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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Tricky business » » Starting at point Zero (4 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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WDavis
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On Jan 19, 2018, charliecheckers wrote:
There are some generalities in Walter’s initial post that I think do not take into account the many various lifestyles people have at the time the make the decision to become an entertainer. The lower standard of living one has and the fewer people depending on them will greatly impact the timetables, financials and need for savings.


I didn't discuss those matters because these factors, imo, are the same. Each of us have our own lifestyles, etc, and yet we all need to reduce our expenditures and debts as much as possible prior to opening shop if we want increase the chance to make the business a success. People get caught up in the wrong points here. Like you focusing on the impact and timetables at the point of the decision. Let me explain, it doesn't matter what life stage or life style you are in with respect to time tables, financials, and savings needs. We all still need to make those same choices regardless of life style.

Quote:
Some simply choose to have multiple streams of income, with a business of performing being one of them, so I don’t think that they should be necessarily categorized as a hobbiest. Often these professionals lack the deeper interest in the art that hobbyists poses and focus more on monetizing a narrow skill set.


I'm not against multiple streams of income, I'm actually quite for it and have that life owning and operating multiple businesses. But this mindset that is being cultivated by the information gurus promotes a grave misunderstanding between service and product based business models. Service based models have a scaleability limit to them based on human bodies. If we want more business we need more bodies to do the work. Like a mechanic, cpa, performer we can only perform our skill set on one thing at a time. Product based models sell the Mass produce a product and sell it. Think of software we only need to create it once and then we replicate it and sell it off to many. We can't do that as a performer. The big difference is in customization. We as service providers customize our offering to fit the client needs. We can adapt our offering to fit 100 different people with 100 different needs. And not hurt economically as much as a product based model would. It is not feasible for a manufacture to sell 100 different versions of the same thing to appease 100 different buers.

While many will retort, we sell products our show etc. I provide the following rebuttal, your show is not your product, it's the deliverable of your service that they hired. In essence they hired you not a magic show. Additionally with respect to opinions on BOR and other sellings of books and tricks etc. the core of your business is still service if you are a performer. It's the same as the mechanic, his primary role is his service but he still sells parts like oil and filters. That doesn't mean he's a retailer. If he focused more on selling parts he's a retailer with a primary model based on products with an added service option.

In the end, people will chose what they want to believe. in a society today that thinks they are know all that matters and doesn't believe in the value of experts since if they need Some info they'll just google it. I value experts and will tell you when it comes to experts we as a society need them. I want my heart surgeon to know what he's doing not just blindly following instructions on a website.

The same holds for business, I partially disagree with mindpro,about business professionals and the entertainment industry. If the professionals experience is solely in product based business models (as most are) then he is correct. But a business expert in the service model should shatter his argument. The principles are the same and the techniques are primarily similar if not the same. I will say if I had to chose an advisor between the 3 choices: product model based expert, a service model based expert, and an entertainment industry expert is pick the entertainment industry expert over the others. Why because the entertainment expert will have value from relationships in the field as well as more directly applicable transaction execution experience then the other models.
charliecheckers
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Here is how and why it matters: if a 21 year old living with his/her parents as a dependent takes your advice and leaves his/her job where they earn $20,000 to fully commit to their passion of being an entertainer for one full year and then realize it did not work out as planned - no big deal. On the other hand, if a Thirty year old earning $120,000 living in a $200,000 home with his wife and three kids takes your advice and leaves a job they may never get back, all in hopes of surpassing their previous income while perusing their passion - when they realize it did not work out...that’s not good!

The further along one is in their lives, and the more they have built in terms of financial responsibility, family and income, the harder it is to build what would be perceived as a successful business. Danny is so right in pointing out how unrealistic the idea of 1 year is. No matter how much one commits to this type of endeavor, the learning curve is impacted by the markets sometimes. For example, if one is pursuing a school market or library market - the bookings are seasonal. You have a relatively short window to present and book shows. What you learn from the prior year in terms of their true needs, the competition, pricing, contacts, booking sequence strategy, show content, and so much more, takes time because you can only experience the certain points in the process annually or semi-annually no matter how much time you are willing to commit to it.
Mindpro
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Great points. The thing that is so important, and few realize or accept, is that it is a process. You don't simply start or learn a profession and being instantly at the top or a desired level. Regardless of what many will boast of on a forum or a guru will state in their super-dooper mega Millionaire Magician course, it simply isn't the reality. There is so much to learn in general, and then the specific performance markets and industry-specific elements.

