Take your business on the road!

Part of this month's series on Touring (taking your business on the road)

When you own your own successful business, you have to be entreprenueral, resourceful, creative, market, and be able to supply product to support the demand of your advertising.

While growing you have to be able to do all that AND that the "show" on the road. What ever business sector your in, or the products you produce, service you provide you need to market your wares, if your a musician you  go on tour, others mayhave a booth at fairs, business expos, or larger industry conventions.

Your little "store front" Whether a large tech vendor debuting at the consumer electronic show in Las Vegas or your own D.I.Y. goods at a local community event.  In these locations you  provide your prospective customers a visual impression of what your product or service is like, and what sized market you are targeting.

This past weekend, I met a young entrepreneur named Hunter.
I was just arriving with my musical gear to perform at a local farmers market.
 For me, the farmers markets are a great way for me to encourage others to support their local farmers, I am lucky enough to meet wonderful folks in the community, and I get to play music for a couple of hours and go home with armloads of organic fresh fruit and veggies that my family gets to enjoy that week.
Just outside the entrance of the farmers market. I noticed a meticulously assembled 1/4 scale booth made with stained and sanded wood and cooragated tin,  On a polished wooden counter top a high quality hand juicer that you would see at La Sur Table sat next to a large crock bowl filled with bright yellow, plump lemons, next to a clear sealed container w/ what appeared to be sugar glistening in the morning sun, Seated on the corner of the counter was a 5 gallon igloo water jug.  The printed sign indicated this was Hunters Lemonaide Stand, and for $1 I could get a fresh squeezed cup of lemonaide (sweetened to taste). 
A bright blue summer umbrella shaded the vendor from what promised to be  a sun soaked, hot day.

 As I was passing, I recalled lemonaide stands when I was a kid, none of them met the high quality standards of this stand.  A well groomed young man stood behind the stand, slowly wiping down the polished wood counter of his stand. At 9:30 in the morning while many of us are still slurping our morning coffee, this young man was ready for business.   I asked him if  he was Hunter, and this was his stand?  He smiled and said "Yes, it is!"    Hunter appeared to be 9 or 10 I asked him if this was his first job?  He said "I  sold Lemonaide before, but I had to hand squeeze the lemons. My customers didnt' like to wait, that long for a glass of lemonaide, so I  bought the best hand juicer I could find on Amazon". He said he knew that "the time I was saving with the new juicer, allows me to serve 4 or 5 more customers during the same amount of time!"  I was really struck by how he knew he could increase his customer satisfaction, which had a direct positive impact on his sales. I asked him what he was saving for now? "I want a iPad, and my dad says I have to save, and buy it myself".  I thought of how my dad told me he would help me buy my first car, but I had to save money for insurance, and to pay for 1/2.
I was really impressed that this young man had already realized the importance of:

1) Identifying a need-  he took advantage of the hot summer weather, in a location where people were walking around specifically to buy food and snacks, have a low cost, high value item that most people would love!

2)Presentation matters:   Without a word being exchanged, I saw a very well constructed booth, with shiny clean bowls and juicer located in a place that I knew had fresh organic ingredients.

3) Have the BEST quality: Hunter focused on the important details to capture the attention of a potential audience, and had quality ingredients to back it up.

I really wanted to help Hunter get his iPad, I introduced myself and told him, I have a very loud Microphone, and I'm going to tell the shoppers to come buy lemonaide from your stand!  He thanked me, and I wished him luck!

Two and a half hours later, I was leaving the farmers market and I noticed a line of about 7 customers at Hunter's Lemonaide stand-  I waved as I went by and asked him how his day was.... Hunter was grinning and said "Thank you very much for saying something about my stand!".

As I was passing by I saw a man standing in the shade about 10 feet away from Hunter, he was waving me over to him.  I assumed this was Hunter's dad.  As I came over, he shook my hand and said  He wanted to say thanks for saying something about Hunters stand.  I was happy to help, since Hunter was working hard, and  saving for somthing important.  I said it appeared that Hunter had a good day.  The dad laughed and said "Hunter, usually does pretty well, when he does these things"   I shared that it was a good job for a kid to pick up a few bucks. I figured he probably made $50.  Hunter's dad laughed " A couple bucks?  Hunter, looks like he's gonna clear almost $500 when he finishes with this group.
I was blown away that  this kid had done so well in just a few hours.  I felt lucky to have met a young person who had it so figured out, It was a testiment to some good "teachers" guiding him, and also a testiment to his hard work.
I drove home with a smile on my face, realizing today Hunter was a example of a independent business owner doing something really well.

We can all take a lesson from young Hunter, when brining our business on the road.   You never get a chance to make a first impression.  Bring and present your best in your product or service.  Know your market and go to them,  have sufficent inventory to meet demand and repeat.

Does your business need  help taking it on the road, or a gentle facelift? Or perhaps you have  a "special project" that you need managing?

