You don’t have to look far to find incredible success stories from inner city raised entrepreneurs. They often credit some of their success to humble urban upbringings. Here are three iconic figures born without a silver spoon who turned “lead into gold.”
Dr. Dre. Legendary hip-hop entrepreneur was born and raised in Compton California. He recently sold Beats Electronics to Apple for $3 Billion, making him the wealthiest hip-hop celebrity according to Forbes magazine. Dr. Dre donated $70 million to the University of Southern California. Part of the donation will go to financially supporting disadvantaged students to “go on to do something that could potentially change the world.” His story will soon be on the big screen in the “Straight out of Compton” movie.
Daymond John. Raised in Hollis Queens, a world-renowned fashion mogul, and FUBU brand architect. Daymond regularly appears on the extremely popular and educational TV show Shark Tank. He has strategically leveraged his influence on the internet with Daymond John Academy to help struggling entrepreneurs and to create a greater impact.
Myles Kovacs. Iconic local hero from East Los Angeles and founder of the DUB Wheels and Magazine Empire. He overcame incredible odds as a youth, also credits part of his success to his “Street Knowledge.” Myles has consciously evolved after appearing with his wife Cynthia on “The Secret Millionaire” Television show and now spreads his words of wisdom across the Globe as a Keynote speaker. I had the pleasure of meeting him not long ago, and I can relate to his quote, the streets can make you “Bitter or Better.”
Here are seven essential lessons for success:
1. Team building.
If you grew up in the inner-city, you either belonged or knew someone in a gang, clique or posse. Within some of these structured organizations, you had to create your crew. Who do you want on your squad and vise-versa? Picking the wrong individuals could be a dangerous mistake in this volatile environment, friends can turn on you quick especially if there is money involved. It’s no different in the business world; one wrong hire is all it takes for your company to pay financially for this mistake. It could also taint the culture you worked hard to create. Team building is one of the most important skills for any successful entrepreneur.
2. Making quick decisions.
The slow reaction can get you killed in the concrete jungle. Reminds me of a time when a rival gang member pulled out a sawed-off shotgun at my friends and me at the local gas station parking lot. Luckily for my friend “Listo,” who was stuck in the back seat of a car, the shotgun got jammed as the shooter pulled the trigger giving him and the rest of us enough time to scatter.
Needless to say, growing up in Gardena / Los Angeles area, we attended many funerals of close friends. Business decisions must be made quickly without hesitation.. Wrong decisions won’t lead to the grave.
3. Sniff out the con-artist.
The world has its fair share of con-artist, especially in the urban streets. People selling fake gold chains, empty stereo boxes full of bricks and the list could go on forever. From my experience, the business world is no different.. You have to have your antennas up when dealing with strangers.
The con could be as simple as receiving bad checks, or you paying a deposit for work never completed, to a complex signing of big money contract without having it reviewed by an attorney.. It doesn’t take much to develop that gut feeling that something is wrong, and when the antennas are triggered, beware..
Nine times out of 10, your scenes are spot on. Do your homework when dealing with strangers and make sure you ask for references. Have an attorney you trust review big money contracts, it could save you millions of dollars and more important, years of headaches and regrets.
4. Negotiating skills.
To be great at this game, you must practice this craft for years. Try to create a win-win situation.. You don’t want to take advantage of someone; it can come back to bite you one day.. No difference in the business world where everything is negotiable. Master this skill, and it will open incredible doors and can create fortunes.
5. Adjust to environments quickly.
Thank god I never went to prison, but a hand full of times, I involuntary visited the Los Angeles County, nicknamed the “9500 Penthouse.” The first time I was scared but had to adapt quickly.. There is no fight or flight in jail, only fight.
This is the mentality you must adjust too or else it can get ugly. I don’t claim to be a tough guy, this is natural for humans to do, adapt to a stressful situation. No different corporate America or being an entrepreneur. Things are always changing like management, office locations, job positions, even markets could shift quickly.. For example, Blockbuster Video who failed to adjust to on-demand video providers, Netflix.. You have to always pay attention and pivot towards the needs of the marketplace.
6. Bootstrap hustle.
When I hear this word, it reminds me of Fashion Mogul and Brand Architect Daymond John. He used to make shirts in his house while working at Red Lobster. He mentions that without his hustle, he wouldn’t be where he is today. Whether you’re selling dub sacks and T-shirts on the corner or Cd’s out of a trunk..
This is probably the most important element of success. It’s has little to do with intelligence. If you ever been incarcerated, you know this because there are a lot of intelligent guys behind bars.
7. Branding experience.
Brands like Nike, Apple and Levi’s spend millions of dollars on brand development. Branding is more than just a logo; it’s more about image and the emotion you want to ingrain when someone sees your name. Not much difference from a Coca-Cola billboard and a quick “throw up” on a freeway wall. Moving advertisements, like buses, are also very popular with both businesses and graffiti writers. It’s created to grab attention, the more someone sees your “logo”, the more brand recognition you create for yourself.
This article is not designed to glamorize the street life.. It’s just my point of view from when I lived.
This article originally appeared on Gentepreneur.com.
Photo: Flickr/ sean dreilinger