Sunday, October 28, 2012

Starting Out 2. Can They?

I love actors, I was one my self. I don’t know why (I have theories) but actors (for me) make the very best pupils I have ever had. Their nervous systems are like, alive! They are curious, willing to try anything and totally enthusiastic about every thing they learn. So it was no surprise to my staff when I announced in a meeting that I wanted to set up a special day-time course for actors.

It was a disaster. First, the price was too high. “We can’t afford that.” OK, so we reduced it, but then requested: we want you to stay longer, so it works for us too. “Sure, we can do that.” It started with a lot of promise, but then “Oh I am sorry, I have to stop now. Something’s come up.” The group fizzled - it was like trying to fill a bottle with a hole in the bottom of it.

Actors are wonderful pupils, but lousy for building a business. They have no money, they are not stable, and they are always changing their ideas, plans and purpose (other than being an actor of course). Burrowing the lawyers’ term - they are your pro bono clients. Your hobby clients. Your “gift” clients. You can not build a business with them alone.

Who can you build a business with? That’s the question you will ask if you are serious about building a successful career. Too many teachers I know start with their hobby clients, and never graduate to running a real business. That’s fine if teaching is just your hobby, but I hear from many teachers: “I need more work.” and they end up having to take a second job, because the reality of life is you need more money.

Well - which is better? Doing a job your don’t want to do, or graduating to clients outside your hobby box? So this is the litmus test of those new clients - can they afford lessons? Can they get to them? Are they used to having lessons?

Going back to actors: of course there are actors who can afford lessons. Lots of them. But finding them, enrolling them and keeping them requires huge skill that won’t be acquired by any other means than getting serious about understanding the basics of building a business.

Jean-Louis Rodrigue “…is an internationally recognized acting coach and teacher of the Alexander Technique, and a pioneer in its application to theater and film.” Jean-Louis’s a charming man, and HE is the one who is mobile, not the actors. He has had to shape a business that matches their needs, and he has done it brilliantly. Do you think he was an overnight success? That it all happened easily for him?

And it is true for you too. I tell my trainees that they need to start building their careers now. At BodyChance we aim to guide our students to graduate with a bevy of fans already banging at their door to get lessons. We have a long way to go, but building this culture is something every trainer of teachers needs to include in their job description.

It is in your own interests to do so. BodyChance is gaining in popularity in Japan because people notice that many of our graduates go on to teach as a full-time profession. That motivates them to jump in. It’s one of the reasons we have a 100 people in teacher education, and my guess is that will increase to 150 within a year or two.

So back to you. Back to your client. Ask the question - can they?

-       Pay for your lessons?
-       Keep coming to your lessons?
-       Get to your lessons?

Answer those questions with a unequivocal yes, and you are ready to move one…

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