Who could have predicted that a musical about the first U.S. secretary of the treasury would be such a huge Broadway hit that it would go on to win 11 Tonys, sell seats regularly for over $1,000, unite Barack Obama and Dick Cheney and get kids interested in history?
Yet, Hamilton is a runaway success and a genuine cultural phenomenon. Wouldn’t it be great if your small business could produce the frenzied sales and devotion of this blockbuster hit? Borrow a few lessons from Hamilton and maybe it can!
No product or service is too boring to have fun with. If creator and writer Lin-Manuel Miranda can envision a musical from a 700-page historical biography, than you can re-frame even the most mundane parts of your business in an exciting, new way. Try some creative exercises — here, and here — to get inspiration flowing, hunt down a company that’s repositioned a product or service successfully and borrow from their strategy, or ask for help from a friend or family member who has a knack for storytelling and innovative thinking.
Diversity counts. Hamilton is a story about America, and America is more diverse than it has ever been. Hamilton producers tapped into that by substituting traditional show tunes with hip-hop and rap. The Hamilton cast is primarily made up of actors of color. Take a look at your current customer base, your target customer base and your employees. Do they reflect today’s multi-cultural America? If not, you are missing out.
There are no overnight successes. Sure, Lin-Manuel Miranda doesn’t have the name recognition of Andrew Lloyd Webber or Stephen Sondheim, but he is not a newcomer to the Broadway scene. He wrote the musical The Heights while he was still in college and it won 4 Tonys. He’s also composed music for several of J.J. Abrams’s projects, including Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Don’t expect to make a big splash in the market without putting the hard work in first. And, if you’re toiling away right now, remember to persevere until it pays off.
The most important takeaway from Hamilton’s success is the one that comes from its namesake. Alexander Hamilton and the founding fathers weren’t afraid to take a risk when they entered the Revolutionary War and declared independence from Britain. As a small business owner, you can’t be afraid to try something new — it just might end up revolutionizing your business.