A reader asked me to write on commercializing talent ‘the creative economy’. I have taken up the challenge and this will be part one of a two part series of posts looking into how we can get the best of our talents.
Now, the good bible says that everyone was made with a special talent in them. A few are lucky to know there’s clearly whereas for the majority of us we still haven’t found it out. This post will take the deliberate view of only talents expressed in the creative realms. How about we think of sports, performing and fine arts for now?
It is almost the in thing now for the youth to clamour for space to express their talents. While creative economy ecosystem slowly evolves, we still are faced with the double challenge of 1) convincing parents that it is ok to let your child to pursue their talent and live of it instead of struggling hard to become a doctor and, 2) convincing people that they have a role in growing the sector by investing in and buying from the sector rather than going for piracy or ignoring it altogether.
For those in the talent sector or those who might know guys in it indulge me. It is said that the easiest path to make money is in pursuit of talent. Try thinking of any celebs and big names you know and you will see that they are likely to be in talent business. Try to google how much sports people (Wanyama) earn per week, how much musicians make per performance or per sales of music, how much Michael Jackson still makes even after exiting this world?
To optimize on your talent, there are a few things that one needs to take care of
Is your personality right for talent business?
It is not enough to just know what your talent is. That’s just the beginning. You will need to be aware of yourself; your personality and your goals. You will then need to work on developing a personality consistent with your talents and goals. Being Self-aware means you will then be aware of what choices will facilitate your journey or which ones will form the distractions and barriers. It might be simple choices like avoiding to get into fights that might damage your face, avoiding eating yourself out of shape, or drinking your voice hoarse. Or it might be key decisions like how to deal with the publics that will either support or sabotage you. The talent sector world over is littered with guys with supreme talent who were messed up by gambling, drugs, violence etc. Can you manage yourself?
What is your product?
Then after you are settled with knowing yourself, you will need to define your product. It is true that there are multi-talented people. However, they are in the minority and even then, they make most of their money on one talent with the others just being for fun. Michael Schumacher was extremely talented with high speed cars racing and that is where he made his money. Football was something he did pretty well but only for fun. Same as Snow skating which eventually incapacitated him. So then you have to decide which product you will be offering and not over diversify; is it music, acting, football or acrobatics. Is it also possible you specialize in your talent instead of pretending to be a talented footballer when spending ¾ of your time working as a bank clerk?
Who is your market?
Once you are self-aware and are decided on your product offering then it is the turn to know your audience (market) very well. These are the people who will consume your work and pay for it. If you are not catering to their needs then you will end up only entertaining yourself. Are you a musician? Who are your audience what genre do they like? You will know those guys who really are so much moved by their music when the audience around them is just not feeling it. Have you seen those guys selling albums? The whole 12 songs albums; 3 gospel, 4 secular, 2 in Swahili, 2 in Swahili and English, 2 for etc. A complete confused album. Maybe out of the 12 songs there is really one that you might like. Are you going to spend money on an album just because of one song? Maybe not. Get to know your audience/market and offer them what they like.
Do you have the staying power?
Once you have decided on the pursuing your talents, you will need to then realize that just like in any career, there will always be people at different levels. What then moves you from the bottom level to the top of the food chain is your dedication and hard work. Talents have the habit of making things appear easy when done. Focus, focus and focus on your talent and journey. There is nothing worse than seing a talented actor or boxer working as a cleaner in Industrial area. Work hard and be patient. You will also find that there are people in your field who could add a lot of value in your work if you practice together and probably even collaborate the works.
How is your production?
Before the expression of the talent becomes so easy, there is so much training that goes into it. Sports people have to exercise at crazy hours doing painful and sometimes impossible routines. Guitarists will have spent so many hours with their guitar before it appears flawless. Usually, those guys who think they are superman and refuse to exercise don’t go too far. Just like all other businesses have to develop a products, test it, redevelop until they have just the right item for the market? You will have to work hard at yours. Unlike in hard product businesses, it’s not easy to sell rejects in talent business unless you want to be playing your music by the street-sides for coins instead of selling music and attending great shows.
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Are you investing in the right inputs?
You will need to start taking your talent as serious business. When other entrepreneurs are buying stock and equipment for their hustles you will want to invest in yours. If you invest in cheap low quality inputs your outputs will not be very different. Are you are into sports? You will need to stop with the Mtumba shoes and recycled second hand equipment. They are probably past their usefulness and in most cases will ruin you rather than enhance your productivity. Raise money to buy good quality tools and equipment to enable you live up to your dream.
How is your marketing?
It helps to have your core supporters to cheer you up through your formative phases. They are the people who will critic you, encourage you and be there when things aren’t working too well. It helps. Don’t work in hiding, always be available and give them the opportunity to get the first look at your work. Do not let an opportunity to showcase yourself to pass you by. As you being you might have to accept lesser fees or even free shows just to put yourself out there in the market. It’s that exposure that will enable you to take hard look at your progress and also allow others to show you where exactly you can improve. People will then know you and want to consume your product.
To be continued….