By Chip Gallent
I have been playing in bands off and on for more than 25 years, or about as long as I have been in the business world. Though the parallels of being an entrepreneur and playing in a band may not seem obvious, believe me, the two have a lot in common.
Some bands I played in lasted years. Others never made it past the first rehearsal. Looking back, I realize now the years I spent playing guitar in various bands taught me a lot about leadership and teamwork.
Think about your favorite band. The best ones featured band members who were all on the same page musically, they understood their roles, they worked well as a team, and they knew how to push each other to develop their talents.
Those same concepts apply to business. Successful entrepreneurs and business leaders know how to clearly communicate their company’s core purpose and values. They understand what’s needed to work in tandem with team members to achieve the company’s goals that will move the organization forward. The world’s greatest bands do the same thing. The key to making the cut—whether you are in a band or in business—boils down to these five crucial principles:
1. There can only be one vision
In order for a band to succeed, several important things must come into play (pun intended). A band must know what kind of music they want to play. They need a common set of musical influences. They have to decide on the image to portray: their brand. And they have to agree on who the band leader is.
There are great lessons to be learned here about vision and leadership. In business, you have to know exactly who you are, where you want to go, and who’s going to lead the charge. In a band, there can be only one band leader. It’s the person who’s accountable for staying true to the band’s vision—just like a CEO.
2. Stick to what you do best
A band clearly knows what songs and musical styles they are capable of playing, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of each member. It makes no sense for a band to choose songs that the group isn’t either comfortable with or capable of playing—it never works.
Companies are no different. How many companies have you tried to do business with where the product or service didn’t meet your expectations because they were working outside their wheelhouse? Now think about how many bands you have walked out on during a show (or quit listening to their music on the radio or Apple Music/Spotify) because they just were not meeting your musical tastes or standards. There is a parallel here.
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3. Know your audience
Whenever my band was rehearsing for a gig, we frequently would ask each other, “Who is going to show up for our show?” It’s a question that bands should be able to answer with certainty. They should know exactly who they’re targeting, what venues their fans patronize, how much fans are willing to spend on tickets, what songs fans want to hear, and where their fans hang out on social media. Bands will not succeed by simply getting their name on a venue marquee and hoping for a sellout. (The good news: Your Mom, spouse, brother, and sister will always come to the first show—no questions asked.)
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