Trish and Harold's Weblog

News, information, and random thoughts from the busy lives of Trish Egan and Harold Phillips.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Back-To-Business: Managing Your Resources

The Back-To-Business Series: Index

*Note: I didn't have much time to proof-read this before posting; I dashed it off and then had to run off to my (cough cough grandson's cough cough) base ball game. Thanks go to Bostin Christopher for giving it once-over for me and catching some errors. It's greatly appreciated!

When I sit down with actors for their first Personal Career Coaching session, they're sometimes resistant to the idea of thinking of their careers as a business. I often hear them say, "I don't want my career to be all about the money." They want to create, they want to do the work... they don't want to focus so much on the money aspect of "the business" that they lose sight of what got them into "the business" to begin with.

Guess what - most small business owners feel the same way, whether they're actors or not. Let me tell you a little secretâ„¢: business isn't about making money.

Oh sure - money's a big part of business. You have to make a profit if you want to stay in business... and if there's no money exchanging hands, you can hardly call the goods you're producing or the service you're providing a business - if no money is exchanged (or you're spending the money but getting none in return) then you're engaged in a hobby, not a business.

Even with all that, though... business isn't about making money. There's lots of ways to make money out there - why would you go to all the trouble of running your own business JUST to make money?

Business is about making a product, or providing a service. That's where business starts - with the idea, with the skills, with the dream. Now, your dream might be to stand on the stage with Patrick Stewart... or your dream might be act on the screen with Kristin Stewart... or your dream might be to come up with the perfect product for Martha Stewart. It doesn't matter - at its core, business is about the product, or the service. The money comes after that.

Not much after, though. Once you've had the dream and you've decided to pursue it, you have to invest resources to make that dream a reality. As I mentioned at the end of last weeks "Aside," money is just ONE resource a business uses to make its product, its service... and a profit! There are lots of other resources that have to be cultivated, accumulated, and used to make any business run - and your acting business is no different.

Think about Toyota Motor Company for a second... they have to manage a lot of resources to make their products - and make a profit. They have to have the steel, glass, and rubber - the raw materials - make their products. They have to have human resources - people for the assembly line, managers, accountants, PR people (especially lately)... They have to have land for factories. They have to have the MONEY to pay for it all. You get the idea... the folks running this multi-national company have to manage a lot of resources to turn out a product they can sell, and then to turn a profit.

Actors aren't making a product, though, like Toyota. We provide a service - we sell our skills and our time to directors and producers (and by extension, to audiences.) the Toyota comparison doesn't quite work for us, does it?

Lets take a look at a service-based business, then. In fact, to make the comparison as close as we can, lets take a look at a one-person service-based business... lets look at a lawyer.

Ok, ok... get the lawyer jokes out of the way... I'll wait.

I know, they're not the most popular business out there... but their businesses are a lot closer to ours than you might think. They apply their skills to work for a client, who pays them. They have to appear before an audience (if you want to call a judge and jury "an audience.") They have to look for clients, maintain the clients they have, and invest money in their businesses in order to grow it. They can hire staff, but they can also do everything themselves.

So... what resources does a lawyer need to manage? Well, s/he has to manage money, obviously; until the client pays, our lawyer friend doesn't have much money to spend. S/he has to manage time - lawyers work under deadlines. Briefs and pleadings and such have to be filed by a certain time, or the case is lost. S/he has to manage his or her reputation - if s/he gets a bad rep, what's the chance that new clients are going to come his or her way? What's the chance that s/he'll get any help from his or her friends when it's needed?

Any of this sound familiar? We actors have to manage the same resources in order to be successful in our business... I call it the "Golden Triangle." These are the most important resources in our business - we have to keep them balanced, and we have to use one in order to gain more of another.

We're going to look a little more "in-depth" at the way these resources work next week, how they interact with each other and - most importantly, how managing them helps us turn a profit.

Not that that's all our business is about, of course... 'Til then,

Let's Get To Work!