The Seven P's of Entrepreneurship

by Ash Kumra

This chapter is a free excerpt from Confessions from an Entrepreneur (Volume 1).

Kevin Winston: Digital LA CEO & Founder

1. Passion. Passion is one of the most important aspects of entrepreneurship. You must have that spark of passion in your eyes and excitement in your voice when you tell your idea to friend, investor, or people you meet at networking events. Passion will help you build your team, recruit talent, and secure funding. I know several investors and senior executives who’ve told me they can tell if an entrepreneur has the necessary passion in the first minute of talking to someone. You can feel it. Passion will also help you stick with it even through the tough times to get your idea done. If you’re not truly passionate about an idea, don’t quit your day job.

2. Purpose. Successful entrepreneurs set out with a higher level of purpose that is the cornerstone of everything they do. The purpose is more than just “make money” or “wildly successful exit.” Rather, they want to solve a real problem—or “pain point” as business schools like to teach. A business-minded entrepreneur's purpose is usually guided by personal experience—realizing some product or service is missing in a business niche, and setting out to create it. A social entrepreneur's purpose connects to broader goals: save the planet, help children or disadvantaged, education, etc.

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Kevin Winston: Digital LA CEO & Founder

1. Passion. Passion is one of the most important aspects of entrepreneurship. You must have that spark of passion in your eyes and excitement in your voice when you tell your idea to friend, investor, or people you meet at networking events. Passion will help you build your team, recruit talent, and secure funding. I know several investors and senior executives who’ve told me they can tell if an entrepreneur has the necessary passion in the first minute of talking to someone. You can feel it. Passion will also help you stick with it even through the tough times to get your idea done. If you’re not truly passionate about an idea, don’t quit your day job.

2. Purpose. Successful entrepreneurs set out with a higher level of purpose that is the cornerstone of everything they do. The purpose is more than just “make money” or “wildly successful exit.” Rather, they want to solve a real problem—or “pain point” as business schools like to teach. A business-minded entrepreneur's purpose is usually guided by personal experience—realizing some product or service is missing in a business niche, and setting out to create it. A social entrepreneur's purpose connects to broader goals: save the planet, help children or disadvantaged, education, etc.

When I started my company, Digital LA, I had a very clear sense of purpose that has helped guide every decision I’ve made thru today. Here’s my story. While I was working at Fox Interactive Media in LA, I realized that there was no networking group in LA for digital tech entertainment professionals. So I thought I’d create one. The purpose is to create events for digital professionals to network on a regular basis, to foster the digital community, to share success stories, and to have fun. Staying true to these guiding principles and sense of purpose has helped me grow Digital LA from 10 friends at a bar, to a company that reaches more than 40,000 digital, tech and entertainment professionals via our social media and newsletter, based in LA and extending worldwide. I also created the Silicon Beach Fest, which continues the sense of purpose, concentrated in a conference format.

3. Pitch. As an entrepreneur, you should be able to pitch what you do at any time. Include some storytelling in your pitch, because people relate to stories first. How did you get the idea for your company? Why you? What’s your stake in its success? Have your 30 second pitch, 5 minute pitch, and deck ready to go at any time:
  • 30 Second Elevator: Can you say what you do crisply in 30 seconds? That’s good for elevator rides with people who can help you and cocktail parties. Your 30-second pitch should communicate exactly what you do, and lead the person to ask the next question, which should be, “That sounds interesting. How are you going to do that?” The response should not be glazed over eyes or “Say, what?” Mention your company or product name in the 30 second pitch—it’s a second of valuable marketing. Avoid sounding like a brochure or website “About Us” page. Don’t use the words “solution” or “need.” Practice your 30 second pitch in front of your mirror and your friends to get their feedback. If you’re not excited and passionate about it, no one else is going to be either.
  • 5 minute pitch. Make sure you have a 5-minute version of your pitch where you can verbally describe your company, how it works, your team, and marketing and customer acquisition.
  • Pitch Deck. Your Powerpoint presentation should be 5-10 pages that tells what you do with pages on product, what it does, team bios, marketing and customer acquisition strategy, competitors, and some screenshots. Practice it. No “Uhs.” Stand up straight. Don’t read the slides. Look at the audience in the eye.
4. Pro. Pro stands for three things: Product, Proficient, Professional. Your new product or service has got to be good and deliver—better yet, overdeliver—on expectations, or the passion and purpose is wasted energy. Make sure your business, Powerpoint pitch deck, website or app is easy to understand and communicates exactly what you do to someone looking at it for the first time. If it doesn’t work well or look good, work on it. But don’t hold onto it for a year striving for perfection either, because you’ll likely be behind the market. Also make sure you’re professional in your presentation and communication. Don't have typos in your deck or emails, or react in an angry or disrespectful way.

