Trish and Harold's Weblog

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

Monday, July 12, 2010

Back-To-Business: A Question of Balance

I introduced you to the "Golden Triangle" in our last "Back-To-Business" article (I would say "last week's article," but as you know... we had a small problem there...) We're going stay focused on managing the resources you - and any business - use to generate profit over the next few weeks, and you'll notice that I'm going to keep coming back to this Golden Triangle as we do so. You see, the Triangle is a tool to remind us of the resources we need to keep track of - and it's a symbol we can use when we think about the way we run our acting business.

There are a couple reasons why the Triangle is... well, a triangle. The most obvious is that there are three basic resources you need to manage in your acting career. A lot of actors get stuck on the money - and it's understandable, since you're trying to make money as an actor without spending too much money in the process (that's how you measure the profit of your business, after all... the amount you've brought in versus the amount you've spent.) Money's just one of the resources you need to to actively manage, though, to have a successful career. Time is just as important, as is your reputation amongst those in "the business" - and amongst your audience.

There's another, more subtle reason for the triangle in the symbol above. I use that shape as a reminder to keep all my resources in balance. As actors, we strive for balance in our daily lives... balance between work and play, between feeding our souls and feeding our bellies, between pursuing work and actually working... it's a long list. Balancing our business resources, however, is just as important as balancing our personal life.

What do I mean? Well, lets think about our personal lives... if we spend too much time working, and not enough time with our families, our personal relationships suffer. If we spend too much money at the bar and and we don't have enough to cover our rent, our finances suffer. Spend too much time at our "survival job" and not enough time acting? Then our hearts suffer. I'm sure you've enountered at least one of these scenarios in your own life... we have to balance the things we need (work, family, friends, fun) to live a happy and fulfilled life. I'm not saying that's an easy thing, mind you... but its something every human strives for.

Businesses strive for the same balance in their "lives" - but they seek to balance the resources they need in order to be successful. HP, for example, needs certain resources to make their products, and to generate a profit. They need raw materials like silicon and plastic and glass... they need workers to assemble their products, sell them, and manage daily operations... they need an image or "brand" to trade on... and of course, they need the money for all these things. If they spend too much on one of these resources (such as personnel), they won't have enough money for another (such as advertising). Similarly, if they run into a shortage of one resources (like raw materials), they'll have to spend more on it... and they won't have enough money to put into other resources. They have to balance the resources they use in order to make their products - and thereby make a profit.

Guess what - your acting business follows the same pattern as your personal life... and HP's business "life" (even if you don't use the same resources they do.) You have to keep your resources balanced to make your product (your performance) and generate a profit. If you devote too much attention to one area (say, money) then another area is going to suffer (the time you could be spending working on your lines - or your reputation in "the business.") And because of the nature of our business, if those areas suffer our personal lives are also going to suffer. Balancing your businesses resources will help you balance your personal life - and will help you stay happy at work and at home!

There's a third reason I use a triangle to help track the resources in our acting business - it's because those resources are interrelated.

As I said above, a lot of actors get stuck on money... but consider - you have to have the time to work in order to get that money. You have to invest your money in building your reputation (headshots and reels aren't free, you know... nor are the drinks at networking events!) If you build a good reputation in your market, directors and producers may start approaching you directly to read for roles (or just hire you outright), thus saving you the time of tracking all over town looking for auditions... but building that reputation takes an investment of time and - in some cases - money!

You see, these resources don't live in a bubble. None of them can be the be-all-and-end-all of your life, or of your business (as I said a couple weeks ago, "business isn't about money!") They all relate to one another, and when you put too much emphasis on one, the others naturally suffer. Keep this idea of balance in mind as we move into a more in-depth look at each resource over the coming weeks.

And for now...

Let's get to work!


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