What entrepreneurs can learn from Taylor Swift

By Guest Contributor
November 24, 2010

– Ashley Bodi is the founder of Business Beware. This article originally appeared on Under30CEO. The views expressed are her own. –

When Taylor Swift was 11 she would go up and down Music Row knocking on producers’ doors telling them “Hi, I’m Taylor and you should listen to me sing. Call me!” And of course nobody ever did. Without getting discouraged she used that rejection as rocket fuel and was determined to turn some heads.

Starting out you have to know that you are going to get rejected by some or maybe everyone but don’t think for a second that it means you don’t have something that’s worth taking a look at. Just imagine how many of those people that turned her down are now thinking to themselves “why did I not give her the time of day?”

Stand out from others and find your niche

After Taylor came back from knocking on everyone’s door without anyone even giving her a first chance she decided that she had to do something different from everyone else. When she turned 12, she picked up a 12 string guitar and started teaching herself how to play even until her fingers were covered in calluses and blood. Taylor also started writing her own songs. She returned to Nashville with a few songs under her belt and people started to take notice in this young musician.

You may have a great idea for a startup or business but think about how many others you’re competing against in that same field. Some have more than others of course, but ultimately you are going up against even some big fish that have been swimming in that sea for a while. That’s where you have to figure out how you can stand out from the crowd and create your niche. What is it that makes your business, startup, service or product unique? Why is it better or the best out there? You also have to believe in what you do for others to take notice too.

Knowing what’s best for you and what direction you want to go

After Taylor went to Nashville and people took notice at her she signed a deal with RCA Records getting to work with some great names and other artists in her field. But when the renewal time came up for the deal she decided not to go with that label because she didn’t think she would truly be able to do the music she wanted to or play her songs that she had written.

When you run a business or startup you have to know what’s going to be best for you and your business. If you don’t that’s where you can get lost and others start to walk all over you or take it over and tell you how to run it. You may get offered some great things but in the end will it work for the goal you’re trying to accomplish? It’s okay to say no when you don’t think it fits.

Putting in the effort and making sacrifices

While Taylor was busy writing songs all of her friends were out doing things with school, hanging out and partying. She missed out on a lot of stuff that normal kids do but she was determined and dedicated to writing songs.

You’re going to miss out on many things as an entrepreneur or business owner because you’re the one that’s there 24/7 while the others go home. But how great is it that you are your own boss and make your own schedule? Sacrifices happen when you’re trying to accomplish something and push yourself above the rest.

Sometimes you have to take chances

Taylor thought at one point she was being signed with Universal but turns out the guy was leaving Universal to start his own company and wanted to sign her. Taylor took a leap of faith and agreed to sign with the new indie label. Even though she took a chance she knew it was right for her and also knew that with it being a smaller company that she would be able to really work with them. Taylor and her mom even helped stuff the CDs into envelopes that would be sent out to radio stations.

Taking chances doesn’t mean you’re going to fail. If you don’t take a chance with things you might be missing out on a huge opportunity that may not come around again. If you see potential in something and have a gut feeling it’s going to work out then you should just go with it. Sure, it may not work out but nothing ever always goes according to plan so we have to take chances. Hope for the best, plan for the worst.

Never give up

Taylor has created a great name for herself not only as a great artist but also as a great role model and person. She knew what she wanted to do and went after it. It wasn’t for fame or the money it was because she had such a passion for music that she wanted to share it with anyone who wanted to listen. Sure she hit some bumps along the way with people or things she had to overcome but if you ever told her the words “can’t or never” she would do anything and everything to prove it wrong. She now sings to sold out crowds everywhere and is at the top in country music.

Being an entrepreneur is going to have it’s ups and downs but you can never give up no matter what. The bumps in the road are what make you stronger and it gives you the chance to prove others wrong when they tell you something can’t be done. It doesn’t matter how old you are when you want to start creating your idea or run a business, if you believe in it then go for it. When people turn you down let that be your rocket fuel that makes you work that much harder. Giving up is not an option.

4 comments

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On her tour bus written in script she also has a sign that say’s “Never, Never, Never Give up”. Something else worth noting, when she was visiting radio stations across the country to promote her, at the time new single, her record president told her they normally don’t let new singers play live on the air. Her response to this was “Then that’s the Goal, isn’t it”.

Posted by steve69 | Report as abusive

Sounds just like a typical celebrity. Doesn’t every celebrity have a hard start that ends in glory??
Did Taylor really not have a childhood? Yes she had a great childhood that was totally normal. She wrote a song about Drew, pictures to burn of who? and plenty of others about “boys” in school. She didn’t meet these guys just sitting at home being the good girl like you specified in your story.
Yes, Taylor has become a “star” and yes she deserved it. But remember she is singing to “young” teens just like Miley, and Britney once did. Once Taylor’s fans grow up, what is her plan after that?
As for Taylor being a role model, umm not too fast! She had plenty of older arm candy at such a young age.
Give it time, behavior will change. It always does.
While this story is accurate about “trying new things and taking chances” I wouldn’t suggest glorifying a teen country star or should I say an adult country star who sings to teens that will age one day. Then you’ll be writing the same ole’ story glorify the next teen sensation that is next in line. To be continued..

Posted by snowgirl67 | Report as abusive

taylor keep changing but slowly

Posted by glumb | Report as abusive

Snowgirl….I think you missed the point of the article. I was simply comparing her drive and hard work to being an everyday entrepreneur. Nothing about behavior or being a role model for kids. Although compared to many out there she actually seems normal and real. I didn’t glorify Taylor in this article except for saying that her story shows how hard work pays off.

Don’t be so negative, people might surprise you more than you think…

Posted by abodi | Report as abusive