For those of you who have been living in an Igloo in the abandoned (and some say haunted) town of Grytviken in Antarctica, Aubrey “Drake” Graham took the hip-hop world by storm 3 years ago after signing a recording contract with Lil Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment. Since then, he has released two very successful albums and dozens of extremely successful singles, topping the Billboard charts on many occasions. Here are the 7 principles every young entrepreneur can learn from Drake’s story and success.
1.) Have a Great Product & Believe In It
Having a functional, value-adding, and competitive product is the backbone of any business. In the case of Drake, his talent is his product and his name is his brand. As Jay-Z so eloquently put, a rapper isn’t a businessman, they are a business, man. This statement couldn’t be more true. Drake believed in his product (his musical talent), and felt that he could create a business and brand around it.
2.) Go All-In
Having a great product and confidence in it led Drake to go all-in to make his product a success. He dropped out of high school and focused on producing music and acting on the side – a huge risk with uncertain rewards. Every young entrepreneur must realize that going all-in is necessary when trying to build a successful business. This doesn’t mean you should drop out of high school, college, or leave your comfy full-time job. But what it does mean is that, if you are taking business classes at college and a great business opportunity presents itself that needs full time attention, it’s worth weighing the options. Theory can only take you so far.
3.) Be Proactive, Network, & Make Some Noise
In the 3 years before Drake signed at Lil Wayne’s company, the artist released several mixtapes, and became the first unsigned Canadian rapper to have his music video featured on BET. He didn’t wait for a record deal to pop off, as some entrepreneurs would wait for funding before proceeding forward. He made sure his voice was heard, regardless of his circumstances. He promoted the product he believed in and went all-in.
4.) Find The Right Partners, Mentors, & Team
When you have a great product, go all-in into making it a success, and are proactive, the right partners, mentors and teammates will present themselves. Lil Wayne called Drake when he was in a barbershop getting his haircut and arranged a plane trip to meet. It was then that Drake signed to Young Money Entertainment and Lil Wayne became his mentor. The Young Money team was shortly formed, which includes ultra successful female rapper Nikki Minaj. Finding the right partners, mentors and team is critical to building a successful business. You can’t do it alone. You need them. With the right team and mentors, a young entrepreneur is positioned for success.
5.) Fake It Till You Make It
Drake’s lyric from his single “Paris Morton Music” sums it up nicely: “And no, I’m not saying I’m the nicest but I live life like it.” It doesn’t matter if you aren’t the most successful entrepreneur just yet. But live like you are, speak like you are, and carry yourself as if you are. The universe will believe you if you do.
6.) Learn From Your Competition, Don’t Challenge Them Head On Until You Are Ready, and Pay Your Respect
As a young entrepreneur, confidence is key but arrogance will destroy you. There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance, and crossing it could be like crossing the Mexican-US border without proper documentation. You will get burned. Taking Drake as an example again, when he entered the rap game, he made sure to pay respect to the greats (the incumbents) currently occupying the space, like Jay-Z and Kanye West. Instead of challenging them, he learned from their musical style and incorporated that into his own rap flow (or product). Drake then collaborated with his competition to produce better music (or a better product), instead of disrespecting the incumbents or challenging them. If he had done so, it is possible that he would quickly get buried with an onslaught of diss records and bad publicity. Do not underestimate the power of your competitor’s marketing, distribution channels, and partnerships that are already in place. Build your own channels and resources before thinking of taking them on.
7.) It’s All Mental
The most important thing you can learn from Drake is that it’s all mental. It is all in your attitude and outlook of the world. If you can condition yourself to believe success is possible, to believe a million dollars is doable 100 times over, to believe in yourself and your family, then my friend, you are on your way. It’s not easy to change your perception of reality. But talk to people who have achieved what you want to achieve. Not only will they show you how possible your dreams really are, but they also might just show you the way.
Asad Khan is a 22-year-old Technology & Marketing Entrepreneur (You can follow his twitter @Ace_Khan). He is the Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer at LogoCreativeDesign.com, where entrepreneurs can get logos designed by branding experts for a start-up price.
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