30 August 2017

Artists on the Threshold of Entrepreneurship



www.kopihangtuah.blogspot.com





Copyright © 2017 by
Dr. Abdul Rahim Said
mihardias@gmail.com
Business Coach and Mentor




AT THE BALAI SENI NEGARA'S (BALAI SENI) YOUNG ART ENTREPRENEURSHIP (YAE) BOOTCAMP 2017, one of the participants asked, "Now that I have completed forty hours of training, can I call myself an art entrepreneur?" No one responded. Only broad smiles around the table. He continued, "To be a private pilot all you need is a minimum of forty hours of flying! The same number of hours we spent here, in this Bootcamp". He is right. I looked it up in Wikipedia.
Amongst other requirements, the trainee pilot must complete at least a total of forty (40) flying hours. But the trainee cannot call himself a pilot just yet, until he is awarded a private pilot license (PPL). The requirements extend beyond the basic forty flying hours. In fact, out of the total, the trainee must also complete ten hours of solo flight, five hours of which must be cross-country "flying from one airport to another, at least 50 nautical miles away". Besides, in case of the US, the candidate has to pass the the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) Private Pilot written examination followed by taking a Private Pilot Oral and Practical Flying examination.
The similarity between pilot training and entrepreneurship Bootcamp ends at the total number of hours involved. At the Bootcamp there was no examination and no supervising agency to certify a candidate deemed qualified to be an art entrepreneur. But more importantly, unlike the pilot, an art entrepreneur is not supposed to be able to perform a specific function. For example, he is not expected to fly a machine or drive a vehicle after the Bootcamp.
My answer to the question as to whether a person may call himself an entrepreneur at the end of the Bootcamp, is simply, yes you can! Even without undergoing forty hours of Bootcamp you can safely brand yourself as an entrepreneur. If you plan to involve yourself in art business you can always hang up a sign board in front of your premises to promote your activities.
There are many walking around us who are academically unqualified, do not go to bootcamps, do not even have Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia or possess enough experience, yet take pride in calling themselves entrepreneurs. So, can anyone call himself an entrepreneur then? By the way, what exactly is an entrepreneur? And who qualifies to be called one?
The Wikipedia Business Dictionary defines an entrepreneur as someone who "exercises initiative by organizing a venture to take benefit of an opportunity and, as the decision maker, decides what, how, and how much of a good or service will be produced".  The Bootcamp "graduate" has yet to exercise his initiative and organize a venture from which he expects to benefit. He has not established an entity within which he may exercise his decision on what, how and how much goods or services to be produced.
So, I advised the Bootcamp graduate, "Get yourself a vehicle that you can drive. Use it as a means where you would like to go and at what speed".
The Bootcamp rookie looked surprised! "What vehicle?" He asked.
"You need to register a company", I replied as one of the participants who already had a company of his own before joining YAE, burst out laughing. 
"What company?" He responded. More laughter from the one who already had a company and was dishing out his business cards to other participants in the seminar room. As a prerequisite, to be an entrepreneur, you would need a vehicle, not a car but a business entity.
We took the six of the seven newly minted art entrepreneurs to the Companies Commission of Malaysia or Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia (SSM) and made everyone register a sole proprietorship. That was the first time most of them have ever heard of the term "sole proprietorship". For the six artists enrolled in Balai Seni's YAE scheme, this was an alien concept. Outside the SSM one of the bright eyed young artist, questioned her handler,  "Why do I need a company? I am an artist. Many artists I know, don't have such things!"
She was absolutely right. To quote Dato' Dr. Mohd Najib Dawa, the Director General of Balai Seni, who inspired the creation of YAE, "Artists who peddle their art on city streets do not even know where to register a company. Let alone, owning one!" The easy answer is "Of course you need one to conduct business as an art entrepreneur!" But the executive from Balai Seni told her, "We require all artists in YAE scheme to register and own a company to be an art entrepreneur".
Artists are not business people. They do not think like a business person. For an artist, the first thought in the morning is to put on canvas what went through his mind the night before. On the other hand, for the business man, daily thought revolves around "Where is the next Ringgit coming from?" Or "What do I do with my company today?"
To change the mindset of an artist who thinks creatively with the right brain to make better use of his analytical left, it may take more than forty hours. But suffice to say that artists are not tuned into business thinking. We have to help them get started.
That is the raison d'ĂȘtre of YAE!
They eventually came to our way of thinking. Everyone agreed to register their own sole proprietorships. Under the watchful eyes of their handlers, they filled in the application forms, queued patiently and one by one, obtained permission, to proceed using their own names, for their sole proprietorships. Unfortunately, that day the online payment system was down. They were asked to make payment online the following day and would be issued with a business license thereafter.
All our Bootcamp graduates are now proud owners of their own unique companies:

