14 Culture Leaders on How to Take That First Entrepreneurial Step - Rolling Stone
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14 Culture Leaders on How to Take the First Step to Entrepreneurship

Starting a business is easier with help from those who have already done it.

Photos courtesy of the members

Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone editors or publishers.

Branching into entrepreneurship often feels like a huge leap of faith. This is especially true for prospective business owners looking to work within the culture space.

Many industries in this sphere are already filled with talented creatives, and it can seem near impossible to break into. However, starting your own business can open the door to personal and professional growth and fulfillment.

Below, the leaders of Rolling Stone Culture Council offer some sage advice for those hesitant to take the first step toward their entrepreneurial dreams.

Don’t Let Fear Stop You

It is fine to be scared of the uncertainties of entrepreneurship, but if you are an independent and creative person, don’t let fear stop you from starting your own culture business. Be alert to recognize unique opportunities, share your ideas with trusted people, develop a solid business plan and study your market. Have both financial and legal advisors, but make your own decisions. Be driven. – Marietta Ulacia, Afro Latin Jazz Alliance

Ask Yourself If You’re Willing to Risk It All

Being scared before taking a deep dive into starting a business is natural. Before jumping in, ask yourself if this is something you’re willing to put it all on the line for. If you don’t answer with a resounding, unwavering “yes,” the project just might not be for you, and that’s OK. It’s better to have passed on something you’re not truly passionate about than to realize when it’s too late. – Brandon Ginsberg, ApparelMagic

Build Something That Will Excite a Specific Niche

When creating, I recommend not worrying about the larger “culture space,” which is a shape-shifting chimera; it evolves too rapidly to easily predict. Instead, devote your energies to building something that will excite a specific group you know and care about. Ideas can rapidly reach so many, there will always be an audience for something built with authenticity and a focus on quality. – Tim Fields, Kabam

Learn About the History of Your Space

When you first delve into the culture space, you have to love it. It has to be a part of you. Second, know the history of your space before you go about setting its future (e.g., I’m better at music knowing the historical impact the mafia had on it). Third, remember the cultural space is about humanity and society as a whole. Make money by doing good. – Marcus Cobb, Jammber, Inc.

Consider the Value and Perspective You Bring

The most valuable asset is probably one you already have: an authentic love for a culture, niche and/or community. Always ask yourself what value and perspective you can bring to that community via content and you’ll gradually produce better content and products. It’s OK to imagine yourself as the customer, and the more niche or community-driven you get, the more impactful that becomes. – David Tao, BarBend

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Stick to Your Concept

You have to believe in what you are doing. Stick to your concept that you had envisioned for your business. Customers need to feel that the business has a strong platform and that only comes with sticking with the concept that you are comfortable in executing. That’s not to say that you can’t adapt to your customers’ wants, but as long as your core values are kept, your business will succeed. – Ehren Ryan, Common Lot Restaurant

If It’s Aligned to You, Build It

If you have an idea for a business and it keeps coming back to you, it’s still yours to create. We were all born to create. There’s no reason to be scared of building something if it’s aligned with who you are or who you want to become. There is no failure in trying. There’s a tragedy in not making the attempt. Any errors you make will inform what needs to be done to bring your dreams to fruition. – Melissa Jun Rowley, Warrior Love Productions

Start Small

We live in an “and” world, not an “or” world. There are millions of people looking for products, services, information, etc. You have a unique perspective that will resonate with a portion of those individuals. You don’t need to have all the answers right away to get started, so don’t be intimidated. Start small. Begin with a one-room bungalow and turn it into a six-bedroom mansion over time. – Zach Wigal, Gamers Outreach

Consider the Market for Your Idea

I suggest the first thing any new entrepreneur do is consider if there is a market for the product or service they plan to offer. Why do you think you can produce an income doing said activity? Great hobby? That’s fine, but business is something else. Take a self-assessment to see what you possess and what you need. Then get yourself a dba (doing business as) name from the county clerk’s office to make it real. – Michael Polk, Billboardology.com

Be Able to Answer These Three ‘Whys’

Answer the three “whys” with confidence: Why does the universe need my product, service, perspective? Why is now the best time to launch? Why am I the best possible candidate to execute successfully on this idea? If you can’t answer these three whys convincingly, then stop and reconsider. If you answer the three whys with confidence, then go for it! – Erik Oberholtzer, Tender Greens / cohere

Be a Serious Professional in a Sea of Hobbyists

There is a problem with the culture space: We work with creative subjects we are passionate about that many might see as a hobby or pastime. Be ready to be professional around people who are having fun. They’ll see something you make your livelihood from as leisurely entertainment. Staying professional takes a strong backbone. – Bernadine Brocker Wieder, Vastari

Remember It’s OK to Fail Fast

Since the worst you can do is fail, and since failing fast is a great way to get started in any endeavor, there’s truly nothing to be afraid of. There are simply lessons to be learned and new directions to follow. For me, the real fun begins once you do, because if you inspire drive and productivity, you create an environment in which everyone is empowered to succeed. – Jeff Radway, Skymint Brands

Ask for Help

Do as Mister Rogers did: Look for the helpers. I had mentors before starting my own business, sure, but I don’t think I truly understood the importance of having the right mentors until I went out on my own. You are surrounded by people who want you to succeed, and some of those people have already experienced what you’re about to endure. So tap into your network strategically and open your mind. – Ricardo Baca, Grasslands: A Journalism-Minded Agency

Try, Learn and Adapt

If you never try, you’ll never know. The culture space is fickle because there’s so much subjectivity. But if you never take the leap, then you’ll never know if your audience is out there. Go for it. Don’t expect overnight success. It’s a marathon made up of sprints. Sometimes you win and sometimes you grow. You only lose if you don’t learn, adapt and grow or if you don’t take the first step to begin with. – Matt Blackburn, ORDER

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