Monday, November 26, 2012

12 business lessons from The Rolling Stones

Last night, I went to see The Rolling Stones celebrate 50 years in the music business with an unforgettable concert at the O2 in Greeenwich (right). In my opinion, they've never played better and the twenty thousand fans there gave them a rapturous reception. They delivered exactly what we wanted, and the fact that we'd all paid hundreds of pounds for our seats was completely forgotten, since they treated us to an experience none of us will ever forget. So it started me thinking what it is that has made them the best rock and roll band in the world, with their popularity higher than ever after half a century in business.

What can we learn from Mick, Keith, Ronnie and Charlie? Here's my list of twelve things they do so well that we can all emulate.

  1. Turn Up. It's often said that one of the keys to success is turning up, and it's as true as ever. If you promise to be somewhere, be there. If you don't turn up, you'll never win the business. Mick and the band hit the stage at 8.30, and played for two and a half hours. They definitely turned up.
  2. Start strong. This is true for first meetings, speeches and really any type of communication or relationship. You need to hold someone's interest right from the start. You may lose their attention, but if you never had it to begin with, it's always lost. The Stones kicked off with "I Wanna be your Man", which went down a storm, even though it was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
  3. Give the fans what they want. You need to know your audience, or your customers. It's easy to find out what they want by listening to them, or even by asking them. No-one was disappointed by the 23 hits played last night.
  4. Practice. No-one reaches virtuoso standard without years of practice. There are no short-cuts. Experienced as The Stones are, they hired Wembley Arena the week before the concert to practice in.
  5. Be consistent. Keep doing what you do. If you change your offerings repeatedly, people won't know what you stand for, and more importantly what you can do for them. Before handing over hundreds of pounds for tickets, we knew from following The Stones for years exactly what we would get.
  6. Be the only ones doing it. Rock pro­mo­ter Bill Graham said of another iconic band, The Gra­te­ful Dead, “They’re not the best at what they do, they’re the only ones that do what they do.” When you put yourself in a class of one, like The Stones, you know you've made it.
  7. Keep going. You may not have fifty years in your tank, but the ones who keep their businesses going are the ones who succeed. The Stones considered breaking up several times, but stuck with it. That level of dedication pays off big-time.
  8. Remember who got you there. The people who help you should remain important to you. The sight of Mick Taylor and Bill Wyman on stage with their old band-mates was a rare treat.
  9. Keep in touch. This is one of the most important lessons of all. Keeping in touch with people takes very little time, and reaps huge rewards. Even though The Stones hadn't played together for five years, they were still in touch with their fans through films, documentaries, interviews and other projects.
  10. Stay fit. Business is tough, and you need to be fit to cope with the demands. Staying fit is pretty much within your control. To see Mick Jagger, pushing 70 years old, charging round the stage like a sprinter was a sight to see.
  11. Take breaks. There are no prizes for working all hours. You need to get your head up and go and do something else, which will definitely make you more creative and productive. A five-year break may not be possible for you, but a week might.
  12. Have fun. This is really what it's about. When you have fun in business, others do too, and that makes you more attractive to work with. There's no doubt that The Stones enjoy their "work"!
Even if you do half of the things in this list, you'll make a difference to your business. Don't gather moss.

1 comment:

Charlyn said...

Loved this article! Perfect advice no matter how big or hwo small your business is.