Thursday, 31 May 2012

Pete Rock Responds To Lupe

Like we have stated in previous articles that there's a storm brewing in the hip-hop community, prepare some umbrellas because it’s going to rain hate. From Pusha T’s beef to Saigon and now Pete Rock and Lupe Fiasco. To fill everyone inn, Lu took a beat that Pete made and the legendary producer hated that.

Pete Rock reiterates that he should have been involved in the talks to remake "T.R.O.Y."

The saga continues for Lupe Fiasco and Pete Rock’s beef over the former remaking the latter’s beat from “T.R.O.Y.” for “Around My Way (Freedom Ain’t Free).”

During an interview with MTV News, the veteran producer responded to Lu’s latest rant on Shade 45’s “Sway in the Morning” where he said that the situation wasn’t remedied, despite the fact that they had publicly announced reconciliation.

"At that point, my emotions were working — I'm still thinking about Heavy D and Troy is a dear friend to me, and my emotions got the best of me, and I expressed myself on Twitter. It wasn’t my intention to hurt Lupe’s career or his producer’s career," he said, explaining that he agreed to let the beat be reused as long as he was involved with his project. “I thought from that point I would be involved with Lupe and being in the studio, tweaking the beat, but I never heard from the record label, and then I turn on the radio, and hear it on the radio.”

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Sai Clears The Air

There’s a storm brewing in the rap world, first Pusha T makes headlines with shots fired at Drizzy then Saigon with his recent interview.

The Yardfather took time out from his tour to clarify comments about negative messages in Hip Hop.

Saigon says "It ain't about Rick Ross," as he explains last week's quotes. The rapper blames major labels and corporate radio. Saigon released the latest update in a developing story from last week. The veteran New York emcee was quoted by SOHH for comments criticizing the message of rappers including Rick Ross.

The quoted included, Saigon saying, "Rick Ross is rapping about selling kilos of cocaine and selling drugs. This is what he’s about, this whole lifestyle saying he’s so rich and he eats shrimp every night, and y'all support this shit? Y'all broke and poor and your family’s about to get kicked out."

After the story published, Saigon responded, claiming the comments were taken out of context. SOHH responded this weekend, releasing the audio of Saigon's interview.

While touring in Germany, Saigon has now responded by video, explaining his purpose in the states. The rapper began a seven-plus minute video admitting, "I'm getting a lot of backlash from being very outspoken."

Sai recalled his three-year-old daughter recently inquiring about a star rapper's name. "This is no disrespect to Nicki Minaj or whateva, but it's the fact that it's so sad that in America, through Hip Hop - something we created through our struggle as Black people, my three-year-old daughter is inquisitive about what a 'menage' is or what it means. Because mainstream America is making a lot of money off of sellin' sex."

In the vlog, Sai clarified his point about who is behind the messages in mainstream Rap music. "It ain't just Rick Ross, first of all. It ain't even Rick Ross; Rick Ross is an artist. It's Sony Records. It's Radio One. It's Clear Channel. These artists are pawns."

The rapper also responded to crirticism he's faced since the story broke. "The people goin' against me right now more than anybody are my own people," Saigon said, believed to be referring to Black people. "Everybody else knows I'm right."

Before previewing his new single from his forthcoming album, "Rap Vs. Real," Saigon acknowledged his outspoken nature to be his purpose. "This is why I was put on this earth, man. I'm Malcolm X, yes. I'm Martin Luther King, yes. I'm Tupac, yes. So shoot me, try to assassinate my character, call me an idiot, do what you want. That shit don't matter, 'cause it's just getting started."

Is it a publicity stunt?

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Shots Fired

It's been a minute since we've been missing on the hip-hop stage - the game was stale and needed a reboot. Pusha T called us right back from doing motivational articles that helps elevate people's minds.

Like the legendary Nas raps "They Shooting", ah he made us look. Pusha T fired the first shot aiming his gun at Drake and Young Chop. Whether it's taking the high road, Drake didn't respond but Lil Wayne - went on Twitter and tweeted, Fuk pusha t and anybody that love em.

