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Want A Successful Entertainment Career? Take Business Into Your Own Hands

Many business owners in our industry experience the same growing pain: there’s a struggle between doing the work you love and the demands of a business growing larger than you can manage. There’s a learning curve to business, and if you’re not prepared, it’ll cost you work, relationships, and most importantly, money.

My first years in the field I watched multiple businesses crumble up and close. One studio went into bankruptcy because the owner made some poor choices. Another studio I worked for laid off most of their staff in one day. As I saw this, I was also faced with the reality that I would probably have to run my own business someday. I decided to take a couple of business classes at a local community college and found them so helpful that I completed a business certificate and went freelance shortly after.

Since standard business courses aren’t typically part of arts/audio school curriculum, here’s a rundown of some useful classes and their application in the field.

Introduction to Business

This trains you how to think in terms of business and business opportunities. Before this, my boss and co-workers seemed more like friends than business colleagues. In actuality, decisions have to be made sometimes based on what’s best for the business. An intro to business class will likely teach how to write a business plan. This is important if you have any interest in growing a company beyond a “lifestyle business” or plan to find investors or funding for your business.

Entrepreneurship

An entrepreneur is someone open to taking more risks than the average business owner. This course was terrific for learning how to look for problems that need solutions, and how to turn those solutions into a business.

Accounting

An accounting course will teach skills like how to track spending, make and manage invoices, and business budgeting. The vital skill of a standard accounting course is learning how to make and read financial statements.  A “profit and loss” statement and a “balance sheet” will give you an overview of how healthy your business is financially. Be careful to pick an accounting course that is specifically geared towards small business and not for accountants in training.

Sales 

This class was learning how to sell but not in a “door-to-door salesman pressuring you into something you don’t want” kind of way.

Sales are about recognizing your strengths and what you have to offer and learning how to present that to people who may need it.

It’s been a helpful skill to have when meeting potential clients or pitching/bidding on a project.

Helpful takeaways

In our field, the odds are that you will be a freelancer/contractor at some point in your career. Business knowledge and skills are necessary for survival. If you have taken a freelance or contract gig, you are already a business owner in some sense of the word. Learning as much as you can about business will help you build confidence in asking for jobs and wages according to your needs.

If you can’t get out to take a business course in your local area, consider some of the online courses available. There are plenty out there that you can take on your own time. Ask around and get recommendations for ones that are most appropriate for the industry you are in.

If you are running your own business or contracting yourself out on freelance work, consider some of the online accounting software available. Keeping track of your invoicing, claims and payments can make tax time stress free when all the records are held in one location for the accountant’s easy reference.

A lot of things can be learned on the job – but business sense and management of money generally isn’t on an employer’s list of things to teach you, so ultimately you need to take the reigns and acquire the knowledge on your own volition to control your business and your career.

Article by Sound Girl: April Tucker

Published in cooperation with Soundgirls.org

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