Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Two Approaches

Sometimes someone else's thinking is so unlike your own that it throws you for a moment.

I have been working on this Kickstarter campaign ("Oh, what's that, Lori? You have a Kickstarter project? You should have said something! " said absolutely nobody at all.) While remaining optimistic, I have been prepared for the possibility that it will not reach its funding goal, and therefore fail, Kickstarter being an all-or-nothing deal. Since the project - to convert all my ^10 reduction soda glazes to ^6 reduction soda, hopefully seamlessly - is a really good idea, I plan to make it happen one way or another; which means thinking about how I will fund all those unprofitable test firings and glaze ingredients. How exactly that will happen is not what I am here to write about today.

Instead, my mind got hung up on something a friend (let's call him Mr. Business Guy) said to me when I mentioned this to him. He shook his head vehemently and said, "No. Work without a net. If you build yourself a backdoor, you won't push as hard; you won't try every possible avenue, call in every favor, take every reasonable action to make it happen."

This struck me at first as sort of nuts; my approach has ever been to always, always have a back-up plan. Why deliberately allow your options to be only either full success or absolute failure? He really is better at business than I am, though, which shows in our circumstances, so I was not inclined to dismiss this advice out of hand. Was Mr. Business Guy right? Do my Plans B hold me back? I think of the years I worked part time at an office job, unable to commit fully to the world of conventional work or to my true calling. Should I have made the leap years before, and let my terror of being homeless provide the impetus to success?

Maybe, if money was the sole bottom line. This is often how I come down on issues regarding business practices for artists. If would be so much easier if all we wanted was to make money. Easier, but so much duller. We serve dual bottom lines: money, as in, enough to live on; and our aesthetic: that which makes us artists in the first place. Having no financial plan b might have pushed me harder to sell pots; and it might have forced me to sacrifice the aesthetic bottom line.

The campaign is at 71% funding, with 10 days to go. There is reason to be optimistic, so maybe all this fretting over Plan B will be unnecessary. However, more generally, as an approach to business, to life, to accomplishing anything, I'm still on Team Back-up Plan.

4 comments:

Tom Erb said...

A back up plan to early divides your mental energy and thus increases the probability of failure. The kickstarter part of the project is 2/3 done and the money raised so far is 2/3. If the pace is the same a little less energy might mean failure whereas a little more might mean success. In all probability you can coast till the end but why take the risk.

On a different point the aesthetic of the work is what brings the money. You'll make more money throwing the pots you want verses the ugly pots you think will make you money (for a 100 reasons). Not committing fully to the kickstarter phase (by having a backup plan immediately) is all about fear that you can't do it (a huge emotion that comes out all over the place for all of us). I know you can complete the fund raising aspect of this project if you put whatever energy is required to get it done. The same energy you will tap to complete the con 6 phase of the project whether you have the money or not. You are simply going to find a way to make it work.

Your assets include many friends, a great project, decent cognitive ability, artistic talent and the list goes on. Learning to make enough money doing what you love will only help you to do what love all the time. Control over one's time is liberty.

Great job so far,

Mr. Business

Lori Watts said...

I can tell you, as can any studio potter, that the pots that serve the potter's aesthetic are rarely the easy ones to sell. This is because we as a culture have an aesthetic conditioned to manufactured goods. We often have to choose between making pots that we feel are good and making money. It becomes part of the artist's job to find the people who want to buy what we want to make.

John Fraser said...

It seems to me your plan A is to change the way you fire your pottery. As with any plan, as you proceed, feedback comes in, and the plan can change accordingly. (Perhaps you put out the word - as you are - that you're almost there and can folk help you with this final push.) Hopefully what is written for plan A - if anything - is not too comprehensive, so that it is open to ready modification without you having wasted much time.
In keeping with this, my business plan fits on one side of one sheet of paper, and I try to keep project plans to 1 or 2 sentences long (where I'm planning on going), with everything else being next step experiments with the written parts of these merely forming short daily To Do lists.
I keep a creativity blog that has more about planning and related matters. See www.jf-creativity.com.
Best wishes
John

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