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Business Lessons You Can Learn from Rap Songs

Some of the wealthiest individuals in the country got their start in hip-hop: Dr. Dre just sold his Beats empire to Apple for a staggering $3 billion; Jay-Z’s business acumen has turned him into the unofficial mayor of New York; and 50 Cent’s $100 million Vitamin Water deal will allow him to continue releasing mediocre records until the end of time..

Hip-hop always has been and always will be about that paper (a.k.a money). So naturally there are business lessons from rap songs there that just about any small business owner could stand to hear.
“Started From the Bottom” by Drake

The early days of starting a new business can be tough. The to-do lists are neverending, and when something does get done, you’re sometimes left wondering whether you made the right decision and how it could be better. And then there are always the one or two people in your life who look at you like they’re wondering when you’re going to get a real job.

But like all great rappers, all great businesses must start small. So enjoy your early days as a business owner. See it as the first step in a great adventure. These are the moments you’ll back on with pride and fondness.

“Diamonds from Sierra Leone (Remix)” by Kanye West, feat. Jay-Z

Ethics are an important part of doing business. Customers want to know that they’re giving their money to a business that does right by its customers and the world. Kanye West’s “Diamonds from Sierra Leone” takes on the controversial diamond trade that has fueled poverty and death in Africa. So avoid having the sort of business that someone might write a negative song about in ten years.

As a bonus, the remix of the track features one of Jay-z great and most business-minded lines: “I’m not a businessman / I’m a business, man!” It’s a good reminder that almost everything you do can—and should—be contributing to your bottom line

“Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems” by The Notorious B.I.G, feat. Diddy and Mase

It’s a hip-hop story as old as the game itself: you start out hungry, poor, eager to make it to the top, and once you’re there you find you’ve traded in all your old problems for a set of expensive new ones.

So don’t fall into the trap of thinking that making a lot of money off your business is going to take away all of your problems. The more money you make, the more responsibility you’ll have, potentially making the idea of a weekend completely foreign to you. Chances are you’ll also have employees to take care of, trends to adapt to, and competition to keep up with.

But cheer up! Don’t think of them as problems—think of them as opportunities. Every potential problem is really a chance for you step outside of your comfort zone and take your business to a new, exciting place. And if there’s one overarching lesson the rap game can teach a small business owner, is the only way to get ahead is by taking a chance.

Which songs most inspire you?