And while it may be nice to own a company and call the shots, the responsibility of being the boss will bring a steady stream of expectations from employees, clients and partners. The company and its brand are paramount as they represent the entrepreneur who made it all happen. The job requires decisiveness, creative thinking, and immediate problem solving — and maybe a few hours of sleep at night.
More and more women are making an impact as company founders, and they’re savvy enough to face the daunting challenge of creating a business. At this years Digital Hollyood in Marina Del Rey, Calif. I recently had the chance to hear from six successful women who have started companies in the entertainment industry, and they have sage advice for anyone interested in creating a startup, including how to handle success and failure while never giving up.
Here is the first of six panelist that give advice for producers starting out in the industry.
Diana Dotter, CEO of Vinda Media, Exec. Director of the Film School, Seattle (pictured left)
“When I was young I left home when I was 15 years old, and I’ve been on my own ever since. I think that was my first entrepreneur jump. I lived in New York City and I used to go to the Waldorf Astoria, and I would sit with a cup of tea in the corner at a table and I would listen to people doing business. And that’s how I learned what the language was [of] how people were doing business. I just sat there and listened. I did that for a long time. I also learned how to surround myself with people that were at a higher level than me…. I walked up to Martin Scorsese one time and said, ‘Hi, Martin Scorsese, I want to talk to you. I’m starting my first production and I need some tips.’ It’s tenacity and the willingness to go and sit in that space. Not knowing and looking for the information, and finding it where you can and surrounding yourself with people who have more information [for] you and that could guide and lead.
“Part of my motivation about being an entrepreneur has been the love of creating new ideas and new vision, and I love bringing them to life. I’m not a [conventional] mother; I’m a mother of companies, I’m the mother of business. I love to birth things into the world and … I really don’t like to be told what to do. There are a couple key elements that are very critical to entrepreneurial-ship, and that is to have a drive, a vision and the ability to be able to tell your story well. Being an entrepreneur is a continued education process. You can’t stop learning about everything. I think having goals and strategies in place could help guide and direct [being an entrepreneur]. Everyone always talks about the three-year vision and the eight-month strategy and what you are going to do to get there. I think it’s really important to outline your plan. Have a business plan that covers the basics, know where you’re going, and then develop a strategy to get there. And that way you can quantify where you are in your process. Having a vision is one thing, having a business plan and a strategy to get there is a whole other ball of wax.
“The other challenge about being an entrepreneur is that you have to be a marketer. You have to be a salesperson. You have to understand finance. You have to be out there raising money for your company, and you have to be identifying new projects or new gadgets that are going to take you to the next level. There are so many different areas you have to be an expert in in order to drive your business forward. I don’t think men have this problem but women have been groomed to people please to make sure everybody is really comfortable with what we are doing or saying. Let me just say what a waste of time that is. Throw that shit away.
“I have spent so much of my younger years and first couple of businesses really spinning my wheels on deals that never happened. Let me tell you, people will suck your time. They will suck your energy. They will try to get as much from you as possible and the deal is not on the table, particularly in Hollywood. I’ve been here, I lived here. I’m a film producer, I’ve lived it, I have the little claw marks on my back. I have it all. And I wouldn’t do anything different. I’m still a film producer. I will always be a film producer. But there are so many false opportunities. The thing about being an entrepreneur is being able to identify the false opportunities from the real opportunities.
“As entrepreneurs you have to take risk. Risk is the cornerstone to being an entrepreneur. Risk brings with it fear. It’s just a natural element of it. You just have to push past it. If you are going to be innovative and create something new, if you are going to be a driver or disrupter of your industry, you have to take risk. You have to stand on that edge and then jump. If you’re not willing to do that, then it’s difficult to propel your business to a leader in your industry. You have to get comfortable with fear, you have to befriend it, you have to know it, and you have to embrace it.”