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Rashad Bilal and Troy Millings Share Their Top 7 Tips for Starting an Online Brand in 2020

Rashad Bilal and Troy Millings of Earn Your Leisure are no strangers to quick success. After all, the financial literacy brand they started just a year and a half ago already boasts a digital audience of 294K followers on Instagram and 114K followers on YouTube. That’s thanks largely to their Earn Your Leisure Podcast, where Bilal and Millings break down the latest trends in both finance and entrepreneurship and take a look into the backstories of entrepreneurs, as well as how money works in the sports and entertainment industries as a whole. In addition to having produced over 90 podcast episodes since January of 2019, Bilal and Millings also started Earn Your Leisure University last November, an online education platform that offers north of 70 courses across 35 different industry disciplines. With almost 2,000 students enrolled, Bilal and Millings are eager to expand upon their course offerings and bring their style of learning to everyone, at a lower cost and higher value than anywhere else. Given their quick growth since forming in 2019, as well as the success they’ve had throughout COVID-19, we asked the guys at Earn Your Leisure for tips to starting a business in 2020. Below are there answers.

Figure Out What Your Passion and Purpose Are

Bilal: “Before anything, know what you want to do. To me, that’s the first thing: to figure out exactly what you’re passionate about, and not to do something that you think you’re just going to make money in. I think a lot of times, people chase money, and they don’t chase their passion or their purpose.”

Develop a Strategy Early On

Bilal: “Develop a strategy. A lot of times, on social media, especially, people are just kind of winging it. We developed a strategy early on. I didn’t have any followers, and it was a strategy to try and get followers with my content.”

Be Consistent

Be consistent and intentional in your efforts and trust the process. Nothing happens overnight. That said, it’s unlikely that you’ll find success as fast as Earn Your Leisure did. Stay the course, though, and you just might! Millings: “From the start, it was like the first episode we put out, I remember the first day we had 300 people listening. And I was like, ‘wow.’ Then the first week was like 1,200 people… Then every week, that number just kept growing and growing and growing.”

Build Your Team

Build out your team with quality candidates. For Bilal and Millings, building out their team with trusted partners has only empowered them to find more success and expand into their educational efforts.

Look at What Your Competition Is Doing and Do the Exact Opposite

Bilal: “People copy a lot of stuff that we do now, but this one has really helped us because we’re not trying to be CNBC, we’re not trying to be Bloomberg, we’re not trying to be any outlet. We’re just us.”

Embrace Your Imperfections

Bilal: “A lot of times, you know, especially like for us with this business podcast, sometimes we talk with slang, and we’re not the most polished as far as our diction is concerned. We don’t wear suits. We just are regular people. But I think that’s actually helped us because more people can relate to us… Everybody didn’t go to Harvard. Everybody doesn’t have an MBA, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t participate in business. I think for a long period of time, the vast majority of people have felt that business is over their heads because they’re not enough or they come from working-class environments.” “They don’t have that technical analysis that you may need to be a stock trader or work on Wall Street, but you can still be successful in business. So, we could have tried to, you know, wear suits and talk with Queen’s English, but we realize that who we are is not for everybody. But a lot of people can understand that, and they can relate to that. So, embrace who you are. A lot of times social media, whether it’s building a platform or just being a personality on social media, there are so many people that are living somebody else’s life and trying to copy what somebody else is doing just because it’s trendy in that moment.” “Ultimately, that’s not something that’s sustainable, because that’s not who you are. Like, we can sustain this because this is actually who we are in real life as people. I would say, that’s one of the main things that I see online right now: that a lot of people are pressured into trying to be somebody they’re not, and they’re creating personalities that are not consistent with who they are. We found that being yourself is good enough.”

Take Imperfect Action

Millings: “Take imperfect action. That jumping-off-the-porch mentality is super important… For the first like fifteen to twenty episodes, we were recording off of three iPhones, air-dropping them. You know, using shotgun mics, not even knowing how to use interfaces like GarageBand or Logic or any of these things. We just did it because we had no expectation.” “You know, a lot of times people put pressure on themselves to say that it has to be perfect, I don’t want to start. The problem with that is, when you start at that perfect height, you have to stay at that perfect height. And I think our audience is seeing that where we started and where we’ve grown to and where we’re headed. So they can appreciate it more because they’re like, you know, I was with y’all, right? People have that, ‘Yo, I’m a day one person. I remember when you guys were like that, and they can see the growth. For more on the Earn Your Leisure movement, check out their website. Also, be sure to check out Earn Your Leisure University.

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