Put Yourself In Position of Ownership

A few weeks ago I saw a short video clip of Jay-Z and he shared some gold, which has made him a multi-millionaire. He talked about his concern with ownership. Owning his publishing and all the rights to his music. Chance the Rapper shared some of that same advice on social media a little while back. Ruslan talked about it in his song ‘Indie Jones’. He talked about how labels wanted major shares of ownership an he decided to stay own his own so he could own his music outright. This isn’t just an issue in music, but in other areas of business as well. I want to share a couple of ideas when it comes to ownership.

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Building An Effective Team | Bible and Business

When you look at multiple areas in the Bible you can see crowds of people with different talents and abilities. We can look to Jesus and see how he built an effective team. Jesus surrounded himself with fisherman, money handlers, a zealot, and others who did not specified occupations. Jesus was a teacher/rabbi and didn't have others who were said to also have his type of calling as a teacher. 

Jesus taught. The fishermen fished. The money handlers took care of the finances. The others helped in various ways. I just recently heard from a pastor that it is wise to find those who don't have identical strengths as ourselves or there can be conflict on who does what job. If there is a group of ministers trying to start a church, they may all want to preach all the time. You need to have someone who has organizational skills, those who handle finances, those who serves hands on with people. Imagine if Jesus just picked a bunch of teachers to build his ministry. That would not have been a well balanced group of people to have a traveling ministry. Even though I believe Jesus could have had a successful ministry with anyone, I think he handpicked this type of group to be an example for us. He also brought along a thief. I think Judas and Peter are two examples to show that powerful organizations and ministries can be built with all kinds of imperfect people as well. 

I am not sure if Jesus had any friends before his ministry. The Bible does not specify this. I do think it can be a mistake if you build an organization around your best friends. Often friends have similar interests and strengths. When you have all the same strengths and all the same weaknesses you are more than likely to hit several roadblocks that can bring on many problems within your business. If you have a leadership team who all specialize in finances and you don't have a visionary, a person to build strategic plans, people to execute the plans, you do not have a well balanced machine. It is also important to remember that every part of a well ran machine needs all the different parts for it to run effectively. Do not look at any one part as more important than the others. Even Jesus washed his disciples feet and took the hits from those who critiqued their ministry. He continually held his people up and protected them as a servant leader. 

If you try to start a music label filled with all artists it will likely not go far because everyone is trying to be creative and build an audience. You need to have a website team, a sales team, marketing team, etc. When I hear of a few aspiring artists trying to build a label I can already see their lack of diversity in talents and abilities becoming a problem from the start. So for anyone who wants to create anything important be sure to have a strong team around you of diverse talents and abilities. 

 

Maximizing Your Talents | Bible and Business |

Even though we might be all loved equally by God, he doesn't give us the same amount of gifts or talents. This is shown in scriptures a few times. One area where we can pull from that might help us in the business mindset is Matthew 25: 14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money." 

In this parable we see these servants receive talents, or money, according to their 'ability.' We might be the person who is only ready for the two talents or even the one talent. We can often become discontent because we weren't the person getting five talents. No matter the number of talents, resources, or skills you have, you need to be giving it your best. Do not let jealousy take over when you see someone get started with more than what you did. This can also be true in any workplace. When a manager gives you any kind of task make sure you are doing your best to fulfill that task with excellence. Do not match your work ethic to the level you view the job. If you feel the job is simple, give it your absolute best. This is how you progress to higher levels of responsibilities or promotion.

We all live in different economic conditions and grow up in different kinds of families. This can lead into the comparison trap. We might be tempted to look at others and compare ourselves to them. God doesn't want us to compare ourselves or our success to others. We don't always know the full circumstances of others so our metric for comparison more than likely will not line up. Without comparing, you can watch those who are further along than you and learn from them. We should always have a mentor who is where we want to be. This takes a level of humility that we are not used to in American culture today. If you look back in scriptures, the disciples studied under Jesus, Timothy studied under Paul,  Elisha studied under Elijah, etc. We have to make sure we are not just criticizing those who are at a higher level than us, but try to learn from them. That can help give you direction on how to take your talents and gifts to the next level.

At the end of the day, find out what your talent is, work it to the best of your ability, and learn from others who can help guide you into success. 

Building a Platform

After recording a podcast about building a platform I decided to write a blog post about it with some steps to get started. Why build a platform at all? When you build a platform, you are creating an opportunity to expose others to an audience. When I first got started with my blog, Trackstarz had already created a platform for me to use in order to share the information I am writing about. This was like having a bottle of nitro when I started my race. It allowed for more people to discover what I was about. Without the platform, I would have had to do a lot more work than I already had. So how do you start your own platform? I'm glad you asked.

