As a millennial, I know firsthand our strengths and weaknesses.Without excluding our sometimes pampered pasts and entitled presences, we are built for enterprise, and knowing the tall order of economic, political, educational and social issues standing in front of hiphopreneurs, we stand ready for the challenge.
Perhaps our best weapon in battle is our mastery of technology.The role technology plays in everyone’s entrepreneurial journey can't be ignored. Smartphones, tablets, apps, and social media were introduced or innovated during the millennial generation, making us the first to handle and master them. Technology has been mobilized and made costs of starting and doing business cheaper, all so advantageous to the hiphopreneur. Before, enterprise costs were high, high enough to lock most out, especially African and Latino Americans. Now, cheaper tech, marketing, distribution and sales costs have opened the door for everyone. Probably the greatest gift handed to the hiphopreneur is social media. All degrees of separation have been removed due to our advanced technology, especially social media, so we can reach whomever, whenever. We can build massive followings, build connections, and set up sales channels all from free or low-cost social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn and many others. Our technological advancements are once in a lifetime, never to be witnessed again — and we had front row seats to it all. We were able to experiment and ultimately master the greatest innovations in the digital world. Harnessing these experiences into dollars is perhaps our greatest advantage.
We’re natural-born hustlersOur parents were the first big entrepreneurial generation in America. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Bob Johnson and so many others came from our parents' generation. So it's kind of a no-brainer that our moms and dads would instill in us the heart of independence and enterprise.
“We saw entrepreneurs, not corporate titans, as the rock stars -- and we all wanted to be them.” -Zach CutlerIf you're from where I'm from — the inner city — then you witnessed an entrepreneurial experience that either most of us have never paid attention to or never cared to embrace. Our folks were hustlers, making their living in the 1980s crack era. Never in history of America, other than our generation, did a population of young people take on enterprise in the way our parents did. Whether you like it or not, those gold-rope-chain-, Cazal-, tracksuit-wearing guys and gals from the '80s were entrepreneurs who taught us everything we know, even if you don't realize it. Not ignoring their detriment to society at the time nor the destruction thereafter that's still felt today, our folks pioneered a blueprint that us hiphopreneurs follow today. We are simply chasing it like our old folks did, except we can do it 100% legit.
Conscious capitalistsWe have witnessed firsthand the continual social barriers such as racism, classism and discrimination that continue to plague our people. Knowing this from a conscious standpoint, our profit motives are driven behind a bottom line of social change. This generation has a heart, but still possesses the heart of a paper chaser. We will be able to not only make money, but use our newly-built wealth to put others on. In essence, we're conscious capitalists.
"If you want to make money, you have to help someone else make money" -Russell SimmonsThere are tall challenges standing in front of the millennial enterpriser, especially the hiphopreneur. Although typical millennials are focused on molding the next business model that will change industry, us black businessmen and businesswomen are focused on establishing an economic base for our people that we've never had. Like Daymond John said in The Power of Broke, “Innovation comes from the bottom” and that's where we are. It’s a great place to be. If we work together and play our cards right, we'll pull ahead and do what we need to do.