On the track "Exodus 23:1" Pusha is believed to be gunning for Drake and Young Chop. The question is… is it a publicity stunt?

Over a ghostly beat, the G.O.O.D. Music signee takes square aim at Drizzy with lines including, "Beef is when you hide behind them other niggas / But they ain't killers, they ain't pullin' them triggers, fuck niggas."

He made reference to Drake's recording contract, most likely referring to the fact that he's signed to Lil Wayne, who is signed to Birdman whose label is housed under Universal Music. "Contract all fucked / Explain up I guess that means you all fucked up / You signed to one nigga that signed to another nigga that's signed to three niggas / Now that's bad luck," he raps.

Young Chop, on the other hand, got a one-off couplet about his issue with Kanye West remaking his beat for the remix of Chief Keef's "I Don't Like." "You can keep your beats, nigga / We'd much rather share your bitch, nigga, bitch nigga," he spits.

Well Push certainly didn't bite his tongue and Wayne didn't beat around the bush either with his tweet that caused Kid Cudi to tweet "I love my nigga Pusha T, fuck anybody who feel different. We ain't ho's out here."

Will this be a G.O.O.D Music Vs YMCMB battle? Only time will tell.

Tips To Help You Recover from a Branding Mistake

Everybody makes branding mistakes. Business books are littered with stories of false starts and funny names that never made it beyond their initial incarnation. Ever heard of Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation, or GoldStar? How about Back Rub or Brad’s Drink? Not many have. You probably recognize them today as IBM, LG, Google and Pepsi-Cola, respectively.

Renaming your business is only one element in a successful re-branding effort. For a full relaunch, you’ll need to change your brand identity across multiple online platforms, as well as possibly flip your brand’s personality and tweak your own startup story.

Unless you’re planning to stick with your branding mistake, here are four ways to use social media to re-brand your business:

Pick a versatile name. A new name can offer a fresh start, but make sure it’s unique, or you’ll end up with a headache instead. You’ll want to both avoid running afoul of any trademarks and secure your new brand name across a variety of social-media platforms.

Say if your company’s name is Johannesburg Cooking and Catering, think about how that’ll look and work online. Social media sites usually cap usernames at 15 characters, so you might want to use some abbreviation of the name instead — for instance, “JCooking&C.”

Redefine your voice. If you’ve figured out who the new you is and where you want to be, further that message by revising or creating brand new social-media profiles. Then, carry that message across your company’s social-media channels. Set communication guidelines to help employees express those messages. By engaging potential clients and partners across these platforms, you can let people know more about your new brand, mission, culture and core values.

Solidify the change. The best way to get people used to a new brand is to get out in front of them. Be sure to tell existing customers and clients that you’ve changed to avoid confusing anyone. Then, start familiarizing them with the new you. Depending on your goals, you might consider offering current customers a discount or special deal to keep them coming back. You might also include a Q&A on your site to explain the new you and give future customers more background about your past. It’s important to have a consistent voice and repeat messages to be heard above all of the “noise” in social media.

Assess your results. Make sure that you’re tracking your re-branding efforts over social media and that your employees are gathering data from customers to find out how they found your business. Keep in mind that re-branding takes time. So wait at least two to three months before deciding whether something is working.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Tips To Help Ensure Your Business Succeeds

The darkest days of the Great Recession are over, so we they say, deep economic changes have occurred and business will never be the same.

Entrepreneurs -- whether they're an unemployed person striking out on their own or a seasoned veteran trying to get the mojo back again -- must do things differently in order to survive. Everyone must change, especially small-business owners. Luckily, what have not changed are the business fundamentals, those management traits that successful entrepreneurs almost all possess: tenacity, commitment and vision, and basic business skills.

New strategies are required, however, strategies designed to work in a changing business climate.

Here are seven tips that will help to ensure your business is a success:

1. Have a written plan. Without a plan, it is merely a dream. It doesn't have to be a book, but you need a few pages outlining specific objectives, strategies, financing, a sales and marketing plan, and a determination of the cash you need to get things done. Writing it all down is a crucial first step.

