On Tuesday, September 4th through Wednesday, September 5th, 2018, the BET Network aired a two-day biopic showcasing the life and times of famed R&B singer, Bobby Brown.
The Bobby Brown Story is among the latest of films to give reverence to highly favored and sometimes forgotten musical geniuses of yesteryear including Crazy Sexy Cool: The TLC Story, Roxanne Roxanne, All Eyez On Me, and The New Edition Story which was also produced by Jesse Collins. The movie is based, in part, on Bobby Brown’s 2017 book, Every Little Step: My Story.
The movie follows Bobby Brown’s life and solo career from shortly after he was ousted from R&B group, New Edition, to just after the tragic death of his daughter with Whitney Houston, Bobbi Kristina.
After watching Bobby’s journey, I couldn’t help but see certain themes emerge that I have regularly shared as business hacks among my executive and small business coaching clients.
Here are the five powerful business lessons gleaned from The Bobby Brown Story that any entrepreneur could apply toward achieving success in their business.
Business Lessons Learned from The Bobby Brown Story
1. Put the right people in your corner. Entrepreneurship is hard work. You may spend long hours and be drained of blood, sweat and tears daily. Through all the ups and downs, trials and tribulations, it is important to have people who understand the delicate balance between your personal and professional life and who can help you to manage this emotional rollercoaster.
In the film, Bobby Brown, portrayed by actor Woody McClain, chose first his brother, Tommy Brown, and then later, his now current wife, Alicia Etheredge-Brown, to be his managers. These decisions ensured Bobby had a solid support system even as his life suffered a series of tragedies and setbacks. Bobby admits that his children were also instrumental in his survival as depicted in the film.
2. Don’t lose yourself in the expectations of others. Bobby Brown had a lot of pressure on him throughout his life. He had strong parental figures who looked to him to be their saving grace from a life of poverty. His siblings also counted on him for support. Then there were record producers and other music moguls seeking to direct his career, the mothers of his children demanding his time and attention, and, of course, his raving fans who craved more music.
It was evident in the film that Bobby Brown had a difficult time balancing his desire to please others with his own desire to break free and be his own person. Most entrepreneurs can appreciate this struggle. Entrepreneurship is an entirely different way of life that falls well outside societal expectations. We are conditioned from birth that, to be successful, you must go to school, get good grades, graduate, get married, buy a house with a white picket fence, and have 2.5 kids and a dog. It’s the American dream! The moment you step outside that box and into business ownership, you literally enter a battlefield of naysayers seeking to force you back into their expectations. Successful entrepreneurs must learn how to navigate in a way that prioritizes their own needs and desires.
3. Stay on top of your own business. There were several instances in the biopic where Bobby Brown attempted to avoid difficult or tense situations. We saw a time after a video shoot during which his oldest son’s mother, Melika Williams, sat in wait to speak with him. Bobby Brown tried to persuade his brother to speak with her on his behalf. Tommy Brown refused and told Bobby he had to handle the situation himself. There was also a time when Bobby was deep into his drug habit completely unaware that his finances were in turmoil. His brother Tommy yet again had to urge Bobby to take care of his business before he lost the house Bobby had gifted his parents.
As a business owner, nobody should care more about your business than you do. Even with the greatest experts on your side, it is still your responsibility to know exactly what’s going on. Face-time matters. You are the face of your business and the head of your operations. If everything crashes and burns, you will be the one on the hook. When everything is going well, you are the one who is celebrated. Never allow anyone to know more about your business than you do.
4. Tell your story. Bobby Brown’s bad boy image is infamous. He is almost known more for his womanizing and other off-stage shenanigans than his music. Everything that has been previously communicated in the media about Bobby Brown has had negative undertones and painted Bobby as a villain in his late ex-wife Whitney Houston’s life. This biopic allowed the world to see Bobby Brown in an entirely different light and from his own perspective.
Your story matters. People don’t buy products and services. People buy people and experiences. Your story is what establishes trust and rapport with your target market. It’s the fastest way to get someone to know, like and trust you. As a business owner, you should always be in control of your brand story. Your target market should see your brand in the best possible light. Tell your story from your perspective. Control the narrative.
5. Always be marketing. Despite all the drama that unfolded during this two-day biopic, we got to see Bobby Brown continuously working and promoting. The movie did an excellent job of identifying his body of work as well as informing the audience of Bobby Brown’s current projects such as his ongoing tour with fellow New Edition members Ronnie Devoe, Ricky Bell, and Mike Bivins as R&B group RBRM (Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky & Mike).
Successful business owners understand that marketing is an ongoing effort rather than meant for periodic or seasonal promotions. Your marketing efforts should be continuous whether there are any special deals being offered or not. You will always need more sales to support your operations; therefore, you should always be marketing to both new and your existing customers.
What valuable insights did you gather by watching this biopic? I would love to hear your thoughts about what business owners could learn from The Bobby Brown Story. Comment below, and if you found value in this article, please share it with your networks.
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