By Karen Stokes
Know your customer, have a strong business plan and do your research are just three of the business tips that Earvin “Magic” Johnson shared with an at capacity crowd Saturday afternoon at Destiny Youth Plaza, 7200 N. 76th St.
Johnson, a former point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers for 13 seasons is currently president of basketball operations for the Lakers.
Following his basketball career, the 12-time all-star and 5-time NBA Champion built a reputation of being a successful and influential businessman. A few of Johnson’s business interests include the Magic Johnson Theaters, Starbucks and he is also part of a group of investors that purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012 and the Los Angeles Sparks in 2014.
“Two things I wanted to do as a boy was to make it to the NBA, then become a successful businessman,” said Johnson. “I didn’t want to go in the NBA rich and come out broke.”
Johnson has been an advocate for the urban community for years. His research revealed that the spending power of African Americans is an incredible one trillion dollars but there were few businesses located in the urban community.
Johnson planned and started his movie theaters and Starbucks businesses in urban communities. Through research and knowing his customers, he tweaked the standard food and beverage menu items to options that African Americans traditionally choose to consume which helped in making the urban locations successful. For example, instead of scones at the Starbucks locations they offered sweet potato pie and peach cobbler.
“If you don’t know your customer you can’t serve them,” Johnson said.
James, a college student attending the seminar said, “It was interesting to hear Magic Johnson’s story on his transition. He shared a lot about his life.”
Magic grew up poor in the ghetto with six sisters and three brothers and he worked hard to achieve his dreams.
He told a story that even though he was a celebrity, his business journey experienced some turbulence. When he wanted to take his businesses to another level, he needed to secure a loan. Magic went to ten banks and got turned down ten times. But he persevered and he went to the 11th bank, they believed in him and he got the loan.
“Most people if they got turned down by the banks five times, they wouldn’t keep going. Follow your dream, keep fighting and have a solid business plan. Don’t give up on your dream,” Magic said.