Musicians are a lot like entrepreneurs.
Sounds crazy at first. How can you be an artist and a business person at the same time? Aren’t these things mutually exclusive? Aren’t “suits” only good for selling, not creating?
The musician rock star and the entrepreneur rock star have three things in common.
Creating Something From Nothing
Both musicians and entrepreneurs create something from nothing. Musicians sit down at a piano or guitar and they scribble lyrics on cocktail napkins and eventually create a song that we all sing along to. Entrepreneurs begin with concepts, inventions, and ideas and eventually create products we all want to be part of.
Seldom Finish Where They Started
Both musicians and entrepreneurs seldom finish with the same product they started with. “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac was a song that was the result of several different songs coming together in bits and pieces. In fact, Fleetwood Mac is a great example of a band that ended up in a very different place from where they began. Their roots as a British blues band are far removed from their status as one of America’s legendary pop bands.
Meanwhile, entrepreneurs similarly end up in a different place from where they began. Google began as a search engine based on the relationships between websites and ended up (at this point) as the internet’s leading advertising companies. Richard Branson started a magazine, then a record store, and eventually an airline. Those big bold Virgin Airways 747′s are a long way from his business starting point in 1966. Richard Branson didn’t start the Virgin brand we know today, he navigated there.
No Two Are Alike
Even the best U2 cover band doesn’t sound quite like U2. That’s because we all sing in our own unique voice. The most unique voices, like Bob Dylan, are often the ones most heard. Bands that sound too much like other bands seldom endure. The Beatles were unique. How many bands were tagged as “the next Beatles” only to fade away into obscurity?
Likewise, no two business legends are the same. What made Bill Gates rich is very different from what made Richard Branson wealthy. Gates’ nerdiness contrasts dramatically with Branson’s swagger. Each would likely make very different decisions when confronted with the same set of circumstances, yet both of them became incredibly successful by taking their own path.
Great bands and great business people are always ready to navigate somewhere other than the destination they originally had in mind. They are open to new ideas, tastes, discoveries, and eras. They also seem to know intuitively when the time is right to abandon one idea and move on to a new one.
The starving artist has a lot in common with the starving start-up owner, just as the million-selling rock star has plenty in common with the business tycoon.