, the Caribbean and Mexico for over 39 years. A member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians and the distinguished Order of Merlin, I have performed my special brand of magic and comedy for two past Prime Ministers of Canada, International Ambassadors, the late Liberace as well as Jay Leno – host of The Tonight show.
I also use magic as a medium to conduct team-building, motivational and sales training to companies and organizations of all sizes.
What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
I worked in sales (also Sales Manager) for an advertising company and prior to that in the restaurant industry and the Federal Government.
Where did you get the startup money?
I used savings and a small business loan.
Who are your main competitors? How do you compete against them?
Other performers and trainers. however my uniqueness, personality and business savvy set me apart from all my other competitors.
Has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?
Not really because of my previous business experiences and time working for other companies/organizations.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
I wish I would have started sooner.
What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?
Proactivity, networking, talking to other successful entrepreneurs, going to business seminars and joining business associations (Chamber of Commerce, Board of Trade, Entrepreneurial Associations, etc,)
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
Do your research very carefully, talk to other successful business people and buy "Highway to Success". Also, do as much networking in business environments as possible – ask lots of questions. You can also find a mentor or join a Mentoring Program through your local Entrepreneurship Centre.
Elliot, thanks for taking the time to share your story with us. I'm sure other entertainers will find your advice very helpful.