• Jeffrey Nytch

The Entrepreneurial Process (Part 2): Self-evaluation comes first

As I mentioned last week, I'm re-printing a series of short "homilies" on the entrepreneurial process for artists that first appeared in my weekly e-newsletter, the Entrepreneurial Upbeat!. I hope you find these interesting.

You'll recall from last time that I summarized the entrepreneurial process as "Five questions plus an imperative." Here they are again:

1. What do I/we [i.e, you or your group/organization/venture] have to offer?

2. What needs are there in the marketplace that I can address?

3. What is a creative solution to meet that need?

4. Is my solution financially and logistically feasible?

5. How shall I implement my solution?

6. Deliver with an unwavering commitment to excellence.

So how does this process apply to us artists? Let’s start with… Step One! And it involves a bit of self-evaluation and reflection. Before anyone can decide how best to accomplish their objectives – whether it be to simply adopt a more entrepreneurial approach to their performing career or launching a full-scale entrepreneurial enterprise – they have to have a firm idea of what they bring to the table. Let’s break that down a bit.

For starters, look at the individual gifts of you and your other team members (if present). Here’s a handy tool for taking inventory of your skills that I read in David Cutler’s terrific book, The Savvy Musician. (If you don’t own this book you should; give it a Google, and also check out his very useful website.) Here goes:

What are the main musical skills you have?

What about secondary musical skills?

What non-musical skills do you possess (are you proficient in a foreign language, a whiz with computer programming, or a gifted graphic designer)?

What special, unique skills do you possess? (This can sometimes be a particular combination of skills that is unusual or particularly useful: you have equal proficiency as a jazz and a classical player, or abundant experience as a triathelete and an organic farmer.)

Lastly, I’ll add one more question for your inventory: What skills would you like to develop more? (Perhaps you’re a composer who would like to have better conducting chops, or a singer who would like to study more acting.)

A skills assessment is just the beginning, though. The next step is to think about the things that you’re really passionate about – not just within music, but within your life overall. If you’re a team of more than person, think about where your passions intersect and overlap, and how together you make something greater than the sum of your individual parts. Whether you be a solo entrepreneurial artist or looking to form a venture, it’s often in the combinations of skills and passions that the most interesting possibilities emerge. Once you have a clear idea of what you have to bring to the table, only then can you begin to think about creative ways to apply those things to meaningful ends. And remember: think big, think creatively, and try not to limit the options you consider to the most obvious or preconceived notions of what you are “able to do.” At this point in the process, the sky is the limit!

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