Tips for Running Your Acting Business, Part One: “Check-Ins”

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Deborah Smith_(1)Congratulations! You are a proud business owner. As an actor, you own a business whose sole purpose is to sell yourself to buyers in the form of casting directors. I am sure you have heard this before, but have you really taken the time to figure out what owning a business means?

Besides tax deductions and websites, there are some fundamental business strategies that are followed by every successful business from the Chinese shop down the street to the next big ‘thang in Silicon Valley. Today I will talk about the most important one. The strategy that is one hundred percent relevant to your acting business. The strategy that you should start doing TODAY, because the ways in which it will further your career will blow your mind.

The most important strategy is check-ins. This strategy is so important in the business world that stocks rise and fall dependent on the results announced at quarterly meetings. You, like these fortune 500 companies, have an evolving end goal that you are striving towards. Whether that is a lead on a tv show or winning an Oscar, your goal and strategic path towards that goal must have check-ins to keep you on track. Of course there is not one road that you are following, and no winning business formula, but the strategy is the same for every actor, no matter where they started or where they are going.

So what are check-ins anyways? While it makes sense to have a strategic plan that you are following, a path that is entirely unique to you, that plan must evolve to incorporate external factors that hinder your progress. Basically, a check in is a way to roll with the punches but stay on track to your stardom. Personally, I love monthly and quarterly check-ins, but you may need more consistent accountability, so follow whatever structure works for you. The main thing is to use these check-ins as a way to see where you have been, what you are doing currently, and where you are headed next.

Whether you decide to do daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly check-ins, the structure is the same. Look at your end goal, break it up into achievable bite sized goals, and work backwards. Check in with yourself about your successes and failures from the previous period and adjust your goals according to those factors.

For example, if your end goal for the month is to finish your reel, some of your bite-sized check-ins might be: examine your current footage, determine what your reel needs, contact a friend to help you shoot new scenes or hire someone to do so, cut the reel, get feedback from friends, upload finished reel to website and casting sites. Assign each bite-sized goal to a specific day in the next month and write it down in your calendar. It is crucial to have these dates written in your calendar because it will keep you more accountable.

When you get to your first goal check-in, determine if you have achieved it or not. If you have: yay! If you have not, look at why you haven’t. Maybe you booked a role that took precedence or maybe you had to go home to help with a sick family member. Whatever the reason, you can now readjust your future goals depending on that check in. Do you need more time? More money? Do you need even smaller goals? Some people need daily check-ins to feel like they are moving forwards. No matter the time between check-ins, use those goals as a way to celebrate your successes, examine your pitfalls, and strategize for the future.

Whatever breakdown works for you, it is important to figure out your own check-in style. How often do you need to hold yourself accountable? This will also assist you in other aspects of your acting life like auditioning or memorizing lines.

Additionally, do you need an accountability buddy to keep you on track? Look at these companies in Silicon Valley. They are accountable every quarter to millions of people who have invested in them. Who can help you achieve your success? Family members or friends? Schedule a meeting with your accountability buddy that aligns with your goal. It is much harder to explain to someone else that you didn’t finish your reel because you were just feeling lazy.

So, let’s recap. What do Show Business, a Chinese Shop, and Silicon Valley have in common? A desire to succeed, a rough individual path to get there, and check-ins to stay accountable to their goals. Try it for the next month, let me know how it’s going, and stay tuned next month for another business strategy related to your acting business!

Deborah Lee Smith

About Deborah Lee Smith

Deborah Lee Smith is an actress and producer whose love of performing, storytelling, and new experiences has led to filming projects around the world. Originally from LA, she studied Theater and English Lit at UC Berkeley before moving to Australia to pursue her master’s degree in Film Production. She started acting in the Australian film industry before returning to LA and diving head first into acting and discovered a love of producing. Currently, she has two films in post-production that she has starred in, and has received several awards for her acting and producing work. Additionally, she has partnered with another incredible female producer to create Deep Sea Pictures, a full-service production company that has several projects in various stages of development. She believes in working hard, playing hard, exploring the world, and supporting others to tell stories that expand our understanding of the world and the people, places, and things that reside within it!