Of trees and ladders

I helped someone find their business tree!!!!!!

Maybe you’re wondering what that means.  You know, business trees?

Actually, I made that term up.

I made it up after I was talking with Ben about a business meeting he had with a local choreographer (over beers, of course).  She was talking about working artists and ladder danger.  (Actually, I think I made that term up, too.)

Ladder danger is creating a career largely out of opportunities that depend on getting the grant or being given the performance opportunity.  It might looks like this:

The danger is that it has your putting a lot of energy into developing work for one type of audience– the audience that likes to sit in their finery and pay $30 for a ticket to see art.  The danger is that someone has to say YES to you- and this doesn’t always happen.  And, the danger is that you don’t have any kind of guaranteed stability when you reach the top of the ladder– what do you do when the funding runs out?

This artist Ben was talking to brought up  branching– finding lots of different ways to create and deliver work in the community and across the country, too.  I think this is really smart.  I think it’s really smart for all kinds of people who work for themselves- not just artists.

So, I thought some more about it, and made a business tree.  I thought a lot about how we can all guarantee a little more stability in a field that is, well, unstable.

And, ever the weekend, I worked with a really kick-ass small business owner on developing her business tree– creating methods for stability in the health coaching business that she’s starting.

The business tree has three main branches, and, unlike the ladder, only one of them directly involves the product that you’re producing.  The rest of the tree is about developing support– finding people to collaborate with (especially people outside of your field!), finding new audiences, and developing content that translates the work you’re making.  In other words: finding new ways to say this is what I do, and this is why you should care about it.

And, the idea is that off of these three main branches, you develop lots of little tiny branches (that might intersect with one another), brainstorming many ways of developing connections, material, and ways of sharing it.

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