Sunday, April 24, 2011

Business lessons from American Idol

I have to admit that watching American Idol is a guilty pleasure of mine.   I can justify this (in part) by noting that there are a lot of good lessons from Idol that can be applied to business.  What is making idol fun to watch this season is the variety of the performers who have made it to the final rounds.   No two are alike.   You have pop, blues, country, soul and rock artists.  Each contestant has talent and is finding their niche, their stride and the genre in which they can be the most successful.

This is a great lesson for those of us who often struggle to be all things to all people rather than accepting and focusing on what we do really well.  As business owners we often feel pressure to add products or services to our mix when we would be better off sticking with the formula that works for us.   I remember my days as an in Innkeeper in Bar Harbor when guests would suggest that I open a restaurant at the Inn.   I thought about it – then realized that being a restaurant operator was not what I was good at – nor was it my passion.  I needed to focus on what I did well and refer guests to the many fine restaurants that were within walking distance of my establishment.

I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t try new things or expand your horizons but you need to be careful not to dilute what it is that you do best.   The contestants on American Idol have been advised by the judges to push the envelope, to get out of their comfort zones and to experiment with new sounds and types of music.  In spite of this advice, the most confident performers have stuck to their guns and stayed with the genre of music they are the most passionate about while pushing themselves to the next level to achieve the greatest performances possible.   More and more the judges are recognizing and acknowledging the talents of the finalists and helping them find and excel in their niche.

The contestants on Idol can choose to sing a variety of songs, but the ones that will continue to be the top finalists and eventually the winner will make sure their song choices best reflect, enhance and showcase their talent, rather than detract from it.  As business owners we need to do the same thing.   If you are thinking of adding new products or services make sure they fit within your business niche and brand.   Like the contestants on Idol, if you focus on what you do best and give your best performance very day – you too will be a rock star (or country, or blues or…)

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