Written by Danielle Brantley
They’re a movement by themselves, but they’re a force when their together.
On May 7, 2018, Mr. and Mrs. Ryan Minor launched Hip Hop Tours of Atlanta.
Fueled by the passion to be their own boss, the Minors invested 100% into Hip Hop Tours of Atlanta.
Ryan, a former T-Mobile sales associate, has been an entrepreneur since 2011. He told Britney it was “time to leave the regular 9-to-5 and go all in.”
Britney, a licensed esthetician, left her cosmetic retail career for full-time entrepreneurship.
Ever since then, they have received great feedback from customers who love their tours.
Black Affluence had the privilege to interview the Minors to discuss entrepreneurship, love and hip-hop.
Forever I Love Atlanta: Georgia On My Mind
Atlanta is considered a black mecca. In The Legend of the Black Mecca, Georgia State University professor Maurice Hobson, argues that Atlanta is seen as the black mecca because of the success of black-owned businesses, historically black colleges and universities and black political power.
According to the US Census Bureau 2012 Survey of Business Owners (SBO), Atlanta and Georgia lead when it comes to black entrepreneurship: “The Atlanta metro area had more black or African American-owned firms (176,245) in 2012 than any other metro area beside the New York metro area (250,890). Georgia had more black or African American-owned firms in 2012 than any other state (256,848), followed by Florida (251,216).”
Atlanta is also a music powerhouse with a rich hip-hop history that dates back to the 80’s. In 1989, LaFace Records was created and ushered in TLC and Kriss Kross. Before LaFace, rap artist Kilo Ali, Raheem the Dream, MC Shy-D and Mr. Collipark were all apart of the Atlanta hip-hop scene. The rest is history: over 20 record labels and several international hip-hop artists were birthed from Atlanta. In the interview, the Minors talk about how their love for Atlanta and hip-hop inspired their business.
BLACK AFFLUENCE: Why did you decide to start your own business? Why Hip Hop Tours of Atlanta?
RYAN: We just wanted to do something different. It gave us an opportunity to spend a lot of time together. Why not Hip Hop Tours of Atlanta? Nobody is doing what we’re doing. We live in the hip-hop mecca of the world. Atlanta is at the forefront of hip-hop. It’s a story here in Atlanta. So much history here in Atlanta, from civil rights to hip-hop, which both we do cover on Hip Hop Tours of Atlanta.
BRITNEY: We were always looking for something to do together. Personally, for me, I know that I felt if I put the same energy into doing something for myself as I did working for somebody else, then I would be happier in the end.
It’s proven that civil rights and hip-hop pretty much go hand in hand. So we talk about all of that. We were both born and raised here. We met here. We married here. Atlanta is etched in our DNA. So to put that with hip-hop, which is also something that we both love. Hip-Hop is not just about music. It’s about the fashion, the art, all of that. Especially with Ryan, the fashion and the arts, he would always buy and resell sneakers and all kind of things that have to do with the hip-hop culture. We just basically put together two things that we love: hip-hop and our city.
BLACK AFFLUENCE: What is unique about your business?
RYAN: We’re not your traditional sightseeing tour company. As I explain to our customers every morning, we show the good, bad and ugly of Atlanta. And a lot of that is not as aesthetically pleasing to the eye, as most sightseeing tours show you in different cities. We show the real.
BRITNEY: When we travel, we really like to see where the locals go, what the locals do. We are able to give the customers that experience. We take them to places that they really don’t need to go to on their own. It’s authentic. We have a lot of fun. They see some of the real areas where a lot of hip-hop artist had their humble beginnings.
Git up, Git out and Git Something
Social media tends to glamorize life in general. You see the inspirational quotes, funny memes and happy pictures, but rarely do you see the other side — struggles and pain.
In the same way, being an entrepreneur is often glamorized. But the reality is being an entrepreneur is not all glitz and glamour. Entrepreneurship is hard work, sweat and tears. It’s not for everybody and that is perfectly fine. Ryan and Britney discuss the highs and lows of being your own boss.
