Friday, April 10, 2009

Why Does an Actor Need a Business Plan? by Kevin Urban

I moved to New York to pursue my passion - acting. I knew I wanted to be in a Broadway Show, be on a soap, and in a movie too. When I got here I was overwhelmed, uncertain where to begin! I had some goals in my head, I knew certain steps, but I didn't write a clear business plan. As a result, I left a lot of my aspirations to chance. Now, I know I wasn't alone….

As an actor it's not enough to say I want to be on Broadway, on TV, and in a movie. You need to map out and plan your career. Otherwise, you leave your career to the whims of the day to day. At some point you have to empower yourself and create a strategy. You'll realize (or come to terms with the fact) that you're running a small business and you are the person in charge! You create what you want to do; Not your agent, not a casting director. You are responsible for your success as an actor!

When you made the move to New York, I bet the notion of you being an entrepreneur and starting a new business never crossed your mind. Most acting programs do not teach business skills. In order to run our business efficiently, we must learn the principles of business. These skills must be practiced and nurtured much like your craft as an actor, As a matter of fact, let's consider this a new craft to add to your arsenal. (Check out the business books in our Reading Room. They're fantastic!)

We must learn this craft in order to work on our passion - acting. After all, we need money coming in to fund our classes, marketing, life, etc. Money in, Money out!
One way to develop this craft, which for many is foreign territory, is to dive right in by writing down all of your goals and projects to begin formulating your plan - a business plan. A business plan is your guide to what you want your career to look like, how you're going to conduct business, what your product is, and how you're going to market it. The plan is meant to grow and change to suit your needs.

The plan can be simple, but should contain the following:

Your Mission - What is your particular vision life and your career? I'll give you a hint…you have to be passionate about it.

Product - What specifically is it that you sell? What is your Brand? Why do people hire you?

Support Team - Who are the people in your life who will help you accomplish your vision?

Marketing - What are your personal strategies to meeting Directors, Casting Directors, etc? Do you have a mailings plan? Are you taking class with them? Are you on Social Networking Sites like Facebook? Do you audition for them? Are you creating your own showcase material and putting it on YouTube?

Market Analysis - What shows are you right for? Where do you fit?

Financials - How much income do you need to live? What percentage of your income are you setting aside to fund your acting expenses, living expenses, and savings for the future?

It's important to realize that it's never too late to create and practice your business plan. That's right. I said practice your business plan. Small business ownership is about practice - trial and error. You learn by doing, much like you did learned the craft of acting. Business skills are another craft that most actors must learn in order to succeed. Oh and how do we learn Craft? Through repetition - Thank you Mr. Meisner.

Our 5 week class Turn Your Craft Into Your Business, where we guide you in creating a complete one year business plan starts up again on April 29th!

Be on My Team by Jodie Bentley

For years I thought I could do everything myself. Whether it was saving money, or ego, or not enough time, or whatever other excuses I could come up with --I tried to do it all. From teaching myself to do a pirouette, to working on my monologues, to correct vocal technique- and I will be the first to say I wasn't as successful then at any of it! It took me awhile to realize the importance of having a team. A team of coaches I could turn to at a moment's notice, so I am always fully prepared and empowered for what comes my way.

So what do coaches do? They allow you to take your ideas and refine them, strengthen them and streamline them. It is easier for someone else to see what we are missing. We need that outside eye, both in our craft and in our business, to open us up and get us to that next level. A coach should be a heartfelt supporter, someone who is working with you so you can be the best you can. As actors we need coaches. Can you imagine an Olympic athlete without one? Being our own product even intensifies that. Coaches give us new ways of looking at things, especially when you can't see the overall vision. I have said it before and I will say it again - Erase the go it alone mentality!

I wouldn't be able to belt an 'F' without my voice teacher, and I know I owe many many many call backs and bookings to my vocal coach and acting coaches. A life coach I worked with had such a way at zeroing in on what I needed that we were able to strip away old beliefs about myself I was holding on to. The folks at Acting Success Now, made me examine my mind in ways I never had so I could stop the self sabotaging I was doing. I wouldn't be where I am today without every person I have worked with and hand selected to be on my team. You know what, I bet they feel the same way. The wonderful thing about a partnership with a coach is you both get to grow together and truly help each other.

We all are striving for excellence in our craft and in our business. Now is a perfect time to find, create and use your team. Let's all be fully prepared and excel in our auditions, and interviews. With vocal coaching or dance, we all know it is a learned behavior in our muscles, and the body needs to learn it through repetition. And learn it correctly under the watchful eye of a coach. Honestly, the same can be said of career coaching or acting coaching as well. Train, learn, and embody business principles and acting technique, feel it in your muscles. Own it, embrace it, it will become a part of you. And you will be focused and fearless!

My favorite thing is when my agent calls with an audition 2 days away that is perfect for me, with 12 pages of sides and 2 songs to learn. I just go to my team list and call one of my coaches.