SBJ/July 11-17, 2011/Opinion

Advice to entrepreneurs

Doug Perlman

Founder and CEO
Sports Media Advisors

You need to fully commit to the venture. Too often people say “I’ll try it for a year and can always go back to a corporate job if it doesn’t work out.” That’s fine, but clients, partners, colleagues and employees can sense that, and if you’re not “all in” they won’t be either.

Sue Rodin
President
Stars & Strategies

Find your niche and identify your passion. Establish your brand and nurture it. Build and sustain business partnerships and relationships. Seek advice from those you admire. Promote your company by publishing articles, utilizing social media, speaking at conferences, and any other professional opportunities to get your name out there. Get involved with professional organizations. Above all: professional persistence!

Brian Corcoran
President and Owner
Shamrock Sports & Entertainment

Unless you have learned from the best … you can never be the best. As an entrepreneur, realize that you are only as good as your trusted relationships and your next deal. I opted to bootstrap the agency — initially the most challenging year of my life. Now that we are tasting success, our second year of business is already proving to be the most rewarding.

Jim Host
Founder
Host Communications

If you do not have an understanding of the Digital Age and how it is changing the business of sports, don’t bother. Nothing else counts today.

Greg Economou
Executive Vice President
Madison Square Garden

The most important thing to know if you are starting your own business in the sports industry is:
• Manage everyone’s expectations, especially your own. Everything generally takes twice as long as you might expect, and you will have to do twice as much as you may be used to doing.
• Be ready to persevere and fight for every victory, large or small; resilience will be your best and most important quality.
• Be prepared to “do it all.” You must be a jack of all trades and master of all.
• Relationships are your most valuable currency. Grow and nurture them at all times.
• At the end of the day, it’s all about the product or service — there is no substitute for a strong valuation proposition.

Rob Tilliss
Founder
Inner Circle Sports

Be prepared to take risk. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. Work hard and work smart. Maintain strong relationships and strive for excellence. Have difficult discussions when needed and, most of all, enjoy what you do every day.

Lou Imbriano
President and CEO
TrinityOne Marketing

Because fandom runs rampant and family members are in positions that were given and not earned, there are many frauds in the sports business. Plenty of folks stake claim to expertise but possess very little. Of course I am generalizing, but still there are too many who negatively affect the industry. Let track record be the indicator, not title.

LeslieAnne Wade
Founder and Managing Partner
Wade Media Management

Through your career, you must earn the intellectual trust of people you work with in the sports business. At CBS Sports, I was one of few women invited to sit at the head table. It made me more visible in that run, which helped when I went out on my own. Entrepreneurs must create a true asset in property or personnel. Prove value in your association at every turn, as the circle of opportunity and decision-makers is tight.

Jared Cooper
CEO
Sports Power Weekends

You have to know what you don’t know. Starting a business means becoming well-versed in a number of areas you may have limited experience in. This includes marketing, PR, customer relations, Web development, finance, business development, leadership and legal. Don’t shy away if you are lacking knowledge. Learn and understand these business aspects to become a well-rounded entrepreneur.

Vishwas Prabhakara
Founder and CEO
Fanvibe

A maniacal focus on your customers, whether they are fans, teams, leagues or advertisers, is the optimal way to capitalize on your opportunity. In sports, there are too many competing interests and parties that can distract you from your core focus while draining your time and money. A sustainable business requires your product to drive customer acquisition and retention.

Rob Prazmark
Founder and CEO
21 Marketing


10) Stay true to your original vision.
9) Don’t let your emotions drive your decisions.
8) Get a good lawyer.
7) Be prepared for massive swings in cash flow.
6) Hire people to cover your weakness.
5) Never hire friends or especially family.
4) Have a five-year game plan and an exit strategy.
3) Lead but always listen, especially to ages 15-28.
2) Pay and treat people fairly.
1) Make sure your marriage/relationship can handle the roller-coaster ride to hell and back — or see No. 8.

What advice would you give a sports business entrepreneur? Send your response to bgomes@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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