While I sat behind the register at my hotel gift shop job to earn money during college, I secretly went through the pages of different publications that discussed economics, job market, politics and the career advancement of women. Thinking far ahead, I saw myself as an entrepreneur later on in my life featured in between the pages -- I thought I would need more money, resources and clout on my side in order to own a business.
When I graduated from college, I was oblivious to the intensity of the rat race that existed in the entertainment industry. Disappointment crept in because it was very apparent that I would need more than "hard work" to get to the next level -- I needed a sound strategy. I aggressively networked and sought out mentors, hoping they would expose me to business endeavors that served as great homework.
I worked extensively without pay at different startups for several years. I worked with online publications, talent managers, television producers and non-profit organizations that all had established relationships with the entertainment industry. Witnessing and helping others execute their visions was something I did with great vigor for a while -- that stamina helped me realize that a lot can be done with a limited budget or assets. I often received compliments from colleagues and superiors that observed my leadership qualities. But I still did not execute anything of my own to prove my true capabilities as a leader.
An opportunity to start a business partnership presented itself, which made me feel more comfortable in establishing a company. Having power in numbers was a great way to accumulate resources. Some of the most valuable tools used included pro bono legal services, business centers, libraries and websites that offered a plethora of information about launching on a shoestring budget. I was shocked to learn about the vast number of grants available to women and minority entrepreneurs. My mentors from past opportunities offered insight on what strengths they felt I could contribute to this venture. There was definitely a learning curve on my end but I managed to pull a lot off quite a bit for the team. In addition to my individual reflections, the experience was invaluable in teaching me about teamwork, leadership and how to build a sustainable, profitable brand.
Surprisingly, my day job as a Casting Producer was a major motivator in finally pushing me to establish a company. I was offered a part-time casting assignment and saw it as a prime opportunity to create One Scribe Media. Those brief part-time jobs cultivated a list of clients that dramatically influenced my company's credibility. Having those relationships in combination with the background information over the years finally helped me to develop the courage to start a business -- and way before I initially thought it would happen. The additional income was a welcomed plus too!
Making my company a priority was challenging decision that was more than worth it. I know my ideas are good enough -- the amount of support I receive made me realize that it was not about age or resources that prevented me from taking a leap of faith. It was my lack of confidence and preparedness. As I continue to develop more self-awareness and maturity, my list of professional beliefs will grow exponentially. In the interim, here are some things I can share:
- Brevity beats impeccable presentation. Just get your work out there and make content king if you have very little money.
- When your product lacks response, pay attention to that information. Find out how you can achieve your mission while engaging your audience.
- Stay ahead of the curve with technology and marketing. It's your company's lifeline.
- Listen to criticism, but it isn't gospel. Take it in small doses, thank the person for their time and sleep on whatever they tell you for a few days.
- Don't let unhappy people advise you, regardless of their intentions. Negativity is contagious.
- Listen To Your Gut. This is incredibly important. We often know what the best decisions are instinctively but ignore those thoughts in fear of taking on unpopular ideas. But unpopular ideas are usually the ones that take you to the next level.
- Make sure your motivations are founded on sound values. When you have bad intentions, it is more apparent than you think.
- Look presentable but comfortable. Brand your appearance, even if you do not want to be the "face" of the operation. It will help you to be recognized when networking.
- Read any and everything. Embrace your inner geek. I was surprised when I realized how much my interest in politics peaked my business instincts. Politics drives the economy and vice versa. It's always good to know what industries are in demand so you can find unique ways to implement it into your brand strategy.
- Get a mentor. You are not above anyone's advice, regardless of age.
- Talk to random elders in your family or in the street. They give the best advice because of their life experience.
- Egos are lame. Be honest with yourself about past mistakes, and then move on so everyone else around you can move on too.
- Have a life. Date, get a hobby, travel, exercise, and develop an identity outside of your profession. It will inspire great ideas.
- Be persistent and patient. Everyone's journey is different so don't focus on what everyone is doing, worry about how you can accomplish your goals. Ambition is channeled through "tunnel vision" for a reason!
Follow Lande Yoosuf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@LandeYoosuf