Magic Business/Non Profit Reference Material

Post topics about the business side of magic.
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Magic Business/Non Profit Reference Material

Postby MJLauck » September 26th, 2014, 10:13 am

I am looking seriously at returning to performing professionally again (I stopped years ago due to health issues which are now clearing up nicely now that I have the right diagnosis!) and maybe even starting a non-profit to provide character development/educational magic shows to schools. I have run a few businesses in my life (movie theaters, a small production company, martial arts school as well as freelance illustration and writing) and they have taught me that every business had its own pitfalls and unexpected issues. I have learned that research is important and that tapping into available resources specific to each industry is a very good idea.

Can anyone recommend good books to help me design business plans for non-profits or a kids' show business? I am looking for advice on rainy day funds, insurance strategies, special requirements I may be overlooking, how separate the for profit birthday parties and non-profit schools shows need to be on paper and even grant sources (for the non-profit). I am looking for business stuff at this point, not material. I have to see how bad of an idea this all this before I plunge ahead!

Thanks in advance, y'all.
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Re: Magic Business/Non Profit Reference Material

Postby billmccloskey » September 26th, 2014, 1:06 pm

Well, first I wouldn't register as a non-profit. I'd register as an LLC and do both your school shows and your kid shows under one financial umbrella. I have started and run 5 businesses, and my first was non-profit and it was a pain when I wanted to change it.

Early stage businesses are pretty much the same: I would spend almost no time on creating a business plan and I would spend all my time pitching my idea to everyone who might be a potential client to get their feedback. At this stage you want to pitch, pitch, pitch. The feedback you get will be invaluable and by the time you are through the process, you should have a pretty good idea of what you can charge, what the market it, and you should have some potential clients ready to go.

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Re: Magic Business/Non Profit Reference Material

Postby NCMarsh » September 26th, 2014, 2:30 pm


Love the vision. Love that you recognize what you're called to do. You wouldn't be coming back to it if you weren't.

Honestly, our brains are wired so that doing the thing we're born to do scares the hell out of us.

It feels like a massive risk, and our brain wants us to be comfortable -- but it doesn't want to feel the shame of calling that fear what it is so it invents beautifully reasoned justifications for all the reasons why we either can't do what we're called to do, or all the things we'll have to do to prepare for it.

These are, by and large, bullsh*t.

It's great that you have a vision for a non-profit arm. My strong advice would be to first build your revenue center -- get the business viable (and also do community work that builds you toward the non-profit, but don't think you have to first have your tax organization settled before you can roll up your sleeves) -- and once it is a "going concern" you can look into the niceties of tax law.

(Also, once you're at a scale to be concerned with insurance, tax status, organizational structure, the way to learn about those things is by paying a professional -- not reading a book)

Right now, though, there is nothing for you to organize.

Examples of people and organizations doing this (performing business + nonprofit) at a high level:

  • Jacob Weiss is a juggler/entrepreneur based in Nashville whose business -- Playing by Air Productions -- is complemented by aggressive non-profit work. He's a great guy and I'd suggest reaching out and seeing if he is open to a brief call as you try to figure the road ahead:
  • The Circus Arts Conservatory based in Sarasota, Florida is a non-profit that funds its work in the community -- in part -- from the entertainment business space -- producing amazing public shows and providing world-class acts for private events. Their community work is deep -- with extensive educational and therapeutic outreach. Worth looking at as one model of this kind of community/performing business balance. They are a large organization in our space, but started with two people in a garage.

  • Jeff Civilico, also a great performer entrepreneur, has built a great model with his "Win-Win Entertainment"

I'm not putting this list together to encourage trying to copy these models -- and you seem to have a clear vision of the kind of work that you want to be doing anyway -- but because having examples makes the possibility of this kind of enterprise more concrete. And that's critical.

The books and resources I'd recommend aren't about structure and organization -- as far as what you'd be "getting into" no book can tell you if your venture will be successful; you seem called to do this work and if that's true than whatever hurdles you have to jump over just need to be jumped over...but staring at them from hundreds of yards away won't help you make that jump

The resources I will recommend are around entrepreneurial mindset:

  • Gary Vaynerchuk's keynote (the full SM message is critical on a tactical level and well worth your time (as is everything from Gary, but the relevant part here is the story of his beginning his businesses. It doesn't start by asking "do I need to be an LLC, S-corp, or sole-proprietor," it starts by making doughnuts (and Gary uses strong language, even if that offends you -- I do suggest still watching as the content is worth a little discomfort)
  • Michael Dell's recent LinkedIn piece on the three P's of entrepreneurship: ... =prof-post
  • And, as mentioned above, Steven Pressfiled's The War of Art

Happy Hustling!


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