Small Business Story: Violinist Paul Hauer

As the 2020/2021 worldwide pandemic crushed the small business landscape across America, the Federal government distributed more than 11.6 million forgivable loans worth over $795 billion via the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

Small businesses are truly the backbone of the U.S. economy, and this program is helping countless owners and employees rebuild. The SmartBiz team is honored that we could assist over 210,000 small businesses with successfully processing their PPP loan applications with a bank in our network. One creative entrepreneur worked with SmartBiz to keep his business afloat.

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Forced to pivot operations, classically-trained musician and violin instructor Paul Hauer started the PPP loan application on 5/22/21 by uploading required business documents to the SmartBiz portal. He was successfully funded on 6/16/21.

Here’s how he and his students weathered the coronavirus storm, and his plans for his professional future.

Hauer’s earliest memories are of growing up in a house filled with music. As a six-year-old, he was taught with the Suzuki Violin Method. The ideas of parent responsibility, loving encouragement, and constant repetition are some of the special features of the Suzuki approach. Hauer remembers, “I had to correctly position my hand on the bow 350 times before my teacher would even let me set the bow on the string. As a six-year-old, I didn’t think it was very fun, but it helped the violin feel natural to me.”

Hauer isn’t the only musically gifted member of his family. After delivering mail all day, his father would play Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, and improvisational jazz on the piano. His siblings all play instruments in some capacity.

“It’s very collaborative in our family,” Hauer reports.

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“We all got better because of each other and the friendly competition between us. My sister teaches opera, piano, and violin in Mexico, one brother is a pianist for the Milwaukee Ballet, and my oldest brother plays guitar and piano in Kansas. My youngest sister is studying violin in her first year of college at the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor.”

Hauer wanted to be “a small fish in a big pond” and made the decision to pursue a bachelor’s degree in violin performance at Oberlin Conservatory. He now holds a master’s degree from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.

After graduation, Hauer lived modestly in a basement in Indiana while traveling to take auditions for a year before landing a spot with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.

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Hauer’s musical pursuits have given him solo concert opportunities in Germany, Greece, France, the Czech Republic, and the Philippines.

Chamber music and orchestral concerts have brought him to Italy, San Marino, Singapore, Mexico, and China. Although he has a successful full-time performance career, Hauer wants to give back to the next generation of music lovers. He founded a violin studio to introduce students to music and help shape their path.

"My close friend and colleague Addison Teng initially helped me determine how to run a private teaching studio while also being full-time with the symphony and teaching with him at the Fulton Summer Music Academy. He showed me how to do invoices, semester schedules, studio policies, registration information, and recruitment.”

Hauer’s personality is well suited for teaching. “I like being helpful,” he says. “What I love is the spark when a student really gets it and produces that great sound. It’s fulfilling to see positive results from week to week.”

Due to coronavirus restrictions, Hauer had to teach lessons 100% online. “My students showed up for every lesson. The dedication of both students and parents through the pandemic was great.”

When it was clear that his business was going to be deeply impacted by the pandemic, Hauer explored funding options. “My tax advisor told me about PPP and that I could qualify because I filed a Schedule C. I started the online application, and the rest wasn’t too hard.”

Hauer has advice for other entrepreneurs seeking funding in the future. “Keep good records. If I was asked to show an invoice or receipt on the application, I was able to do that. It was very important and helped me get funded in just a few weeks.”

During the pandemic, Hauer launched a new YouTube channel to elevate his online presence. “I wanted to start sharing the pieces I love on YouTube to motivate myself and inspire others. I started with ten videos and now have over a hundred.”

As the economy continues to open up, Hauer plans to embrace grass-roots promotions and word-of-mouth marketing. “I’m on staff at the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra. It gets my name out there and helps me grow as an educator.”

The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra finished a successful hybrid season with virtual and limited seating performances. Safety protocols worked, and there were no reported COVID cases. “We have a full 2021-2022 season posted online at mso.org. I’m hoping that parents will realize the importance of music and I’ll attract new students.”

SmartBiz Loans has over 15,000 reviews on TrustPilot with an overall score of 4.6. Paul added his 5-star review once funded:

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To learn more about Paul Hauer, visit his page on the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s website. We wish Paul, his fellow professional musicians, and his students the best! Thank you for working with SmartBiz Loans.

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