No one factor determines success in Hollywood. Money certainly helps, but even the most bankable stars fail to make it big unless they work hard at their craft and know how to push their luck. Sometimes, timing is everything. For example, Tom Hanks won the Oscar a few years back for his performance in Big, yet he spent much of his peak earning years living in poverty. Similarly, Heath Ledger won an Oscar for his portrayal of The Joker yet died a pauper. You have to know when to ride the wave and when to cut your losses.

There are many examples of A-list superstitions. Some stars believe they can’t have success in Hollywood unless they’re nominated for an Oscar. Others believe they need to spend at least a decade carving out a name for themselves before anyone takes them seriously. Still others think they need to spend millions of dollars on agents and managers to get the attention of the media and the public. All of these factors play into the making of a major movie star, yet no one factor determines success in Hollywood. If you want to be the next Robert Pattinson, you need to understand how important it is to know when to cash in and when to cut your losses.

The answer is complicated and isn’t something you’ll ever truly understand. What you need to know is that while thousands of fans desire to see you carry on the good work of the Twilight series, the entertainment industry doesn’t always see it that way. Yes, movies are a business, and if you want to become a successful businessperson, you need to understand what it takes to make money in Hollywood. Luckily, we’ve been granted an audience with one of Hollywood’s brightest stars, and he’s agreed to explain what it takes to make it in this notoriously fickle business.

Know When to Fold ‘Em

Every investment carries a risk. Even the most secure and reliable banks have investments that lose value. Sometimes, the market doesn’t treat your company or your stock or your bond favorably, and you lose money. When that happens, it’s best to cut your losses and walk away. It’s often considered bad luck to say you’ll never invest in anything again after a loss like that. Believe it or not, many wealthy and successful businesspeople in Hollywood were once considered to be unlucky. They often lost money when they invested in properties or equipment and then had to watch those investments decrease in value.

That’s why it’s considered bad luck to make a promise like that. You never know when you might need a little help financing a project or paying off some bills. When that happens, it’s best to have some money in reserve rather than depending on your next check to pay for this month’s expenses. Businesses that are well-managed can withstand such losses and still thrive. It’s often considered good business to make sure you have money in reserve in case something goes wrong. That way, you don’t have to worry about incurring more debt if the business flounders. You can’t predict when something bad might happen, so it’s best to be prepared.

Carry Cash In Small Bills

Let’s say you’re offered $100,000 to direct a feature film with a 50% share of the profits. Someone else wants to invest $150,000 in the production with an option to purchase the remaining 50% for $100,000 at any time. As long as you have the money in the first place, you might as well take the deal. But if you don’t, it’s probably not a good idea to be pursuing this as a career. You’ll need to find another way to make money.

Avoid Big Spenders

The wealthy and famous are often referred to as ‘spendthrifts’ in Hollywood. They throw money around and think that just because they have so much it’ll automatically follow that people will like them. That’s how you get the infamous ‘Hollywood’ wallet. They’ll often spend thousands on a single movie ticket or meal at a restaurant. When the movie’s done, they’ll throw a big party and invite everyone they know. That’s how you end up at a restaurant or a movie theater with the leading man or woman of the moment. Big spenders often get caught up in the moment and end up spending far more than they can afford.

Stay In Your ‘comfort zone’

When it comes to acting, almost everyone has had some bad experiences in the past. It’s almost impossible to escape the feeling that you’re not measured by your skills but by the celebrity of the person you’re working with. You’re not wanted because you’re the best, you’re wanted because of who you’re working with. That will never change. Even if you’re the best in your field and commit yourself fully to the role, you’ll never be accepted just for that.

On the other side of the equation, you have fame. The more you get, the more you want. That’s human nature. You can’t help but want what you can’t have. While you might be able to get by on your own for a while, fame and money won’t always be there to protect you. You’ll have to learn how to protect yourself financially. Sometimes, that means walking away rather than negotiating. Sometimes, it means knowing how to pitch yourself better to get the job you want. Sometimes, it means being realistic about your goals.

In the end, no one factor determines whether or not you’ll be successful in Hollywood. It all comes down to knowing what it takes to cash in when the opportunity arises and having the intestinal fortitude to walk away from bad situations. It’s often said that Hollywood is a town full of vicious circles. It’s an absolutely true statement. Every single one of us is just a little circle within a larger one.