5. Pivot. Changing your mind isn’t seen as a good thing, but it can be a very good thing for successful entrepreneurs. If your business model isn’t generating revenue, or clients or customers aren’t really responding like you thought they would, then it may be time to pivot. Pivoting is good. It doesn’t mean you’re wishy-washy. It shows you are adapting to today’s fast pace of business change, with new players, competitors, technologies, etc. If you’re considering pivoting, consult your friends, business partners, mentors, other entrepreneurs, and your checkbook. Make sure you’re still passionate about what you’re pivoting toward. If everything aligns right, then change your sailing course and go for it.

6. Persistence. It’s often said, but so true, so I had to add. You have to keep trying and trying again to meet deadlines, raise funds, attract talent, get good press. Don’t give up. It can take a few years. Be prepared.

7. Party, as in both networking events and celebration parties.
  • Networking Events: Once your project, product, website, service, or app is in-the-works or complete, you’ll need to attend networking events, conferences, business parties, etc. to find biz dev, developers, marketing and PR talent, partners, mentors, investors, etc. Though you can start to make connections via emails, LinkedIn, and friendly email introductions, you should also meet people in person, where it’s easier to convey your passion, tell your story, give a firm handshake, and look someone in the eye when you say “I’m gonna do this, can you help?” In LA, there’s such an overlap with professional and social life, that you’re even more likely to get a deal done with someone you met at a friend’s mansion pool party in the Hollywood Hills, compared to someone you met for five minutes at the hotel bar between conference sessions. There’s been many times when people have thanked me at one of my Digital LA networking events for connecting them with an employee, employer, investor, or friend who turned out to be helpful in business.
  • Celebration Party: Celebrate your success with your team. It’s good for morale. And fun. When you reach goals, like launch date, 1000 customers / sales, securing rounds of funding, etc., then celebrate with dinner and drinks. Friends will see your celebration pics on Facebook and appreciate that their help and support has led to your success. Plus you’re sure to get lots of “likes.” And celebrating your success lets friends know you’re ready for the next level, which they may be able to help you reach.
  • P.S.: Posts: When I started writing these tips, I did a Facebook posting saying: “I am writing a short essay on entrepreneurship for a book. I’m gonna write about passion, persistence, etc., and what else should I be sure to add?” I have several friends who are successful start-up CEOs, founders, and entrepreneurs. Here are some other key attributes they status-commented, that are equally important (although they don’t start with P): Leadership, risk-taking, domain expertise, vision, be prepared for the emotional roller coaster, hitting deadlines, and anticipating what people want.” Thanks guys!
  • P.P.S. Do Something New Every Day. It’s my personal slogan, and it's good for entrepreneurs or anyone to keep in mind.

* * * * *

Kevin Winston (@kevinwinston) is the CEO and Founder of Digital LA, the LA-based networking group of professionals in digital entertainment (movies, TV, web series, music, games, VFX), start-ups, social media, marketing, and advertising, reaching more than 40,000 members across its newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn groups. Digital LA recently spearheaded the Silicon Beach Fest, the first-ever tech, start-up, and entertainment conference in LA. http://digitalla.net, @DigitalLA. Previously, Kevin worked at Fox Interactive Media, MySpace, and IGN where he created social media marketing campaigns for movies, TV shows, web series, and video games. Prior to that, he worked at Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment and McKinsey & Company, the top management consulting firm. Kevin graduated from Yale University and has a masters from Harvard University. He was named in a recent Forbes article as one of “12 Entrepreneurs That Are Changing LA Forever.” He also co-founded both Yale in Hollywood and IVY Entertainment. His motto is Do Something New Every Day, and he enjoys attending the Olympics (Sydney, Athens, Beijing, London) and traveling, having been to more than 60 countries.
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