At Insider Sources we had the opportunity to talk to Reggie Gooden and Josh Martin, Partners at 818 Management, a business management firm catering to elite entertainment and sports professionals.
Gooden has worked in finance and entertainment for over twenty years, beginning his career in entertainment as a performer and music producer. He later would combine his interests in accounting and entertainment by switching over to business management, focusing on advocating for entertainment professionals.
Prior to joining 818 Management, Martin worked for a top 10 national accounting firm, consulting clients with varying degrees of size and complexity, including large corporations, partnerships, and their respective owners.
Martin and Gooden joined Justin Stiegemeyer in 2018 to form 818 Management, bringing in a roster of over twenty clients within different niches of the music and entertainment industry. Blending both talent and accounting expertise, Gooden and Martin discussed the different factors that affect firm development: diversity within the industry, opportunities for advancement, and clientele pool.
How diversity affects career development
Many media and business firms, especially in the last year, have garnered further scrutiny into the bias of their hiring practices, as many find that at the top-most level of many companies, there are little to no people of color.
Gooden noticed a very similar trend within business management, as he states that most firms have little diversity at the Partner level, while entry-level and mid-management positions are populated by people of color. During his time at bigger firms, he explains that while he never quite experienced overt racism, there was a certain level of “pedigree” he felt expected to meet. Because of this, he felt his opportunities for growth and his opportunities for advancement grew limited.
“There is a culture, and there is a pedigree that I was not a part of because I was not born in these circumstances,” Gooden said. “I can see that the more that I would have progressed at that particular firm, the fewer opportunities I knew that would be available, and specifically available to me.”
So once he became a Partner at 818 Management, he dedicated his efforts on providing these opportunities for people who otherwise would not have the resources to do so.
“I really wanted to have a hand and say: ‘you know what, let’s give some tools to the people that don’t look like the current Partners so that they’re more likely to be pulled up and start their own firm,” Gooden said. “That way those same people can finally get access to the same info and knowledge as the big guys.”
He continues: “My opinion is that the best way for people of color to really get started is to figure out your people, your community, and to build something really quickly. You have to acknowledge the fact that it’s going to be people who are highly talented, and who have very successful careers but that look like you or are culturally similar to you have to make their own way — at least that is how it worked for me.”
Personal development within business management: How to carve out your own niche
And while both Martin and Gooden are thankful for the skillsets bigger firms taught them, Martin believes that in general, opportunities for career, network, and personal development are not as optimal at bigger companies.
“I am not anti-corporate,” Martin said, “But it takes a lot from your life if you are working 60 hours a week year round. So if you are entrepreneurial, you don’t have to follow a cookie cutter path. If you are smart, you find ways to carve out niches within the space you are in, and use the resources you have to gain leverage, or move out on your own.”
The key to building your own practice is creating a solid client pool. At the very start, both Martin and Gooden struggled with understanding their particular “niche.” According to Gooden, they started out taking any client that approached them at first — just taking on new people simply because they felt they had to.
“You don’t need a lot of clients to get started,” Martin said. “It’s important to be cognizant of the type of clients that you want. Make sure to be picky about it, and be strong about your fees and billing, and you know if it’s not a client that’s going to uplift your practice, they are probably not worth taking.”
One way to vet clients, according to Martin and Gooden, is looking at where your own interests and skill sets lie. Martin looks for clients that can uplift the practice: his specialties and passions lie in personal CFO and growing client net worth. His current roster includes popular Youtubers, NBA players, musicians, and actors.
Gooden, with his background in the music industry, enjoys working within that space. He has helped artists get brand deals, and he is currently working on a content production company titled Artist Voice Media, in which artists from different cultures come together to collaborate on different projects. Gooden works to connect these artists with different resources to better guide their careers.
Currently, their roster of clients include Bella Thorne, Ashley Benson, Taylor Kitsch, and Cory Henry. Gooden and Martin were named Hollywood’s Top Business Managers of 2020, cited for their expertise in working with younger talent, yet still able to manage seasoned veterans of the industry through their technical expertise.