2. Don't marry your plan. Every great military general in history has known that even the best-laid plan sometimes has to be thrown in the fire when the bullets start flying. Adjust, confront and conquer.

3. Keep your ego in check and listen to others. Advisors are crucial because you need people to bounce ideas off, inspect what you're doing, and push you to greater accomplishments, holding you accountable for what you are committing to do. Always be good to your word and follow through on commitments, even when difficult and challenging. This isn't about you; it's about the business. Don't take things personally and stay out of emotion. Do not let your ego take control.

4. Keep track of everything, and manage by the numbers. Create written systems for everything, because you will reap benefits from them later on. This is how you train your employees and retain consistency. Know your numbers and check them daily and make all decisions based on what they tell you. One of the most important calculations is cash flow pro forma. Determine how much cash you need to do the business and do not start without the required cash on hand.

5. Delegate to employees and avoid micromanaging them. A manager's job is to delegate and then inspect progress. So don't be a control freak. Keep business organization flat. If you delegate effectively, you will get more and better then you expect. Have an actual written training and orientation plan so your employees know what is required of them. Use an incentive-based rewards system and maintain a no-problem attitude about issues that crop up.

6. Use the Internet. It is incredibly powerful and very cost efficient, but it takes time and some skill. It is about creating a community, using social media networking such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and blogging to build rapport with your market. You need to get on the train and do it, because your competitors are.

7. Reinvent your business. It is net profit, not gross revenue, that you want to focus on. Separate yourself from your history and create a new competitive advantage, be it a focused niche or super service, but not by discounting.

Above all, have fun. Being an entrepreneur is your choice, so make it work. It can be done. You can survive, emerge and succeed in this downsized economy, if you follow the right path.

Research Your Business Idea

Somewhere between scribbling your idea on paper and actually starting a business, there's a process you need to carry out that essentially determines either your success or failure in business. Oftentimes, would-be entrepreneurs get so excited about their "epiphanies"- the moments when they imagine the possibilities of a given idea-that they forget to find out whether that idea is viable.

Of course, sometimes the idea works anyway, in spite of a lack of market research. Unfortunately, other times, the idea crashes and burns, halting a business in its tracks. We'd like to help you avoid the latter. This how to on researching your business idea is just what you need to keep your business goals on track.
The Idea Stage

For some entrepreneurs, getting the idea-and imagining the possibilities-is the easy part. It's the market research that doesn't come so naturally. Market research, then, can prove invaluable in determining your idea's potential. You can gather information from industry associations, Web searches, periodicals, government, and so forth. A trip to the library or a few hours online can set you on your way to really understanding your market. Your aim is to gain a general sense of the type of customer your product or service will serve-or at least to being willing to find out through the research process.

Your research plan should spell out the objectives of the research and give you the information you need to either go ahead with your idea, fine-tune it or take it back to the drawing board. Create a list of questions you need to answer in your research, and create a plan for answering them.

The type of information you'll be gathering depends on the type of product or service you want to sell as well as your overall research goals. You can use your research to determine a potential market, to size up the competition, or to test the usefulness and positioning of your product or service.

1. Company. Think of your idea in terms of its product/service features, the benefits to customers, the personality of your company, what key messages you'll be relaying and the core promises you'll be making to customers.

2. Customer. There are three different customers you'll need to think about in relation to your idea: purchasers (those who make the decision or write the check), influencers (the individual, organization or group of people who influence the purchasing decision), and the end users (the person or group of people who will directly interact with your product or service).

3. Competitor. Again, there are three different groups you'll need to keep in mind: primary, secondary and tertiary. Their placement within each level is based on how often your business would compete with them and how you would tailor your messages when competing with each of these groups.

4. Collaborators. Think of companies and people who may have an interest in your success but aren't directly paid or rewarded for any success your business might realize, such as associations, the media and other organizations that sell to your customers.

Another approach is to research is SWOT analysis, meaning analysis of the strengths of your industry, your product or service; the weaknesses of your product (such as design flaws) or service (such as high prices); and potential threats (such as the economy).

