The Symphany of Entrepreneurship

October 27, 2009 – 9:41 am | by Matt Ackerson

Successful start-ups are like an orchestra. You ultimately aspire to have an organized group of people with varying skills working together to make something beautiful and valuable (an end product or service). Meanwhile you, the founder, stand at the podium and conduct the organization’s beat and tempo during the performance.

I look at companies like Great Black Speakers and I think there is no better analogy than this. GBA was founded by a friend of mine named Lawrence Watkins. The company is profitable and has therefore reached “cruising altitude” to take a phrase from Paul Graham‘s latest essay.

Lawrence would be the first to tell you that before you he was able to reach the point where he is today as the conductor of his business, he had to start out by learning to play many instruments and fill multiple roles within the company.

Today Lawrence acts as the owner of the company, shaping strategy from a top level point of view. His company employs 10-13 people working remotely through out the country and the world. They include web developers, designers, management personnel, etc. They are organized as one body toward the company’s goal of inspiring people, of which money and profit are a by-product.

Operating your growing start-up from a top-level point of view is a goal to aspire to, and it is not usually something entrepreneurs who are bootstrapping are able to do. Even though this is typically not possible at the outset due to limited capital, make sure to keep it in mind as you go about the daily grind of building your business.

To repeat, successful start-ups are an orchestration of human talent. Once you reach this point it should be music to your ears. Plan for it, aspire to it.

Related Posts:

  1. 3 Responses to “The Symphany of Entrepreneurship”

  2. By Richard on Dec 4, 2009 | Reply

    That’s a good way to put it – and when everything is happening in the right way at the right time it sounds great :)

    While you need to understand each part when you’re getting started, as your business grows you need to learn to think like a conductor. It doesn’t look like they’re doing much but they make sure everyone is going in the same direction. The conductor does everything through other people, so they can make beautiful music without a sound. It took me some time to learn this, as it does for everyone the first time, but in the end you want to do it right instead of playing 100 instruments!

  3. By Matt Ackerson on Dec 4, 2009 | Reply

    Thanks Richard! You’re correct, it’s difficult to achieve at first because there are so many instruments or roles to be filled. But when you do achieve it, it’s sweet music to your ears! Do you have an example from your own business in how you learned to do it the first time or potential pitfalls you came across?

  4. By Richard on Dec 5, 2009 | Reply

    I’m still learning a lot so I can’t give a complete answer, but two of the most important things are careful hiring and giving employees the freedom to learn and have responsibility, even if they make mistakes along the way. Being careful to hire people who are smart and capable of learning, then letting them apply their intelligence to come up with new solutions, seems to be the best way to create an organization where people enjoy their work and deliver quality results. I’m always looking for examples of leaders who can step back even when they think they know better and inspire others to grow and exceed expectations.

    By the way, I just discovered your blog yesterday through Quick Sprout and it looks very interesting. If you want to discuss this further please feel free to email me directly!

Post a Comment