Russell Simmons’ advice for starting a business: Sell what you love

Want to launch a business but not sure where to start? Russell Simmons recommends thinking about what you wish you could buy that isn’t currently available. “Entrepreneurship is about giving people things they don’t already have,” Simmons tells CNBC. “For me, it is filling a white space. It is giving people something that you love that you think they need.” The hip-hop impresario got his start founding Def Jam Records in 1984. Today, he is a serial entrepreneur and an avid yogi — roles he says are more similar than you might think.

-Russell Simmons, hip-hop mogul and serial entrepreneur



“A yogi gives what he wants to receive and that’s it; it’s that simple,” says Simmons, who is in the process of starting a yoga studio, Tantris, that will open in West Hollywood this fall. This yogic philosophy has guided Simmons’ approach to business. “If you have commercial tastes, what you want to receive is what everyone is going for and is not available,” he says. “Then you have really hit something special. And that’s all I have ever done.”
When Simmons started promoting rap parties in the late ’70s, he was bringing people to the music because he loved it. He launched the Def Jam producing company because he wanted to distribute the music he loved. And now, in a different stage of his life, Simmons is bringing to life a yoga studio because of his natural interest in and passion for yoga, meditation and veganism.
“You love something, you go to work, you try to give what you love to other people,” says Simmons. “You sell what you love to other people.”

(by Catherine Clifford, for