“I’m not a businessman. I’m a business, man. Let me handle my business, damn!” -Jay Z, “Diamonds from Sierra Leone,” Late Registration
In one of his most quoted lyrics, acclaimed rapper Jay Z described himself as not just an entrepreneur whose current diverse business holdings include RocNation, a label and management company, Dusse’ cognac, and Tidal, a music streaming service. Prior to these pursuits, Jay Z owned a percentage of the Brooklyn Nets, Roc-a-Fella Records, and Rocawear Clothing. Jay Z’s business acumen became almost as big a legend as his rap skills in the early 2000s, he was regularly associated with notable investor, Warren Buffet and more. Jay’s current net worth is valued at over half a billion dollars.
I worked in Corporate America for 7 years before I finally quit after being harassed and bullied by a senior team member. I didn’t know what I was going to do next, but because of hip-hop (especially Jigga) I knew I could do SOMETHING.
I also knew that I could go into entrepreneurship unafraid. After being discriminated against within an organization and consistently passed over for promotions, I was through. Job searching was a bust. But, I have an artistic soul and I have never been afraid to struggle a little while for a big payoff later. So I took the risk, pulled down my retirement savings and bounced on them heauxs.
According to the National Women’s Business Council there are over 1.5 million black woman owned businesses in the US, a 66% increase from 2007. Black women are embracing entrepreneurship because despite Sheryl Sandberg’s advice, “leaning in” hasn’t been working for most of us in Corporate America. Of course, there are still socio-economic and racial barriers that we face, but many black women are still choosing to try a full-time business or at least a side hustle.
I learned a lot of my hustle from Jay-Z, in my head-he’s my Godfather. I learned that if you are going to run a business, BE that business. Let it be who you are and how you run your life. That greatly affects the weight of the decisions you make. Riley Hilton from AskMen.com agrees. In his article, Hilton lists 7 Ways to Run Your Life Like a Business. Hilton states that time management, choosing the right mentor, and carefully budgeting your money are some of the greatest ways to run your life like a business. Hilton states that, “just like in business, money plays an important factor in your personal life as well.” The author advises readers to feed their dreams, but still occasionally treat themselves.
Blogger AbbyinOz writes on BlogHer.com Why You Should Run Your Life Like a Business. In her article, she gives great advice and offers tools. She uses To-Do Lists to manage her life. Her daily list includes: working out, cooking, and playing with her children. Her weekly items are to pay bills, read articles for professional development, and to have a weekly meeting with her husband where they discuss their budgets and schedules. Abby then has a monthly list which includes working on the spreadsheet of their household income and expenses as well as paying monthly recurring bills.
As a writer and hip-hop head, Jay Z’s lyric about being a business resonates with me. I am currently self-employed and must account for all money that comes in and goes out. I am also very aggressive and ambitious, so my daily contacts and follow-up contact emails and phone calls are extremely important.
I came up with the three most important things that keep me on track as an entrepreneur.
1) Be Organized-Time management is one skill that people often complain about, but it is only a matter of being organized. I am also sure to keep my home clean, my books neatly organized, and my clothing categorized. I live very lean throwing away things that I don’t need and trying to ensure that I always know where what I need is, when I need it. I keep my email inbox low ,and I am compulsive about following up with people within 24 hours.
2) Be Optimistic-Being a business is challenging, it is something that can be stressful and can consume your life. It is also full of ups and downs that can bring about stress. Being optimistic and believing in one’s talent is key. I read a lot of inspirational books and have Post-It notes with inspirational quotes taped all around my house. I also do meditation and get a lot of exercise. I also cultivate a strong network of friends that I can lean on and mentors. Having these people as a sounding board is extremely important because my folks can talk me down off the proverbial ledge.
3) Be Outstanding-The best way to be a business, man is to be the best you that you can possibly be every day. Dedicating yourself to your craft and working at it daily is the best way to be successful. You can do it!
Biba Adams is a NYC-based writer, dreamer, and doer. She specializes in urban and hip-hop writing, as well as womanist theory. Biba has a Bachelor’s degree in History and a Masters in African American Studies, she hopes that her work will inspire others and help to preserve the culture that means the world to her. Follow her on social @BibatheDiva