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BUSINESS: 10 Things We Can All Learn from Byron Allen

(Photo by Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for Culture Creators)

“I don’t want to play in the Negro League I want to play in the Global League. I’m chasing Trillions Not Millions.”

Byron Allen

The industry is paying a lot more attention to Byron Allen these days and that’s no surprise. It’s the way entrepreneurs are often treated. If your name is not attached to a corporation your PERCIEVED value is often limited. SURPRISE! But it’s just like wearing expensive designer clothes or driving luxury cars, MOST wealthy smart money managers LOOK average.

Every time I bring up Byron’s name to other entrepreneurs he is like a rock star and we discuss MANY successful entrepreneurs but Byron Allen always gets the most respect and I cannot deny … I feel the same way. I really don’t think the community gets how brilliant this man is.

I’ve never seen Byron Allen brag or boast about his achievements. While I’ve never personally met him, I know I’ve been in the same room with him over the years and I know several people who work for him. His business savvy, knowledge and style even from a distance is second to none. He is confident and well aware of what his value is and I know several successful entrepreneurs, from all walks of life, that are greatly inspired by him.

Byron comes off as a very laid back even-tempered nice guy but he also takes command when he has to, like his massive 20 billion dollar lawsuit against the FCC and Charter Communications a few years ago. This lawsuit benefited the ENTIRE black community especially when it comes to business and inclusion but for the most part … from the press, or so it seemed … crickets. It was evident at that time that he was in it to win it … at all costs. The FCC? Here are a few tips that we can all learn from Byron about doing business.

No Excuses … Because A Black Man CAN!!!

I would never say that racism does not exist nor would I dare to say that a black man is not at a disadvantage from birth in this country. I KNOW this to be true. Racism, conditioning, no fathers in the home and poverty exists … but so does opportunity.

In the early 80s, a very young Byron Allen was a comedian on a show called Real People. He was the only Black comedian… doing the same job as his white counterparts but they were making a lot more money. He let it slide for a couple of seasons then finally went and asked for a pay increase from the powers that be and instead of giving him the money that he deserved … they fired him. The experience could have crushed him and he could have relegated himself to the sidelines of life consistently rehearsing the experience for decades after giving up. Instead, he states, it was at that moment that he wanted to be in control of his OWN destiny.

There is Greater Value in Promoting Your Achievements over Desires

Have you ever noticed that most of Byron’s press comes AFTER he has made an acquisition? That’s pretty savvy considering 99.999% of entrepreneurs promote future events. It makes sense, we need to garner capital and pay expenses and bills BUT, as legitimate Black entrepreneurs, we also limit ourselves because we often only aim for just enough to get by instead of honoring our value and focusing on building generational legacy and wealth. Many of us with valuable brands are always struggling because we are chasing money instead of making it. Perhaps we feel as though we don’t deserve wealth. As Byron stated in an interview with Black Enterprise “I’ don’t want to play in the Negro League I want to play in the Global League. I’m chasing Trillions … Not Millions.”  What a powerful affirmation. How many of us say that to ourselves repeatedly … every day or have it hanging on our mirror?

When your press is about what you have already DONE, you separate yourself from the masses because it makes you more intriguing, eloquent and powerful. You are not asking for anything, you’ve already acquired what you want, you’re simply letting people in on the news. Instead of going to the press this is when the press comes to YOU. And that’s a very powerful position to be in. People want to know ‘How did he do it?’ ‘What makes him different?’ and ‘Who is he?’

Byron has become an expert at this. You rarely see him on social media saying “look at me, look what I’ve done, love me, please accept me, please believe in me, tell me how good I look.” I’m not even sure if Byron has a personal Instagram or Twitter account. There are a few fake ones that others have set up in his name.

He’s a quiet riot who is constantly making great deals and letting his business acumen and achievement speak FOR him but he is not just doing it for himself.

Acquisition Trumps Partnerships

This is one of Byron’s strongest points, why partner with someone who has added control over your business decisions who is there to look over your shoulder when you can do it yourself by owning it and hiring people to do the needed work instead? Why incorporate someone else in on your idea? Everyone that I know of who has done partnerships describes it as a disaster. That’s not always the case but the best way to do it is to be the sole owner.

Once you establish enough capital, of course, acquisitions can more easily be done. Business is very similar to real estate but can be even more profitable more quickly. You would be amazed at how acquisitions can be done on any level with or without a lot of capital and the benefit, of course, is the blood, sweat, and tears are already invested. Who has time to continue to establish businesses when you can buy, hold or sell what someone else has started but doesn’t want to finish?

What black man do you know of that would have thought about buying the Weather Channel? Probably none. Byron is a businessman. He saw the opportunity. The huge platform was not owned by a major media corporation and he was aware that there is actually a large audience that wants to watch the weather all day and if you have had a chance to see it recently, it’s very interesting to watch with all the added digital effects.

Serve the Greater Audience

When I say “greater” it’s not as in “better” but as in LARGER. The black community holds the key to trends, culture, music and so many other avenues, yet as a community, unfortunately, we still don’t respect black-owned businesses as much as we should. Entrepreneurs are not able to change the mindset of their teams, but they can change their teams and they simply have to put the best people in place if they are to grow.

I know a restauranteur who makes great soul food and while most black entrepreneurs would think they could make the most money positioning that restaurant in a black neighborhood, he is in a very affluent white part of town where there are luxury cars parked on every street and expensive homes. He makes a killing because he’s the only game in that area. Byron thinks about the widest possible audience he can attract instead of limiting himself and his business.

Make Your Presence Known!!!

Byron’s position on this is evident by his lawsuits, hanging all the dirty laundry of major corporations who make a killing off of black people but fail to spend or return any of that profit in advertising or support. I have heard black radio owners complain about this for decades, usually behind closed doors but I have never seen anyone go public and sue the FCC. Byron even exposed the beloved Al Sharpton and Comcast for sham diversity deals. These are often “hush money” deals designed to line the advocate’s pockets instead of fixing the racist policies.

Don’t Acquiesce, Stand Up For Yourself

As stated, most people would not even think of suing an organization like the FCC but Byron did. I implore you to research what that suit was about and you will see how it actually benefited the entire black community. There is not enough room to talk about it here.

Ask for, Acquire or Get What YOU Want, Not What Others Think You Deserve

Your ability to achieve is none of anybody’s business except your own. Byron is still relatively young and he has achieved more than most people could ever dream of. I’m sure that he has been discouraged in some of his deals but that doesn’t stop him from aiming for his trillions.

Navigate in Silence

This goes back to Byron not revealing his plans until they are done. When you tell the wrong people your plans they WILL discourage you. If it’s not with their words it might be with their energy. This also lends itself to surrounding yourself with the right people. If you are in a room with the same people you were in the room with five years ago, you’re not growing.

Entrepreneurship is Key

The BEST way to do it is on your own. This is not to say that everybody can do it but true wealth is available to the man or woman who builds their own structures where the sky is the limit. A corporation can instantly lambaste your influence and power with a pink slip but an entrepreneur is not likely to look in the mirror and say to himself … “You know, we’ve decided to make some changes and we’re gonna have to let you go.” That is unless he has lost it. Even if you are not an entrepreneur these same rules apply to brand building.

Congratulations to Byron Allen for being an amazing businessman. More to come.

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