I think I have mentioned it before, but I have never really planned anything significant in my life. It has been one foot in front of the other with common sense, curiosity and initiative forging a steady yet unexpected path.
Last year, my new year’s resolution was to start to plan. By that I didn’t mean a business plan or a marketing plan, though I am constantly reminded by my compadres, blogs, experts that I should probably do that – especially a marketing plan.
No, it meant planning to meet people for dinner, or the movies, or a dinner party. Yes, that basic people kind of planning. My usual MOO (method of operation) is to be hard a work doing whatever I do all day and suddenly look up at the clock and realize that it is about 4 PM and wouldn’t it be nice to go out to dinner with someone? The occasional spontaneous phone call at that point almost always yields apologies that plans had already been made, but let’s plan for next week sometime. To which I usually reply sure, but when it comes to closing that loop…well, you get the picture.
I don’t even plan my travel very much. I remember buying into a time share back in the day and struggling to actually plan to use my week. I always banked the time, because I simply didn’t live my life tied to a specific week in a specific place like that. I took a couple of trips with girlfriends to Mexican ports of call when the idea of going somewhere came up, but I felt more comfortable calling and asking where in the world can I go – next week. Had a great trip to Spain one year like that.
So with my grand plan in mind, I did make some progress in 2013 in thinking ahead a little bit. More dinners with friends. More lunch dates. Theater tickets, even movie passes. A few dinner parties threw themselves together – but I will admit that they were last minute. As I recall FaffCamp was a last minute go. But FaffCon in San Antonio was not. That was something I planned to attend.
My business was not planned. It evolved. A little radio in college. An art degree. A job at a TV station doing graphics that grew to production. Graduate school to learn more about TV. A “quota” job as a director at a TV station. A security blanket job as a TV announcer, while I free-lanced as a producer/writer/talent/teacher. A real job at a really big company doing all the things I had learned to do since I was about 18. And then back out as a free-lancer slowly evolving into a full-time voice talent, with a little teaching on the side (and now some part-time work as an executive director for a professional association).
None of this was planned. But it didn’t happen by accident. My Masters degree certainly helped to open doors, but not to the job I really thought I wanted. But because I always seemed to be doing something interesting that paid money, a regular business plan just didn’t seem all that important. It was a gradual evolution. I also think I was in the right place at the right time with the right tools – on more than one occasion. Is this luck? Was it networking? Was it asking the right questions? Was it simply a different space and time? It certainly was building on past experiences.
In the class I teach – an introduction to voice acting at San Diego City College, I do emphasize that knowing their baseline abilities, their potential and where they fit in the business before starting to get into the business is paramount. Especially for those who are making a dramatic career change and starting from ground zero. And that includes an understanding of what it takes to actually make enough money for it to BE a business. Here a good business plan will help.
But my path was so different and seemed to keep me moving forward, so the occasional effort to write a business plan ended quickly with nothing accomplished, because nothing really needed to be accomplished. Perhaps I am delusional. I suppose that if my business plan had included getting a major market agent in order to take a swing at national commercials, I might be writing this blog from my vacation home in the tropics. Wait, I did have a major market agent in LA back in the 80’s, before the digital age. But that was back when I didn’t think I wanted to do voiceover work as a full-time gig, so my meandering took me down a different path. As the VO business emerged from this amalgamation, marketing plans met a slightly better fate.
2014 is already starting to plan itself – with “concrete” plans for April, May and June so far. And when we learn where FaffCon 7 is going to be, I will definitely be marking my calendar in order to be close to the first in line to sign up. Yet another marketing plan – or at least a more robust CRM plan – is still on my postcard from FaffCon 6, so as long as that is posted just above my monitor, I will probably give that another whack.
The day-to-day who to have lunch or dinner with still needs some work. It’s two days before New Year’s Eve and I am still figuring out what I am going to do and who I am going to do it with!