Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in acting workshop, but not sure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Andy Garrison, acting coach at ATS - the Actor Training Studio based in Kansas, USA. Andy has extensive formal training in acting, voice and movement.
Tell us all about your business...
Actor training; We work with everyone from beginners to professional actors. While primarily a studio for adult actors, we do have coursework available for actors under the age of 18 too.
What's your background and motivation to grow as a solopreneur?
I started acting at age 17 and never looked back. I knew I wanted to teach but didn't think it would be as early as it was when I was 35. And I never thought I'd open my studio until I saw that another studio operator was doing exactly what I wanted to do -- help actors every day to find a process through this fascinating craft, continue acting and continue directing. I started with 6 students in 1998 and grew from there, hanging on during both the Great Recession and pandemic. People are really hungry to express themselves through the storytelling of all kinds. That's what we're here to help them do.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Seeing students of mine put themselves out there and find their career, at whatever level of work they find it.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a solopreneur?
Probably the up and down cycles, both long and short term. It took me a long time to figure out what the yearly cycles are in the acting studio business. Absences with little or no notice from students is an ongoing challenge, as is not letting that reflect on my view of myself as a teacher and business operator.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Form a mission statement for your business that has nothing to do with revenues, but with what value you bring to your customers.
- Write a business plan that considers your overhead, forecasts beginning revenue conservatively & how much if any, the money you'll need to borrow to make it through your first year.
- Reinvent your business -- I did this after six months, then two years, then five years, then 10-12 years. Reinvent what your core work is and how your business practices support that core work.
What are some of the things you put in place to maintain a healthy work/life balance and to keep it all together?
I take a day off -- the same day -- every week. I also try to practice empathy for my students when they can't do what they've said they intend to. People's lives change, especially these days.
Who are some of your favorite entrepreneurs and why?
I like the Stephen Covey books, especially First Things First. I also try to find new materials for how I teach. And I love the Brene Brown material on vulnerability, on several levels.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Decide what you need your business to do, to be fulfilling for you. As an acting studio operator, I decided to continue as a boutique operation. As opposed to expanding to the point where I'd be administrating more than I was teaching. You need to balance your joy, in the work with your need to earn a living and grow - there are seasons for each. Over the long run, finding that balance between treasuring the journey and grinding for growth is what has worked for me.
Where can people find you?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share then email firstname.lastname@example.org, we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.