What in the world do we mean with our headline? Certainly there is nothing artists – great personalities and individualists in many cases – can learn from a fast food chain?
Regardless of how you feel about fast food, or if you are vegan, there are things to actually pick up from McDonalds if you are an artist…
There are so many aspects to an artist’s career, and not in the least these days. And guess who is trying to do most of the work involved most of the time? The artist. In the current climate especially. An artist is like an entrepreneur who just got started in this sense – and remains in that start-out position through most of his career – in a lot of cases. The fresh entrepreneur has to do everything himself. And he probably started his entrepreneurship because he is truly accomplished in something, which is at the core of his longing to be ‘his own’. This is his skill, a skill that made him start a business. So now he is selling this skillfulness of his, which means that he has to do a lot of other chores, and it is likely that performing his skill becomes one of the many chores, and there is a major threat that the fun of devoting himself to his core capacity is at risk. There is a major risk also, that he gets very tired as time passes or even burnt out. A reason why many new businesses fail isn’t that the entrepreneur wasn’t able to sell his expertise or his goods, but that it all becomes too much for that one individual in a way that eventually will make him less brilliant at performing the skill he started the business for in the first place.
So perhaps the fresh entrepreneur, or the artist, is wise enough to hire some help to do some of the chores that take up most of his days and nights. This too is a risky situation. Because perhaps the hired help doesn’t really do the job they were intended to do in a way that the artist is pleased with. Perhaps he doesn’t recognize himself in the marketing campaigns, perhaps the gear isn’t set up the right way, perhaps he is always running between flights. So what happens if there is an area that the artist has trouble with after hiring someone to do it for him? It will be a worry for him. It will remain on his mind. He will double-check it, and if it’s not done right, he will wind up doing it himself even after having hired help, or he will at least keep trying to make adjustments that better fit his needs – spending a lot of time working around the hired help. So even if he has people now, who do things to help out, what they are assisting with still is time consuming to the artist, and still remains in his thoughts in an unpleasant and energy-consuming way. He may choose to end the relationship with the hired help and go back to doing it all himself again, to regain control.
Once McDonalds was a new company. What did they do differently? Like Michael E. Gerber points out in his book, “The E Myth”, McDonalds doesn’t actually sell hamburgers. They are selling a concept and a franchise model.
At the core of a business concept the question of what a company wants to be is the first question. This question is also present in the answers to all aspects concerning a business. And if an artist isn’t actually selling music, but a concept – that persona that he would like for people to think about when they think about him, who does he want to be? That would partly answer how everything concerning his career should be set up, in the same way.
Like at McDonalds there could eventually be a manual for how the chores in the artist’s career should be done. And instead of spending a lot of time explaining to one person after another how he wants things done, in a myriad of situations and with a plethora of details, the artist could simply give the manual to the people he works with.
Thinking in terms of a franchise model, one that has a manual and can be easily copied, a manual that can be picked up by just about anyone who comes into contact with the artist for professional reasons, is a time-saving way of working for an artist, and one that gives him control regardless of who he encounters. Working on The Manual alongside his music is something an artist could contemplate. Perhaps a little know thyself could – just as an example – be added to the manual, with instructions as to how to deal with things when the artist himself knows that he sometimes is a little tardy for appointments. Perhaps the manual will instruct people who work with him when they can tell him to step it up, if his idea of concept is that he is a professional who is on time. And perchance – just as another example – the manual has sections where the instruction is to stay away under all circumstances from aspects that the artist never wants any meddling with. Et cetera.
The manual is a far bigger document than a rider, and could over time include all the aspects of the artist’s career, as if it was a franchise model, though it is not. Michael E. Gerber truly points out the merits in thinking of any enterprise as one even if it isn’t. And suddenly it wouldn’t quite matter as much who the hired help is at times, and further the manual will bring them clarity too, because who wants to see their work be unappreciated? Isn’t that the situation where many professionals start to dream of running their own…band? As an example? Being without the boss who doesn’t value their work? And off they go to take the trip described above, the one of doing everything themselves or hiring people who may not do things the way these new band-leaders want things done…
McDonalds will be the same everywhere thanks to the manual, thanks to the franchise model, which in fact is what they sell, and we are all in the clear about what they are regardless if we are customers or not. And that is how a business – or a career – sails the smoothest.