• Monday, December 16th, 2013

Five Valuable Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Beyoncé

Beyoncé's surprise CD release holds 5 valuable lessons for entrepreneurs. Photo Credit: Invision for Parkwood Entertainment

Whether or not you like Beyoncé or her music, she has proven, yet again, that she is at the top of her game and a stellar marketing magnate.  The singer stunned music industry insiders and her fans alike with her surprise fifth studio CD release with no fanfare last Friday, and in the process, has taught entrepreneurs five valuable lessons they can employ, whether they run empires, or are just getting started. The singer’s self-titled compilation enjoyed the highest sales of a debut on iTunes in the company’s history, with more than 600,000 units sold within three days of the release.

Innovation is key

Mrs. Carter has shown us how innovation – approaching situations, projects, and challenges with a fresh eye and a bit of creativity – can help unleash ideas
that, if they are good ones implemented at the right time, can propel businesses and brands to the next level of success, or awareness.

Being stagnant is no fun for those in charge of running a business. Ideas don’t flow, and frustration ensues. What we can learn from Beyoncé in her evolutionary approach to her career is that innovation never goes stale, no matter how established you are in your industry.

Know and Respect Your Brand

If you followed comments in the Twitterverse about Beyoncé’s CD release, many people – including her colleagues in entertainment – opined that she is the only established artist who could take such a nontraditional, yet aggressive, risk and succeed.

A huge part of the decision to use iTunes as the conduit for her new music, I assume, was greatly influenced by Beyoncé knowing and respecting her own brand. When you know that your product or service is one that appeals to your target audience, and your brand is appealing to your followers, customers, or constituency, it gives you latitude to explore creative ways to share new products or services. As the adage goes, confidence is key. If you are confident about your brand, others will often take you
seriously, even if your company is relatively unknown.

Risk Can Be Gratifying

Most of us are averse to extreme risk in growing or expanding business opportunities, or in some cases, decrease or redefine products or services offered. Taking a risk, after all, can mean lost revenue, staff reduction, or unfavorable feedback from customers or strategic alliances. As in financial investment, a certain level of risk is a necessary element in eventually reaping a big reward.

Even for an established artist like Beyoncé, a surprise CD release in a unique format was a very risky move, but she  has proven that taking chances, research, preparation, and a stellar work ethic combined are the hallmarks of a successful entrepreneur. Whether or not the the end result is a roaring success, such as getting your product in a store that typically wouldn’t carry it, or launching a social media campaign that nets thousands of loyal customers, risk can help reduce the fear that keeps business owners and company decision-makers from evolving.

Plus, taking a risk and assessing its impact can be helpful in determining if timing, resources, or staffing influenced the outcome. Then, use that data to
retool the risk and try again, hopefully, with more success if it doesn’t go according to plan the first time.

Don’t Be Consumed By Public Opinion

In an age where people can berate you on social media, it takes a tough person to ignore the comments, harsh criticism, and opinions and get on with it. Without uttering a word, Beyoncé has let the recording industry and the world know that she is not consumed by what critics, or even her own record label, think of her music, and ultimately, the songstress’ strategy for how she wanted to distribute her music.

Great ideas or novel concepts aren’t always understood or appreciated, even though our guts, research, or soft promotions have told us otherwise. Hearing objections to our ideas, or being criticized because the time isn’t right, people don’t get the concept, or the idea has never been done before by the company, can influence our courage to boldly make the move anyway.

Feedback is essential from customers, strategic alliances, and collaborators; however, if harsh criticism is the sole consideration in deciding whether or not to move forward with an idea, you may need to ignore the contrarians and implement it anyway. Who knows? It could be the next Facebook, Amazon.com, or Trader Joe’s.


Keep Your Mouth Shut

I can only imagine how hard it was for Beyoncé to keep this historic entertainment move a secret. Confidentiality agreements aside, this is probably my favorite lesson from the songstress.

How many entrepreneurs have had ideas hijacked by people because they talked too much about their plans before all of the details were
in place and established in a way that no other person could lay claim to the concept?

While Beyoncé may not have worried about competition as the primary reason for keeping mum about the visual concept CD, great ideas
implemented at the right time can mean a financial bonanza, or priceless media coverage. She will undoubtedly enjoy both as the momentum continues.

I am sure that other entertainers are taking notes and learning from Beyoncé’s innovative and creative approach to her career, which may
influence how digital music as a primary CD release platform is used in the future. Ultimately, Beyoncé’s fearless – and lucrative – move is a lesson for
all business owners to take notice of and create their own unique ways of promoting their brand, services, and products.


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