I tell many I work with it is a 3-5 year process for most that are serious, especially if they do not have any business knowledge or training.
WDavis
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Charlie,

A couple of points In response,

the risk level is different, but your $120k salary with a $200k home is even less realistic. The average (mean) american household income is ~$75k and mean personal income is ~$32k. Furthermore, average home prices are ~$375k. so an individual income of $120k with a $200k home (mortgage) is significantly unlikely as people don't put down more than 20% (most put about 5% down). I never denied that risk of age, that's a view people are putting on me. If you have a family you need to save furthermore you need to discuss with your spouse. Those were things I said because it is a risk to pursue your dream.

Secondly, I read the responses against my 1 year time frame as a lack of understanding my point. If you can't get some business traction within the 1 year then entertaining is not for you. Also, after a year you will know enough to decide if this is the life you want. Part-timing to grow into it with security from another job is possible many do it, but my main point is focus quality not time volume. If you have focused effort working the time of 1 year you will have a good idea if this is something to pursue and would be happy doing.

Mindpro is right it is a process. And almost all business types take 3-5 years to be successful. And the first 2 years are working out the kinks these are the standard business life cycles. My 1 year benchmarking cuts through the crap of most startups who won't make it past year 2 tell themselves. Many failed startups delude themselves and keep pushing in their failing endevour when the problem is the business doesn't fit them. Thus they could save themselves and their families headaches and heartaches by cutting losses earlier.
charliecheckers
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I think the points you make are very sound if I am correctly reading into them:
-Ensure the proper mindset and commitment
-Communicate it to those potentially impacted
-Make adjustments in personal spending to allow for business investment.
-Check in at an appropriate time to determine viability to business venture

If that is in essence what you share, I totally agree.

The facts you shared above points out why one cannot apply general advice to their specific situation. Averages are derived from a broad range of income and housing prices across different geographies. That means little to an individual making a decision based upon their unique circumstances.
Dannydoyle
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Sorry Walter but the one year time frame actually shows your own lack of understanding.

Have you ever actually started at point zero in the entertainment industry? Some of us have. If you have not perhaps you're lacking the necessary perspective to speak authoritatively on the subject?

A year is not enough to get traction in an industry like entertainment and is indicative of very little. But then again it is a very non specific term. Define it for me please.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
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This may be common sense but it hasn't been mentioned yet. To be professional one is paid. To maintain professionalism one needs to be good. Often times the two are not synonymous. My point is that the chops one gets from performing is the only way to really be professional. The advice I would give to anyone wanting to make magic their career would be to start on the street. You decide when you will and won't work. It won't interfere with the job that pays the bills. It's a true gauge of your abilities as if they don't like you no money will be in your bowl. And the contacts you make can be the most important people you ever bring in your life outside of your family.

Before ever giving up my day job I'd be sure that I could pay my bills with the money I made on the street. No other venue will give you more answers than the hard knocks of street performing. Jmo of course.
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I won’t comment on the business side as Mindpro has that sewn up and I agree with pretty much every word he says as it is as true this side of the pond as it is that. On the 1 year thing I will say that if you last a year you are doing good, this business can chew you up and demoralise you very quickly. The first bit of advice I will add is grow a very thick skin. No matter how good you actually are going pro will show you that you aren’t as good as you think you are. In the early days you will experience a lot of rejection, and you will bomb sometimes whilst your act develops into a polished act, even then sometimes you will still bomb because you are not “on” and your timing is off. You will likely experience hard core hecklers, you may find yourself working in far from ideal venues for drunks that are not particularly interested in your act. You will take an emotional battering while you learn your craft and you will spend a lot of time chasing work and doing taxes and other admin.

