I’m on the 100-step plan toward becoming a Beatle. No, I’m not going to get a mop-top haircut and learn guitar (actually, I play drums), but I’ve been reading a great business book. It’s called “Come Together: The Business Wisdom of the Beatles,”
by authors Richard Courtney and George Cassidy.
In 100 short chapters, “Come Together” illustrates how to start or run a successful business by using examples of what the Beatles did. It doesn’t literally say, “If you want to start a smoothie shop, do this.” But you can glean from the lessons the Beatles offer how any business could be successful.
Throw out the notion that the Beatles were some overnight success (they weren’t) or that the band’s success was based purely on talent. The members of the Beatles knew what they didn’t know and found people who could do things better than them. For example, John Lennon knew he wasn’t nearly as good a musician as Paul McCartney and McCartney could actually tune a guitar.
Co-author George Cassidy says Lennon was actually unsure whether he wanted to hire McCartney because he felt McCartney was too good and would outshine him. Cassidy says Lennon stepped out of his comfort zone and realized hiring McCartney would be better for the overall organization and that McCartney would shine, thereby allowing the whole band to shine.
A big lesson of the book is to fire yourself and hire a good manager. The Beatles were actually poor managers of themselves and needed to hire a good one. Before manager Brian Epstein came along, The Beatles had incurred debts at music stores to buy their equipment. And they weren’t very good at finance. After Epstein was hired, he paid off the debts with money from made from shows, put the band on an allowance and began truly managing their finances. He kept overhead low. He bought them clothes and laid out a roadmap, including where they’d been on tours and where they were going. This allowed the members to do what they were truly good at: making music.
The band kept improving their product as time went on. Before hitting it big, when they made a record that was rejected by a record company, they didn’t keep sending the same one. They made a new, better record and sent that. Before too long, they were signed to a major label.
The Beatles’ work ethic was unparalleled. As co-author Richard Courtney notes in an interview, in 1964 alone, the band made two feature films, wrote and recorded three albums and toured the world, twice. Though it was hard work, they did it eagerly because they were passionate about what they did. A lesson gleaned from the book is that unless you have passion for what you do, forget it. You’ll never get through all the trials and tribulations that will come along in any business.