Trish and Harold's Weblog

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

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Back-To-Business: Managing Your Resources - Mailbox

The Back-to-Business Series: Index

I got a lot of response to Monday's article on managing resources in your acting business - and not all of it was grammatical (thanks again, Bostin!) I'm going to handle a couple of the "light" ones first, and then I'm going to get a little philosophical. Fair warning!

Oh come on... no one dreams of acting on screen with Kristin Stewart - she's awful! JC (Philadelphia, PA)

247 million trillion kagillion Twilight fans would disagree with you, JC... I didn't say YOUR dream was to act with her. The important thing is to know what your dream is - whatever it is!

I can't believe you campare actors and lawyers! Lawyers are the lowest bottom-feeding form of life. Are you saying we should all be like them? GA (Portland, OR)

No, GA, I'm not saying that all actors should be like lawyers (though, to be fair, some lawyers could probably benefit from acting lessons). I AM, however, saying that the business model lawyers employ isn't that different from an actor's business model.

Think about it for a few minutes... what does a lawyer do, when s/he isn't in court? S/he prepares for court (research, writing, practicing arguments... come on, you've seen Boston Legal) , s/he cultivates new business while keeping in touch with the current client-base (Denny Crane Denny Crane), and s/he does the work of running his or her business (bookkeeping, making the sure the license is paid up, training, getting the invoices out..)

Actually, Boston Legal is a terrible example (Denny Crane Denny Crane). That show - like most shows on TV - focuses on a big, expensive law firm. Think about the sole practitioner who DOESN'T have Candice Bergin around to run the store... how does s/he do all the things I mentioned above? S/he may have an office, or s/he may not. Clients still have to be met with, and new clients have to be wooed. The bills still have to be sent out, and the money has to be dealt with. Time has to be spent writing briefs, practicing opening statements, and researching... and s/he has to do it all him or herself.

And how is this different than what WE have to do as actors? We may have an office or we may not - but we still have to audition for new clients, and keep in touch with the contacts we already have. We have to do spend the time needed to run our businesses - depositing the checks... getting invoices out... We have to rehearse and research OUR work, too. And, unless we have a "team" to help us, we have to do all this ourselves.

When you think about it, the way we conduct business isn't all that different. Don't let the practice of law blind you to this, GA!

OK, here's the big one. I got a LOT of comments along the lines of this one:
How the HELL can you say that business isn't about making money? If you're not trying to make money, you shouldn't be in business - what's the point?
(Lafayette, LA)

So... I warned you that I was going to get a little philosophical today. So here it is...

Like I said in Monday's article, money has to be part of business. If you're not selling a product, an idea, a service, your expertise... whatever for some sort of reward, then you're not in business. You're running a charity, or you're engaged in a hobby... but if you're not making some money at it, then you're not in business.

That being said, the notion is business is about making leads us down the rabbit hole to the blackest part of human nature; it says that all we're about is getting as much for ourselves as we can, whatever the cost. Sorry, I just don't buy into that. Yes, I want to make money - I'm not anti-capitalist by any means... but I do recognize that the motive to just "make money" leads to avarice, greed, and (it's been argued by economic minds much smarter than I) the economic sink-hole we find ourselves in today.

Look, it's a question of perspective. Why do you do what you do? What is it that made you want to be in the business you're in? If you were to ask other business owners (in other fields), they'd have a variety of answers... but I don't think you'll find "getting rich" to be among them. They went into business to provide something for someone - either something that didn't exist yet, or a better quality "something" than was available... yes, they wanted to get paid for their efforts and yes, they hoped that their businesses would support not only them, but their families. It wasn't about money, though... it was about what they were providing.

When a business is all about money, it begins to fail. It's as simple as that... the consumers start to hate it, and don't mind looking to the competition for a better value. Look at the airline industry today - almost every carrier is charging their customers a per-bag fee. The airlines that don't, however, have seen their business surge - because the customer thinks of those that do charge per-bag fees as greedy... and no one wants to give their money to a greedy company.
By contrast, the couple that own the UPS Store I get my mail at go above and beyond the call of duty for me regularly. If I call them to see if a package I've been waiting on has been delivered, they go and check... they don't tell me I have to come in and look for myself. Heck, once, they told me the package I was waiting for wasn't in, then took the initiative to call me BACK 10 minutes later to tell me they'd found it. Strangely enough, I have no desire to give my business to their competitors... even though they're located across town from me. They realize that their business isn't about the money they can get from me - it's about the SERVICE they provide TO me, that brings my money to them.

Businesses aren't about money. They're about products, or services. Businesses are ways to get money, yes... but if you make them all about money, you're headed down the rabbit hole. And it's a long way back up.

We're going to talk some more about money next week... and about the other resources in the "Golden Triangle" that you, as a business owner, need to manage in order to be successful. Feel free to keep in contact via Email or Twitter... and between now and then...

Let's get to work!


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