Motto: “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man!”
If, like me, you are thinking about starting up a creative business focusing on a niche market, then you have to know that, just like any business start-up, you’ll have your share of adversity, heartbreak, roadblocks, and setbacks; you’ll have people who won’t believe in you and people who will tell you you can’t make it. But forget all that, forget all the rules and all the manifestos! There’s only 10 valuable lessons for the start-up willing to listen, namely:
1. Make Sure You Stand Out. Brand Yourself.
In an interview last winter, a well know performer recalled her anguish at being ignored as she performed at a bar filled with drunken NYU students. No one paid the slightest attention to her until, fed up, she decided to strip down to her lingerie. “I started playing in my underwear at the piano and I remember everyone was all of a sudden like ‘Whoa!’ And I said, ‘Yeah, you’re looking at me now, huh?” (Source: Forbes)
That’s right: do whatever it takes in order to be outlandish and get noticed. According to Seth Godin, “remarkable” is a necessity today because people don’t pay top dollar for “ordinary.” It’s on this principle that made Apple one of the world’s most valued companies by market capitalization. It’s simple: Apple makes exceptional products that continually raise the bar making it hard for competitors to catch up.
But standing out is risky?
When Jobs wanted to create a store that would reach out to the masses he did so with a nervous board; as many saw it a risky cash drain. But he wanted to create “an experience” for the Apple user. And that “risk” has paid off in billions!
If what you’re offering doesn’t stand out in some way, shape, or form…take it back to the drawing board! Because the foundation of ANY great marketing campaign is an exceptional product or service–because no matter how you dress it up, if it’s garbage…it’s garbage!
Create an image. And promote that image.
2. Take The Brand Into Your Own Hand Instead Of Outsourcing From The Start.
Before you even think of delegating tasks to someone else, make sure that you yourself know what you are doing. Be the ultimate brain behind your creative and social media ideas and tactics.
3. Bring Innovative And Relevant Content.
Your content must be fresh and up to date with today’s world. Think to yourself if it’ll be relevant to your tribe/niche/customers. Would they be able to benefit from it? The old way of doing network marketing or mlm is obsolete in today’s world. It might still work for a few but not for long… being innovative and being able to design the future is absolutely crucial.
4. Make Friends AND Enemies.
I read many music videos/movie reviews and sometimes I’m like, ‘Wow, that guy really doesn’t f—ing like that producer/director’ Like, they really don’t get it, but that’s cool. You’ve got to create some kind of stir. You’ve got to say something that’s got to upset some people, and that’s the risk-taking that makes music/cinematography (and not only) so fun.
Know that whenever you take a stand on ANYTHING you’re going to have friends AND enemies. But understand that you NEED both. Because whether they’re shouting your praise or condemning you to hell…they’re giving you invaluable advertisement…free advertisement!
5. Build Relationships With Your Tribe And Care For Your Fans.
It’s not an easy thing to create a fanbase. Especially for a business.
As start-ups it so easy to go after the “masses” and forget “fans.” But since a true fan is worth 10,000 strangers sometimes it makes sense to turn away from the crowd and treat your fans like royalty. Whether it be exclusive offers, invites to special events, making them a mayor…whatever it takes…show them the great privilege of being a true fan.
Once you start building your list you MUST build relationships with them. Many people build a list just to sell their products or services to them. That’s not how it works. Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with showing people your business plan or trying to sell a product but if you haven’t built a relationship with your list FIRST you’ll chase people away and your list won’t grow.
First build a relationship and once that relationship is built you can take it from there. You’ll also notice that once those relationships are built you will get people asking you about your business and running after you.
6. Make Adversity A Stepping Stone.
A girl who used to love singing had a boyfriend who told her she’d never succeed, never be nominated for a Grammy, never have a hit song, and that he hoped she’d fail. She said to him, ‘Someday, when we’re not together, you won’t be able to order a cup of coffee at the f–king deli without hearing or seeing me.” That girl was GaGa.
You’ll have doors slammed in your face, people who won’t give you a single chance, and some other who will think you are nuts…
… well, that doesn’t matter. Keep going!
Adversity is inevitable.
Sometimes people won’t buy into your dream, doors will shut in your face, business will be lost, delays will be had, and ideas will not work. But know that whatever adversity is in your way will always become a stepping stone if you keep going. If you analyze what works, what doesn’t work, why it doesn’t, and how you can fix it to make it work.
7. Be Aggressive!
… but in a smart way. Promote your brand in an aggressive manner.
Don’t be afraid to use new, unusual or controversial techniques.
People will always talk, so give them something to talk about!
8. Make Money.
“I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man! Let me handle my business, damn!” –Jay Z, Diamonds from Sierra Leone
Don’t be just a business… be a whole new business model! Be like an artist launched under the new “360 deal” (this is where labels invest 100% up front for a cut of revenues from every aspect of the artist’s business).
The lesson: at the end of the day cash flow is king!
Most business get founded with dreams but they are funded with money–and a high click through rate, heavy traffic, impressions, great “buzz”, and good marketing mean NOTHING if a profit isn’t made.
9. Think BIG! Dare!
Don’t waste your time on small ideas. If you’re already wasting energy, why not wasting it on something BIG? Dare to do more with less: that’s the business of the future.
10. Learn From The Best!
Don’t learn from bussinessmen. Learn from the BEST businessmen. Avoid their errors, apply their strategy: if it worked for them, then it will work for you, too.
So: the answer to “what hold in common Steve Jobs and a little strip down while playing the piano in a bar filled with drunken NYU students?” is… INNOVATION, STANDING OUT and SUCCESS!
Is there anything I missed? Then, perhaps Michael Holmes will fill the gaps for me.