Tamra Engle is a independent Business Strategist, Producer, Speaker and Blogger based in the S.F. bay area. She assists artists and business’s via private consultations and project assignments with Artist development, Project management, Production and Lifestyle rebalancing, to help develop your independent creative business.
You can read more about services to help you and join her mailing list at: www.tamraengle.com You can email Tamra at guitartam@gmail.com

Sign up now for your 1 month Master Class’s to help your Creative Business:






TOURING- GET THE BALANCE RIGHT

There isn’t any questions that you are working hard if your a independent artist   and independent business owner.
Every day you need to effectively handle multiple priorities-
Focusing on the important work of creating and performing  while you have irons in the fire to keep work coming in the door tomorrow and months after.

Staying balance and focused when you are juggling multiple priorities is key.



Summer is heating up-
 Whether you’re a local, regional, or nationally touring musician, your plans must certainly include playing shows so the world can hear, and fall in love with your music right?  
 Summer is one of  the biggest money making time of year for artists- Farmers Markets, Festivals, Fairs, House Concerts and Tours!  This is a time of year when smart artists are booking and playing 7 days a week.

On the long list of many things you need to do include, finish writing more material, then  organize the band and  get your chops sounding great, while you  perfect your performance so your show is mind blowing to watch!  Then, you need to duplicate your  new works of art so your fans can “take you home with them”.   All while while marketing and booking  gigs and plan a summer tour?!

Even if you are only playing your local gigs, you still have to haul your gear to and from the gig. When your on the road you are hauling your gear to and from the gig, after sitting in your car, truck, or van for hours on end,  if your lucky you are able to sleep in a quiet room with a nice bed every night your gone.
 Depending upon which part of the country you are in, you may find your normal healthy food choices  are suddenly VERY limited. 

It doesn’t take very long for the long hours, heavy lifting, no sleep, and cruddy food, start to take their toll on you.  
 You may find yourself coming home from tour exhausted and even sick perhaps you have even had to cut a tour short because you were ill.

It doesn’t give you bragging rights to blow up before a tour ends or to  come home trashed, it is simply a reflection that you haven’t prepared to do your job properly. 
If your plans include bigger tours, supporting mid level or A level acts, it shows the hiring management company that you are not up to the job, you will have missed a huge opportunity and not even known it.

TIPS TO PREPARE:
 If your heading back out on the road, or going on the road for the first time,  We will spend the next couple of weeks sharing ways that will keep you in shape  to take what ever the road throws your way.

Preventative health care:
 Not surprisingly many artists do not have health or dental insurance for themselves, or their equipment feeling they cannot afford it.    You may not feel like you can afford monthly insurance premiums, but you cannot afford  NOT to get your annual medical and dental examinations.  The few hundred dollars you would spend on your annual dental and medical exams *are all expenses that can be written off in your annual taxes! (1)
Many diseases can be prevented or controlled if they are caught in early stages(2)

Stress Related health disorders: Nearly 1/2 of the health issues we are facing today are in some way connected to stress, economic, family, and  work related pressures all take their toll on us, and manifest themselves in a variety of ways. Do you find you have chronic  sinus infections, fatigue, or persistent cough, or allergies? they can all be signs of unbalance in your life.   Recent studies have linked heart attacks and stroke to gum disease. By simply having your teeth cleaned you could reduce your chances of  heart attack or stroke.

Invest a little, Save big:
 The cost of a standard office visit to your doctor and dentist, and flossing every day  is much cheaper that a trip to the Emergency Room. So give yourself the gift of a longer life, save your hard earned money, by spending on the prevention, the price tag of a cure is higher than many can pay.

Do you have any favorite stories from the road,  maybe it was the burger joint outta the twilight zone in Yuma Az? or when the van's horn got stuck ON.  Share your best tales of the road in your comments below-


RESOURCES:
here are links to organizations that offer low cost and preventative health care  services for artists:

EHealth and TuneCore- provide a resource comparing 10,000  health insurance products from over 180 carriers
ASCAP-Your local P.R.O. has health care coverage available for it’s members
Recording Acadamy/ MusiCares  the good folks at NARAS have MusiCares that provides services for artists needed resources and assistance. 


Tamra Engle is a independent business strategist, Producer, Speaker and Blogger based in the S.F. bay area. She assists artists and business’s via private consultations and project assignments with Artist development, Project management, Production and Lifestyle rebalancing,  to help develop your independent creative business.
You can read more about services to help you and join her mailing list at: www.tamraengle.com    You can  email Tamra at guitartam@gmail.com

Sign up now for your 1 month Master Class’s to help your Creative Business:



Links to References:

(1) http://outright.com/blog/when-are-health-expenses-a-tax-write-off/
(2) http://dentistry.about.com/od/dentalhealth/tp/reasonsdenclean.htm
www.kp.org
www.ehealthinsurance.com
www.musicianhealthinsurance.com
www.grammy.org/musicares


photo credits:


Jugglers- Moscow Circus 
Junk food- Tamra Engle
Roadies- Jen Wester- backstage BonJovi

Putting it all together! (the Creative Process)


The final installment on our month long series focusing on  “the Creative Process”  featured in  weekly installments to help creative business owners-


As we approach the pinnacle the next stop through the creative process is- 

CONCEPTION:  By combining our identity, inspiration and vision, committing our intention, and creating a design, model, or outline to form our creative expression. Our idea’s are conceived and in this mix of idea’s and intentions a creative “baby” given life-it may be expressed in acting, or in a new song, new item in your merchandise line, or exploring a new creative genre, like painting, fashion design, or ??? your imagination is  limitless!

