Valley entrepreneur empowers others

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MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - With good jobs hard to come by, many people are now looking to start their own business. So, we asked one Valley entrepreneur how he was able to turn his passion for music into a new career.

Kirk Johnson isn't a typical musician.

"I'm the type of person that I have the dream; I know what I want to happen," he said.

But that dream isn't what you might think. Instead of performing to sold-out music halls, this Boston native has other ambitions.

"I've always liked teaching," Johnson said. "I wanted to be a performer. I guess I do perform, so I am a performer. But beyond performing, I enjoy getting students to perform as well."

Johnson tried teaching at schools and private studios, but it wasn't what he was looking for. So, two years ago, he opened his own music school. He named it Sounds Academy.

"It all started with just this dream to figure out how to get music education opportunities to areas of Phoenix that didn't have it," he explained.

His business has grown, but it wasn't easy to start. For someone with no business experience, navigating all the red tape was frustrating.

"The first time I tried, I remember submitting applications, and then them coming back to me and saying, 'You need to change this,' " he said.

Eventually, Johnson got some help. There was a Mesa music store that let him set up shop in the back. And then there were others who helped him with that mind-numbing paperwork.

"Collaboration, I would say, is really key," he said. "Don't try to do it by yourself."

And one of those organizations that helped was a company called Seed Spot, which Johnson said he leaned heavily on.

Next week, Seed Spot is holding a seminar to help others do the same. It runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 30-31. The cost is $250.

Johnson said Seed Spot helped him, and he offers other aspiring entrepreneurs this advice: "Perseverance is key, creativity. ... You've got to think of ways to think outside the box, to make yourself stand out. You have to find your own lane instead of recreating the wheel."

Copyright 2015 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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