What It Takes To Excel In The Entertainment Industry

Expertise from Forbes Councils members, operated under license. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

The entertainment industry is just that: an industry for performers to showcase what they're good at with an audience expectation that it will be entertaining. It must be enjoyable and engaging and typically involves acting, dancing, singing or even a combination of all three.

No matter what you're doing in the industry, it is best if you stand out, or else you can't expect to make a name for yourself. It's a cutthroat business that requires you to use your talent, skills and personality to resonate with an audience and get people interested in what you can do for them. If you're impressive enough and have that "wow" factor, people will feel more inclined to watch both you and your performances, and that is how you will make it in one of the most challenging industries today.

It sounds much easier said than done. But, as someone who dove headfirst into the industry, beginning my journey as an entertainer years ago, I know what it's like to start from the bottom and work my way up to the top. Many are surprised to learn of successful entrepreneurs' humble beginnings as entertainers, but I've come across my fair share of those who managed to pave the way for themselves because their passions fueled the fire within them and kept them going.

So, how can you experience a similar fate and build a successful entertainment industry business? Consider following this advice.

One mistake people often make when they want to get involved in entertainment is not looking at the business side. Instead, they focus solely on the performance aspects and what they need to do to get noticed by others. And while it's crucial to have a competitive edge and perform in a way that connects with and attracts the audience, it's equally important to learn and understand the industry's business side. There are a few ways to do this.

Let's say you've started in entertainment as a performer but know you want to climb the ladder and secure a spot at the top. Start paying more attention to business management and operations to learn what you can. Surround yourself with individuals with different areas of expertise from whom you can learn. Staying close to the most successful individuals you encounter may also create opportunities to get the right support when starting your own business.

Don't be afraid to do more than one thing and move beyond being a one-trick pony. Instead, branch out and wear multiple hats. For example, you can learn the perspective of the owner and manager to see how they successfully market and promote their business, and perhaps even learn what doesn't work. Entertainment business owners usually have no difficulty promoting people who continue to broaden their skill set and are willing to take the steps needed to achieve their goals.

Anyone who wants to succeed in entertainment needs to be passionate about their role. However, to really experience growth, you should also have passion for the industry itself and everything it stands for. For example, someone who wants to act in films can benefit from acting classes, but they'd also benefit from getting a job in set design or doing something behind the scenes. Making these kinds of moves helps entertainers learn how the business works and allows them to knowledgably decide if they want to be part of the industry.

Some people let fear hold them back from new opportunities that have the potential to work out in their favor. For example, if not for one chance meeting with a man at the New Jersey Institute of Technology that got me started as a dancer, it's hard to say if I'd be in the position I'm in today.

That an experience is new and different from what you've done before shouldn't hold you back from pursuing significant opportunities. Otherwise, fear wins over progress. Alternatively, trying new things and using your natural abilities to entertain and connect with folks involved in every aspect of the industry will generate new potential all around you. I always encourage others to take that leap, step outside the box and try something different because it could open the doors to some of the most incredible opportunities.

Don't be afraid to look for inspiration from others. Doing this doesn't mean you're copying their style or trying to be someone you're not. Entertainers can benefit from having a mentor who shows them the ropes and gives them advice and guidance here and there. If you want to perform well in the entertainment industry, keep an eye on what others are doing—in regards to both performance styles like yours and how other entertainment businesses are run—and combine what works best for you into something uniquely your own. Build your skills by watching others, but be true to yourself throughout the process. This will pay off in the long run by setting you apart from everyone else.

Wherever you are on your entertainment career journey, apply energy and focus to learning and understanding the business. Stay close to successful owners and operators, draw inspiration and seek advice from them, and constantly look for and pursue new opportunities. If you stay willing to step outside your comfort zone and mimic the winning methods of your mentors, you, too, can become a successful entertainment entrepreneur.

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