Crack and drug dealing are not glamorous or honorable trades one can choose.Add to that they are illegal you can start to understand why many a dealers like Notorious B.I.G. and Jay Z quit the “crack game” and moved onto other more legit businesses like music.
One thing, though, it seems to have taught those who could escape from it some good business (and life) lessons that can be used in almost any business, including tech startups.
So what can startup founders learn from Notorious B.I.G.’s Ten Crack Commandments?
1. Cheddar Breed Jealousy
Never let no one (outside your business) know how much profits you hold.
“You know, the cheddar breed jealousy”
Unless you’re a publicly listed company, you have no business flaunting your profits.
What purpose does it achieve?
Focus on being great and delivering a great service or product, let people focus on that. You don’t need the negative energy that comes with people knowing how much profits your business is making.
It’s a distraction.
2. Do More. Talk Less
Like Biggie says:
Never let ’em know your next move. Don’t you know, ‘Bad boys move in silence and violence’.
Violence, in this case, can be taken to mean a bias for action. Quit the talking, let the actions speak.
Let the services and products you ship from your startup do the talking.
3. Verify & Validate Everything
It’s rough out here, especially in business and starting out.
So take Biggie Smalls’ advise:
“Never trust nobody.”
Once again, think about what matters for your startup.
Sometimes trouble doesn’t announce itself, it sweet talks its way in.
4. Never get high on your own PR
Your public relations is meant at best to tell a good story about your startup and hopefully get potential customers hooked on whatever it is you offer, but never get high on it.
You know very well your startup has areas it needs to improve on so instead of basking in all those PR good stories, focus and keep working on getting better.
You don’t want to get addicted to that shit, you know what happens to crack addicts right?
Home time is home time.
You are not a machine.
Your body needs rest away from startup life (which is strenuous as it is). Although Biggie Smalls probably meant it as a way of protecting your home from crackheads and the police, another way of looking at it is when you are off work, be off work and spend time with loved ones, you need them (and the rest).
“Don’t care if they want an ounce, tell ’em bounce!”
6. Dead it!
Make customers pay, up front.
Never mind offering things on credit as Notorious advice against,
"That gahddamn freemium model, DEAD it! You think free user gon’ buy premium after trial?
Freemium has become the defacto standard for many tech startup founders who don’t even bother to check if customers are willing to buy what they offer.
For freemium to work, you need cash to see you through the loss making months and you need a hell of a lot of traffic OR high conversion rates. Either way, you’re better of charging users up front.
You’re a business.
7. Money and Blood Don’t Mix
You could say this rule (Keep your business and family separated) is debatable in terms of startups, but think about it from a diversity point of view.
It is probably better from a decision-making point of view to have people that are different from you (but have the requisite skills) helping you make decisions from a different perspective.
With family, chances are you all believe in the same things and most probably view the world the same way so when it comes to solving business problems you might suffer from the “to a man who has a hammer, every problem is a nail” syndrome.
“Money and blood don’t mix”.
Diversity is key.
You are not superman1. You can’t save the world on your own despite what you might think of yourself (which should serve only as motivation ;-))
Get people who are capable and you can trust on your team and spread the workload.
“Them cats that squeeze your guns can hold jums too.”
9. Snitches Get Stitches
Look, don’t bad mouth no one in their absence unless you are able to say the same thing in their presence.2 Walls have ears, word goes around.
“If nggs think you snitching they ain’t tryn’a listen. They be waiting in your kitchen, waiting to start hittin'”
It’s that simple, just focus on your business.
Early on, when you are starting your startup. Don’t even think about taking on investors or bank loans. Best bet is to ask family (maybe friends too) but stay the hell away from bank loans and “investors”.
“Strictly for live men, not for freshmen
If you ain’t got the clientele, say “hell no!”
Cause they gon’ want they money rain sleet hail snow”
Stencil Art rappresentante il rapper statunitense The Notorious B.I.G. | FENIX 89