With a slight smile he eased through the crowded doorway of the bustling South African restaurant, Madiba, in Brooklyn, New York. Clad in an olive green windbreaker and green t-shirt, Chicago emcee, Lonnie Rashid “Common” Lynn is definitely more understated than some of his mainstream brethren.
While he may be known for his lyrical dexterity and prowess behind a mic, Common is also an adept businessman, raking in $8 million in 2009 with a slew of ventures including a hat line, a deal plugging Microsoft’s Zune, a blossoming acting career, and a 20-year music career.
BlackEnterprise.com talked to Common, 38, about successfully building a brand, marketing, and a few business basics he’s picked up over the years.
BlackEnterprise.com: You’ve successfully parlayed your musical success into other areas. As a business man, what advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?
Common: Even if you don’t reach your goal after a certain amount of time, [learn] the lesson from the journey and keep going until you reach that goal. Even then there will be a new goal to achieve. It’s also important that you establish your brand. Make sure you establish what it is you want to be and whatever you’re trying to market.
B.E.:How do you go about successfully building and maintaining a brand?
Common: My thing, from my first record until now is, be true to who you are. If you’re talking about a brand or product that you’re creating, it’s important to have knowledge of what that brand is and to have values. If you had some words to describe that brand, what would they be? You have to stick to those values even when you are striving for monetary goals.
B.E.: As someone who is constantly presented with potential business ventures, what would you say young entrepreneurs need to keep in mind when deciding a business move?
Common: See if it blends with your brand; see if the partnership will work with what you’ve already established. I make sure it doesn’t go against any of my moral beliefs or spiritual beliefs. And then I like to know the people I’ll be doing business with.
Common: It’s a way to stay in constant connection with your fans or people who may not even be aware of you who become aware through social media. You’re acknowledging the people who support you.