Run Your Own Business: The Holy Grail Temp Job
What if I told you that there was a job out there that trumped all others as a temp job for actors… but almost no one is doing it?
What if I told you there was a way for you to earn literally unlimited income; three, four even ten times the amount you will earn as an actor?
You’d probably think – “Here comes the MLM pitch” right? Here comes the supplements or the skincare “opportunity of a lifetime”.
Well you’d be wrong. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime all right, but it doesn’t involve pitching products to your closest friends and family over insincere coffee catch-ups.
What if I told you there was a way for you to choose when to wake up and when to go to work every day, any day you like without having to be answerable to anyone but yourself, and focus on something you absolutely love day-in-day-out while still auditioning whenever you wanted for acting work.
I’m here to tell you that, not only is that dream a reality for a small group of very clever actors…
But it could, and should, be a reality for you too…
Running Your Own Business
Before I launch into the scoring I want to give you a quick list of a few awesome actors I know of and the businesses they run just to show you what is really possible.
Secret Singers – A private entertainments company run by my good friend Rakesh Boury who is a regular in the West End circuit. He hires west end quality singers for surprise acts at weddings and corporate parties.
Sustainable Trainer – An online personal training business run by one of my best mates Stewart Clark. He coaches actors and performing artists to get in the best shape of their lives and stay that way to live a happy, healthy, sustainable lifestyle. Stewart does the whole thing via online coaching – no 1-2-1 sessions. Ultimate flexibility.
ActOnThis – A membership site for actors to watch interviews and workshops online with the top Casting Directors, Producers, Writers and Actors in the UK run by my buddy Ross Grant who also has his own online High Performance Mindset Course and is about to launch his own Fashion Line! Here’s his showreel to prove he’s still constantly working as an actor too! This guy never stops hustling!
Tour Digs – A new theatre digs booking website for actors going on tour to find accommodation and hosts with rooms to find lodgers. Set up by Daniel Bolton who graduated from Laine in 2014 has been in Fiddler and Bend It Like Beckham in the West End and is now on tour with Crazy For You.
BorrowMyDoggy – A social network for dog owners and dog lovers to connect and arrange dog-sitting. Co-founded and developed by my mate Les Cochrane who has been a jobbing actor for over 10 years and re-trained in 2011.
I’ve had friends start their own Coffee and Tea Leaf brand, Video Production and Scriptwriting service, Wedding Proposal Planning service, Lamda Exam teaching, t-shirt printing and selling, and that’s without counting the hundreds of headshot photographers, showreel producers, website designers, voicereel producers and fitness coaches that pervade the industry.
If someone out there in the world is buying it – then someone is selling it…
Why not you.
Skill Required – Score 1/10
Its probably a good thing that the scoring system starts out with Skill Required, because after you get over this initial hump you’ll see that in every other area, running your own business smashes the scoring.
In fact the only reason that running your own business didnt completely wipe the floor with everything else is because compared to everything else… it’s bloody hard.
This post is not going to be an in depth guide on how to start your own business, that might be the subject of a later post, but I do want to give you a very basic birds eye view so you get the picture about why it is so hard.
As a business owner or freelancer you actually have three distinctly separate jobs. You have to be the “Technician” the “Manager” and the “Entrepreneur”.
What I mean by that is – not only do you have to do the work, perform the task, provide the service of your business (the technician) but you also have to be the person who manages the day to day operations that are required; customer service, client management, and other administration, effectively “instructing” the technician to perform what tasks in what order (the manager).
However, you also have to be the person who decides what to do to grow and innovate and attract more clients to your product or service which is not the role of the Manager or the Technician. This is the role of “The Entrepreneur”.
Each of these three business personalities has to develop a distinctly different skill set and perform very different actions day to day and each of these is a vital component of any small business – and they all have to live within you.
The technician can’t worry about marketing – he is too busy taking photographs, designing t-shirts, coaching clients.
The manager can’t worry about performing the service – he is too busy answering emails, scheduling sessions, managing orders.
The entrepreneur can’t worry about performing the service or managing clients – he is too busy improving the product or service and growing the business.
It is no secret that I have more than a few ventures that keep me busy between acting jobs.
I currently run this blog with a podcast soon to launch, teach an online course, coach private clients, run the business arm of a charity (with 60,000 members and scores of paying clients), have a freelance digital marketing agency helping small businesses launch online… and I am also developing an app.
This is non-exhaustive list, a small sampling of the skills you will have to develop to be successful as a small business using the internet:
- Your actual service or product. Whether that is headshot photography, personal training, coaching, artisanal coffee and tea sales, web design or massage the first skill you actually have to develop is the actual one you will be selling. Then you also need…
- Time Management & Project Management
- Sales & Sales Funnel Creation
- Cashflow Management & Accounting
- Customer Service
- Social Media & Community Management
- Content Creation – Video, Audio & Text
- Customer Acquisition – Organic and Paid Advertising
- Product & Service creation and innovation
- Website Management (if you don’t build it yourself – if you do then… Web Design!)
Now – do you have to be great at all of these things to get started – absolutely not. It’s never been easier to get started with a business online:
- Find something you’re good at that people already pay for.
- Find some of your friends who would be willing to pay for it. Tell them and their friends.