Most come into the business exactly the way Mindpro states and go from working free to friendly audiences and find that working to strangers for money is a whole new ball game. When you perform for friends and family for free the audience already knows and likes you so half the battle is already won. Their expectations are not that high at all and they think you are great and as a result so do you. When someone you do not know is paying you their expectations are massively higher and their expectations extend far beyond how good your tricks are. Suddenly you find that what worked for a friendly audience does not win over a room full of strangers. What was once easy and fun suddenly becomes real hard graft which consists of some really big highs but some equally big lows and is almost always a lot harder work than working for an employer.

It can be a great life but it isn’t for the faint hearted or thin skinned!!

Mark
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Christian & Katalina
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Wow, what a fun thread.

Currently, Katalina and I have been performing a lecture called "Working in the Real World or what to know before you quit your Day Job". We also have a book of the same name carried on Michael Close's website.

I can tell you that I agree with just about everything said on this thread.

We all have a different path to becoming a professional. This will depend on our social, economic, educational, and performing level when we make that leap. There are so many factors that go into becoming a professional that it would be difficult to lay out just one path for everyone.

For instance: A person who lives in New York City and a person who lives in Buttford Indiana, will have much different paths in their quest to becoming a professional.

A person who wants to work the Tradeshow Market will have a different path then the person who wants to work Cruise Ships.

Katalina and I often stress to people, that they most likely would rather be a part-time pro than actually do this for a living. They are totally unaware of the lifestyle of an entertainer and the amount of time you must devote towards business. They only dream of the big red velvet curtains and deafening applause they imagine they will get on stage. They have no concept of the other 23 hours of the day.

We used to advocate saving a year's living expenses as well. Katalina and I had close to that when we decided to make the jump. However, it is not realistic for most people. And most of the young, doe eyed, magicians don't believe that you need it. They think their amazing show and their love for the art will carry the day. It is usually after the fact, they come back and say..."Oh, now I understand why you said that!".

There was this one magician that wanted to go pro. We explained, he was not good enough performance wise and he had three children and a wife. It simply was not realistic for him to quit his job and chase this dream. We explained that no matter how good you think you are . . . you're not that good when you start. Also he has never run a business before. People are unaware of the amount of discipline it takes to run your own business. He accused us of not wanting the competition and trying to ruin his dream. He failed spectacularly. He later apologized and relayed that it was amazingly difficult.

We tell people that if you prepare properly, you will not be in a safe space in a year, but you will know if you have enough traction to continue.
Milbourne Christopher Award for Mentalism 2011
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Dannydoyle
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It depends upon where you are starting from if you can get enough traction in a year. Do not forget the title of the thread is "Starting at point Zero". At point "Zero" a year is nowhere NEAR enough.

Starting further down the line certainly things are different. BUT from "point Zero", which is what we are talking about it is not enough. I think being that specific is IMPERATIVE so someone who really wants to start knows what they can be in for.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Christian & Katalina
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Danny, I have a little bit of a problem with the concept of "Starting at point zero". I think that would be an unrealistic and almost guaranteed failure. I would never advocate for someone to give up their day job and/or source of main income and start with zero experience. I would make sure they have worked restaurants, free shows, local fairs, local small business events, etc so they know what they are getting into and that they actually have some acceptable level of skill.

Don't forget the old adage:
What do you do for a living?
I'm a professional magician.
Uh-uh, and what does you wife do?
Milbourne Christopher Award for Mentalism 2011
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Dannydoyle
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Absolutely that is exactly my point. We are certainly in total agreement. Terms matter and matter a lot.

Some of us HAVE started from point zero. I do not think Walter has and it skews perception of what point zero even is.

Simply put words mean things. And if a guy thinks point zero is knowing a few tricks and starting he will be very disappointed in a year if he expects to get real traction.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Mindpro
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Yes, that is part of the problem with the "default" way most get into magic. Since most magician's bio's and descriptions of themselves clearly state "I've been doing magic since I was 5 (or a fetus, as each backs it up further to out-do the others) it is hard to consider a point Zero. (By the way I started as just a sperm!)
Christian & Katalina
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Mindpro...""I've been doing magic since I was 5 or a fetus" I spit up my whiskey all over the keyboard...that was funny and now you owe me a whiskey net time you pass through.
Milbourne Christopher Award for Mentalism 2011
The Annemann Award for Menatalism 2016
Author of "Protoplasm" Close-up Mentalism
Dannydoyle
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And he owes you a keyboard.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Mindpro
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Quote:
On Jan 25, 2018, Christian & Katalina wrote:
Mindpro...""I've been doing magic since I was 5 or a fetus" I spit up my whiskey all over the keyboard...that was funny and now you owe me a whiskey net time you pass through.