Whatever your approach to evaluating your idea, just be sure you're meeting the research objectives you've outlined for your product or service. With those goals always top-of-mind, your analysis will help you discover whether your idea has any holes that need patching.
Checking Out the Competition.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Tips To Survive Your Start-up's First Year

One of the riskiest times for any business is when it has just begun. In the first two years, three of every ten startups expire, according to research reports. By five years, half those startups are history.

How can you improve the odds that your start-up will survive that tough first year? Here are five key steps to take:

Talk to customers. Doing market research at the start can help you avoid so many mistakes. You'll have the right offer, at the right price, in the right market.

Choose your location carefully. Whether it's a great website URL that's easy to remember or a retail location with enough foot traffic, make sure your business is where it needs to be.

Keep expenses down. Look for every possible way to save. This will allow you to keep going longer, hopefully until revenue starts to cover your nut. Hire interns, trade services, postpone purchases, or pick up a broom and do it yourself. Do it all yourself, for as long as needed.

Plan for problems. The only thing as sure as death and taxes is that unexpected issues will crop up with your baby business. Sit down and think about everything that could go wrong -- then, make a plan for how you will survive each possible scenario.

Analyze how it's going. Even though it's hard to find time in those crazy start-up days, it's important to stop and look at your numbers to see where your business is headed. Is that where you want to go? If not, change course. Most successful start-ups went through multiple iterations before they found their groove.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Find At Right Mentor To Help You Grow Your Business

People go into business for themselves for a lot of reasons, including freedom, control, and, of course, the potential to make more money. But few entrepreneurs truly appreciate how much potential lies dormant in their companies.

The best way to tap into this potential is to learn as much as possible about the chosen field you want to branch into, marketing, conventional and unconventional ways to generate cash flow and strategies to develop low-cost, but high-quality leads.

You can get this from books or personal experience, but Hustle... On Your Grind would suggest working with an advisor or mentor to help guide you. While it may seem like an unnecessary or unaffordable expense in terms of time and other resources, outside counsel can be one of the best investments you'll ever make for your business.

You should acquire as much knowledge as you can from a trusted advisor who will hold you accountable for taking the actions you need to be successful, even if you don't always agree or feel comfortable.

Look at it this way: Starting a business is a risky proposition mainly because most first-time entrepreneurs simply don't know the ins-and-outs of running a successful operation. Generally, it isn't lack of capital that kills most businesses. It's lack of knowledge.

So what should you look for in a mentor or advisor? Here are four important considerations:

1. You should have good rapport with your advisor. This doesn't mean you should find someone who will agree with your every decision. But it does mean you should work with someone who is a good fit with your personality and who is willing to challenge your status quo. You can work one-on-one with a mentor, or you can try to find a local network of like-minded owners. Such groups meet regularly to provide advice and feedback about issues facing their members' businesses.

2. Your mentor should be someone who's "been there, done that." Beware of someone who claims to have a "new" system or a "magic bullet" solution. Rely instead on tested veterans who have played the game successfully. Not only can they reveal the secrets of their success, they also can be candid about their failures and how to avoid them.

3. Your advisor would ideally have a framework for driving sales, repeat purchases, cash flow and profit. In the best case, you should work with someone who takes your entire enterprise into consideration, or at least has some good tools, tactics and strategies for the functions that drive sales and profits. Be wary of complex strategies or hard-to-replicate systems.

4. Your mentor should hold you accountable for results. A mentor needs your permission to hold you accountable for what you say you're going to do and when you're going to do it. He or she also should be willing to guide you in a different direction or correct potential errors in judgment. Many hard-driving entrepreneurs find such accountability difficult, but it can be one of the most valuable aspects of mentorship.

Can it be difficult to find an advisor who is willing to guide you? Perhaps. But once you start looking for that person, you'll be amazed at the connections you'll start to make. And once you do find the right advisor, it can make all the difference in the world.

Simply put, no successful entrepreneur got to the top without a great team and a trusted mentor to turn to for help and advice. So don't go it alone. Learn from others who have been there before and achieved the level of success you're seeking. You'll cut years off your learning curve.