What can entrepreneurs learn from musicians


What can they, indeed? How can two such diverse fields require common traits? As an amateur musician to whom this question was posed, I began to think about it, to see what I could come up with. In just a few minutes, an abundance of virtues that young entrepreneurs could learn from the experienced musicians I look up to, occurred to me. On closer analysis of these two seemingly worlds-apart spheres, parallels emerge. Musicians are, in essence, entrepreneurs; instead of offering products or services, they entertain with their talent.

The similarities between these two fields are, in truth, boundless, possibly because being a successful musician is a subset of being an entrepreneur. Famous musicians receive so much visibility and attention that they are easy to observe and emulate. Thus, there are a number of nuances and techniques entrepreneurs can imbibe from these famous personalities, to incorporate into their own methods of entrepreneurship.

In my opinion, there are quite a few key qualities that successful musicians embody, which every entrepreneur should possess. I’m going to list a few I believe to be most important in ensuring the success of a startup. If a trait listed is not among your virtues, or something you’ve never thought of before, work on consciously integrating it into your way of life. I’m no expert, but I think these qualities are important ingredients in the recipe for success!


All famous musicians have, at some point, really, really wanted to make it big. Music is their passion, their calling, and they are truly dedicated to the art. This drive shows up as that special something in their compositions, and is what subconsciously appeals to the masses that eventually make them famous.

If you’ve thrown away a ‘safe’ career to pursue starting up, you’re probably very passionate about your company. What you could learn from musicians is to channel this passion into indications that are telling of your enthusiasm. All the energy that musicians possess at concerts and live shows stems from their passion. Making your enthusiasm obvious in a way that fits in with your personality is very important.


Three words: Never give up.

Every single musician out there who is successful today has faced his/her fair share of rejection, but hasn’t let it get to them. Off the top of my head, such artists range right from The Beatles back in 1962, to Taylor Swift in 2006. The never-say-die attitude and initiative possessed by famous artists, some of whom were rejected by many major record labels before striking oil, is something every young entrepreneur should aim to emulate.

Letting rejection or lack of recognition get to you is the worst thing possible, because it throws you off your game; and that pretty much ensures that you will never be appreciated and successful.

Ability to collaborate:

Being the boss doesn’t mean all the responsibility is on you. To spearhead a successful startup, you need a team you can depend on, preferably one that comprises people whose opinions you value. This takes some of the pressure off you and your co-founders. A lot of bands work because of this. For example, the members ofchart-topping pop-rock act Maroon 5 have known each other since high school. The mutual trust that has inevitably developedover the years probably takes a lot of pressure off lead singer Adam Levine, especially during live performances.

In turn, you’ve got to take your team’s ideas seriously. If the team does consist of people whose judgment you value, this shouldn’t be hard. Sometimes, the desire to dominate the venture that is your brainchild might overpower all reason, and could lead to an irreconcilable argument. So many bands have gone through ugly split-ups because of power struggles between the lead vocalist and another, less prominent but equally important member.

Band members have to be able to rely on each other to hold up their own ends, as well as cover up for one another’s errors. They also have to be able to work together, to produce beautiful harmonies that are distinct, unique. It’s quite the same with an entrepreneurial venture. The ability to collaborate is a beautiful one, and very necessary indeed.

Willingness to take risks:

Artists, in order to grow, need to challenge themselves, stretch their range and capabilities, branch out; basically, take risks.Taking calculated, small risks can lead to greater success than any other kind of move. For example, Kanye West’s shift in focus from producer to rapper in the early 2000s is the reason he is world-famous today.

It seems to me that entrepreneurs need to do the same. A shift in focus is an established move in entrepreneurship, called a ‘pivot’. If you have conclusive proof that your company can do better with emphasis on a slightly different domain, then try it out in the least damaging way possible. Small risks can’t hurt too much, and if they don’t work out, you could always return to your old focus. So many artists try out new sounds on a whole album; whether or not it works out, at least they stop thinking about ‘what-ifs’.


This might seem completely unrelated to all my previous points, but it’s imperative that, as an entrepreneur, you have a personality. Don’t try and fabricate one; stay true to yourself, because every human being has an instinctive understanding of what’s real and what isn’t. If you, as a person, don’t quite ring true, your passion is unlikely to come off as genuine as well.

Artists that possess likeable, genuine personas that do not completely obliterate their true personalities, but rather magnify already existing traits, are more likely to be liked by people, and thus successful. While these personas can be larger-than-life, complete fakeness doesn’t work. With entrepreneurs, the larger-than-life aspect isn’t necessary, but depiction of yourself as at ease in any surrounding, and adept at the social graces, will earn you respect.


Probably the most obvious thing on the list. Considering that you’ve decided to go independent and start up, you probably are talented, both in your field and at entrepreneurship. But, as an artist, talent doesn’t just mean you can sing/play well; it also means that you can sing/play music that will sell, making you commercially successful. Similarly, as an entrepreneur, your product or service needs to be both exceptional and marketable. Also, you need to be talented at selling your product. To do that, you need to believe in it, and to believe in it, you need to be passionate about it. And this where every single quality interweaves to make you a class entrepreneur.

-Simran Vatsa


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