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Mission Beach author Lee Silber has a radical idea when it comes to starting up a new business in today’s economy: aspiring business owners might be better off using Jimmy Buffett’s business model over billionaire Warren Buffett’s.

In his new book, Rock to Riches, Silber, who plays bass and drums in a couple of local cover bands, and coauthor Andrew Chapman use anecdotes about Gene Simmons’s sales savvy, the Beastie Boys’ ability to evolve in changing markets, and AC/DC’s work ethic as a model to success in building a business.

“Success leaves clues,” Silber says. He points to the well-known story about Jewel’s rise to fame from O.B.’s coffeehouses to the national spotlight.

“If you want something bad enough, you’re willing to make sacrifices,” he says. “Jewel gave up her apartment, which allowed her to quit her job and move into her van so she could focus on writing, promoting, and performing full-time. That’s commitment.”

He also points out that retaining customers through good customer service is no different than creating a fan base with a good live show and fan interaction.

“If you’re going to run a business, it doesn’t matter what you sell – it always involves people and people skills,” he says. “The bands that are the most popular to see live, they have a good rapport with their audience. It’s the same with a business and its customers.”

To make his point, the chapter “Raving Fans: Achieving Lasting Success Through Loyal Customers,” spotlights Ronnie James Dio, who was known to hang out with fans after Black Sabbath and Dio concerts, sometimes spending up to five hours chatting and signing autographs.

From the business side, Silber speaks from experience, taking a chance by selling his chain of local surf shops, Waves and Wheels Surfcenters, to follow his dream of becoming a full-time writer. With 14 books under his belt, he says that successful rock stars, if you look past the decadence and debauchery, can actually be pretty good role models.

“If people can make it in the music business, which everyone knows is highly competitive, very difficult, and dysfunctional, then you can make it in any industry.”

– Larry Harmon

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