“I’m not a businessman. I’m a business, man” – Jay-Z
Jay-Z is a popular hip hop artist with decades of critical and commercial success. He’s had 14 albums go #1 on the charts, he’s won 23 Grammys and he’s sold over 100 million albums worldwide. He has built a powerful brand for himself, which has allowed him to start several business ventures and invest in several more. His life is filled with valuable lessons for entrepreneurs and people in many industries beyond music and entertainment. Here are 3 of those lessons that I felt were particularly powerful.
#1. Be Passionate And Knowledgeable
One of the most important factors in being successful is to have knowledge and passion that is specific to your goals. For example, if you want to lose weight, you probably have the passion already but you still need to learn about dieting, exercising and other important topics, in order to accomplish your goal.
This is also true in reverse. If you’re an entrepreneur that’s looking to start a new business, it should be in an industry that you are knowledgeable and passionate about. Why start a business based on a product or service you don’t fully understand? You’ll have to spend valuable time and energy educating yourself about your new business.
Instead, you should start a new business that’s based on a product, service or industry that you already have knowledge and passion for. You will feel confident about your new venture and you’ll be able to focus your time and energy on marketing and running your business, rather than learning the ropes of a new industry.
Jay-Z has always had a strong sense of style and fashion. His urban aesthetic has been copied often. He channeled this knowledge and passion into starting Rocawear, an urban clothing brand that had annual sales of over $700 million at its peak. He started a business based on something he had a thorough understanding of. This allowed him to focus on running the business, rather than spending precious time trying to learn about clothes, style and fashion before he even gets his business started. Jay-Z went on to split Rocawear into 2 separate companies and sold one of them for $240 million in 2007. The parts of the company that he maintained ownership and control over are the development, manufacturing and marketing of the clothing line.
Jay-Z has also been very passionate about sports and entertainment his whole life. He was one of the owners of the Brooklyn Nets professional basketball team, before he decided to sell his ownership stake and start a sports agency. His agency eventually went on to represent musicians and other entertainers, as well. Today, his company Rock Nation Entertainment represents superstars like Kevin Durant and Rihanna.
Jay-Z is also very passionate about fine art, such as paintings. He has an extensive collection of art pieces and he clearly understands what he’s buying. He’s bought very expensive pieces that ended up gaining even more value after he bought them. His art collection is currently estimated to be valued at around $70 million. His fine art investments are clearly paying off for him.
Back in 2014, Jay-Z started Tidal, his own music streaming subscription service company. He built the brand and company up over the past few years, in spite of the stiff competition they faced from Spotify and Apple Music. In January of 2017, Sprint ended up buying a third of Tidal for $200 million. In March of 2021, Square ended up buying a controlling share of Tidal for $297 million.
The deal with Square was written in a way where Jay-Z was able to retain ownership stakes for the artists that held an ownership stake in Tidal. This meant that the deal with Square made them all a lot of money, rather than it just helping Jay-Z. Also included in the deal with Square was a clause that would give Jay-Z a seat on the board of directors for Square. Now that he’s heavily involved in Square, he and Square CEO Jack Dorsey are working to improve the economic and living situations of countries throughout the continent of Africa, through the use of Bitcoin.
Jay-Z was able to leverage his passion and knowledge of the music industry into starting Tidal, then he was able to use the sale of Tidal to put himself into a new position of power, which he will use to pursue some of his biggest philanthropic goals.
Jay-Z has built new businesses based around his interests and areas of expertise and it has consistently paid off for him. If you focus your efforts on starting business ventures that are relevant to your knowledge and passion, you will have the vision and drive you need to succeed.
#2. Take Calculated Risks
In addition to starting his own business ventures and investing in fine art, Jay-Z is also a big proponent of investing in start up companies and other promising endeavors. Not all of his investments end up playing out the way he imagined but most of them do.
He invested $2 million into Uber back in 2013. He actually tried to invest an additional $3 million in the company but they politely declined his offer. His initial investment of $2 million is worth over $70 million.
On the other hand, he’s also made some investments that didn’t pan out, such as his investment of $10 million in Julep Beauty Products. They eventually filed for bankruptcy in 2018. Jay-Z learned that he should stick to investments that are in industries that he thoroughly understands.
Jay-Z has said in interviews that his greatest lessons were learned after suffering losses and defeats. He never shied away from a difficult challenge and he never got down on himself for falling short of his goals. He always maintained his positive attitude and found a lesson to draw from the situation, which allowed him to eventually change his fortunes and find success in the future.
#3. Cross Promote Your Brands And Products
When you own or are invested in many different brands and businesses, you’ll be marketing and promoting them all. One of the most powerful things you can do is to cross promote your brands.
When Jay-Z was still actively running Rocawear, you constantly see him wearing his own clothing in music videos, television appearances, live performances and anything else that he would be visible in.
When Jay-Z was still one of the owners of the Brooklyn Nets, he would cross promote his other brands during live games and television broadcasts. He was promoting things like his cognac brand D’usse, his champagne brand Armand de Brignac, and his high end sports bar franchise the 40/40 Club.
If you have more than one brand under you, they each have their own brand power. Being able to use that power to cross promote different brands you control will help you elevate all of your ventures. This is especially useful for starting new ventures, as you’ll already have built in communities that you can promote them to.
Jay-Z has accomplished many significant things in his life and it doesn’t look like he’ll be slowing down any time soon. His life and career has been filled with countless lessons that have helped shape him into the successful entertainment mogul he is today. Hopefully the lessons I highlighted in this blog post will help shape you into the successful entrepreneur and human being you’ve always felt that you can be, as well.
I hope that you’ve found value in this blog post! Feel free to share it with anyone that you think will benefit from it as well.
If you’d like to hear more of my thoughts on this subject, you can check out my video here:
If you’d like to be even more effective as an entrepreneur, check out my blog post on 3 Stoic Mantras That Will Change Your Life.