6 Core Business Lessons From Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift won the Grammy for album of the year for the second time this past Monday — exactly as I predicted it would when it was released on October 27, 2014. Not only is Taylor Swift a songwriting prodigy, she’s a bona fide, marketing genius. Here are six business lessons we can learn from her.
1. Only produce the highest quality product.
Taylor Swift takes two years to produce a record. She spends countless hours writing, re-writing, experimenting and working on her craft to produce over fifty songs for each record. Come release time, she’s very selective in only picking the best 13 songs to share with the world.
Business lesson: If you’re going to make a product, take the time, energy and effort to not just release any product, but to release the best product possible. Do the necessary research. Learn everything you can about your industry and competitors. Make a product that breaks the iTunes store. Why bother creating a “me-too” product? The world already has too many forgettable products. Worse yet, don’t fall into the Google Glass trap — a beautiful product that fails to solve a real problem. Don’t be a solution looking for a product.
2. Let early success breed more success.
Taylor Swift could have taken it easy after her second album “Fearless” sold millions of copies and won the grammy for album of the year. Instead, she let that success challenge her to try new things. She toured the world relentlessly and spent more hours in the studio to try to her make next album even better. She pumped out three albums that were superb, with her most recent album “1989” shattered records across the itunes stores/music industry. She values improving yourself and creating new things for people’s enjoyment.
Business lesson: If you acquire 1300 users or land a huge account, pat yourself on the back, celebrate with a nice lunch, but don’t stop. Don’t sit on past success thinking it will last forever or that you’re all of a sudden a big deal. Don’t fall into that trap. Instead, pull a Zuckerberg and go out and expand your market share. How many more people can you help? Be relentless. How many more people can you help? How many more innovative product can you create? As Steve Jobs and Elon Musk have shown, innovation only stops when you stop.
3. Keep your ear to the ground.
Taylor Swift makes is all about her fans. She follows them on social media, comments on their blogs and takes the time to chat with them on the streets. She actually cares about her fans. She’s taken caring to a new level that won’t be unmatched anytime soon.
Business lesson: How’s your relationship with your customers? Are you actually listening to their concerns? What can you do to show that you care more than anyone else? I think we can all raise the bar on customer service. I say do everything you can to do what’s best for your customer. If that means going over six minutes for a scheduled 60 minute appointment, then go over. If that means responding back to emails at 11PM, respond back. And if the last time you sent out a handwritten thank you note was in the third grade, please, do yourself a favor and send one out today. It’s the little things that go a long way to making an impact and making you more memorable.
4. Abandon your comfort zone.
Taylor Swift was dominating the country charts for six continuous years. She confidently left it to try something completely new and different in the form or a 100% pop album. She didn’t listen to the naysayers saying it was a mistake or she had no experience. No, she listened to her gut and trusted her skills.
Business lesson: If you notoriously avoid calling customers on the phone — FYI texting does not count — or meeting them one-on-one, do it. Do it ASAP. If you know nothing about running a successful business, pick up a book or learn from a mentor. Know nothing about Facebook ads? Then learn about them. In the age of Google, almost everything is at your fingertips if you’re willing to look. The only excuses in a digital age, are the ones you come up with. What if the one new skill you try your hand at is the one that leads you to more customers? What if taking a calculated risk leads to your breakthrough? GO FOR IT.
5. Work harder than anyone else.
Taylor Swift, without question, is one of the hardest working people in music and entertainment. She’s involved in all aspects of her brand — from composing the lyrics to her songs, to producing the albums, to the imagery, to hand picking the backup dancers, to mapping out the music videos and helping design the tour layouts. She’s the Gary Vaynerchuk of her industry.
Business lesson: If you’re the head of your business, do everything you can to make it worthwhile for your customers. What can you do to ensure they’ll come back? Don’t ever complain because you asked for his by starting a business. Just work harder to create the best business you can. This is your business. Who knows how to run it better, you who breathes it and lives it 24/7 or some “me-too” MBA wannabee-entrepreneur who thinks a fancy education is enough to create an innovative and sustainable business? Trust yourself.
6. Be driven by passion, not money.
It’s abundantly clear Taylor Swift loves every single thing about music, storytelling and people. She’s been working on her craft for years. If you think she just magically became the #1 pop star on the planet through a couple of music videos or #1 hits, I’m sorry, but you might want to study some Taylor Swift history. She worked hard for years with the hopes of connecting with people through music and storytelling. With so much passion oozing from her for so long, is it really any wonder she’s loved the world over? It’s called brand loyalty ala Apple.
Business lesson: Be honest about the business you’re in: are you really doing what you love? Yes = great, keep doing it. No = then for christ sake, please, find. what. you. love. Look for it until you find it. If you have to travel the world over like a nomad to get your mind right, then that’s what you have to do.
If you have to leave that high-paying, but soul-sucking job to find what truly motivates you, then do it. If you have to work shitty jobs for years, while you earn your big break, do it. DO WHAT’S NECESSARY. Your passion will carry you through all the BS, disappointment and the people that stand in your way or fail to offer a helping hand.
If you love it, your dedication and determination to be successful will shine through in how careful and precise you are with your chosen craft. If nothing else, it will make the initial stages easier when money may not be coming through the doors yet. The money will always come if passion comes first. But no passion will always yield chump change.
Start loving the process today and soon enough, you too can become a master of your domain. Taylor Swift learned all her business skills on the go, so can you.
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About the author: Saul Juan Antonio Cuautle is a writer, entrepreneur and coach based out of Menlo Park, CA. He’s the Founder & CEO of Minds of Steel — a tech startup building fitness coaching software that helps you“Discover Your Inner Superhero.” He’s the author of “A Superstar Love Story: Powering Through the Friend Zone.”