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'We Were Sick of People Keeping the Money We Made for Them,' Says This Co-Founder Ian Stewart, President of the Done + Dusted Group, talks about taking the leap from employee to entrepreneur.

By Dan Bova

Done + Dusted Group

In this ongoing series, we are sharing advice, tips and insights from real entrepreneurs who are out there doing business battle on a daily basis. (Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.)

Who are you and what's your business?

I'm Ian Stewart, President of the Done + Dusted Group, which is a global entertainment group that stages and broadcasts live events, specials, gaming, brand, and impact productions.

What inspired you to create this business?

The founders cut our teeth at the BBC and MTV, and we suddenly realized that we didn't need or want anyone else marking our homework. Like most people who take the step to go from employee to business owner, we knew we were ready. We had the relationships, the skillset, the reputation, and most importantly, the desire to have complete control over the projects we took on and how we did them. We wanted to live or die on our decisions, not other people's. And we were sick of others keeping the money we made for them.

Related: How Guy Fieri's Empire Almost Burned to the Ground

What was your "aha moment"?

When I suddenly realized that I trusted my own opinion more than others. I believe this to be true for anyone in business and reaching that point should feel like the top of the mountain — but it isn't. The real question you must ask yourself is, "Now that I have had my 'aha moment,' what am I going to do about it?"

What has been your biggest challenge during the pandemic and how did you pivot to overcome it?

Well, that's easy to answer. When a large part of your high-profile productions are live events, and there are suddenly no live events, well that could certainly qualify as a "big challenge.'

So, we basically cried ourselves to sleep and then when we woke up, stopped feeling sorry for ourselves and said, "This is uncharted territory. Our clients need to find new solutions to the issues they are suddenly facing. Let's give them the things they need to get out of this." The truth is we didn't find a way…we found a lot of ways. The last two years have brought on the largest and most exciting revolution in how productions are made in my 30 years of doing this. As they say, "Never let a good crisis go to waste."

Related: How These Two Women Are Changing the Braless Clothes Movement

What advice would you give entrepreneurs looking for funding?

Think about how and why you want to bring in funding. Are you needing it for infrastructure, to bring in talent, to expand? Or just to feel more comfortable with your bank statements? Also, run it past the simple filter: what are you going to have to "pay: for that funding in the long term? Will it make you worth significantly more than the money you are taking in or are you just giving a chunk of yourselves away cheaply? And, of course, counter-balancing that with, "10% of a hell of a lot is worth a lot more than 100% of damn all."

And be creative — after all, you are an entrepreneur. In our super exciting market, with massive new players like meta and multi joining powerful streamers, brands and the traditional broadcasters, look anywhere for money. Oh...and remember that robbing banks is always an option to consider if all else fails!

What does the word "entrepreneur" mean to you?

See an opportunity and immediately drive a truck through the slightly opened door. Don't procrastinate! Often, it's not the smartest people that survive, but the fastest people. As an example of not moving fast enough: We have done hundreds of thousands of COVID tests on our productions and spent millions of dollars doing those tests…we should have started a COVID testing company at the onset of the pandemic, but we didn't move fast enough.

Related: How a $250 Toothbrush Robot for Kids Became a Must-Have

What is something many aspiring business owners think they need that they really don't?

A massive staff, it's just more overhead. I believe it's better to value and nurture the staff you have. In media, quality will trump quantity every single time.

Is there a particular quote or saying that you use as personal motivation?

My dad said two things that I have always kept in my back pocket: "A stumbling block can be a stepping stone, depending on how you use it." And "When the alligators are snapping at your butt, it's tough to stay focused on the fact that you went in there to drain the swamp." That inspires me to weigh the possibilities, define the goal, make a decision, sideline the irrelevant and stay focused.

Dan Bova

Entrepreneur Staff

VP of Special Projects

Dan Bova is the VP of Special Projects at Entrepreneur.com. He previously worked at Jimmy Kimmel Live, Maxim, and Spy magazine. His latest books for kids include This Day in History, Car and Driver's Trivia ZoneRoad & Track Crew's Big & Fast Cars, The Big Little Book of Awesome Stuff, and Wendell the Werewolf

Read his humor column This Should Be Fun if you want to feel better about yourself.

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