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quote from Doug E Doug

How Doug E. Doug Dit It...


Name: Doug E. Doug
Biz Name: Doug E Doug World LLC
Location: Clinton Hill
How Long Been in Biz: 15 years

Photo of Doug E. Doug
BPL: How and why did you decide to start this type of biz?
DED: I used to make people laugh on my stoop in Bedford-Stuyvesant. At first I didn't recognize entertainment/media as a business. I dropped out of college and was not completely sure what I wanted to do with myself. I started as a stand-up comedian, as a means of personal expression. I was working as a comedian and a security guard at the same time. When I was first paid, I discovered that my work was a business, so I incorporated.

I got into a group of comedians in Harlem and ended up being part of a circuit. I ended up working a lot of time for free or for $10, but I met a lot of people. I was much more popular and sociable as a comedian than I had been previously. When I was performing at the Apollo, someone saw me and called with an opportunity to work on a film.

For me, and I didn't realize it, performing at the Apollo was the break. It was one of the few places where an African-American comedian could perform. Actually, I auditioned at the Apollo as an amateur and was rejected, so I went and continued to perform in clubs in Harlem.

It took about a year to go from clubs to the Apollo. I was having a lot of fun. I always wanted to have a job where I met people and met interesting people. Now I'm always surrounded by really creative people.


BPL: What were the first steps you took to get started?
DED: I met with an accountant to talk about a formal business structure. I went to the bank to open up an account with a minimum balance and I shared my aspirations with friends.


BPL: What Brooklyn organizations and resources would you recommend to others looking for help and assistance in starting a new biz?
DED: I would recommend trade periodicals relevant to their field of endeavor. For television and film, my saving grace was a magazine called Backstage. Major newsstands and the library carry trade magazines.


BPL: What methods have you used to get the word out about your biz? How did you select these methods? Which do you think is most successful and why?
DED: In this type of business, people usually promote me. The marketing has to do with the kind of projects I've been involved in. My name is a creation and that's the most marketing I've ever done. I said, "OK, I'm not going to be myself." I wanted my name to be appealing, to be intriguing. At first, I thought it sounded like something that would be hard to forget.


BPL: What is the best thing about being in biz for yourself?
DED: I experience a sense of independence, as well as a healthy portion of responsibility. It keeps me honest and balanced.

It's a great way to grow-up. As a security guard I had set hours and only gave half an effort, but felt like I was kind of a baby. I wasn't really handling anything and there wasn't a stake. Having my own biz helped me to be better.


BPL: What do you think is the most difficult aspect of being in biz for yourself?
DED: Balancing your personal life with your professional ambitions. First thing you have to work with is time management. You need to figure out exactly how much time to devote to one or the other. It's important to acknowledge that you have two lives personal and professional.

When I started I didn't know complex businesses really well. It's easy to have a little success and be thrown off by administrative concerns. Most people find themselves being discouraged there. I learned to love the management aspects of biz. As a matter of fact, at some point, after great pain, I ended up being devoted to it and got really good at it, in terms of managing people and achieving objectives with and through people. In artistry, there's a tendency of artists to be spontaneous. The formal, structured aspects of starting a biz can be so frustrating. I looked at it as both professional development and personal development. Once I had a change in attitude, I began to thrive.

A lot of it had to do with on the job experience. I took some college level courses as well. One really helpful course was on organizational behavior. At some point, I began to make a lot of money. I needed to look at myself as a president of a corporation.


BPL: If you could do one thing differently in starting your own biz, what would it be?
DED: I would have consulted more people in totally unrelated fields. Finding someone who has succeeded or failed in what you plan is not always possible. General information is important, as well as things that pertain specifically to what you want to do.

I was intimidated by accountants and educated folk because I really looked at myself as a college dropout that made people laugh. I didn't even realize that it was a career that I was pursuing. I do have a lot in common with other entrepreneurs in fields unrelated to my own. I could have gone to other biz people and just talked to them.


BPL: What is the most important piece of advice you would give to someone else about starting a biz?
DED: Be positive. Don't give up. Foundations take years to build. You gain information through experience. But if you give up, you don't have the opportunity to continue to learn.

Look at yourself as gifted and as uniquely gifted. You do have something to contribute. Many people are discouraged by competition. They are exposed to other people that are talented biz people and are perpetually awed. That needs to be washed away quickly.

Have fun. Don't take yourself too seriously.