  1. Teh Nadira Art Collection
  2. Jesicca Kuok Art Production
  3. FYY.FINE ART STUDIOS
  4. A.FIKRIL FINEART
  5. Bop Sopan Fine Art

"Each of us have our business license, can we now call ourselves entrepreneurs?" Asked one artist who was holding up his license fresh from the printer and a few designs for his business card. At this juncture, I was not sure whether he felt the same way the trainee pilot did, when issued with a license to fly.
"You have a business license. Yours is similar to those issued to other professionals like doctors, lawyers, accountants or architects! You now have a registered business license to practice as a professional artist!" But I am sure it would take a little longer before they could fly away out of the YAE enclave as entrepreneurs or top flight professional artists. A thought crossed my mind, "We may have more work to do before that happens!"
The executive from Balai Seni did not wait for me to reply. "We will be taking you to a bank to open your company accounts, two days from now. Before that you'd need to make company rubber stamps". Blank expressions appeared on young faces in front of me. One of the artists who is familiar with the industry that carves names of companies on tiny blocks made of rubber, volunteered to help, calming down everyone, "Don't worry, I can get yours done in one day!"
As it turned out the bank could open accounts without rubber stamps. They returned to YAE enclave at the Balai Seni beaming, "Hey boss, my business card, my company registration and account number! Are we not entrepreneurs?" We were seated at a round table in the largest container designed to be the showroom for all their finished art work.
"Congratulations, you are now artists each with a company registered as sole proprietorship with SSM that you can legitimately operate. Of course, you have a company account to be used to transact your art business. You are not an entrepreneur. Not yet!"
"Why not?"
I pointed to the Wikipedia Business Dictionary definition and repeated parts of its contents, "You are just someone who "exercises initiative by organizing a venture" but has not taken the benefit of any opportunity and I have yet to see you act like "a decision maker, to decide on what, how, and how much of a good or service will be produced".  I paused a while and watched them digest the information. "You are still far away from being an entrepreneur. You only have a vehicle not even a venture. Your company, your bank account and name cards are just means to an end". I studied the eager faces and added, "You are just on the threshold of entrepreneurship. You are not there yet!"
However, I was certain they could be entrepreneurs soon enough. We have designed a residency of six months at the Balai Seni. During that next six months they will produce works of art under the supervision of dedicated coaches and mentors. During their residency, they will act and behave like true entrepreneurs making calculated decisions "on what, how, and how much of the goods or services they will produce". 
During that period too, I am certain they will, as Joseph Alois Schumpeter, the originator of the concept of entrepreneurship, defined, that these artists will act as risk takers in "monitoring and controlling their business activities as sole owners of their ventures". They will be "motivated by profits, purely as a standard to measure success", hopefully without neglecting their artistic pursuits.
At the YAE enclave on the grounds of Balai Seni, we shall be turning out entrepreneurs who are themselves artists. They will complete their six months residency with values that Schumpeter discovered amongst entrepreneurs in the 19th century.
Finally, I am confident, they will emerge from the shipping containers as individuals who "greatly value self-reliance, strive for distinction through excellence, are highly optimistic (otherwise nothing would be undertaken), and always favor challenges of medium risk (neither too easy, nor ruinous)"



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Young Art Entrepreneurs (YAE!); An Idea Worth Repeating - By Dr. Rahim Said (Others Who Spoke 7 Part 2 : Fuelling the Kreativ Malaysia)



www.kopihangtuah.blogspot.com





Copyright © 2017 by
Dr. Abdul Rahim Said
mihardias@gmail.com
Business Coach and Mentor



