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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

Improv Lessons in Entrepreneurship and Marketing

Written By: Mark J. Carter | Comments Off on Improv Lessons in Entrepreneurship and Marketing

During an interview about how improvisors can take their careers to the next level, I was struck with how many of the lessons are directly applicable to entrepreneurs. Jon Barinholtz (Marvel: Agent Carter, Superstore) and Rob Belushi (Chicago P.D., How I Met Your Mother) share some genius in the video below.

Name your goals, then adjust

If it’s just a hobby, you need to broadcast that and treat it accordingly.

If you want to create a successful business, you need to broadcast that and be proud of it.

Consider the difference between:

  • “I design websites because it helps feed my creative side outside of work.”
  • “I design websites because it’s my professional passion and I’m building a world-class creative agency.”

Neither of those statements is “wrong” – it’s being clear and open about what you want.

We’re going to focus on the entrepreneurial route for this post. Don’t downplay your passion as “just a hobby” if you really want to start your own business. Be proud of what you want, name your goals as an entrepreneur and don’t be afraid to achieve them.

“Whatever it is [that you want] don’t be afraid to say it and don’t be ashamed.
Because you’d never be ashamed to say, ‘I want to go to law school because I want to be a lawyer.’”

Be humble, but also gutsy

You can be humble about your goals while also chasing the big goals. In the improv world, taking the main stage at Second City is a lofty goal.  In the business world, it might look like this: If you want to have that world-class agency GO FOR IT; don’t downplay your goals out of fear.

You can be humble while doing the work and being smart about the work.  Ask for what you want! That’s the gutsy part of the entrepreneurship world, which brings us to…

Find the empty space in your market

Find what you LOVE to do and then find out if there’s a need for that in the market. That takes some research! Just because you love making widgets doesn’t mean there’s an easy-to-find marketplace to sell your widgets. It takes research to make a sound decision. Your research will uncover the need (or lack of need) to let you work smarter, not harder.

Understand that nobody is going to do it for you

People will help you, but they’re not going to do everything for you. There may be openings in the market for your offering. There may be organizations waiting for you to find them. You need to get out and help them come to you.

This might include a geographical move on your part. If there’s little or no market for you in Chicago but Los Angeles is bursting at the seams with opportunities, you may need to go where the opportunities are. It can help to find speaking opportunities to get in front of your local markets once you find them.

Focus on making your mission your livelihood. Know your business, and be proud to understand the ins and outs of your niche while taking ownership of lofty goals.

Article written by
Mark J. Carter creates MENTORING experiences that get MARKETING results through mentoring programs, interview content and events. He currently serves as Board President of Chicago Improv Productions, an Illinois nonprofit.