There are a few different types of platforms you can start with. The first and easiest is a blog. If you just have something you want to say and share it with others then this is the easiest and cheapest way to do so. You can create free websites using Weebly, Squarespace, Wix, etc. You can pay a little extra for a personalized URL, but it isn't required. You can also offer to guest post on other related websites to get your content in front of other audiences. This was actually the first post I ever did through Trackstarz. That led to me becoming the writer I am today. One good reason this is a great way to start is because it will help determine if you have enough content for a more involved platform such as podcasts or video/vlogs. If you are unable to have the time or the amount of content for a blog then you may want to consider a different topic to work on.

With the podcasting app, Anchor, you can now podcast right from your phone. No need for podcasting equipment, software programs, or podcasting hosting costs. You can use your cell phone for the whole process. You can even interview people and play music on your podcast. It will upload to all the major podcasting platforms for you at no extra cost. This is a great way to post quick thoughts if you are on the go. If you have any questions about it please contact me and ill help you get started.

Social media platforms are the most common types of platforms today. They might not feel as official as a website, but is still a platform that can become valuable. In todays world, a person's Instagram can become a very large platform. It is one of the most popular social media sites today for advertisement or promotion. Figuring out how to provide useful posts or entertaining posts will attract an audience, which turns into influence. Once you do that others will want to have space on your timeline. This is typical for any social media account, but is really big with visual social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, or Youtube.

Youtube videos are great for in depth thoughts, reviews, or niche daily living vlogs. This platform is better used for longer videos or videos that involve editing for additional visuals. So if you want to include a lot of visuals you would want to use Youtube rather than Instagram. The other great thing about our technology is that you can use an phones to record, edit, and post Youtube videos now. 

No matter what kind of platform you build the most important thing is making sure you are providing great content and adding value to those you are sharing your message with. Remember that being consistent is important to maintain a growing audience. You also want to incorporate your followers as much as possible. You can ask and answer questions to include your followers into your content. Keep working to improve your quality and stay faithful to the mission of your platform. 

 

Why Diversity Is Needed

I've been in a lot of discussions lately regarding perspectives and diversity. I remember when I started my current job at the hospital I work at, I was required to go to a diversity training seminar. This seminar focused on trying to be openmined to other cultures and practices that are different from our own. With that came listening to others from a different culture and the way they view society, the world, or even business practices. It is important to have a broad view of the way people operate and taking that into consideration when making business decisions.

One of the most recent mistakes was a commercial from Dove. They had a commercial that came off very racist without that being the intent. When that happened many people online protested the company and said they would no longer buy their products. This was probably an issue with a lack of diversity on the marketing team. Here is the Dove commercial. https://youtu.be/pAIgDredHpw

Another company who probably didn't have a diverse team when releasing a commercial was Pepsi. They released a video in the midst of a lot of the police brutality being fresh on the news and they made it seem like their beverages could calm everything down. Even if that isn't what was intended, it was how it was received by many. That was an error on their end. Here is the video if you haven't seen it. https://youtu.be/73P9STckPLw

Even if you as a business person meant something great by your advertisement or promotional video, you have to think of how it can be perceived by different cultures. That is why having a diverse group of individuals who are great at their job is important. Surround yourself with individuals who see things a little differently from how you do and you will have a better chance getting the right message across.

 

The Power of Customer Service

Every business, no matter what sector it is in, has one area of importance in common. That area is customer service. Anytime I go to a store, restaurant, or use a service I always want to have a great customer service experience. That will usually dictate whether or not I come back to that business in the future. There are a couple of reasons why customer service needs to be a main focus in your business.

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Don't Wait, Live Out Your Calling Now

I believe that everyone here on earth has a calling of some sort. I also believe that some people find it early in life while others spend their whole life searching for it. This week I would like to address those of you who know what you are called to do. I specifically want to address those who are waiting for the perfect opportunity to live out their calling.

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The Important Launch

As many of you may know, I have started an Anchor channel this week. This is another platform for doing audio content like podcasts, interviews, etc. When I started playing around with this app, I let a friend know about it who I thought would get some great use out of it. This individual has a community of supporters who were able to help him launch his station. Having that community allowed for him to chart high on his launch. There are two important factors when preparing for a launch.

