Who wouldn’t want to grow your business?
Who wouldn’t want to Be a ROCK STAR at your Business? Well, first off, what comes to mind when you picture a punk musician?
They’re aggressive, imposing and perhaps a little crass (at least the ones I know are). But they are also authentic. And they’re trendsetters because they’re not afraid to stand out from the crowd to follow their passion or live their credo. Being a great startup leader requires a lot of the same gusto.
To be a better entrepreneur, try channeling your inner punk rocker. Harness your angst, develop a voice and subvert whatever status quo is preventing you from being the change you wish to make. Phenomenal entrepreneurs live according to these punk-like tenants:
Here are some tips on how to grow your business.
Have a philosophy – There are many different punk subcultures now, but each believes passionately in some way of living. Even anarcho-punks (anarchy-promoting) often support issues such as animal rights, racial equality, and environmentalism. Entrepreneurs must have a similar philosophical drive, or else how can they create a corporate vision that inspires people of different skill sets and backgrounds to mobilize? Your business is an extension of your personal belief system. It is the stuff from which company values emanate, it keeps you steadfast in your mission and it protects you against the temptation to veer from your strategic path.
Subvert the status quo – While it appeared to some to be nothing more than a haphazard movement driven by a hormonal disregard for authority, the earliest punk was deliberately fueled.
In retaliatory response to the materialism, excess and political idealism of the 1970s (and particularly of disco). Its intent, I think, was simple: to restore the rebellious spirit with which rock and roll was spawned the notion that any authority repressing the creative expression heralding change should be undermined.
By the way, for the record. I do not even like Punk. I’m a KISS fan, but everyone knows that.
Startup leaders don’t need to don offensive tees, leather jackets or spiked bands (although it s your company, wear what you want) to challenge the status quo, but I don t think anyone could argue that the purpose of a startup is to preserve the existing way of doing things. In fact, entrepreneurs should inspire their teams to constantly search for better ways to innovate, even if it means upending a process they themselves put in place.
Rebel against excess – The earliest punks kept things simple, and in no place was the sentiment of simplicity more strongly felt than the music itself. The Ramones’ 1976-77 debut album was produced for the astoundingly low-budget of $6,400 and featured 14 songs, the longest of which barely exceeded two and a half minutes. And the debut single off that album Blitzkrieg Bop featured only three chords, a style for which the punk movement is still famous.
The stripped down punk style was a far cry from the more technological virtuosity of the disco movement, but it came to represent a broader resentment of the ostentatious of the time. Simplicity, in this sense, is still important to punk, and its just as important to entrepreneurs who recognize the power of iterative development and minimum viable product.
Do it yourself – Punk is defined in great part by a DIY spirit, the notion especially that anyone, regardless of musical training, has a right to pick up an instrument and jam. Punks were known for making their own clothes and even self-produced and then distributed recordings through their own informal channels. And like startups, punks often incubated that DIY ethic from their garages. Punks didn’t allow a lack of technical talent deter them from creating or learning how to get their message heard, and startup entrepreneurs shouldn’t either. A former programmer of mine learned to code on the job part-time for me in our early days almost entirely by reading books and blogs online he had the DIY mentality and he s now the lead developer for the Honest Company as a result.
Experiment – The rock group Velvet Underground experimented with things like alternative guitar tunings and are said to have influenced the early creators of punk. Then, bands like Joy Division and Gang of Four, also highly experimental, helped create the post-punk genre, which shared the anti-establishment sentiment of punk but was darker and more melodic. Behind every great shift toward, within and away from punk (and music in general) has been experimentation.
Even some of the most well-known companies today ignore experimentation in favor of remaining in their comfort zones and do so at their own peril. At my last company, an online shopping website, we experimented constantly with the UI of our checkout process. Should it be one page? Several pages? Should we make people create an account? You ll never find the optimal answer unless you re-constantly testing your assumptions in experimentation.
Don t be a poseur – in the punk world, those who associate with punk style but don t understand or live by its values are labeled posers. And its kind of ridiculous because, in the end, it seems everyone gets called a poseur; given how popular and fractured the punk movement has gotten worldwide. But the point still remains: be genuine. Your customers can smell inauthenticity a mile away, especially in your marketing materials, website copy, product design, and customer interactions.
Harness your anger – Punk music is sometimes angry, and it s okay for you to be too. According to research by Henry Evans and Colm Foster, authors of , the best performing leaders are those who express their entire spectrum of emotions. That is, they show how they feel. The authors argue that anger actually enhances focus and improves confidence, but because it reduces inhibitions can also result in us saying and doing things we later regret.
The key to being an effective leader then is to harness your angst by remaining in control when you re angry. Get angry about actions, not people, and try using anger to overcome fear and anxiety. Show, gradually and to a controlled degree, that you re upset rather than allowing your pent-up frustration to explode unexpectedly.
Find your fellows – What do you think came first punk bands or punk fans? No matter how independent or visionary you are, a support network of kindred spirits can be vital to your success and personal wellbeing. Developing your inner circle of fellow business owners, advisors, and friends may even help you create the customer community you re looking for, especially if those customers don t yet know they want what you ve created.
Go Ahead, Punk – Lead The Way
Punk, regardless of whether you re a fan, was important to the world of music in part because it helped establish music as a medium for social and political change during a time of excess. And perhaps today there is a little excess in the startup community that needs to be subverted as well. HBO s Silicon Valley, I think, wouldn’t exist if the modern-day tech entrepreneur wasn’t so caricatured. And people wouldn’t t keep saying the traditional VC model is broken either.
The greater point to be made, however, is that there are too few incentives for entrepreneurs to start businesses that matter those that address affordable housing, renewable energy, food waste, crime reduction, poverty and infrastructure development to name a few. But maybe what we need are a few more punks to lead the way.