Who run the board meeting? Beyoncé.
After dropping her black empowerment anthem “Formation,” the pop star is preparing to embark for her first world tour since 2014. The world tour will be yet another addition to the superstar’s already-impressive CV, which includes five solo albums, 20 Grammy Awards and 53 nominations, a net worth of $250 million in 2015, and serving as the founder, president, and CEO of her own company, Parkwood Entertainment.
One thing is clear: Beyoncé is a Flawless businesswoman. Rolling Stone’s Rob Sheffield dubbed her success the “Beyoncé Philosophy, which basically boils down to the fact that Beyoncé can do anything the hell she wants to.”
Beyoncé certainly can get away with what most artists can’t. She dropped an album that debuted at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard charts without any promotion. She nabbed the much-coveted cover of the September issue of Vogue without consenting to an interview. And she can turn Coldplay’s halftime performance at the Super Bowl into her show.
We've looked at Queen B's corporate strategy to pull out the big lessons execs and managers everywhere can learn on how to remain in control of your company — even when investor pressure and bad press is dragging you down — to bring your career to the top of the charts.
Lesson #1: Involve yourself in decisions big and small
Beyoncé started her own company, Parkwood Entertainment in 2013, to have complete control over her brand.
“When I decided to manage myself it was important that I didn’t go to some big management company,” she said in 2013 during a private screening of New York’s School of Visual Arts Theatre, per Billboard. “I felt like I wanted to follow the footsteps of Madonna and be a powerhouse and have my own empire and show other women when you get to this point in your career you don’t have to go sign with someone else and share your money and your success—you do it yourself.”
And she’s truly done it herself. She apparently has her hands in nearly every aspect of her business, from the immense to the insignificant.
Kelly Rowland, of Destiny Child’s fame, said of Beyoncé in a 2013 Vogue profile of the star: “Her hand’s in everything,” describing a star who stays up to 4 a.m. the night before a concert to make sure everything will go off without a hitch.
A 2014 Harvard Business School case study on Queen B herself noted that when she’s at Parkwood, she prefers to be out and about collaborating and talking with others instead of holed up in the corner office.
“She usually walks from one office to the other, speaking with the staff. She’ll come to my office and talk to me, or she will sit in the back and give notes on projects we are working on,” Parkwood’s former general manager Lee Anne Callahan-Longo said in the study. “She has got a really good sense of the business side.”
Lesson #2: Surround yourself with good people
But even Beyoncé can’t run an empire alone.
So like any good boss should, she surrounds herself with smart people who will help spark the creative process and who will help her make sure everything gets done.
Beyoncé overhauled her team at Parkwood last month, adding JP Morgan Chase’s former head of sports and entertainment marketing Steve Pamon as the company’s chief operating officer. Pamon was responsible for setting up the bank’s sponsorship for Bey and Jay-Z’s On the Runtour. Page Six reported that former Universal and Def Jam executive Peter Thea, who’s worked with Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, and Usher, also joined Parkwood’s ranks last month.
This collaborative spirit extends to the creative side of Beyoncé Inc. as well — she’s known for working with a list of the top creative minds in the music business, including her husband Jay Z, Justin Timberlake, Pharrell Williams, Ryan Tedder, and Sia.
The HBS study noted that having these good people only helped Beyoncé as she crafted her much-acclaimed self-titled surprise visual album over the summer of 2013 in the Hamptons.
“We rented a house for a month. Everyone would have dinner together every night and break off into different rooms and work on music. She had five or six rooms going, each set up as a studio, and would go from room to room and say things like ‘I think that song needs that person’s input,’” Callahan-Longo told HBS. “Normally you would not see songs have two or more producers, but it was really collaborative.”
Lesson #3: Do the unexpected
That collaboration resulted in the surprise release of the much-lauded Beyoncé. The album, which included music videos for every song, was released without any promotion and released exclusively on iTunes the same night it was announced in an Instagram post on Bey’s page.