These days, everyone and their aunties, uncles, brothers, sisters, stepbrothers and girlfriends are Chief Executive Officers… check Facebook and twitter!
Yea, I know that’s a weird way to start an article but if you spend two whole days looking at a blank page, anything would do.
Generally, the CEO is the person who has the power to put plans, actions and laws into effect in an organization. The CEO's job involves delegation, decision making based on financial analysis and projections, research, managing financial, material and human resources. The CEO is accountable to a board of directors or investors and in some cases both. There are many other things and more definitions online… google it!
The more time I spend time with certain business owners in the music industry as well as businesses in other industries, the more I realize how much more I need to learn. I am continually humbled by their knowledge, leadership styles and qualities and how they interact with other people.
In the last couple of years, I have sat in several meetings with a lot of CEOs of the numerous businesses both in the music industry and in other sectors like advertising and petroleum.
I was privileged to sit in a board meeting of a petroleum company once and in the meeting was the Finance Director, The Administrative Head, the engineer in-charge of new sites etc and I listened as they bombarded the CEO with information. Information about the state of the company, income, staff appraisals, proposals from vendors, projections, projects as well as needs. All the information he needed to make decisions were provided and adequately broken down. What was fascinating was the fact that he had a discussed the things his people mentioned in the meeting with me, an hour before the meeting. He had a very good idea of what he was expecting from every department and every single member of his management team.
I’m sure you would be wondering… if he knows so much about everything, why doesn't he just do it by himself, right?
I am also sure some of you are wondering if it’s a good idea to compare both industries. I’m just trying to make a point. The music industry has very peculiar challenges and concerns compared to the Oil and Gas industry. I will make my point in a bit…
In one of my meetings with a CEO of a record label in Nigeria… before I start this story, if you think I am talking to you, I probably am!
So, I sat in a meeting with a CEO to discuss working with his artistes and label and then I started asking him questions… What type of contract do your artistes have? Who is currently responsible for their management? Why do you need me here? Do you have a budget?
He had no answer for me. He had absolutely no idea of what he wanted to achieve and why he signed the artistes. They had no contracts with his label and no major obligation to him but yet he was ready to spend money on promoting their music and was hoping to make money.
After an awkward 10 seconds of silence, I started asking him questions about business in general. Questions about strategy, operations, planning… You know, I was making conversation…
I got pissed. Not because I had just come to realize that I was wasting my time. I was pissed because this fellow had just returned from the “States” where he worked hard (whatever the job was), very hard to save up funds for an investment in his motherland and here he was about to throw a huge chunk of that money into a venture he knew absolutely nothing about… Unbelievable right? That’s what I thought too.
Though not all cases are this extreme, it is gradually becoming a norm that a lot of people in the music industry have gone to start their own companies without any knowledge of how the industry works or how businesses work generally. After 1 year and all their investments have been taken away, they start hating the industry and then haggling over my fees like I’m selling fish! Tsk tsk!!!
I am not excluded. I did the same thing. I had no guidance... partly because I wanted to do it alone and secondly because I had a lot I still had to learn. Now to make my point;
Unlike the CEO of the Petroleum Company who knew about the activities of each aspect of his business, which helped him create reasonable expectations and goals for his team, the clueless CEOs in the music industry do not even know why they are in the business in the first place. They do not know what to expect from the people who work for them. They just know their artistes are not getting paid from shows… or the artistes are not attending any shows. But they don’t know why.
They are also fond of asking the wrong questions. Questions like “When do we start making money?” or “When do we start getting shows” are important questions to ask but they should come after questions like “Do you think the artiste’s music will sell?” “How do we create demand?” “How do I achieve these things cost-effectively” “What exactly does your company do?”. I know… Why waste all the time asking all these questions when we can jump straight into the crux of the matter, making money?!
Unfortunately, if you cannot get answers to these questions, you would end up losing more money than you would make.
