5 Surprising Business Lessons You Can Learn from Mick Jagger

Date: April 12, 2016 Last Edit: April 21, 2016

It’s (not) only rock ’n’ roll. How the Rolling Stones’ singer helped create a business empire.

When you think of Mick Jagger, business skills probably aren’t the first thing that comes to mind. But the rocker, who’s worth an estimated $328 million, has spent more than 50 years building the Rolling Stones brand into a powerhouse instantly recognizable across the globe. Here, small business owners share lessons they’ve learned from his career.

1. It’s not enough to have a great idea or product.

It’s a common misconception that becoming a successful entrepreneur just takes a fantastic idea or product. The Rolling Stones had a great product, but arguably so did other bands that never made it big. Building and sustaining the Stones required another set of skills. “He’s a savvy businessman who knows what gigs to book and how to best promote the Rolling Stones’ new music,” says David Waring, co-founder of Fit Small Business in New York.

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Most people get into a business because they like the product or service they’ll be offering: They open a restaurant because they love cooking, for instance. “But focusing on what you love will only get you so far,” Waring says. “To succeed, you’ll need to adopt business and promotional skills.”

2. Learn from your mistakes.

When Jagger, a former London School of Economics student, encountered failure, he recognized it as an opportunity to change course.

“Apparently, Jagger learned from when the Rolling Stones lost a lot of money in their early days,” says Max Cron, creative strategy director for Online Optimism in New Orleans. “He failed several times but learned something each time.”

As Jagger told Fortune magazine in 2002, “I’ll never forget the deals I did in the ’60s, which were just terrible. You say, ‘Oh, I’m a creative person, I won’t worry about this.’ But that just doesn’t work.”

3. Don’t give up.

One of the Rolling Stones’ most famous songs, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” carries a message for small business owners, says Margaret Menotti, director of public relations at Kel & Partners in Boston. “Mick’s lyrics have some basic business truths: Persistence pays off,” she says. “‘You can’t always get what you want, but if try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.’”

Long after other bands of their generation quit making new music and touring, the Stones have persisted. As each album or tour earns money and gains fans, the business expands. 

4. Stay relevant.

One of the reasons Jagger’s career has endured is that he keeps people talking, says John Palumbo, founder of BigHeads Network in New York. Constant touring, reinvention and surprises, along with tricks such as frequently licensing his old songs to new movies, have prevented his brand from growing stale.

Palumbo says small business owners should emulate this. “Keep your name out there and do it in a variety of ways, from creating a constant pulse on social media to partnering with others to doing something that might be unexpected,” he says. “Remember, out of sight, out of mind.”

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5. Understand the importance of collaboration.

Jagger also made smart decisions about partners. Two of his bandmates have been with him since the early ’60s, and a fourth member joined in 1975. The length of these partnerships indicates the frontman chose wisely—even if he and Keith Richards have had their public differences.

“Rarely is there a businessperson who’s done it all on their own,” says Dayne Shuda, founder of Ghost Blog Writers in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. “Without his bandmates, especially Richards, he likely wouldn’t have reached the same heights. In business, it’s okay to partner with others.”


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