If I went back in time to my college years, a time when my bills were covered by student loans and my parents, the first change I would make is finding a business class. I did have access to the owner of a small business before and during college—my uncle Neil who ran a heating, plumbing, and electrical business—and could have asked him all kinds of questions about running it. Foolishly, I didn’t.
Back then, I looked at a trade like plumbing as something someone else did for a living. That’s not for me, I thought. I’m just helping to make money during the summer or during winter break. I missed the opportunity to learn how any small business should and shouldn’t run, and that ignorance led to me making a series of bad business decisions for myself when I started acting.
Without going into too many gritty details of the financial pitfalls we face when starting and growing a career as an actor, I will say briefly that I have spent far more auditioning and acting than I have earned. FAR MORE. But that in itself is not a mistake or a huge problem, unless you’re relying solely on acting to support yourself. Much of the time, I was.
In examining the error in my ways, I came up with a list of decisions I could share with others who aim to work as actors professionally. In creating a whole workshop based on this list, I expanded the language to include virtually all artists, from actors to photographers to designers. In the workshop, I ask attendees to write and share their answers to 10 basic business decisions. Then we discuss their responses and I can guide them to more productive thinking, if necessary.
It’s fascinating to watch in a group setting because you see common ground shared between people of different ages and interests. They learn from each other and they give so much to each other. I highly recommend taking the list I am about to include here and sitting down to do the exercises with someone you know.
10 BUSINESS DECISIONS EVERY ARTIST MUST MAKE