Lin-Manuel Miranda tells San Diego audience that starting a small business is like composing a musical

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the award-winning creator of the hit Broadway musicals “Hamilton” and “In the Heights,” compared composing music to starting a small business.

“If you’re starting a small business, you’re doing the same as me as a songwriter,” he said. “What doesn’t exist in the world, but should? And can I help make this thing exist in the world? »

At the fifth annual L’Attitude – a national gathering that spotlights Latino business, innovation and consumers – in downtown San Diego, Miranda offered advice and shared her thoughts on how small businesses are the thread that binds our communities together.

In the same breath, he highlighted how much small businesses and theater rely on the support of community members to help them as they are battered by the pandemic.

“It’s a question of collaboration. You can’t do theater alone (and) you can’t survive a small business alone. And I’m not saying that artistically ‘we’re all in this together’,” Miranda said. “We really rely on our community to keep us alive. And that’s a lesson that I kind of passed on to the small business world.

In addition to her accolades in the entertainment industry — from a Pulitzer Prize to three Grammys — Miranda has added small business owner to her extensive resume.

Last year, he and his friends resurrected the Drama Book Shop in Manhattan, a century-old store for all things theater, after rent hikes threatened its closure. This small business was where he wrote in the boutique’s basement, found inspiration, and where he met his longtime friend, collaborator, and “Hamilton” manager, Thomas Kail.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the award-winning Broadway composer, speaks with Anna Marrs, American Express Group President of Global Business Services and Credit and Fraud Risk, at The Attitude on Supporting Small Business Conference of the community at the Manchester Grand Hyatt on Friday.

(Meg McLaughlin/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Miranda has worked with some of the world’s biggest brands, from Disney to American Express, and he has offered advice on building an authentic brand as an entrepreneur.

“I believe very strongly that the truth is easier to remember,” he said. “People ask me how do you stay so authentic? It’s because I never remember if I made something up.

“There is power that brings you all into a room,” he said. “You don’t turn off your Latinidad when you walk into a council room. Everything you learned at the feet of your grandmother and your father will serve you in this council room. It’s not something you you forget, it’s something you bring with you – it’s your superpower.

And when it comes to figuring out what issues to take a stand on, it’s all about finding “what’s giving you trouble” and what’s keeping you up at night, which will be different for everyone, a- he declared. For him, a major challenge is to give back to the community of Puerto Rico where his family is from.

When Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria in 2017, he brought production of “Hamilton” to the island and he said he raised $15 million. Last week, he traveled to Puerto Rico as he battled through Hurricane Fiona.

In many ways, tapping into her past and her roots in the Latino community has been key to Miranda’s success. His first Broadway musical, “In the Heights,” which was recently adapted for the big screen, was all about his Washington Heights neighborhood and the small business owners trying to get there.

Much of his work celebrates the community that raised him, its resilience and represents it while noting that the Latino community is vast and not a monolith.

“Now that I’ve had a taste of your world as a small business owner, it only reinforces how impossible it is without community,” he said. “And when Latinos come together — because we all come from our own little parts of the world — but we’re also so powerful when we’re together. There’s really nothing we can’t do.

Leave a Comment