“Those who are successful overcome their fears and take action. Those who are not, submit to their fear and live with regrets”
I grew up listening to Jay Z’s jams. His prowess on the mic matches few in the hip hop game today. Ti support this claim, a couple months back, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, making him the first rapper to receive such an honour.
Shawn Corey Carter is not just a rapper, he is businessman. Not unlike his songs, every business he touches seems to turn platinum. He is a tycoon and mogul amogst his peers.
Mr. Carter is on a different level from most rappers today. He can walk into a club filled with street hustlers or a boardroom filled with Billionaires and he will get respect from either group.
When Jay Z started his career along side Kareem “Biggs” Burke and Damon Dash, things did not kick off so easily. He was faced with typical challenges most of us go through – limited capital.
“I came into the game a hundred grand strong, 9 to be exact, from grinding G packs”
Jay Z’s empire today is worth over $700 million from investments and assets in different industries such as nightlife, fashion, basketball, wine and music, etc.
I have made a list of business lessons young entrepreneurs like you can learn from the Jigga Man. I hope they will enlighten and inspire you to continue on your journey and be a bigger and better mogul than Jay.
Lessons Nigerian Business Owners Can Learn From Jay-Z
1. Brand Yourself
“I’m not a businessman, I’m a business man!”
This is Jay Z’s most famous quote because he understands that all his revenues and profits would falter if his name wasn’t attached to the business. Jay-Z successfully created an enormous brand around himself. Wherever Jay-Z chooses to go, the opportunity to make money follows him.
Branding your business is important, but it typically doesn’t last forever. By branding yourself, you take your name with you everywhere you go.
2. Be Authentic
Jay Z always claimed to represent street hustlers because he gre up on the streets. He talks like them, walks like them and balled like this. This is also evident in his music. He never tried to be something he wasn’t. He chose to remain authentic and represent where he came from.
He applied this authenticity in business too. He always goes with brands that represnet him and his background. He partnered with Reebok to produce the popular S. Carter sneakers which was designed to shift the culture and offer Jay’Z fans authentic products and experiences.
3. It’s Not About being First. It’s About being the Best
Mr. Carter did not just become a hit overnight, it took him 10 years of going to tours with the likes of Big Daddy Kane and trading verses on tracks for him to get his big break. Artists like Pac, Biggie, Nas and Wu-Tang were already ahead of him by the time he dropped Reasonable Doubt.
While he was waiting, he perfected his mic skills and studied up on how to be a business man. Today, his name is held in a much higher reverence than artists who became famous before him.
4. Timing is Everything
Timing is very crucial in business, ask any successful entrpreneur. Jay Z always knew the perfect time to drop an album or to sell a company. He sold Rocawar to Iconix for a whooping $204 million right before the urban brand bubble burst. Recently, he sold a third of Tidal to Sprint for $200 million.
Unfortunately, the art of timing is a science and can’t be taught. You will develop the right instincts as you continue the journey.
5. Cut Off Costly Moves & Partnerships Quickly
We tend to hold onto non beneficial relationships and partnerships because of our emotion. Take a note from Jay Z and be ruthless in business. If a venture isn’t holding any promise and yielding any ROI, cut it off and keep moving.
6. Make Shit Look Easy
Jay Z has mastered the art of making things look easy. Firstly, his habit of not writing lyrics down when he’s recording is an amazing skill that makes it look like everything comes easy to him. It doesn’t! He perfected that skill over two to three decades. However, he makes it look easy as that adds to the Jay Z mythology and separates him from mere mortals. The fact that he doesn’t break a sweat in anything he does (including performing on stage) deludes his competitors into thinking they can do it as easily. You don’t have to show the world how hard you work. Keep quiet and let the work do all the talking.
7. Keep Your Portfolio Diversified
The complete quote for this saying is; “Jack of all trades, master of none but often times better than the master of one.”
Jay Z has always kept a diverse portfolio from day 1. As soon as he was able to he actively sought and created multiple income streams. After maximising music related revenue streams such as publishing, touring and endorsements, Jay and his team quickly invested in their own clothing line (Rocawear), film company (Roc-A-Fella Films) and alcohol brand (Armadale Vodka).
Today Jay Z sits on an even bigger and diversified group that insulates him from the uncertainties of the music business. After introducing the masses to Armand de Brignac (Ace of Spades) Jay Z opted to place a massive bet on it and bought the entire company. So know that every time you see these gold bottles being popped in the club Jay Z is getting a piece of that action. Smooth!
Jay also seems to be making serious foray into the tech world. On top of being the biggest shareholder of Tidal (worth $600m) he is an investor in JetSmarter (uber for private jets valued at $1.5 Billion) and it was just announced that him and Jay Brown have officially launched a tech venture capital fund. Imagine that. A former drug dealer from the Marcy Projects will now be giving seed capital to some of the most brilliant minds in Silicon Valley.
“Look what they made me do. Look what I made for you/ Knew if I paid my dues, how will they pay you?”
8. Don’t Fix What’s Not Broken
Jay had a system when he finally made it big; for 10 straight years he dropped albums around the same time with the same people, Kanye, Pharrel and Swizz Beats. He discovered what worked and stuck to it.
This is a crucial point for entrepreneurs. You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. Don’t be too quick to switch things up when you’ve got a good groove going. Momentum is everything in business; keep feeding the machine that you’ve created and watch the money pile up.
9. Trust Your Instincts. Don’t get Swayed by Naysayers
A lot of notable people such as Lyor Cohen, the former CEO of Island Def Jam Group have attested to how strong headed Jay Z is. When he has a plan, he sticks to it and doesn’t let anything shake him.
Last year, Tidal was facing some challenges and most people advised him to sell this app but he trusted his instincts and stuck to his gun.
Now Tidal’s worth has jumped from the initial $54 million that Jay Z and his partners bought it for to $600 million after Sprint’s investment (How’s that for ROI for the R.O.C?). And with Sprint’s 50 million customers and subscribers, Tidal now has a large customer database to tap into. This practically secures Tidal’s future.
10. Tell A Story With Your Brand
I like what Jay-Z says about giving definition to brands;
We gave those brands a narrative, which is one of the reasons anyone buys anything: to own not just a product, but to become part of a story.
Jay Z describes how, before hip-hop, Cristal was a premium brand primarily known only to connoisseurs. He rapped about it, drank it in clubs, and created a different story about Cristal, which became a portal into a new world. Cristal became widely known as young fans of Jay-Z followed suit, drinking it themselves.
Also published on Medium.