How Master P turned $10,000 into a $250 million fortune

He grew up in the housing projects of New Orleans with 16 people crammed into a three bedroom apartment, but Master P (born Percy Miller) went on to build a vast business empire with an estimated worth of more than $250 million.

Here’s his best advice for making it as an entrepreneur:

Be an owner

Master P has always been about owning as much of what he makes as possible.

In the 1990’s, he made sure his record label, No Limit Records, kept 100% ownership of all master recordings when he negotiated a distribution deal with heavyweight Priority Records. (He also managed to hold on to an unprecedented 85% of sales.)


If you can’t work that good of a deal, he advises, “At least get a piece of the piece,” he told Yahoo Finance’s Jen Rogers, in an interview for Yahoo Finance’s My Three Cents . “It has to start with owning property, owning your business.”

Master P, founder of No Limit Records
Master P, founder of No Limit Records

Know your business inside and out

Before he founded his label, Master P took a modest $10,000 inheritance from his grandfather and opened a record store in San Francisco Bay Area, where he learned the music business “from the ground up.”

“I tell people, if you get in a business, you need to know everything about your business,” he explained. “You need to know what the janitor is doing. You need to know what the guy who's cooking the burgers is doing ... You need to know what the mail room is doing. You need to know everything about your business to be successful.”

Put skin in game

When negotiating his historic distribution deal with Priority records, Master P put up $200,000 to pay for marketing — money he saved up by selling CDs out of the trunk of his car. “It's called ‘putting skin in the game’, putting your own money up first, being your own boss.” he said. “That's how I got the power: I put up my own marketing money.”

Master P’s advice: “I think anybody that want to be in business need to realize you need to be committed if you want to be an entrepreneur. And I was committed back then to put up that type of money. That was a lot of money.”

Find that person to push you

Looking back on his career, Master P says, “Life is a marathon.”

His advice on how to keep running is to think about Dr. Seuss. “They was going to throw his books back in the garbage can and his friend said, ‘No. These are worth something.’ You got to find that person that's going to push you, instead of running with people that's just running with you. If you want to be successful, you have to find somebody that's going to push you all the way over the finish line.”

Tune out everyone else

From the beginning, Master P had a lot of people in his corner, including — and chiefly — his grandparents, whom he lived with growing up. But not everyone had his back: “There's a lot of people don't want to see you make it. It's a lot of hating when it comes down to it,” he said.

His advice: “You got to stay prayed up. And I think that anybody that wants to be successful, they have to know your determination will get you to your destination. That was real for me. I had to change a lot of things, had to cut a lot of people off to get to where I wanted to go.”

Master P has a diverse portfolio, including MoneYatti, his sneaker business.
Master P has a diverse portfolio, including MoneYatti, his sneaker business.

And give back

Today, Master P describes himself as an “entrepreneur and philanthropist,”with an emphasis on philanthropist. He says he is focused on building “generational wealth” for his own family — and giving back to inner city kids and the elderly.

“I don't work for money. I work harder because I want to help more people,” he said. “I love working because I feel like the more I make, the more I can give. If I don't make money, I can't do the other part I love, which is the philanthropy.”

Master P: "They say even though you have faith, you still have to work. Work without faith is impossible. So you got to push yourself."
Master P: "They say even though you have faith, you still have to work. Work without faith is impossible. So you got to push yourself."

Master P says his half-full attitude helped fuel his success. “Even when I was in the ghetto, I was saying that my mindset was different: ‘I live in a mansion.’ I'm always that little kid thinking I'm in a mansion even though I was in poverty. I never said I was broke. I've always said, ‘The money is in the mail; it's coming.’ Just the power of words. And I named myself ‘Master P’ because I wanted to master whatever I do.”

Mission accomplished.

For more, watch Master P’s interview on My Three Cents :

My Three Cents is a weekly interview series that explores celebrities’ history with — and relationship to — money. Find it exclusively on Yahoo Finance.

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