CONSUMPTION:  Once we have gone through all these steps to put our creative babies out into the world then what?  We want everyone to love our babies as much as we do!  We dream of the masses loving what we have created, and imagine thousands, even millions of copies of our “creative babies” to be in the hands and hearts of “our people”.


WHAT’S NEXT?  At the end of every cycle stop and review.  Every process and step in that process is filled with learning opportunities, keep what works, and don't repeat the same mistakes again,
 as artists we have a duty to ourselves to diligently work at evolving and improving our craft.
 Are their any steps in the creative process that you feel you need to clarify or develop further?  If you look at yourcreative pyramid, if you are not starting with a strong sense of identity and how you relate to your market, it will have a direct impact on everything you hope to build upon.

Let’s step away from the pyramids and charts and look at actual example of the creative process in work with a local  San Francisco bay area artist named
Nkechi  (pronounced N-Kay-Chee) an artist, having worked as a actor, singer/songwriter/ model, she is now exploring painting as part of her creative journey.  I sat down with Nkechi  after her audition for the X-Factor to discuss her evolution as a artist,  The journey of accepting herself as a creative, and what it was like going through the audition  for a Network Television show.

(TE)How did your background help you prepare for an open casting call event?
(N)-As an actor and model I am used to the “waiting” part of long auditions.

(TE)What was your inspiration for auditioning for the X Factor?
(N)My sister suggested it. And then I decided to highlight the obvious. I believe every individual is a unique creation of God, which I translate to mean we are all God’s X Factors in our own lives.

(TE)Do you set goals for yourself as a artist or as part of your creative business?
(N)Before this year, (2012) not so much. This year, very much so.

(TE)Was auditioning for a network television show one of your goals?
(N)Being on a network television show by 2015 is one of my goals.

(TE)How did your background help you prepare for an open casting call event?
(N)I am used to riding the feelings of anticipation that build up before an audition when you are really going for something with all you are.


(TE)Let’s take a look behind the scenes at you rehersing before your audition:http://youtu.be/qqthLzo0JbM

(TE)Were there any surprises during the audition process?(N)I was surprised to see how many fellow local bay area artists were there to go for it as well.  I love San Francisco as a (creative) community.
(TE)Can you tell us briefly the steps in this type of audition process?
(N)In a snapshot it is a cattle call. We were at the cow palace after all! But in a way you are “just a number” assigned to a seat and then you hope that your mini performance plus a big dose of providence enable you to stand out enough to get called back.

(TE)How much preparation did you do to prepare for your audition? A few days.

(N) I did as well as could be expected for someone like me.  An original artist developing my sound and figuring out how much I feel called to make music. I sang a medley of “Tonight” by fun and Amazing Grace.  After not making it to round 2 I did a little second guessing as to whether I should have gone for an original but I shook that off and made a decision on steps to take in approaching a future opportunity.


(TE)What would you have done differantly ?
(N)I would have gotten a coach familiar with X Factor for help to make sure I was presenting the truest expression of my artistic voice.


(TE) What did you learn from this process?
(N)I got inspired in a bigger way than before.  I learned that my purpose has always involved being an entertainer although I’ve doubted this for most of my life.

(TE)What advice would you give young singers attempting a big goal?  (N)-Pace yourself and enjoy the process.  Where you start as an artist may not be where you end up, but as long as you are expressing your true essence you will be a winner. "Pursue your art! Whatever it is. If you want to sing, then sing! If you want to paint, paint".

(TE) I have watched you fearlessly and enthusiastically explore a variety of creative genres, acting, singing, and writing. Have you always accepted yourself as a artist?

(N)I seem to have finally come to peace now with who I am and how I am made.  I am a beautiful child of God, and so are you. After much pain, life experience and a quasi identity crisis I have come accept God’s purpose for me in sharing his love through music and art. Music and art moves people and helps people get through life experiences they don’t have words for.  I appreciate this now and want to give back what I have been given.  I pray that my music will stir people in the way others’ music has moved me.  I am a work in progress, but knowing this now has added tremendous peace to my life.

(TE)  Nkechi, thanks for sharing your journey and evolution through the creative process as a artist!  We  wish you the best success going forward, and  sharing your inspiration with our readers!

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Tamra Engle is a independent Business Strategist, Producer, Speaker and Blogger based in the S.F. bay area. She provides artist's and businesses  Artist Development, Performance Coaching, Production, Project Management, Process Improvement, and  Operations Development services via private consultations and assignments with a focus on  Lifestyle rebalancing,  to help you reach your objectives.
You can read more about services to help you and join her mailing list at: www.tamraengle.com  
You can  email Tamra at guitartam@gmail.com

Sign up now for your 1 month Master Class’s to help your Creative Business:
 http://www.squidoo.com/guitartam-master-classes


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