Written by Kevin Mann on August 17, 2018 in You and Your Money

You and Your Money.

What they don’t teach you in music school!

For the Hamilton Musicians’ Guild, August 2018


Dear colleagues and fellow musicians;

If I may be so bold, let me offer you something that most of you will think is probably twisted and bizarre – well, I’ll settle for bizarre anyway.

After years of experience as a musician, an accountant and in other business endeavours I suggest the following to you:

That despite whatever you choose as a career, the two single most valuable courses you can take are introductory accounting and introductory business law!

And when I say this I’m just talking about taking evening courses perhaps one or two nights a week for one semester – nothing terribly laborious. These are courses that present rudimentary concepts. I see people every year get in trouble with their businesses and their personal lives and finances because they do not understand the basic principles presented in these introductory courses.

If you think that I am kidding, as I write this article, I am working with a man who is going to lose his life‘s work because he entrusted his affairs to other people, who then ended up letting him down, and he does not understand the concepts so that he can turn his business around. If you cannot understand simple accounting then you can’t manage cash, you really can’t start your own business and see it become successful (you’ll never know whether or not you’re making any money; how to cost a job; or which activity generates more profit for you).

Similarly, an understanding of some rudiments of business law – again nothing fancy – have the potential to offer valuable benefits over your working career. In society we take for granted things that are common sense that may not be practical common sense; and common sense varies depending on your social economic background and life experiences. I have saved myself more grief, frustration and wasted time over the years by understanding some rudimentary legal concepts.

A few years ago, in Toronto a man got a new job as a general manager in an organization and decided that he wanted to purchase a good quality, but used, vehicle to make a good impression on his first day at the new job – smart thinking. On the Friday before his start date he went to a dealership and found a car that was to his liking but not exactly what he wanted so he asked the dealership if it would hold the car until Monday morning because he was still looking around. The dealership said it would hold the vehicle for him if he left a $500 deposit. The deposit was made but in the interim the new manager did indeed find another car that he preferred. He went back to the dealership on Monday to get his $500 back and they told him that he had purchased that car and that the $500 deposit on it created a binding contract. He was able to break the contract, but he had to pay the dealership a lot more money than $500 to get out of it. This kind of situation could have been avoided if this man had attended one of the early lectures of a basic business law course. What would’ve happened if this had been a much larger contract? How good a manager do you suspect he was?

Again, it is my own observation, that except in rare circumstances, no one is going to look out for you except you. If you do not know these concepts, then you can expose yourself to being taken advantage of by people who have taken the time to educate themselves. It is far less expensive to spend a few bucks to take a couple of courses that will last you the rest of your life than it is to run to an accountant or lawyer every time you have a question regarding simple basic business transactional matters.


From time to time I write articles for the Hamilton Musicians’ Guild and you can see a selection of these articles on my website KevinMannAccounting.com. Look for the tab that says Published Articles. These articles are offered for free with the aim of helping readers to live financially successfully lives.


Any comments or viewpoints expressed in this article are those of Kevin Mann Accounting.

Copyright Kevin Mann Accounting, 2018.

Kevin Mann, MBA is a Chartered Professional Accountant, a member of the Hamilton Musicians’ Guild, a performing bassist and the President of Kevin Mann Accounting. He has provided extensive financial and managerial expertise to a wide range of not-for-profit and for-profit businesses including being a board director and member of local symphonies.