Three things being in a band taught me about growing a business
After graduating high school, I formed a band with three of my closest friends. We spent most of our early 20s making music and touring the US and England. Looking back, I realize that being in a band taught me a lot about growing a business and working with a team.
- Connect directly with your audience
Nowadays, many businesses are built on the internet, and customers can sometimes feel like they are just numbers on the screen.
However, being in a band and performing live allowed us to see our audience’s reactions in real-time and understand what resonated with them. We could see immediately if they were getting bored, so each night, we would tweak our set to be better and better.
To build a successful business, you need to do everything you can to get close enough to see your customer’s reactions to what you’re building. Some ways to do this include:
- Having every team member do a “customer service day” where they read through customer service requests/replies/suggestions so they can see directly how people are experiencing the product.
- Conducting user research and sharing the highlights with every department.
- Doing 1:1 phone calls with people who are paying for your product and asking for feedback.
2. Build for them and not for you
When we played shows with other artists, we noticed that many had no sense of how long to play. Their sets were long, people got bored, and the whole vibe of the room went down. Why? Because they were playing for themselves and not for their audience. To stand out, we played only shorter sets of our best songs and consistently got good feedback after our shows. People often said, “Why was your set so short? I want to hear more!” This is a good indicator that you’re on the right track. When you’re trying to sell a product, make sure you’re building for your customers and not for you. Stay focused on what they want and need above your own biases, and don’t be boring.
3. Pick your battles and learn to give honest feedback
When making anything creative, like music or art, your feedback can be subjective. In my band, we had to learn how to communicate what songs, notes, tempos, etc. we didn’t think were working while still maintaining our friendships. This taught me a lot about how to deliver feedback at work.
When working or collaborating with someone important to you, it’s crucial to consider the impact a disagreement can have on that relationship. Although the thing you’re building may feel important, it’s essential to pick your battles and carefully consider what you will critique and give feedback on. I am still friends with all of my former bandmates a decade later, and it wouldn’t have been possible if we were individually determined to get our own way.