Investing in your friend’s business

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I have said this before, but I believe that Instagram and social media is the new black Wall Street.  It seems like everyone is learning the value of creating and distributing their value for 100% of the profit, instead of selling their skills off at a discount to corporate America.  They then take that brand and market it through Instagram, Facebook and twitter.  This is great because we have for free what businesses are spending millions to tap into and that is followers who buy things.  I couldn’t be more proud.

I have always been heavily pro entrepreneurship since reading the book Rich Dad Poor Dad (greatest book of all time) and learning that the rich don’t work for money.  I am biased because my undergrad degree is in business (with an emphasis on finance and accounting).  So for me, I tend to see every problem under the business lens.  Like they say, when you have a hammer everything looks like a nail.  Nevertheless, I believe that there is true value in leveling up our business sense as a collective, which is why I chose to write this article about investing in and/or supporting your friend’s business.

Wealth in America is created with your intellect, not achieved through competition.  One issue that I have seen is that a lot of people don’t want to support you because they don’t want your business to be successful while you stunt on them and leave them in the dust.  The solution to this problem, because it is a problem, is to allow your friends to purchase equity (ownership) in your company. This is where the creativity comes in.  A creative solution is to make them a passive owner and benefactor.  It gives them a vested interest in your business success because as the value of your company grows, so does the value of their stock.  Additionally, as an owner you receive a percentage of the net income.

Whether we realize it or not, if someone isn’t for you they are against you.  So your friends that aren’t out actively advocating for you or who are trying to convince you why what you are doing can’t work are pulling you back and could prevent you from getting where you need to go.  You can cut them off or cut them in.  I believe that none of us wins if we all don’t win and hoarding your success only limits the heights of it.  This is because you need everyone on board and the best way to do that is to compensate them.

This isn’t a one way street.  Investors, aka equity owners, invest either time or resources.  In return they receive a portion of the company.  So, they can come on and serve in some capacity for no pay and in return receive a portion of the company, or they can invest into your company for a portion of the company.

This is not unusual.  I am reading the Elon Musk story and they walked through his humble beginnings at a start up most people don’t talk about.  Elon started a company that mapped out businesses and gave directions. It was like Yelp and google maps combined.  He brought on investors and partners, many of whom were not paid, and they blew the company up to the point that they sold it off to Compaq for $300 million.  This deal made everyone involved worth millions and gave Elon the money to start up Paypal which he later sold for 1.5 billion.  Levels. We cant get to the 1.5 because we are holding people back from getting to the 300… You can make more money being the number five guy behind your friend’s start up than you will ever make climbing the corporate ladder or being the number one guy at a failed venture.   

We all have skills and talents that we use to pay our bills.  But we need to learn to leverage those into each other, at little to no cost, so we can be the ones building and selling off these start ups.  If you can sell, then sell your friends business.  If you can design websites, then design a site and manage it for your friends business.  If you know finance and accounting, do the books for your friends business.  Do the legal work for your friends business.  All for no charge but for a piece of the business.

Another form of investing is to merge or create joint ventures/strategic partnerships with other black business.  The young black restaurant owners in south LA are doing this well and its great to see. They all support each others hustles and promote their ventures.  None of their businesses struggle either.  If anything it helps them all grow larger.  I cant tell you how many people I have reached out to merge with who brushed me off while they proceeded to go out of business.  I am super pro merger because I would rather have half a success than 100% of a failure.  The problem is that most people operate in the scarcity thinking that was created by integration.  Integration created the idea that there can only be a talented tenth or a select few that can win and I’m tired of that narrative.  The truth is that we can all be millionaires.  

Last thing.  Investing in and helping build your business is a very legitimate path to wealth and I’ll tell you why.  Black businesses hire black executives and black employees.  Those black executives are you and they get paid executive money.  Wouldn’t you rather be the CFO at your friends businesses than the assistant VP to the VP at XYZ, Inc?  Other cultures don’t value your excellence or your exceptionalism and they will hold you down while they continue to promote people who look like them.  Meanwhile, you are shipping them billion dollar ideas that could be given to your friends and family.  Stop it b.  It is way more lucrative to be  partner in your friends business than a peon trying to prove to corporate America that he is worthy.

Invest in your friends businesses with a greater goal in mind.  Build it up for the buyout or go public.  Either is viable but trying to tax your friends start up inhibits both you and them.  They cant afford to pay you and you are without a client.

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