  1. The first step is making sure you have a launch team ready. This consist of people who will give you accurate and honest feedback on your content leading up to the launch. They can make suggestions on particular things that would improve the overall content. The most important thing is having a lot of people promoting the content once it is released. This will help download numbers and exposure to a new audience/consumer base.
  2. The second important thing is making sure the content is top notch. You want to make sure you are putting out the best representation of yourself and your content. To do this, you want to carefully prepare your content for a first time listener. They say first impressions lasts a lifetime. This is also true for your business or creative content.

With saying that, I do want to make another important point. You don't have to perfect your content because you may never feel like it is ready to be introduced into the world. If you are waiting for your content to be perfected, you may never release it. Make sure you don't do that. Set a launch date and make sure you are working as hard as you can before that launch date. Your launch team will be able to help you with that journey.

When The Competition Becomes A Partnership

Think about the industry that you are in. There are probably many businesses who are offering similar services or products as you. In the commonplace market these other businesses are considered competitors. More than likely you have many competitors in your space. This is completely normal, unless you are in a very different line of business. One thing I am personally learning is that what we can generically see as competition, can actually become a partnership of sorts. This can happen in several different ways.

  1. If there is a company that offers similar services as you, they may only really be able to handle more wealthily clients. Big branding companies can charge thousands of dollars a month to their clients where you may only charge hundreds. For that bigger company, they can offer much more to their clients than you can because of the size of their team. You could always talk to the leader of that company and see if they would be willing to direct clients with a smaller budget to you and you will return the favor by pointing clients who need more than you can currently offer back to them. Quid Pro Quo.
  2. Many times it is helpful if different companies specialize in certain areas. Say you have two media companies. Both may dabble in music production, engineering, and video production. If the two find a way to narrow their individual focus to a specific area, they could master that particular area more and share clients. Most of the clients really need all those services combined and so you can work with the same client for different services. This also gains the clients trust. Companies who are after the money will often offer to do anything for it. Those who care about the outcome of the client, will try to make sure they get the best service provided. Having a partnership with someone else in that field allows for that to be accomplished.
  3. Another possibility is to create an affiliate programs. This is similar to the previous idea. Only this would provide incentives for your partners to send business your way. When they send you business, you send them a portion of the income from that business transaction. This works really well for many companies and small business owners.
  4. After working with a partner like this, one day you may actually combine forces full-time. This would be considered a joint venture where a new company is established and all the services and products are provided in that new company. This is usually a harder thing to accomplish, so it doesn't happen too often. It can be hard to figure out the leadership dynamic and overall company structure in these scenarios. This usually turns into an acquisition instead of a joint venture. Make sure to get some experienced third-party help if you plan on creating a joint venture.

These are just a few ways to convert a competition into a partnership. There are others creative ways to do this as well. You really need to get to know others in your industry and make sure you don't burn any bridges. Business isn't about tearing down everyone else so that you can succeed. It is about being the best at what you do and serving the customers. That can often include pointing them to another business that can better fit their current needs. This shows that it isn't all about you, but about the customer. It is a narrow path and that is why very few take it. Stand out and be smart and considerate.

What Is Your Passion Worth?

Follow your passions. Follow your dreams. Do what makes you happy. These are all common phrases we hear when we talk with others about our future plans and careers. I have heard discussions from several viewpoints regarding these kinds of statements. There are a few things that you can not forget though. Doing something that you are passionate about does not mean that anyone will pay you for it. There has to be a demand for what it is you are wanting to do. Especially if you plan on making a living doing it. When I say demand, I mean people who support financially, not just vocally.

One of my biggest podcasts includes podcasting. I have two that I am a host of. I love doing them and will continue to do them whether or not I get paid full-time or not. Many people pray for me that I will be able to sustain a living doing what I do now, but I know there has to be people who value it enough to exchange monetary value for intellectual/entertainment value. I started both podcasts understanding that. Even though those are my passions, I do not look for them to pay my bills. I will continue to find ways to monetize those ventures of mine as long as I do them. That would be a dream to be able to do those for a living. I do understand that dreams alone do not pay bills.

I will probably get a lot of pushback on this topic I know. I don't say this as a lack of faith or anything. It is just a fact of understanding the market. If you have a dream of something you would like to do full-time, you need to understand how to monetize that passion. I will not put my passion over my family. My family is my first passion. I have a responsibility to make sure their needs are met with God's grace and help. Please be sure you are taking care of your responsibilities before chasing your dreams.

