Eric Branner and Fons Relieve the Pain of Running a Teaching Business

Like many entrepreneurs, Eric Branner began his company with the intent of solving a problem he faced in his music teaching business. Now the CEO and co-founder of Fons, Branner’s app aims to provide much-needed relief to teachers of all types who could stand to benefit from a more streamlined approach to the administrative side of their businesses.

Introducing a Solution to the Pain of Administrative Work

For 15 years, Eric Branner worked as a classical guitar player and music teacher. While he enjoyed working as an independent teacher, the administrative side of running his own business became overwhelming. Even with the assistance of his wife Alyson, a bookkeeper, who took over managing that part of his business, they were spending eight hours every week, on average, to manage it.

It was through this struggle that Branner decided to create the Fons web and mobile app. It eliminates the time-consuming administrative tasks that entrepreneurs can get bogged down with. This specific app was built to help independently employed teachers get back to what they love to do: teach.

“We went and talked to over 200 instructors from all disciplines… [and] found similar stress points among them.”

Living in the age of startups, it’s this creative solution to a common entrepreneurial problem that’s going to make a big difference in the lives of those professionals who need it. By automating the process of scheduling clients and accepting and processing payments, the Fons app removes the pain and stress associated with these tasks.

Want to hear more from Branner about the origins of his company? Listen to the full interview below.

A Little Bump Along the Way

The one obstacle Branner hadn’t anticipated along the way was that teachers might not be ready for an app like this. Again, he took his own experience as a teacher and business owner and found a creative way to fix the problem he encountered.

“Everyone has a way that they’ve already been doing it, and their fear of change or adopting a new idea, even if it’s in their best interest, is something that takes a little hand-holding and an open mind from both sides.”

So, the issue wasn’t so much that there wasn’t a market for the app, the problem was the reluctance of the audience to fully adopt it. And we all get that. It’s hard to break away from patterns we’ve established for ourselves as entrepreneurs. But what we believe to be the best practice for us isn’t always the case.

Once Branner recognized the disconnect, he set to work to better understand the industry overall. It also helped that everyone on his team had either been a teacher at some point or was familiar with the pain points they commonly experienced. With this ability to empathize, they adjusted their app solution so they could meet clients somewhere in the middle, in a place they felt more comfortable.

Lessons Learned

Before we parted ways, I asked Branner if he had any final words of advice for other startup business owners. He had a couple of helpful suggestions I’d like to leave you with today:

“I know that when you have a business idea… you’re thrilled, you want to implement it, you’re so excited.”

However, he suggests that entrepreneurs take the time to research first. If you don’t fully understand what your customers want, you could be putting your business out there before it’s a viable solution.

“In general, artists don’t like to include themselves in the conversation with money. They don’t want to value their time… But you need to value yourself, that’s a best business practice.”

His advice: don’t be afraid to charge competitively. With higher rates, people are more likely to perceive your offering as a better value.

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