- Set up a PayPal account and get them to deposit money in exchange for you doing it. Done.
But it wouldn’t be realistic to say that that’s all it takes to continue to operate a profitable side hustle that earns you as much money as your acting which is why I listed out the above.
Rate Of Pay – Score 10/10
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, running your own business has the potential to pay you the most on an hourly time-for-money scale.
There is no minimum wage, no boss telling you your salary and no ceiling on how much you can charge for your services.
So far the highest hourly rate of pay we had was Teaching work, which typically pulls in £25 an hour for your time.
If you are running your own service based business and you are not charging more than £25 an hour then you are doing it wrong.
I have gotten to a stage in my businesses now where I have “productised” my knowledge so I can sell it instead of selling my time but when I do do time-based work, say coaching other actors, I bill £80 an hour. Or marketing consulting for businesses – £250 an hour.
If you are literally just starting out – as a photographer, personal trainer, masseuse yoga instructor, whatever – they you can expect to be billing £40 to £60 an hour from day 1. Two or three times higher than you would earn as a teacher at a stage school.
Earning Potential – Score 10/10
Without the restraint of having to work for someone else, on someone else’s schedule or limited by someone else’s business model your earning potential per month running your own business is pretty limitless.
We will talk about how long it takes to arrive at a consistent level of dependable income in a second but what you need to understand is that if you set up a business the smart way then there is no longer such a thing as a 40 hour work week and a maximum amount of time you can be earning money.
I have earned thousands of pounds in a single week through my business and I didn’t have to trade hundreds of 1-2-1 hours of my time to achieve that. In fact I do most of it from my dressing gown in my bedroom.
My businesses aren’t even super profitable, I have a lot of work to do. But at the moment with no 1-2-1 coaching clients and no consulting projects I consistently pull in around £1500 a month minimum – without counting any acting work.
There’s a quote I love that says :-
Flexibility – Score 10/10
It goes without saying that running your own business is really the holy grail of flexible jobs.
That’s not to say that it doesn’t take a lot of time and effort. Much more so than most other jobs.
But it does mean that you can choose when you do that work.
You can work at 3am if you feel like it. You can roll out of bed at 10 or 11 every day if you feel like it.
I haven’t had to book time off work for an audition in at least two years. I haven’t had to say no to an invitation somewhere, or to comps to the theatre, or any commitment that I wanted to go to. Because everything I do in my life is at my own leisure.
This year I even got to say yes to a fringe theatre job for pennies that was a 4 month process – which ended up being directly responsible for my next acting job which is pretty huge – and I didn’t have to worry about being able to pay the bills or get a weekend job and I didn’t have to starve myself half to death to be able to afford to do it.
A year ago I had to say no to almost the exact same thing because I couldn’t take the “time off”.
Ease Of The Work – Score 5/10
This is one of the areas that running your own business falls down most, for obvious reasons.
Getting your business off the ground can be tough there is no denying it. There are ways and means of making the process easier but in general most people spend a lot of time stabbing in the dark when they set out to launch a business and so instead of spending money to make things easier they just try and do everything themselves.
This is where running a business is most difficult. But also why it doesn’t score a rock bottom zero because once you get past a certain point in your business it gets a lot easier very quickly.
Because of the passive nature of most of my businesses – I don’t have to physically be there 1-2-1 with another human being to be earning money – the administration and running of the business is more complicated than usual.
But if all you want to do is start providing a service to a group of people in exchange for money then it’s really super easy.
Consistency Of Earning – Score 10/10
Again a really strong score here. When you run your own business you know exactly down to the pennies how much money you are going to have coming in each month.
It might take you 6 months to get to a place where you can quit your day job but at every step of the way you are the master of your own coin purse and you can see exactly what your cash flow is like.
Once you have your basic systems working for you – how you attract new clients, how you perform the service, how you take payment – then you can rely on that income stream as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow.
You’re not at the behest of an agency giving you shifts when they’ve got them. Or a stage school only opening at the weekends and closing for the summer. Day in, day out you will be earning money.
Wait To Get Paid – Score 2/10
This is where running your own business falls down the most against the other temp jobs.
There are ways of being smart about it if you need quick cash and I am confident that if I had to start again tomorrow I could be up to two grand a month again in less than 60 days now that I know how to be smart about it. But generally speaking if it’s your first time starting a business it will take you 3-6 months before you will start to see reliable cash.
There is no minimum wage to fall back on, no guaranteed paycheck for hours put in each week. It’s just you and your hustle and remember that we are supposed to be doing all of this while still carrying on an acting career.
What most actors who run their own business end up doing is putting a little bit of work in here and there whenever they can between their main temp job and their acting. This is a very safe way to do it because it means you don’t have to take any financial risk but it also means that the process happens many many times slower than it could.
When I coach clients to launch their businesses now I have refined a process for doing so in less than 90 days but for someone who has never done it before you might take six months or even a year to really get yourself off the ground which takes a lot of stamina and perseverance. Probably why most actors can’t be bothered.
Overall Score – 48
It’s pretty clear to see why running your own business smashes every other job so far as a contender for The Best Temp Job For Actors.
But will it be the winner?
Check back in a few days for the final instalment and see where the chips fall.