It is hard to believe that after many years of school to become a music educator, a band director WILL become a businessman or woman, but that is exactly what happens. In band programs today, the budget and personnel that a music department operates with is not unlike that of a large corporation. In order to operate smoothly and successfully the head director must be the CEO and implement great business skills to have the company run smoothly and successfully.
What does that look like in a band today?
1. Hire the right people
Just like any successful business, it is important to surround yourself with team members that will be team players, are highly motivated, humble and not self serving, and are the best option for the task at hand. Far too often, there is not enough of a “hiring process” when staffing a successful band program. How smoothly do I want the program to run and am I getting the best product for the money?
2. Know how to manage money
How do we spend the money we have that will allow the program to run the smoothest. In a world where we buy what we want, when we want, there is little thought to if it is really neccessary and if it is the best thing for us. Far too often, I hear band directors say “we just don’t have the money for that”. While that may be true, where is the money being spent, and is every dollar going for the sake of education and what is best for the musicians? For example: Look for the best deals on instruments, instead of paying retail. Do we really need a brand new mat for our winter programs? Could we compete closer to home? Are these new uniforms necessary, or are the ones we currently use working ok? Are we really ready for Bands of America, or should we improve our overall product first?
3. Be a great leader
Be humble, be a servant, be intentional, be passionate. The team members of an organization will only perform to the level of the leadership. Have regular meetings with staff and the organization. Let them understand the educational goals of what is attempting to be accomplished. Be someone that has an infectious work ethic and empowers everyone around to be better people. Study how to be a great leader and what that looks like in the business world. Be a constant reader and studier of the world’s best business people and how they are able to grow, market and run a successful organization.
4. Learn when and how to let people go
Not always are people a right fit. Too many times people hire their friends to work in a program and it just doesn’t work out. What happens next? How do you let that person go. A “partnership is the only ship that wont float,” says Dave Ramsey, a high powered entrepeneur and businessman. Ask yourself, “do I have the best staff, with the most intense work ethic, excellent leadership qualities, and master educators? It is ok to let people go and move on to another solution to what is best for the program, finances and most importantly the education of the students.
5. Be an effective salesperson
Too often, the numbers of a band program suffer because the lack of intent on being able to sell the students on band. Simply put, we have to learn to communicate our product with potential buyers. In the professional world, most people do not find work waiting for the phone to ring. You have to leave the cave and drag home dinner. Learn to go after what you want and be able to show potential students why this is right for them. Do not be afraid to leave the office and sell face to face.
6. Don’t micromanage or try to do everything yourself
Trust the folks you hire to do the job you need done. Most band directors do not do much band directing. Yes, they still conduct the band, and lead the program, but the percentage of time spent educating becomes less and less as the program grows. Be a motivator and place people in your program who are talented at their craft. Teach others what is expected and watch them be successful in their positition. They are a reflection of you.
Check out Dave Ramsey’s book Entreleadership for a good read on how to run a successful business.
Are you a director running a program? Can you relate to being a CEO?