StayOntheGO.com has become Nashville’s number one online resource for urban progressives. The company boasts a database of over 20,000 loyal followers and shows no signs of slowing down. The man responsible for this movement is Tennessee State University grad and former Student Government President, Shawntaz Crawford, affectionately known as “Taz.” Under Taz’s leadership, Stay on the Go has managed to help shape every aspect of the Nashville community from business, to human capital, entertainment and civic responsibility.
I recently got the chance to speak with Taz to find out the story behind StayOnTheGo.com and what inspired him to become an entrepreneur. You can check out our interview by clicking on the subtitle or scrolling below!
So Taz, what exactly is StayOnTheGo.com and what inspired you to start this business?
Taz: StayOnTheGo.com is a media, advertising and entertainment company. Being from Atlanta, GA, I saw that Nashville, TN didn’t have an African American entertainment community or any contemporary media structures which connected upwardly mobile, progressive, educated African Americans after college. I started StayOnTheGo.com as an attempt to create that structure. I also wanted to create a medium for African Americans to see themselves in a positive light and to highlight the more positive aspects of our culture because I felt there were enough negative images.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced getting your business started and how did you manage to overcome those challenges?
Taz: My biggest challenge was trying to get people to first, understand what I was doing and then, to believe in it. I found that people in Nashville couldn’t conceive other forms of entertainment outside of college parties or monthly events. Another challenge unfortunately was my age. It was hard to gain the respect of the promoters in the so called “industry” because I was so young. Most of them didn’t respect me, the rest felt threaten by me so they tried to shut me out of the business for a very long time.
The local business owners would not advertise with me because they did not see the value in what I was trying to do. There was an incredible amount of resistance, but I worked harder. I learned everything about the media and entertainment business. I made myself very useful. I learned to design flyers, engineer music, D.J., street promote, write press releases, bartend, shoot photography, build websites, etc. There was literally nothing I could not do well. My goal was to get to a point where somebody was going to need me for something and eventually I couldn’t be denied because I was just too good at too many things
I also knew that I was way ahead of my time and that what I was doing was needed. I studied new media technology in New York when I was younger which provided me with insight into how the media and entertainment industries were evolving. I felt that everyone was behind and eventually they would catch up to the type of unique services I was trying to provide. All I had to do was persevere.
What makes StayOnTheGo.com so unique and different from its competitors?
Taz: StayOnTheGo is unique because we’re specific in our scope and we’re localized. StayOnTheGo is geared towards African Americans. We focus on Nashville, TN as well as the stories and happenings specific to this city. I don’t try to make it mainstream or cater to a broad audience. I think a lot of black people define their success through white societal acceptance. I have a strong black identity and want everything I’m affiliated with to embody that identity. I’m proud of who we are as a people. Don’t get me wrong, I want StayOnTheGo to be accepted by the mainstream, but only if we are accepted for who we are and what we stand for as a business.
Often times entrepreneurs forget to give back to the very same communities that support them. Tell us about some of the work you’ve done in the Nashville
Taz: Our entire company was developed to serve the community. A community cannot mobilize itself without a communication structure. The structure that StayOnTheGo.com has created provides an avenue for African Americans to be more connected, informed and productive. Through StayOnTheGo.com, we’ve developed several other companies and initiatives with different objectives to further serve the Nashville community.
We developed the Nashville Black Business Expo in 2004 to bring exposure and support to small black businesses. For the past 5 years we’ve held a toy and clothing drive for needy children. We recently developed an upscale event brand called Purple Label which exists to create support and exposure for various charities and non-profits in the Nashville area. StayOnTheGO employs over 100 entertainment and media professions who are mostly African American. We also have sponsored several tuition, book scholarships and internships to students at Tennessee State University.
How do you use fear to work for you rather than against you as an entrepreneur?
Taz: If I ever feel fear or am afraid to do something I have disciplined myself over the years to do whatever it is that I fear. Do the thing you fear, and the death of fear is certain. This type of mindset has helped me to eventually turn my weaknesses into strengths.
What advice would you give an entrepreneur starting out today?
Taz: Stay out of debt and learn your business. Build your business slow over time and learn how to do a lot with a little. Live off 10% of what you make and try not to buy anything you can’t pay for with cash. I would also recommend that your readers find a strong partner of the opposite sex who believes in them and is willing to ride out the storms (there will be storms). Stay away from negative people and be a man or woman of your word even if it hurts you in the short term. Do things to strengthen your character. Don’t procrastinate.
Write everything down. Make daily to do list and cross out the things you do as you do them. Don’t chase money, have a dream and chase that.Remember to eat, drink water and rest because you can’t make money if you’re dead. Don’t focus on making money, focus on creating income streams and building systems and institutions that work independently of you. Develop your leadership skills and ability.
Also, try to find a credible mentor who has achieved the level of success you are trying to reach and be a sponge to them. Finally, listen to the market you serve and do what your customers want, not what you want. Learn to control your emotions, especially fear and doubt. Meet as many people as you can and network. The more people you know, the more money you can make.
Do you have certain book or movie that inspires you or your business?
Taz: I have a few. The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck showed me how to control my emotions and how to deal with psychological problems. The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison keeps me grounded in my identity. Finally, Self Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson taught me that my success or failure in life is up to me.
One of the toughest things to manage as an entrepreneur is time. How do you successfully manage your time?
Taz: I get up early and clean up my room so my mind is organized. I plan as far as I can in advance. I immediately cut people and situations out of my life that can do nothing for my personal, financial or spiritual growth. I don’t chase woman who cannot benefit me financially. I tell people how I feel and let them deal with how they want to feel about it. I do not make promises or commitments I know I can’t keep and I do as much work as I can at the height of my energy level.
How does StayOnTheGo.com Spread Luv?