Welcome to Saturday Small Business Chat! Today we’re talking to Cipher J.E.W.E.L.S. – yes, that’s his name – about his business supporting musicians in the Midlands and other endeavours through the Sankofa Arts, Media and Business Centre. He’s been in business for years, starting off running a record label in his teens, and his latest venture involves publishing a book that hopes to give young people who start making some money some sensible advice about what to do with it. This is how I met him, as I edited his book a month or so ago, and the launch party is on 16 December – tomorrow, if you’re reading this as it’s published. More info on the book below, but first let’s find out more about running various businesses and community initiatives …
What’s your business called? When did you set it up?
I have a number of businesses. I run a youth and community development organisation called 7E Youth Academy, a publishing company, a music studio, record label and a shop.
What made you decide to set up your own business?
I was always ambitious and had big ideas as a child, but I was always involved in music from a young age. I wanted to be a signed recording artist, but in those days the music industry was not interested really in signing hip hop acts from the U.K. So the DIY ethic kicked in, and I decided to start pressing my own records, and from there, even though I have been employed in jobs, I have always had a business.
What made you decide to go into this particular business area?
I love working with young people and I am committed to seeing young people thrive, I love music and arts and I understand those areas, and I believe that there always needs to be something that you’re doing that provides some sort of steady income, so that’s why I work in the business areas that I function in.
Had you run your own business before?
Yes, I started my own record label when I was 16.
How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going … ?
I started off part time and over the years I have been full time and part time depending on how well I am doing, but I have always been doing something business orientated.
What do you wish someone had told you before you started?
I wish I could have sat down with real entrepreneurs and just sounded them out before I started in business. I would have liked to have shared their wisdom.
What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?
Not everything can be done at once: breathe. I would also say, really research what you are going to do well before you invest. Look at what the trends are and be real with yourself. Don’t do what you like, ignoring what the facts are.
What do you wish you’d done differently?
I don’t really have any regrets. I made decisions based upon the knowledge I had at the time which, whether right or wrong, I have learned from.
What are you glad you did?
I never gave up and I worked hard.
What’s your top business tip?
Research the area which you want to operate in properly first before you jump in.
How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?
I have definitely grown and diversified. I started off as an artist wanting to make it in the music industry, and the skills I learned from that area have taken me into many areas. I think music and the arts are two of the most difficult areas to run a business because there is not really a definite market. You are using your marketing skills and business savvy to create demand for an artist, event or product.
Growing out of my experience, I decided to write a book this year. The reason why I wrote this book is because I when I was trying to get started in business I found it difficult to find practical information that I could use that was written in layman’s language. When it came to investment, it was all like it was written in another language. I wanted to produce something that the budding entrepreneur could use as a basic guide – offering practical and usable information and wisdom about how to invest, start a business and manage money, with links and tools to use to get started. You can find the book, The Secret Money Manual, on Amazon.
Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?
Growing and increasing demand.
Good luck to Cipher with his new book, which is indeed a no-nonsense guide which looks clearly and honestly about the best choices to make in order to make – and keep – money. And no, I’m not being paid to say that! It’s great to have my interviewees who care about sharing information and helping the next generation of business people to make their mark, too. I hope the launch party goes well, and look forward to seeing how the book does over the upcoming year!
Cipher J.E.W.E.L.S. operates from
Sankofa Arts, Media and Business Centre.
10 Warstone Parade East,
0845 0527 726
and the website is www.sankofacentre.co.uk
PLEASE NOTE: This was a one-off interview, Cipher J.E.W.E.L.S. and his book and Sankofa are still going strong and we wish him all the best for the future!
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more freelancer chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured.