Lance Antonio Rios is the creator of Being Latino (www.beinglatino.us). The company serves as a communication platform designed to educate, entertain and connect people across the global Latino spectrum. Shortly after starting Being Latino, Lance teamed up with Hispanicize and has been working with Manny Ruiz, Cristy Clavijo-Kish and Angela Ruiz to form one conglomerate of Latino social media networks and services to brands. The team developed a Facebook fan page for the site, and it experienced tremendous growth and has already harnessed over 60,000 fans with an additional 170+ Latino-based fan pages on Facebook, a following on Google Buzz, Twitter, YouTube and WordPress, which equates to a total reach of more than 200,000 people.
Rios recently spoke with rolling out about what inspires him and how he thrives in business.
What inspired you to start a new business? How did the idea for your business come about?
There needed to be a place for Latinos, of all backgrounds, to come together to talk about issues that affect our community and share stories of the happenings of the Latino world from a US perspective. At the time, there were no other online outlets that I felt truly captured this aspect of Latinidad, so I figured I’d create it.
What motivates you as an entrepreneur?
Every day is a new day, the opportunity to implement a new idea, an opportunity to continually grow the company as much as I dream. There’s nothing more invigorating than building your own business from the ground up and seeing things that were just ideas come to fruition, reason why I’m excited to be part of the Miller Lite Tap the Future business plan competition. It’s going to be very interesting watching teams of entrepreneurs working to create their own dream.
What team members do you recommend that entrepreneurs have on their Mastermind Team?
I’d say to have people who are reliable and want to be there because they believe in your mission. You need to communicate to everyone you choose to work with that the startup is probably one of the most fun environments to work in, but also one of the most grueling environments equally. Make sure that there is no one on your team who is constantly dropping the ball, everyone should be able to be responsible and hold their own weight.
What should a good business plan accomplish? What components should it contain in order to be effective?
A good business plan is just like a bible. It should serve as a base for lining up what needs to be completed in a methodical fashion, which leads to an end goal of some sort. With that said, just like bibles are open to interpretation and messaging is applied to modern day times, a business plan is similar. To be able to build a business, you need to be able to adjust where necessary, even if it’s not written in the plan. As a judge for Miller Lite Tap the Future, I want to make sure that the owners are aware of the weaknesses in their plan and I will test how easy they can adapt to unforeseen circumstances.
What are the top three questions to ask when determining your readiness for an entrepreneurial venture?
· Are you willing to sacrifice for this product/venture financially, socially and at times work days without sleep?
· Could you see yourself doing this, happily for the next 20 years?
· Is this a product/venture that is totally unlike anything else currently and what is the opportunity to scale this financial in 5 years, 10 years, etc.
What would you say are the top three skills and/or characteristics needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
· Always be ambitious about your product… you are your brand
· Thinking outside of the box… ALWAYS
· Have a vision and stick to it
How do you formulate and perfect an elevator pitch?
· Be able to read someone, if they’re in a super-rush, think about the most compelling thing about your company that could be directly relevant to them.
· Listen and ask questions before speaking, you can always better understand how to add value to potential clients by taking the time to hear them out.
· Know your product like the back of your hand, you should rarely get stuck in a situation where you cannot speak to capabilities in detail about what you do.
What should an aspiring entrepreneur know and do in preparation for a live pitch of a business concept?
· Be confident about the value propositions your company can offer.
· Miller Lite Tap the Future contestants will be pitching to Daymond John in front of a live audience, so they have to be very excited about their product. Simply put: you ALWAYS have to be confident about your product.
· If you don’t know an answer, say you will research and get back…. Don’t try to BS your way through pitches.
Please give us three things to consider when entering into a business partnership.
· Make sure you do your due diligence on your partners.
· Understand the financial value of your company upfront, where it can go and how your partner would add to that goal.
· Everyone should have set roles, you want a dynamic team of partners who do things well that you may not.
What have some of your missteps been, and what have you learned from them?
· Too many to mention. Every mistake has lead to a learning experience though. One of the biggest things that I’ve come to terms with is that mistakes, and how you learn from them, are absolutely necessary in creating the perfect business.
As judges, what advice would you give to potential entrants to make their concept or pitch stand out?
· Be unique
· Don’t be entirely cookie-cutter about how you pitch
· Think of adding components that you know none of the competition will be doing
· Know what you’re going to say, but don’t memorize what you’re going to say. If you sound too pre-scripted, it’ll seem like you really don’t know your product well enough…
What books or other works have inspired you the most?
· My parents are my biggest inspiration. They have had entrepreneur endeavors when I was growing up and were ALWAYS the most hardworking people I have ever known.
· As for books, I don’t really read the advice pieces looking for inspiration, but I do like biography pieces on inspirational leaders. I feel inspired specifically by the pieces I’ve read on Muhammad Ali, Gandhi and Steve Jobs.
Who do you see as mentors or examples to follow in the entrepreneurial space?
I am definitely a huge fan of “The Zuck”. What he has done with a little website has completely revolutionized modern-day social interaction… he definitely earns serious respect. I was also a HUGE fan of Steve Jobs and his unconventional ways of developing revolutionary products. Mark Cuban is also another guy who I, as an entrepreneur, would aspire to be like; rich, humble and straight to-the-point.
How are your friends and family involved in your business?
Anyone who I have ANY interaction with is somehow connected to my business. My business makes up a lot of who I am today.