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Start Your Business Success Stories

For Lessons on Business Success, Meet the Beatles

Can you think of a more successful franchise than the Beatles? Their music has captivated the world for more than 40 years and the band has built a multibillion-dollar franchise with multigenerational appeal. Last year, Apple/EMI concluded a multimillion-dollar deal with iTunes to market the band’s music.

Might there be a few business lessons to learn from the Beatles?

Richard Courtney and George Cassidy, authors of “Come Together: The Business Wisdom of the Beatles” (Turner Publishing, March 2011), think so. Their new book details what startups, entrepreneurs and regular business folk can learn from the Fab Four.

Cassidy gave BusinessNewsDaily a sneak preview with five key things business owners can learn from John, Paul, George and Ringo.

Avoid debt

In the early years, the Beatles were a lean, mean, cash business. When Brian Epstein became the Beatles’ manager, he paid off their debts to local music stores and put them on a weekly allowance. This enabled them to focus on developing their music free from the anxiety that accompanies debt, and to weather the lean times.

It’s never too early to have key man insurance and life insurance on your principals, and a clear succession plan

The Beatles spent three long years (1967-1970) effectively without a manager, after Epstein died at age 32 without life insurance. No longer free to focus on the music, the 20-something Beatles were instead beset with thousands of decisions they should have delegated to others, as well having to deal with Epstein’s personal debts and the claims of his heirs and would-be successors.

Do your best to retain the loyalty of existing customers

While they continue to win new fans, the Beatles were and are true masters of the art of keeping their core audience happy and tuned in. Whether it was the Anthology in 1995, or the digitally remastered mono mixes of their albums in 2009, they [the Beatles brand] have consistently found ways to generate additional value from their catalog and re-sell it to their fan base at intervals for 40 years.

Learn from your mistakes

It is true that the Beatles handled some of their business affairs initially with some naïveté. But they rarely made the same mistake twice. And today, the Beatles and their heirs have enormous personal fortunes (of as much as a billion dollars in Paul McCartney’s case) to prove it.

Respect the Taxman

It wasn’t Yoko Ono who broke up the Beatles, it was former British Prime Minister Lloyd George, who died in 1945. George was the architect of the British “super-tax ” that took 19 of every 20 pounds the Beatles earned. From beyond the grave, he gradually forced them to spend more and more time figuring out how to shelter their income in often ill-advised ventures, rather than making music. The tensions and complications that arose from these misadventures have as much as anything else to do with their eventual breakup.