The clueless CEOs refuse to plan. But why plan? Planning is just a tedious endeavor that takes time and effort and attention to detail about how you intend to take your company to profit making status with the hard earned cash you are about to throw into the company. *Thats sarcasm*
Avoiding it just because its too much stress is Foolishness!
No one ever plans to fail and failure doesn’t just happen. Our refusal to put time and effort into finding the best ways to approach our businesses makes failure inevitable.
He, who fails to plan, plans to fail!
Another major issue is that people tend to hate the truth. When you have money to spend, there is a great chance that most of the people around you would be “Yes men/women” and ass kissers. It is extremely dangerous to get used to such an environment because the truth then becomes an insult most of the time. When I talk about finding people who are honest with you, I don’t mean rude people. I mean someone who can look at the problems critically and tell you why it hasn’t worked and provide practical solutions. Please understand also that the person, who honestly points out the problems, may not be the same person to provide the solution. Listen to people wisely and meditate on comments that suggest improvements.
Though nepotism and tribalism seem to be working in Government, It probably isn’t a good idea to apply those ideologies to your business. Look for competent hands and negotiate good deals. No one is simply going to run into your company just because… well, just because. People have bills to pay and they are increasing by the day both in costs and quantity needed. Unless your brother or aunty has a clear understanding or experience in human relations, its not a good idea to put them in charge of hiring new staff.
Documentation is a major problem in many Nigerian businesses, not just in the music business. Invoices, receipts, work sheets, expense reports, balance sheets, proposals, contracts, MOUs, and NDAs are some of the documents that help you track the commercial and operational activities of your business. These things provide information that will help you make better decisions with your money and your people.
Study/Learn… Ask Questions… Practice… Study/Learn… Ask Questions… Practice… Study/Learn… Ask Questions… Practice… Study/Learn… Ask Questions… Practice… Study/Learn… Ask Questions… Practice… Study/Learn… Ask Questions… Practice… Study/Learn… Ask Questions… Practice… Study/Learn… Ask Questions… Practice… Study/Learn… Ask Questions… Practice… Trust me, this can never be over emphasized and you should never stop doing this. Study the Industry and identify loopholes and how you can create solutions. Network with the people who have information you can use. Ask them questions to help you make informed decisions. Test your theses and practice your business models. Document your progress and review your activities before, during and after you reach your targeted milestones. Attend seminars on business strategies and leadership… they would also come in handy!
Have a Plan. The best thing about a plan is that it tells you in advance how everything you plan to do will work. What kind of skill sets you would need and how many people you would need. The plan helps you measure your progress and reminds you of your destination. The plan shows how all other elements in your business come together to help achieve your organizational goals.
I will end this by going back to the question I asked earlier… I’m sure you would be wondering… if he knows so much about everything, why doesn't he just do it by himself, right?
You see this is what is happening now in the industry. When you try to do everything yourself, it may lead to a number of things including inefficiency or a physical breakdown and sometimes both. Neither of these things is good for the business. Knowing what needs to be done helps you delegate and set goals for your team. It helps you create, in your head and on paper, realistic expectations. It helps you create alternatives or “Plan B”. A lot of people are afraid of training people because most times, those people simply just walk away. There is a valid point in this. It is a lot of work training people to be efficient and having them simply walk away… but its inevitable. Some companies simply have the financial ability to keep those kinds of people longer. Focus more on the efficiency of your business and educate your staff because you want the best for your business. Do it because you need to create some time for other aspects of the business that only you can do better. There are people who give up the position of CEO in their companies for more competent hands while they focus on what they know how to do best… things like Marketing, Concept development, investments etc.
I also believe that not everyone with money should actually be responsible for the day to day running of the business. Invest money and find people that can ensure returns on investments are made so you can continue to make money in businesses you are skilled and knowledgeable about. This way, you would have created job opportunities, increased your revenue streams and everyone would happy!
Think about it…
The purpose of the article is not to force an opinion or ideology but to encourage interactions… share your views!