Becoming an Entrepreneur
Last night, I was talking with a friend who has an itch to start his own real estate company within a niche market. He’s currently in the process of getting his MBA and even though he’ll probably sell-out and work for a big firm in the short-term (pending economy), I know he’ll eventually become an entrepreneur down the road. There are some people that you know have to be an entrepreneur, and he’s one of them. That said, there are also a lot of people who love the idea of entrepreneurship but do not demonstrate that they’re willing to take the steps needed to make it a reality. Whether it’s a new business idea or a film concept, many people stop after generating the idea. These people are dreamers. If they really wanted it like my friend does, they would take the interim steps to make their dreams a reality.
One thing I always admired about my friend is the way he proactively approaches entrepreneurship. He recently reached out to a major real estate player in a niche market, networked with the CEO (flew down to talk to him), and then proposed a deal in which they could work together. He made this situation happen. It wasn’t handed to him.
The objective for my friend wasn’t money-related at all. He wanted to network and partner with a major player so that 1) he learns about the business and 2) he develops his own credibility within the space. Down the road, my friend will be credible enough to raise capital on his own. But until he demonstrates that he can do this, nobody will talk to him. Note that his outlook isn’t short-term at all, but long-term. Unfortunately, equity has dried up so this particular deal probably won’t happen in the short-term, but he’s now on the CEO’s radar, and the CEO seems interested in working with him in the future. Either way, it’s still a win for my friend.
Whether you’re a filmmaker, entrepreneur, dreamer, or just someone who wants to establish a personal brand, being proactive and building credibility incrementally is the smartest thing you can do. Why? To use a baseball analogy, hitting a homerun is more likely once a batter has become proficient in making contact with the ball and getting hits. I think a lot of people get hung up that if an idea isn’t a homerun concept that can generate a ton of cash flow or fame, it’s not worth pursuing. This is the wrong way to think about it. Because quite frankly, your first idea, no matter how great you think it is, is unlikely to be a tremendous success. As you continue to build experience and credibility over time, you will not only get better at your craft, but you will establish credibility which will get other people to trust in you (e.g., directing your first feature will garner trust from producers who give you a shot at directing your second one).
So if you’re someone who’s been thinking up a new script or concept, or have a few business ideas but haven’t acted on them, you really should consider taking steps to making your dream a reality. Even if it means reducing the scope of your project, so that it becomes feasible today (e.g., don’t try to produce a feature action movie with no budget, start with a 3-part webisode series). The learning curve is steep, and you have to take baby steps to get experience under your belt. So ask yourself when was the last time you did something truly entrepreneurial? Or took steps to help reach an entrepreneurial goal? Thinking and talking about it doesn’t count. If it’s been more than 2 years, you might be an entrepreneurial spirit, but may never really become a true entrepreneur like my friend will.