Daydreams of Hip Hop moguldom were now a part of my daily thought process. However, I needed more information about business structure and funder psychology. I did not study business while at university. I did not yet have a lot of close relationships with business people I could turn to that could be my business support system as I dove into the world of social entrepreneurship.
No Business Degree, but I am Building a Business
I studied international public relations and journalism at UNC Charlotte. I studied how to sell and scale the branding messages and stories of businesses and people. I understood how to craft the message of a business idea and brand, but what I needed to know now was how to structure a business period. I needed some lessons on how to structure Hip Hop Orchestrated if this was going to go beyond a one-off project.
I knew I would have to find a way to create my own personal business school learning path from the community resources made available to me. The first person that I was connected to that was willing to help me step in the direction of pulling more structure around my many creative ideas was Eric Gorman of Faster Glass Consulting, LLC.
Politicking with Eric Gorman
I was connected to Gorman through one of my Hygge 3rd Ward coworking buddies back in September 2016. I had a concept that blended Hip Hop culture, the arts, and civic education that I had branded as Just Politicking. I was in phase 2 of my ideation process searching for the resources and the community connections needed to make the concept a reality. I needed a space in or near uptown to make it happen in and my Hygge coworking buddy told me that Gorman was just the guy I should talk to. Gorman was connected to Faster Glass Consulting, LLC., an amazing innovation firm with a dope space right in the middle of Uptown. The innovation space was a renovated AME Zion church that was once an integral part of the historic Brooklyn Village neighborhood.
Gorman and I started conversing via email an in October 2016, I had the chance to see the amazing space and meet him face-to-face. I liked his calm spirit and the way he asked questions that pushed me to think about how to structure my ideas. Gorman and I did not get to make Just Politicking happen in the Brooklyn Village space, but the relationship seed had been planted. Gorman had also sparked a thirst for understanding how to structure, iterate, and scale an idea--Hip Hop Orchestrated to be specific.
SEED20 Spotlights the need for more Business Structure
Thanksgiving had come and gone, and Christmas was right around the corner. This year money was tight for me and the family, but the universe sent another major gift my way before 2016 wrapped up. Hip Hop Orchestrated was selected to be a part of the SEED20 Class of 2017.
The Knight Foundation and 8 80 Cities had supplied me with funding and initial training about how to launch a pilot project to positively impact my community. Now my community had selected to give me more business training and possibly a chance to have more funding infused into Hip Hop Orchestrated.
SEED20 is an annual program that was created by Social Venture Partners Charlotte to help identify, spotlight and support the region’s most innovative ideas focused on tackling pressing social challenges. Hip Hop Orchestrated was one of those twenty social ventures selected to go through a two-month business pitch training process. Through presentations, coaching, feedback, and mentoring I would learn how to tell a powerful story about the mission, vision, goals, and impact of Hip Hop Orchestrated.
To my surprise, a familiar name and face was a member of Social Venture Partners Charlotte--Eric Gorman! He sent an email message of congratulations my way. A meeting to catch-up with each other soon followed. While politicking in the Huddle Room at Hygge 3rd Ward, Gorman offered the opportunity to gain a little more consulting assistance when it came to the business structure of Hip Hop Orchestrated.
I knew I needed the consulting, but I also knew I did not have the money to cover the cost of these one-on-one, high return on investment lessons. Gorman helped me remove that mental obstacle of poverty and showed me that focusing on the value that Hip Hop Orchestrated could bring to the community was an investment others that he knew would provide their consulting expertise to. He explained a concept that I have coined as a seed of knowledge investment. This type of investment is a delayed payment model. When the funding for my social venture comes later as a result of a person’s business consulting expertise and assistance, invoicing and payments for these consulting services would then be discussed. Gorman was willing to explore proceeding into placing a seed of knowledge investment in me, and had plans to connect me with Josh Jacobson of Next Stage Consulting, LLC.
On to the Next One
It was a new year! It was time to learn how to make Hip Hop Orchestrated work beyond the gig life scenarios. Right after Valentine's’ Day, the universe gave me another gift--a Next Stage Consulting, LLC whiteboard session with Josh Jacobson, Caylin Viales, and Eric Gorman.
A number of business structure jewels these three dropped on me that day was hands down the best Valentine’s Day gift ever. Now, I did not have a beau at the time to compare this V-Day gift to, but low key---the whiteboard session would have straight dusted his gift. Just sayin’....But I would have never told my beau that. (Wink. Wink. Double pointer finger.)
The meeting organically flowed into four phases.
Phase I: Get to Know Your Consultants
Phase II: The Questions
Phase III: The Clarity
- Phase IV: The Client’s Concept as the Case Study
Get Your Nipsey Hussle On
Now, I am not going to go into detail with all that we talked about and what I learned. All I am going to say is, book a meeting with Next Stage Consulting, LLC. You need to have your own personal whiteboard session with the NSC crew to truly appreciate what they do for area non-profits and social venture founders and administrative teams.
If you do decide to book a session, my suggestion is to take very detailed notes. If you have an audio recorder bring it with you. (Sure wish I had thought to hit record on my smartphone.) Just know you will be packed full of so much information before you leave the presence of the NSC crew. The information they share is so valuable that you want to make sure you can remember everything.
Because of my session with Next Stage Consulting, I was confident enough to submit my application and budget for the Unite Charlotte Grant. I also sent the application and budget to a few other key movers & shakers in Charlotte philanthropy. (I think one of them may be interested in the concept I submitted.)
Although the Hip Hop Orchestrated’s social capital generation program Hip Hop Knights was not awarded funding from the United Way of Central Carolinas, it prompted me to head down the path of a stronger business structure. Eric Gorman, SEED20, and the Unite Charlotte grant led to my first whiteboard session with Next Stage Consulting.
Next Stage Consulting gave me the first piece of framework in which to structure Hip Hop Orchestrated’s business so it will move beyond a pop-up project to an actual business. It will be a couple of months until I will be able to process all the information shared and type out my notes because to be real with you, I am still in paid gig to paid gig mode right now just to survive. But for now, I know what my business studies homework is.
Social Venture Homework for Hip Hop Orchestrated:
Create a 3 Year Pro Forma
Create Program/Project Budgets
Create Program/Project Sponsorship Decks
Create Storytelling Marketing Deck
Draft Fundraiser Event Plan & Run of Shows
Virtual Business Lessons from Nispey Hussle
Once I get these items created and ready for review, another session with the Next Stage Consulting crew will be on my agenda. It is time to put my Nipsey Hussle-style thinking cap on if Hip Hop Orchestrated is going to flourish using the independent music mogul mentality.