The Blessing Of A Part Time Business

I've been seeing a lot of people talking about running their businesses full-time and making a living off of it. I think both angles have their merits. I wanted to talk about both of them briefly in this weeks blog. When people get started in a business, it usually starts as a side hustle. This is something they do in their spare time because they enjoy doing it. For some people it involves making music/art. For others it is mowing lawns, fixing cars, or working on other things that they enjoy. After an individual find a way to get paid for what they enjoy, they might think about how they can do this to pay their bills. In all honesty, this is where I see people go from doing something they enjoy to it becoming a stress.

When you are dependent on making a living from being self-employed, you add a layer of duty and responsibility to the thing you used to do just for fun. At that point you may stop having as much fun as you used to. You then have to focus on how to market it, sell it, decreasing the cost in order to make better profit, etc. When you do something for fun there isn't as much stress on the cost because you are not 'required' to do it. When it is paying your bills you have to focus on so much more than just having fun. This can be a downer for some folks. When I interviewed Aaron Simpkins on the Business with Bordeaux podcast, he told me that his goal was to be able to run True Strength Apparel part time and have another part time job to help pay bills. I didn't fully understand that then, but I do see now why he feels that way. He wants to enjoy having more freedom in running True Strength Apparel than just finding the best way to profit in order to feed his family. Ryan Moore from Trackstarz also shared his story of running Trackstarz full-time. There was so much stress involved with trying to worry about personal finances and also worrying about the finances of the company. Sometimes it can be just too overwhelming.

There are some great advantages to running your own company full-time and paying bills from it. I have interviewed many entrepreneurs who have made it work. At the same time, I don't think it is for everyone. It is perfectly fine to have a small business that you run part-time. It is less stressful and allows for more freedom in many cases. The big question is, what is best for you?

The Facade Of Fake Followers

Social media is a huge driving force for many businesses today. Especially any online business. It is the cheapest form of marketing that currently exist. One of the most common metrics in social media is the amount of followers that a person or business has. The problem with this metric is that it doesn't really show a real following. Even though there may be a million followers, only about 1% might actually be active followers. When I say active, I mean people who actually keep up with what is going on with the business. In reality, this may only mean 10,000 people are actually keeping up with what is going on. Depending on the type of industry you are in, 1-10% might be the number of active followers. This ultimately changes depending on how much you stay engaged with your audience.

Being engaged with the followers you do have is more important than the overall number of followers you have. These fans/followers will grow with you. Here are a few ways to make sure you are staying actively engaged with them:

  1. Respond to everyone who comments on your content. Don't just say 'thanks' and be done. Actually discuss the content with them or see if they have any questions.
  2. Follow your followers. This is a great way to see what it is they are interested in and allows for you to see what their needs may be. You can also use this as a chance to do market research as well. There could be things that you are not including in your content that they may want to see or hear.
  3. A DM means a lot. Direct messages are a way to reach out to a follower one on one. It means more than just a tweet or response in the comment section. You may actually get some really valuable information discussing things one on one with a follower. It will also make the follower feel more important. Having that conversation can really make a person respect you as a person and not just a public figure or business.

I see many bigger name artists and public figures who don't really connect with their followers and that makes them seem fake or like they think too much of themselves. It is important to remember that these followers are the ones who are potentially going to be paying you for your service or content. In that regards, they are your source of potential income. Don't treat them like dogs nipping at your feet. Treat them as real individuals who support what you do.

Doing The Research

There are certain steps that individuals must take before starting a business. Often some steps are focused on more than others. There is one part of business that many people do not pay attention to when getting started. That is because this area is not the most fun. It requires looking at data, numbers, and statistics. You may have guessed it by now. That area of business is research. This is a key step in any business plan in order to maximize profit and efficiency. When we decide to launch a business, we need to research the market, the competitors, and possible future environmental factors that may interfere with business.  There also needs to be research on demographics, locations for physical stores and that local market, and the political issues that may effect that business short and long term.  It is important to look and make sure your product or anything associated with it isn't infringing on any copyright or patented material/product. Studying others who have succeeded and failed in your line of business is very helpful. It is important to learn from others successes and failures.

The length of time of research varies depending on the type of business. You are looking at years for any kind of medical or children products typically. It is also important to make sure you have accurate data. Making decisions off of unreliable data is not a good practice.  Stay away from making assumptions. We often make assumptions about businesses and they are not always right. A lot of business owners make big decisions before researching the relevant information needed. Do not be lazy with your research either. Like anything else in your business, be diligent with it. If this area is not an area that you feel you can handle on your own then you need to find someone who can assist you. That would be much better than not doing it or research information incorrectly. Just make sure you are making the best informed decisions possible. It will be better for you and your business as you look to get started or expand.