The Team Option: Simply Smiles’ Current Business Model
The way I see it, an entertainer in my line of work has 2 methods to expanding their earning potential and building his or her business (not including selling merchandise or designs. That option doesn’t really interest me). The first, which is an expansion of a team, is the method that Simply Smiles has been beginning with. A clown only has so many hours in a day, right? The easiest way to make $1000 on Saturday seems to involved dividing up the work between 3 or 4 individuals, in order to stay competitive on price and offer services that are competitive to other services in the city.
Managing a team comes with obvious benefits, but also clear challenges. Some dates are busier than others, and to accommodate those dates an entertainment company needs to have more entertainers than they usually need. At the same time, I have to give all of these entertainers enough work so that they stay engaged. It’s difficult to strike a balance, and unforeseen circumstances can take away a reliable entertainer that has received extensive training and on-the-job experience that could have been passed on to someone else. The worst aspect, in my opinion, is putting your trust in a variety of different individuals. If an entertainer has to cancel, I’m the one who has to absorb the fallout from the client since I’m the one who promised them a services.
Option Two: Increasing my Personal Rate
Currently I charge $125 per hour with a 2 hour minimum. That’s a moderately high price, even in the Denver market. Several other entertainers charge slightly less than that, though they may not bring the breadth of skills that I do. Denver’s top magician (as far as I can tell), Keir Royale has packages ranging from $275-375. I recently read a book by Andrew Smith, a global balloon entertainer, about how to charge $1000 for a birthday party. I’m not sure I would take it that far, but marketing to clients in that income tier might actually have less competition than the markets I am currently pursuing.
It would take some work to get to that point, but I believe that I might be closer than expected. I would certainly need some new components of my act, but with preparation I could adjust much of what I do. Some changes would be large and mechanical: I would need a balloon show, preferably interspersed with some magic. Over time I would like to develop a magic show in addition to a balloon show. I would also need to change my mindset with balloons, planning to spend 5-6 minutes per creation rather than the 2-3 that I spend now. It’s not that I don’t have the ability to do that, but my mindset has always been to work quickly and provide a wide array of services.
Imagine a Smiles the Clown that emerges from the winter with an amazing balloon show, some magic, improved juggling and contact juggling skills, and more structured comedy. Not only does he perform at birthday parties, but he can be found honing his craft and blowing minds at local restaurants, all types of events, and even on the street. I have the tools to become the top in town, and one of the top in the country if I put my mind to it. I feel confident in my abilities to market to high net-worth clients and in my ability to find a way to make my show stand out from others.
The Plan: Combine the Two, Focus on the Second
These plans do not have to conflict with each other. I can still maintain and grow my team in Denver while I spend even more time training and developing new skills. My team has been performing well and growing steadily. Besides a few hiccups, things have been going very well. My team and I can continue to grow together and the entire company can make a move towards higher income clients. I’ve been networking with several individuals that are passionate about children’s entertainment, and have been considering some business alliances that could combine the efforts a few of the top balloon twisters in the city. I’ve developed a schedule for my training, marketing, and sales related to the new project. By the beginning of next year’s busy season (April-October), I plan to have an amazing balloon show, several magic tricks in my repertoire, more high-quality balloon designs, and a renewed focus towards being the best.