Doubt loss ‘Like a Boss’

By Lisa Schulz

In most businesses, the work ethic calls on one to perform diligently, saving time and money. But for future entrepreneurs with a dream, making mistakes and overcoming setbacks with another company’s budget is exactly the goal.

“LaunchPad: Like a Boss,” a panel discussion on entrepreneurship, was the first of a three-part series on occupational topics in the Arts, Entertainment and Media Management Department, held on Nov. 16 at the 916 S. Wabash Ave. Building.

Business direction was covered by faculty members Terri Lonier and Justin Sinkovich from the AEMM Department and Don Smith from the Film and Video Department. Two first-year AEMM graduate students, Sarah Schwartz and Sam Funt of the Arts Management Network, hosted the informational program that welcomed both undergraduate and graduate students.

“If you can be mentored by someone on their own time, then hey, screw up on someone else’s dime,” said Sinkovich, a Columbia alumnus, associate professor of Music Business and co-founder of Epitonic.com and BetterPropaganda.com. “Spend their money, not yours. Don’t be afraid, though, at the same time to dabble. You could start a small venture on the side while you’re working for somebody.”

When pursuing the path of an entrepreneur it’s best to have a supervisor to learn from, Sinkovich said. But when working for an inadequate boss, keep lists of traits and techniques as a reminder regarding how to improve managerial skills when the opportunity arises.

Entrepreneurship within his company helped Sinkovich establish connections to the business world, he said. He created a network at his former job at Touch and Go Records with big-name companies, including the heads of Amazon and iTunes.

However, when applying to work at other companies, skill isn’t the only criterion needed for the job.

“I hire employees for attitude and work ethic,” said Lonier, assistant professor of AEMM, who teaches Entrepreneurship and Strategy and is an author of five business books. “That is what it’s all about. I don’t want someone who’s complaining and griping. I want someone coming in who’s smiling and upbeat every day. I can teach them the skills. I cannot teach attitude.”

Applicants need to know how to communicate their ideas confidently and understand how to relate to an audience, whether that is three people or an audience of 10,000 in Japan with simultaneous translation, Lonier said.

Being bilingual increases opportunities by far, said Smith, associate professor of film and video. Technological skills are crucial too, along with having a strong background in accounting and writing, he said.

After developing skills working for someone else, the first issue for starting any business is money and a clear idea for a budget, Lonier said. Most of the revenue comes from friends, family and fools, she said.

Promoting work and participating in websites like KickStarter.com and IndieGoGo.com, were the most successful ways Sinkovich said he raised funds.

Industries popular in today’s culture, like film and music, generate a lot of revenue but not right away. Raising money for films is easier than creating a product that will initially make money, Smith said.

“You can’t make money on a short film,” he said. “But you can build a career on it. You [need] a strategy and a story.”

Even though users prefer free websites, online concepts still have a chance, Smith said. For instance, The New York Times erecting a paywall has been successful because “people will pay for quality,” he said.

The Arts Management Network has two more discussions in the spring 2011 semester concerning marketing and sales strategies. Despite the AEMM focus, all students and alumni are invited to the event.

“Different departments have different tools,” Schwartz said. “We wanted to bring them together because we don’t get to see each other when we’re in our

own departments.”

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