Jennifer Lopez knew something wasn't right.
"I really got inspired about being more business-savvy when I realized I was literally making people tons and tons of money and making such a small percentage," she told U.S. Small Business Administration chief Isabel Casillas Guzman and MSNBC contributor María Teresa Kumar. Lopez made her remarks during a streamed event Tuesday for the SBA's National Small Business Week Virtual Summit 2021. The fireside chat was also a kickoff event for Hispanic Heritage month.
The actress, singer, and founder of her own production company, Los Angeles-based Nuyorican Productions, started negotiating better terms for her deals--and now has equity in every project she takes on. It's about "understanding your worth, your value," she said.
Here are takeaways from Lopez's and Guzman's advice for entrepreneurs (or anyone who feels like they're not good enough).
Connect with your audience
When Lopez is managing her brand, she prioritizes listening to her audience on social media. "You have to stay true and authentic to yourself," she said. "And I think that it is really important to be malleable." The honest feedback you get can hurt, but it can also guide you if you're veering off course, she added. In the same way, you can listen to your customers and adjust your brand and messaging accordingly.
Let the noes fuel you
Lopez says that when she was growing up it was instilled in her that she couldn't be a famous pop star or entertainer. "My biggest motivator was always "No, you can't do that," she said.
Another big influence was Rita Moreno's performance as Anita in the 1961 film adaptation of West Side Story. Representation matters, and Lopez said she hopes to encourage Latina women to pursue their passions, whether it's running a company or any other endeavor. Lopez promoted her new venture at the talk, Limitless Labs, which will support Latina entrepreneurs. "What I am saying is you are limitless, meaning you can do anything," she said.
Kumar said that 17 years ago when she started her nonprofit Voto Latino, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that encourages Hispanic people and Latinos to vote, she did everything wrong--especially financing the business with her credit cards. Guzman noted that SBA resources like Small Business Centers and EIDL loans--plus a bevy of potential new programs for startup capital and loans in the infrastructure and budget reconciliation bills--can help you avoid such pitfalls and get your business going.