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 am Alden Reiman, a southern-born, die-hard Braves fan with a love for family and the art of storytelling. The Reiman Agency was formed to guide companies of all sizes, from startups to the Fortune 500, in elevating brand ethos through entertainment and new media partnerships. We are half agency, half creative ideators, who aim to turn the legacy business of entertainment on its head and focus solely on garnering the greatest return on marketing dollars for our clients.
What inspired you to create this business?
After the benefit of several years at CAA and The NFL, I learned from industry leaders how to best negotiate on behalf of and advocate for both traditional and digital-endemic talent; however, I rarely experienced work centered around a brand’s true marketing objectives or maximizing the dividend of ad dollars spent. In understanding that behemoth agencies have deservingly captured the overwhelming market share as it relates to talent representation, we identified a competitive edge in the service we offer in representing brands. Whether our KPI is generating impressions, sales, or attribution, our mission is to put companies, branding executives, and the visionaries behind them above all else.
What has been your biggest challenge and how did you pivot to overcome it?
Taking a leap and redefining success. Admittedly, I work to overcome this daily. Entertainment as a whole runs on ego. Questions like: “Where do you work? Whose desk are you on? Who do you represent? Who are you signing?” may sound trivial but personally felt (and oftentimes still feel) like qualifiers for accomplishment. It’s easy to be hooked by three big letters (like CAA or WME) and the allure of working alongside industry titans. But as I focused on the equity in producing great work instead of the equity in big names, I began to recognize the opportunity that existed in going against the grain and hitching my wagon to none other than those who shared in the vision. I now know that is no linear route to success, but if there was, I think it would be tied to belief in yourself and those on your team, the willingness to do the hard work with passion, and never allowing others to dictate the path you take.
What advice would you give entrepreneurs looking for funding?
Look for funding when you don’t need funding. Never turn down a call or meeting and start by identifying people that uniquely understand where the needs of the world intersect with the purpose of your work. When preparing for a pitch, know your strengths and weaknesses. Seek the counsel of those around you who can sharpen your presentation(s) or ability to articulate value. For example, if you are a gifted storyteller without a deep understanding of modeling or forecasting revenue, use your network, and never have too much pride to ask for help or feedback. And when it’s game-time, don’t be afraid to hear “no,” as it usually is just a step in getting to “yes.”
What does the word “entrepreneur” mean to you?
An entrepreneur is the relentless champion of a unique idea — to the extent that they become a shepherd who vehemently executes and nurtures that thought into a reality.
What is something many aspiring business owners think they need that they really don’t?
The perfect set up. There’s never the perfect time, financial position, economic environment, or window. It’s about starting—Putting one foot in front of the other and remembering why you took the first step.
Is there a particular quote or saying that you use as personal motivation?
Stephanie Shirley is the English founder of a $3 billion dollar tech company that opened in the 1960s and at its peak employed more than 8,500 people. Shirley, more widely known for building the enterprise with an all-female team while pioneering a movement of women rejoining the workforce following marriage and having children, once said: “Work is not just something I do when I’d rather be doing something else.”
Our work demands an obsessive level of commitment, energy, and relentless tenacity, yet Shirley’s words keep me inspired and reminded of our cumulative ability to do the things we love alongside those we have chosen not to work with but rather change the world with.