BLACK AFFLUENCE: What are the rewards of entrepreneurship?
RYAN: The rewards of entrepreneurship are having your own time, creating your own schedule and being your own boss. Of course, when you say being your own boss, there are still rules and guidelines that you have to abide by. But some people aren’t the type of people that need to be micromanaged and the people that manage you are on a different level. It’s like you have the state, the state will say hey this is what you need to have done in order to operate. It’s not some regular Joe Blow, 9-to-5. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s just different. The main thing for me is being able to come and go as I please.
The past…I have a record, but I’ve never let that hold me back. If anything, that made me push harder because you know most times people think hey maybe you got a criminal record, you can’t get a job. It always pushed me outside of my comfort zone to let jobs know this is what I’ve done in the past, and this is what may pop up. It makes you push harder, it makes you fight more. It makes you want to acquire more. But then when you realize what you’re trying to acquire isn’t going to scratch the surface, it makes you want to go out and figure it out on your own and become your own boss. The self-gratification of being your own boss is just an amazing feeling.
BRITNEY: I think that a reward of entrepreneurship is knowing that you get out of it what you put into it. We are literally our own bosses so there is nobody telling you what to do. We have to hold ourselves accountable. We have to be up. We have to be on time.
There is nobody else to complain to but us. So if there is anything right, if there is anything wrong, people have to come directly to us. We have to take it upon ourselves to fix it. So it is offering a product to people and trying our best to make sure they are happy. After people get off the tour, they are so happy and they are so excited for us. And just to see that, it is so rewarding.
A big reward is not just knowing that if we keep pushing forward we’ll be successful in business and financially, but just showing other people out there that you can work hard. We are both from rough neighborhoods in Atlanta. We both struggled. I struggled in school. It’s just a story to tell of success. You don’t have to do what’s expected. Just because you have a record, doesn’t mean that your whole life has to go that way into illegal stuff. You can make the decision to work hard, and go in a different direction.
One day we will be able to leave a legacy for our family, but we can also leave a legacy for young black men who think that the wrong way is the only way. It’s easier to do right than it is to do wrong. That’s the narrative that we always want to push. It doesn’t seem like it sometimes but it really is. I would love for the people who grew up the way we did, in the areas that we grew up in to see that there is something out here for you. Just reach for it.
BLACK AFFLUENCE: What are the challenges of entrepreneurship?
RYAN: One of my biggest challenges is the unknown. You go out there and you say okay cool, I’m finna get all my documents and all my ducks in a row. And then it’s like man, somebody wants to charge me $1,000 to get registered with the state and get my LLC. The average person doesn’t know how to do all that. Then the state can’t provide you with legal advice, which that would be legal advice while I’m filing legal documents. The best way to say it is “it cost to be the boss.”
BRITNEY: The challenge of entrepreneurship is everything falls on us. There is nobody else to complain to, but us. There’s nobody else to push us, but us. So I would say that’s a good thing, but it’s also a challenge. And the unknown is a challenge. It is a challenge in the first few months, for what we know right now. We’ve had really good months and then we’ve had some months where we’re like dang I thought we were going to be doing a little bit better. But you have to stay down. You can’t get discouraged. You gotta keep pushing forward and putting all your energy and time into what you believe in.
Starting out, there is a struggle. When you think you have everything done and then your back to the table. It’s like oh nope you gotta get this, you gotta pay for this. I definitely think there aren’t enough resources out here to just guide people into entrepreneurship. It’s almost like you are thrown out there. Figure it out. It gets so frustrating. I do believe that’s why sometimes a lot of people give up because they don’t know which direction to go — the unknown.
I Choose You
The Minors at the 2014 Outkast ATLast concert
When it comes to finding true love you often hear the advice: Be friends first and marry your best friend. Logically, it makes sense. Your spouse is the person that you will spend the rest of your life with. So, you should feel comfortable with them and enjoy their company because you will be spending a lot of time with them. But most married couples, don’t spend all of their time together. They also spend time with their friends, family, hobbies and go to separate jobs.