"DO YOU THINK WE SHOULD REPEAT THIS IDEA? This concept of selecting a group of talented young artists and train them to be entrepreneurs. Is it worth doing over and over again?" Balai Seni Negara's (Balai Seni) Director General (DG), Dato' Dr. Mohamed Najib Dawa, who sat across the table from me, at breakfast on the second floor of the Balai Seni, sipping his hot black local coffee, wanted to know whether the Young Art Entrepreneurs (YAE) development scheme that he pioneered, was worth repeating. 
It's the second week of August. The YAE was hardly three weeks old. The artists who just completed their Bootcamp two weeks earlier were in the throes of getting themselves organized and the DG was already anxious about the next step. I chose not to answer him directly. Instead I told him about Ray Croc, the man credited with the success story of McDonald's. I told him that Ray Croc repeated an idea initially developed by the McDonald brothers and turned it into the most successful franchise in history.
As a result, by the end of 2016, there were 36,899 McDonald's restaurants in 120 countries employing 375,000 people and serving 68 million customers a day. The McDonald brothers, according to Ray, were quite content with a few restaurants. But Ray Croc decided to duplicate an idea worth repeating more than thirty six thousand  times.
"Wow, if only we could do that with art! That's what I am looking to monetize art!" Looking back now it seems easy for Ray Croc to repeat the idea. But it took a great deal of effort on Croc's part to achieve his dream of making McDonald's into such a successful venture. Franchising is now known in the industry as one of the fastest method to expand a business. Many have repeated what Ray Croc did. In fact, most successful brands in United States of America emerged as a success through franchising.
Dato' Najib looked at me, with a twinkle in his eye. He flashed me a broad smile. Then asked, "Can we possibly do that with YAE?" I hated to tell him that art is not like burgers. People do not normally chew on art as they would with burgers. But franchising YAE is a definite possibility. Dato' Dr. Najib envisioned at least one YAE in every state. Through this mechanism he believes the country could develop more business savvy artists.
However, in the immediate future, Dato' Dr. Najib could not wait to select another crop of young artists by middle of January 2018 to replace the current group. But at the same time, his eyes were already focused on five to ten years into the future, even way into 2050. He told me his big dream of reaching out to the people through visual art, occasionally mentioning other areas, like performing art.
That morning we deliberated on how to proceed with the YAE career development scheme. We agreed that in 2018 we ought to select at least double the number of the class of 2017. So, he set a target of fourteen or fifteen students for YAE. But both of us knew such incremental growth would not be good enough to achieve his dream of monetizing art. He wanted more and in a shorter time frame. So, I suggested we ought to go nationwide.
First, YAE has to be branded. We would move forward nationwide under one brand. The brand should embody all the ideas it represents. This process may require some time but it would not take long to get the brand registered. Then we shall assemble a team to develop its identity kit and the manuals that would help implementers deliver the YAE message systematically.
At the same time, we would need some endorsement perhaps from the Ministry of Education to give it some form of accreditation. Simultaneously, we should be approaching all state governments and sell them the idea of building enclaves out of shipping containers that symbolize the concept and brand of YAE. At this time, it would also be ideal to get the commercial sector involved in donating containers and constructing such enclaves throughout the country. That could side step the bureaucracy involved in proceeding with the idea. Most state governments would hold back a good idea when they are hampered by shortage of funds.
A friendly non-governmental body like "Friends of YAE", if established, could advance the idea more quickly. For instance, an aggressive NGO could raise funds for a good cause faster than we could get the Treasury to finance a project where there is no provision in the annual state budget. If these could be well orchestrated, there will be thirteen YAEs throughout the country in less than 24 months. With each centre providing initial training for 25 young artists we could generate 325 business-savvy artists per year. Over the next thirty years, that is by 2050, we are looking at 9,750 young artists who would have gone through the system.
We expect each artist to produce about 20 pieces during the six months spent at the enclave that could fetch an average price of RM3,000 per piece. Over thirty years the monetary value generated through YAE could reach a staggering RM585,000,000. Dato' Dr. Najib laughed out loud and said, "Now, that's what I love to see through this concept of 'monetizing' art!"
We may not have to wait thirty years to see the idea blossoms. Instead of thirteen enclaves we could have five in every state, yielding a total of 65 art enclaves within three years. Let's say we increase the class to 25 per year, we could train 1,625 artists. If each were to generate RM60,000 in value, per year, we could attain at least RM 97,500,00 by 2021.
However, these are mere conjecture at the moment but if Ray Croc could repeat an idea and turned it into a billion dollar success story, there is no reason why Dato' Dr. Najib could not achieve his objective with his concept of YAE. "Yes, Dato', you should repeat the YAE idea because it is worth doing, for the sake of art!" I told him as I was confident he could realize his dream within his life time. The sooner he embarks on it, the better it will be for art. 



* kopihangtuah





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