The musical journey of an entrepreneur

By Ray DePaul

Every so often I talk to a budding entrepreneur who believes entrepreneurship is a get rich quick scheme. My harsh advice to them is that they are not going to make it as an entrepreneur. Sure, there are the anomalies, but you, my friend, are not going to be one of them. I'm just playing the probabilities.

Imagine a new musician deciding that they are going to put their head down for a few months and become rich and famous. It's not going to happen. In fact, the concept stinks. But if you love making and playing music, living in motels on the road, playing in small bars with beer-soaked floors, then you might just have what it takes to be a successful musician. And even if you're not successful, it's a sweet road trip you'll never forget.

Being an entrepreneur is the same thing. If you love the process of creating something from nothing, engaging with customers, solving new problems every day, eating ramen noodles, building and motivating a team, and testing and changing your plan constantly, you might just make it as an entrepreneur. Even if you don't, the ride alone will change you.

If the musician is in a band, rather than solo, the similarities continue. Every member of the band/team must be at a high level (no weak link), playing equally important roles, with tremendous rapport and respect among team members. There's no room for Yoko on your team (sorry to Yoko fans). And while there's usually a front man, The Rolling Stones wouldn't be who they are if it weren't for the genius of Keith Richards (note to self: get some 21st century examples).

A final comparison is the difference between a creative musician and a technically skilled one. We clearly need both, but without the creativity, music today might be restricted to technically perfect performances of Bach (sorry Johann fans). There's no question that we need people who know how to execute a well known plan. But the creation of a new plan, never conceived of before, puts you in the same category as Dylan, The Notorious B.I.G., Cobain, Waits, and Jay-Z. Who do you want to be?

So stop dreaming of instant success and get to work.