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He’s Got 99 Problems But His Biz Ain’t One

By October 9, 2012No Comments

By Matt Rebackoff

At 11:30PM Saturday night, I watched as Shawn Carter aka Jay-Z, with help from his wife Beyonce, finished up an historic eight concert run to open up the billion dollar Barclays Center in Brooklyn. ┬áThe rust colored behemoth of an arena will be home to many things, chief among them the newly re-located-from-New Jersey-Brooklyn Nets. While you might not like or even agree with Jay-Z’s lyrical content, his success is undeniable. In addition to his TWELVE number one albums, Mr. Carter owns a clothing line (Rocawear), a record label (Roc Nation) in conjunction with a concert distribution deal with Live Nation, and part ownership in the Brooklyn Nets. His net worth as of 2011 was $450 million.

Jay-Z grew up in the Marcy projects in Brooklyn, just seven minutes from the arena he recently christened that houses the team he helped bring back to his old neighborhood and whose franchise he is now the face of. Full disclosure, I am a huge fan of Jay’s, but this does not change the fact that any business can learn from his path to success.

Three lessons from Jay-Z that can help your business:

1. If you can’t join em’, beat em’.

After tirelessly knocking on the doors of every major label only to be told he wasn’t good enough, Carter and partners Damon Dash and Kareem Biggs decided to do it on their own. They founded Roc-A-Fella Records in 1995, releasing Jay-Z’s debut, Reasonable Doubt. The labels noticed. In 1997, Roc-A-Fella reached a new distribution deal with Def Jam records, the biggest label in hip-hop. He would later be named president of the label before leaving the position to pursue other ventures. If you are struggling to make your company work through traditional ways, don’t be afraid to step out and do it on your own.

2. Allow you to re-introduce yourself

Carter grew up in one of the worst neighborhoods in America. He did what he had to do to make a living for himself and provide for his family after his father left. This included distribution of drugs, something Jay-z has since said he regrets but admits it shaped his personality as someone who is always hustling and always grinding. In fear of ending up dead or in jail, Carter changed his enterprise from drugs to music and hasn’t looked back since. In the business world, you can’t be afraid to adapt and change to keep up with trends. Never be afraid to re-invent yourself, it might just save your business.

3. Diversify your thug

As I mentioned earlier, Jay-Z is not just a multi-platinum selling artist. In addition to his stake in the Nets, his record label, and his clothing line, Carter also is part owner of the 40/40 club chain, he also executive produced the new video game NBA2K13 and is a best-selling author after publishing his memoir, Decoded. This sounds like a lot. And it is. But that’s not to say that your company can’t branch out from the norm and try out new ventures.

Jay-Z is not for everybody. He can be profane and at times borders on sexist. But he’s a brilliant businessman and he went from being a kid from the projects to the front runner to become hip-hop’s first billionaire. If that’s not the American dream, I don’t know what is.

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