Theatre has always been a passion of mine. I studied it in college. I love to see good acting. I love to see a production come together. I love the components and how they make up the whole. In many ways, I feel the same about seeing a business come together. I love to see the parts that make up the whole.
I fell in love with directing my senior year at Birmingham-Southern when I directed my first show. It was an amazing experience. I learned skills I never realized I would need in business. Skills that help me help entrepreneurs put together all of the legal pieces that make up a strong business. Studying theatre, even if you don’t realize it at the time, is a crash course in business.
Theatre is more than simply being on stage. Theatre is a business, and there is a product that must be produced.
Every. Single. Night.
We all know the phrase, “The Show Must Go On”. It is true in theatre, but it is also true in your business. Theatre is more than simply lights and entertainment. In theatre, you learn skills that are essential to business. I learned skills during my time in theatre that I use every day in my business systems and in my profession. I like to focus on aspects of my business that accentuate the skills I learned. I approach a startup business in much the same way as I approached directing a show. In theatre, you learn skills you don’t even realize you are learning. Skills like:
Putting on a production involves several moving parts. As a director, you must manage all elements of the project. As an actor, you must be aware of everything that is going on in the project. The technical staff must know where they fit into the overall production. Everyone is important. Without one piece, the quality of the final product will suffer. There may be no better way to learn project management than to be a part of producing a show. In fact, some of my fondest memories are during the January Term of my second year at Birmingham-Southern when we put on two shows on two different stages within one month. It was awesome! It surely prepared me for all of the juggling necessary to running a business.
Part of becoming a better actor is having a better understanding of people. To truly portray a character, it is important that you can see the world through the eyes of your character. This translates to negotiation and other conflict management issues I deal with on a regular basis. Sometimes, it is necessary to step back and try to see the issues you are negotiating through the eyes of the person across the table.
In theatre, sometimes it is the small things that make the final production pop. The hard work of the entire cast and crew is necessary. In theatre, you learn how to put in hard work to make your product excellent.
Knowing When it Isn’t Personal
There are a lot of business decisions to be made that cannot be based on your personal feelings for another person. Ultimately, your business must go on. That means, when money is tight, you may need to lay-off people that mean a lot to you. It means sometimes a vendor no longer makes sense even though the person providing the service is a good friend. The same is true in theatre. When I produced my Senior Project I chose a show that had only two actors. One male. One Female. I assure you, I had many friends who auditioned for the show. Decisions were tough, but roles were few. It wasn’t personal. The same is true in your business.
Making it Work
Sometimes everything doesn’t go right. Sometimes, you don’t have time to fix the problem. You just have to press on. This is true in business too. Sometimes, things don’t work out the way you want them to. The lesson to learn is that you need to fix it the best you can and keep moving forward. You can’t run your business looking at all of the mistakes of the past. You can, however, build something amazing by learning from the mistakes you made in the past.
Speaking with clients, podcasting, speaking to audiences about what I do, sharing advice with prospects and students, and appearing in court are some of the ways I rely on the presentation skills I learned in theatre. I use these skills every day. This has been an invaluable part of my development as a business owner and as a lawyer.
I am thankful everyday that I spent my time in the theatre before finding the law and entrepreneurship. Those skills have helped me create and run the business I have now.
What about you?
What did you learn from your life before starting your business? I learned a lot from theatre. I use what I learned every day in my business.
What did you do before you started your business? How does what you did before you found your passion impact the way you operate each day?
I will talk to you next week, unless you talk to me first 😉