An entrepreneur, according to Merriam-Webster, is “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.”[i] I believe this is an interesting definition, considering that entrepreneurs, despite existing in a variety of industry and business settings, tend to assume more willingly the “risk,” yet assume the organizational and managerial skills to varying degrees. As an entrepreneur, by way of the entertainment, sales, and coaching industries, I have learned from successful mentors (by this I mean mentors who have a tangible track record of success) and from struggling colleagues, what works and what does not work. The main difference that I noticed between successful and unsuccessful entrepreneurs oftentimes, though not exclusively, comes down to skill. This piece aims to share the core skills entrepreneurs need to be successful and how to develop them.
As an entrepreneur with multiple business, and a twelve-year background in human resources, navigating seemingly opposing worlds and being successful in all, has allowed me to see the benefit of fostering both my creative and traditional business-oriented interest. See artists, performers, entertainers, and creatives are known for many things, but business acumen is typically not one of them. Due to my extensive background in human resources, coaching, and sales, what has enhanced my entertainment career has been my communication, time management, and negotiation skills amongst others.
Whereas, being an artist, allowed me to stand out in the sales and coaching industries, as well as in human resources. My artistic background allowed me to creatively think outside the box, confidently and entertainingly lead trainings and meetings, create compelling company-wide visuals and manuals that were effective and digestible.
There are plenty of artists, singers, dancers, and models who do what I do. Besides my creative talents, what has helped set me apart from others are the skills that I developed through a more traditional corporate/business environment. On the flipside, there are plenty of coaches and salespeople who may benefit from utilizing skills and practices from creatives to scale their efficacy. Now, I am not suggesting you commit yourself to pursue an artistic avenue if it is not an interest or a goal of yours, nor am I suggesting you embark on the corporate track if it’s not in alignment with your craft. I am suggesting that it is important to learn a few skill sets from both avenues.
Below are the skills entrepreneurs, regardless of industry, need to develop to become more versatile and effective.
1. Flexible Oral and Written Communication
In the world of entertainment where it is not uncommon to hear the “girl you ate that,” or “you’re so lit” amongst other phrases, learning how to read and speak to not just a room of artists, but ANY room is critical. Being able to maintain your authenticity, while learning how to relate to anybody is an ability that is rooted in communication. Understanding the different language or communication style of who you are speaking to will increase your chances at fostering relationships, connecting with others, making negotiations (typically) easier, and lastly will set you apart from the various other talented individuals vying for the same position.
Pepz Learning Tip: When it came to communication, a hack that I learned from one of my early mentors at my first human resources job in New York University was listening, reading, and carefully modeling how others communicated, especially in writing. Whether people want to admit it or not, every job, career, and industry has a culture and series of sub-cultures and learning how to speak in these different environments will allow you to see heightened levels of success. Additionally, for the game changers who are reading this article, your ability to effect change will have much to do with how well you communicate with others.
2. Time Management
Out of all the skills I love training on, time management is one of my favorites since I used to have a poor concept and respect for time. My time management system, Stop Killing Time, changes the game for my clients. What many may uncover about my core belief with time is that how you use your time, reveals where your priorities are. I believe it is important to understand and accept that we do in fact have a say of what happens with our time. In actuality, we are responsible for staying up late, sleeping in, encountering the same traffic that has been in existence for decades; therefore, the only variable that we are responsible for and can change is our behavior, not time. How responsible we are with time is one of the most basic, yet profound ways in which one establishes or tarnishes trust. In turn, it will reflect in whether we lose, gain, or maintain opportunities.
This is especially critical for artists and/or those seeking to collaborate with others, because as technology continues to evolve, productions shorten, and budgets diminish, those responsible for castings/partnerships will often hire the more reliable and efficient candidate versus the most talented candidate. Those who can effectively manage a schedule and clearly communicate any issues (i.e., tardiness, reschedules, etc.) are whitelisted as they tend to be the most responsible, and therefore most cost-effective. As the age-old adage saying goes, “time is money…” and neither can be wasted.
Pepz Learning Tip: Use a calendar religiously. To properly develop time management skills, my coaching program has a robust time management session, and my book Stop Killing Time is scheduled for release for 2022 and will provide various scheduling hacks to boost your efficiency.
Whether you are an actor, coach, therapist, marketing guru, dancer, etc. learning how to quickly edit videos, audios, media kits, amongst many other marketing resources are of the utmost importance. As the world has transitioned further into the digital space, creating, and editing one’s marketing materials is one of the few skills that one can establish a bassline quickly and cheaply that can save you a fortune.
Pepz’ Learning Tip: I recommend studying from YouTube, which is, a great free resource, that can teach you the structural components of reels and editing techniques for many programs and skills.
Lastly, there are many programs like iMovie and GarageBand that are predownloaded on Apple Products and free alternatives like VSDC Video Editor (PC), inshot (mobile video editor), and Audacity (audio editing program for PC) to name a few, that will allow you to create custom reels to best represent yourself.
P.S.: Though one can outsource many tasks and jobs, like I do, there will likely be moments that will require you to perform some basic editing tasks. Be sure to have developed some level of skill to meet an urgent need.
Primarily developed in the sales and home-based business industry, posture in short translates to confidence. Confidence is both a trait and a skill that can only be truly shaped and refined by putting yourself out there and studying people who have mastered it. When I first joined a sales and marketing firm back in 2014, on a part-time basis, I recall being so inspired by trainers, superstar recruiters, and colleagues that oozed an honest confidence. Some were loud, some were quiet, some were extroverts, and others were introverts. Regardless of their personality types, those with posture not only yielded the most impressive results, but were magnetic and made you feel important, while instilling the trust that they could deliver on their word.
Pepz Learning Tip: Read How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie and First Steps to Wealth by Dani Johnson to gain strategies and tips to improve and refine your and optimize your communication skills.
5. Emotional Intelligence
A skill that is a constant work in progress, yet the bassline that one should strive for is learning how to operate with confidence and a high level of work ethic, without being married to the result, whether negative or positive. The most recognizable entertainers and artists will be quick to tell you that the amount of no’s one receives far outweigh the number of yeses. Understand that regret can only exist when we know we did not do our absolute best. So, when a no is attached to that realization, it tends to sting.
Being able to operate with a high level of work ethic and trusting yourself, your talent, your training, while being able to outlast the no’s without taking them personally, is contingent on your emotional and mental fortitude. So many of us, especially creatives, place our validation/invalidation in others’ opinions.
Pepz Learning Tip: Hire a personal coach that specializes in confidence and mindset. Read Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Jean Greaves and Travis Bradberry.
[i] “Entrepreneur,” Merriam-Webster, INC. 2022, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/entrepreneur