Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Analogy I Wish I'd Used

Two entries ago, I talked about the at-first-blush unconventional advice a friend had given for new business founders:  don't spend too much time around other entrepreneurs.  Of course, 'too much' leaves plenty of room for interpretation and subjectivity, but his general point was that with limited time, it's better to use it to a) actually build your business, and b) talk to your actual or prospective customers, rather than c) go to the nightly founder networking night events in Boston.

Of course, balance is what makes sense -- some of that stuff is really useful.

Anyway, here's the analogy I shoulda coulda woulda used in that entry:  a band.   I know virtually nothing about how anyone promotes a band for either live gigs or recording contracts, but I think this analogy will hold some water, just based on general principle.  Here goes:  Let's say you and your friends are trying to start a band.  You guys think you have the special sauce needed to be awesome.  Whether it's the uniqueness of your sound, the soul with which you play, or something about the way you look, interact with the crowd, etc. you think you've got something that could "blow up."

How should you test your hypothesis?  

It stands to reason that you would start out playing in front of small crowds to gauge the reaction from the audience and the management.  See if you get asked back.  See if you can go bigger.  See who notices you, etc.  If you're trying to get a recording deal, well, then put your demo together and try to get some time to borrow the ear of whoever makes that decision.

What should you probably NOT spend most of your time focusing on? 

Other musicians.  Think about it -- not only are they not your audience, but they're trying to do what you're doing (even if there's no 'market overlap' and no direct sense of competition).  Add it up, and you're way more likely to hear stuff that's steeped in negatives, rather than honest feedback or encouragement.  Obviously, there's a lot you can learn from someone who's been around the block a time or two before you got there.  And obviously, it seems wise to wear whatever shoe fits.

However, there is a point at which that value tapers off, and maybe even starts to curve downward.

That's why there's no substitute for the most honest form of feedback -- are people willing to pony up their dollars in exchange for whatever you're offering?

Critics will criticize, Thomases will doubt, and armchair know-it-alls will, well, know-it-all.  Great.  And dogs will bark while cats meow.  Got it. None of that should surprise anyone.

But separate from all of that, a band that draws a big following, much like a business that draws real live customers, is doing something right.  

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