For the Minors, marriage is unique because they also work closely together as business partners. They shared some of the joys and struggles of doing business with your spouse.
BLACK AFFLUENCE: What are the rewards of having your spouse as your business partner?
RYAN: With your spouse, you share the same goals and aspirations. When it’s two different people, there are two different agendas. If I start a business with one of my homeboys, it’s just different. You both can walk away financially straight, but you may not have a friendship.
BRITNEY: Going into business is very nerve-racking and intimidating. Going into it with someone that you can fully 100% trust is probably the biggest benefit. I know for sure that he doesn’t want to see me fall and I know for sure that I don’t want to see him fall. If we both put in the work, we’re building a legacy together for both of us.
We know collectively, we’re in the same household and we have the same goals as far as how we want to build our family. We can come to the table and say this is how we are going to get there and we are both on the same page with so much that our business can head in that same direction.
BLACK AFFLUENCE: What are the challenges of having your spouse as your business partner?
RYAN: I know my wife wants the best for me, but it becomes almost like she is your boss. My wife wants to micromanage me and tell me what I need to do. I have a way of doing my thing and she has a way of doing hers.
BRITNEY: I think the challenge is I come from a retail world where the customer is always right. Ryan comes from a very loosely structured entrepreneur background, which is “I don’t need your business, I’ll take my business elsewhere.” I’m very mild tempered and very structured. I do have the customer is always right mentality. He has worked so long as an entrepreneur so he believes the customer is not always right and he wants to stand up for what he believes in. But especially with a black business, we have to go over and beyond to show good customer service. There is so much stigma with black businesses. We have to make sure that we put ourselves out there to be exceptional.
We need to be the Chick-fil-A of sightseeing tours. We have very good customer service. But its even things as small as the way we answer the phone. If Ryan answers the phone and I think that he was a little bit rough, I’ll look at him and say soften up. You sound so aggressive. I know how the customer wants to be talked to and wants to be treated. He is not rude, but there is a difference in how you say things. The challenge is bringing both of our styles together and compromising so that we don’t argue. So now I handle talking to the customers. He has a big personality that people love on the tours, but over the phone, people don’t always understand that personality.
BLACK AFFLUENCE: What advice would you give someone who wants to start their own business?
RYAN: Do it. Like Nike. Just do it. It may take 20 different businesses, ideas, dreams, aspirations to figure that right one out. If you don’t start, it will never happen. If you want to be a real estate agent, football player, makeup artist, or a musician, act as if you are the best one. Research the best one and mimic them. Beyonce would have never been Beyonce if she didn’t act as if she wanted to be the greatest performer in the world.
BRITNEY: If you never do it, you will be 60, 70, 80 years old wishing you had done it. I actually came to the conclusion that I would rather start this business and put my all into it. If I came out of it completely broke, who cares? I know that sounds crazy, but we would have to just start all over again. We’ve been broke in our lives. We’ve been okay. We’ve struggled. We grew up in low-income areas. We know what it is to have to grind.
Most of the success stories that I’ve heard, even if you think of Tyler Perry, from where he was, (sleeping in the car and paying those kinds of dues), to where he is now: It is what it is. Everybody has to have a start. So just do it. If it works, that is amazing! If it doesn’t, you wipe yourself off and try something again. There is always a way to just do it.
About Hip Hop Tours of Atlanta
Hip Hop Tours of Atlanta provides five-hour guided bus tours with free refreshments and snacks. Some of the sights include Little Five Points, East Atlanta Village, Peters Street, King Historic District and so much more. One of the customers that reviewed Hip Hop Tours of Atlanta said it was “one of the best city tours” she had ever been on. All of the customers give raving reviews and highly recommend the one of a kind experience.
You can book a tour directly on the Hip Hop Tours of Atlanta website: www.hiphoptoursofatlanta.com Phone: 678-896-5663
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