Building my Business Plan

OK… so I’m diving in!

I’m trying to be smart about this.  Maybe I should be more fearful than I am.  After all, this is going to be a pretty big transition in both lifestyle and career… but I feel very calm about it.  I’ve been involved with various spiritual practices over the years (I just joked with an old friend of mine from Grad School that I’m a non-practicing JewBu!).  For the past few years, I’ve also been involved, on and off, with Landmark Education (the evolved iteration of EST, of Werner Erhardt fame).  I’ve found that to be a very useful and positive influence.  Although it’s completely “non-spiritual,” it’s hard to argue with a teaching that’s rooted in “being your Word, living with integrity, being of service, and playing the game of Life full out!”

Tartuffe… from “many” years ago at Glassboro State College

But, I digress.  I’ve developed a written business plan (an evolving document).  In it, I anticipate a two year transition to supporting myself as a working artist.

Bit by bit, I’m putting the pieces in place.  Of course, it helps that I’ve had such a varied background: my undergraduate degree was in communications, my MFA in Acting was from Mason Gross at Rutgers in New Brunswick (where I studied with Bill Esper), then I left the “business” to run a family company with my sister (founded by my Mother) for 17 years until selling it 8 years ago, then worked for the last 7 years selling accounting related software to multi-state real estate companies and REITs before being promoted to the role of Director of Marketing and Sales Operations for that same company.

So, I’m putting all that experience to work.  I’ve created an LLC, finalized my logo and collateral materials, and I’m in the process of building out a Contact Database,

(I’ve got to admit, I was a little bit of a stickler about this.  In my “day job,” that’s a good part of what I do– create and develop the marketing and sales processes for my company.  It was really important to me to have a software tool that let me do that effectively (oh yea, I’m a software geek too!)… as, aside from actually “delivering the goods,” the main determinant of my future success will be determined by how well I can market myself.

There were a number of packages out there, some even specifically written for actors and people in the performing arts, but at the end of the day I felt constrained by their limitations (or, at least, what I thought of as their limitations).  In essence, I wanted to have complete control over the software.  I wanted to customize it specifically for my needs… so I went with what I knew.  I licensed  www.salesforce.com.  It’s a “web-based” CRM (Customer Relations Management Software).  I’ve worked with it for years, and that’s what I use all day long.  It’s certainly not the cheapest solution out there (costing me around $700/year– but at least I don’t need any special hardware or “backups” for my data– it’s all in the “cloud”)… but it does everything I need, has great marketing tools integrated right into the platform (or partner integrations through their AppExchange… think the “AppStore” from Apple).  I’ve already entered, downloaded or uploaded hundreds of records/contacts from the industry– from agents to casting directors, advertising agencies to production studios.  It’s expensive, but very cool!  Plus, they’ve got nifty apps for the iPhone and iPad!)

I’m also working with Edge Studio to produce my first Demo (I’ll probably do 3 actually: Commercial, Promo and Narration).  I’ve had a very good experience there so far.  Right now, I’m shooting for producing my Demo by the end of April… which is also when I anticipate launching my website (shopping for web designers now!).  By the early summer, I should be up and running!

Then, in the words of Montgomery Burns, “release the Hounds!”  It’ll be marketing, marketing, marketing!

On a separate but related note… my friend, Jordon Baker (we went to Grad School together… she and her husband Kevin Kilner are both successful, well-traveled actors) was telling me about a local Shakespeare company that holds auditions soon for their summer season.  They’re right on the Hudson, across from West Point, about 25 miles north of me.  I think I’m going to dust off a few of my old audition pieces and head up there!

Sweet!

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Here we go!

Whhheeee… here we go! Blogging. Egad! I was speaking to a friend of mine. My current (sort of) employer, David Miller. David is going through a transition in his life… after co-starting a now successful software company he’s off to begin a new venture.

Me too, really. I’ve got my “day job,” which I really like… but I’m putting the pieces in place to transition over the next two years to my first love…  Acting. The first step is creating a Voice Over Career… another (related) dream of mine. I started out, many years ago, pursuing this path. Somewhere along the way my life took a different direction. But now, at 55 years old, I’m putting my feet back on the path.

Someone once said, “you’re never too old to be who you could have been.” Well… I’m going to put that to the test.

Back to my conversation with David, he’s started a Blog– to document this momentous transition in his life, and he encouraged me too to “start blogging.” My initial response was, “no… it takes me too long to write… not really my forte’.” “Nonsense” he said! “Dive in!”

So, here we go…

This will be the journey of a man that found himself at 55, divorced, with no children, and on a pathway he never anticipated or desired… finding his way back to a life and a community that he left long ago…

Oh, there will be twists and turns along the way I’m sure– but my goal is to keep my eye on the prize, and transition my life and career from a Director of Marketing and Sales Operations for a software company, to being a full-time, working artist as a Voice-Over talent and Actor!

Wish me luck!