Deal!
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Quote:
On Jan 25, 2018, Christian & Katalina wrote:
Mindpro...""I've been doing magic since I was 5 or a fetus" I spit up my whiskey all over the keyboard...that was funny and now you owe me a whiskey net time you pass through.


Btw, what they hell are you doing drinking whiskey at 8:53 a.m.? Entertainers...
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Going back and rereading this thread. I believe Walter was saying that "point zero" is the moment you quit your day job and try and make entertainment your living. If this is the case then I can agree with Walter's take on this. I don't think he was saying that "Point Zero" was starting with no experience or skill level. Right? Walter?
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Author of "Protoplasm" Close-up Mentalism
Mark_Chandaue
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I think many go full time and quit their day job when it ceases to be practical to do both. Speaking from my own experience that moment came when I got a residency that covered my living expenses and also was unable to work a 9-5 and still get to all of my gigs. Whilst it is fair to say that I had the ambition to be a full time magician from a very early age there was no defined point where I decided to go pro it simply just evolved into full time more through luck than through judgement. However once it was paying all of my bills there was a massive learning curve and years of development required to make the transition from having enough gigs to cover my immediate expenses and earning a long term living at it. I was lucky enough to turn pro immediately prior to a massive boom in table hopping in London which made getting work fairly easy in the early days. The downside of that is when the recession hit, the bubble burst and the work dried up I was far less equipped to actually go out and find and compete for work in a fairly flooded market.

So I guess if I had any other advice I can offer from the benefit of hindsight is that on some level you do need to be aware that you are starting up a business, not just being an entertainer. I definitely fell into the self employed performer category rather than having a business as a magician and when I started out I wasn’t even really equipped to be self employed let alone to start any form of business. Whilst I do not have, nor have I read any of MindPro’s works on the business side beyond his posts on here; I can say categorically that had it been available when I was starting out it would have been far more valuable than any of my magic books.

On a side note, I got seriously interested in magic at age 4 due to having a professional magician for a father. By age 5 I could classic palm a coin, by age 7 I could classic palm 4 coins and had pretty much gone through Bobo’s, Royal Road to Card magic, Harry Barons close up book, some stuff from Will dexter and all of that meant diddly sqaut when I turned pro. There were people on the circuit doing far better than me who had been into magic for 5 minutes but had drive, ambition and a head for business. If anything all those years of thinking tricks, methods and technical skill were the be all and end all probably held me back rather than pushed me forward.

Mark
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WDavis
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Christian,

Yes, point zero is the moment you decide you want to make a living as an entertainer.

This section is "tricky business" so my topics here center around the business aspects only. My one assumption is you have performed enough to have an act together, regardless of how good or cohesive that act may be. Telling someone to not pursue a dream will always lead to resentment initially, as people will assume you have a personal agenda and your opinion is not unbiased. As what happened initially to Christian. That's just human nature. So I recommended small financial hurdles, if the person wants to pursue this dream demonstrate they can save for the years cost of living coverage. The practice in financial discipline will help them as well as weed out those less likely to commit.

To Danny's point I haven't defined a year, for the benchmarking. So I will explain what I consider what the minimum activities should occur in a year.
In the first 3 months would be setting up your presence. Press kits, business cards, Legal entities licenses permits, etc. as well as getting listed in directories and setting up a digital presence online website Facebook etc.

Then it's about establishing work, start networking, get exposure from various media channels (tv radio, print) and then start at least one pro bono job a month for non profits (those that have or can put you in contact with potential clients). And keep working all your channels till you get customers, then keep at it some more. You will always have to have overlap between your sales cycles and delivery. if after the rest of the year passes with your constant networking, selling, marketing, and performing at least 1 gig a month (even if it's just the pro bono work), you will know if it's right for you.
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