Tag Archives: ashley

Our Criteria

Following the ‘Doability Chart’ laid out in Effectual Entrepreneurship, the five of us have decided upon the following criteria in order to decide upon a business venture:

  1. Is it doable?

  • Can we accomplish it with our skills in two months with $100?
(Or do we know people can and are wiling to help us accomplish it?)
  • Do we have the technology and marketing knowledge and capabilities to achieve this?
  • Is there an audience/market for this?
  1. Is it worth doing?
  • For the $? For our grad school student sanity?
  • Will we break even?
  • How many hours a week can we each commit to this project?
  • We promise to respect each other’s time!
  1. Can we do it?
  • Do we have the skills, time, resources, social capital to make this happen?
  • We will respect each other’s limitations!
  1. Do we want to do it?
  • We are striving for 100% consensus.
  • We promise to be genuine and honest about our passions!

You Gotta Use What You Got

“Sticking very closely to who you are, what you know, and who you know not only tells you what to do, it is also very useful in telling you what not to do.” [1]

     I’d say the above advice heeds well in many life situations, such as taking an unfamiliar job or going on a blind date. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t take risks and maybe go out with someone who isn’t our type, per say; but having an acute sense of self-awareness can serve us well. Maybe it’s just me, but the times I’ve dated someone whose fundamental beliefs were not in line with mine never ended well. I pride myself in being a fairly self-aware person, and although a little red flag was waving around in my gut, I just didn’t listen. So that didn’t end well. Anyone else? Just me? Okay, moving past the dating metaphor: understand who you are and, to quote the rarely produced musical, The Life: “Remember to use whatcha got to get everything you want.”[2]

     Chapter 6 of Effectual Entrepreneurship stresses the importance of being means-driven versus goals-driven, an idea that perhaps hadn’t occurred to me previously. I love making personal goals for myself, maybe even thrive on it, but as this chapter explains, the problem is goals don’t inspire us to take action right now. As I read the chapter, I realized my to-do list is what makes me take action, not necessarily my lofty goals for where I’d like to be after graduation in 2 years. When I write these to-do lists, I’m being means-driven, or understanding what I can and cannot accomplish and just going for it. After all, I know I can clean the bathroom today and I know exactly how to go about accomplishing that; I’m not sure the first step towards publishing my plays and having them produced to wild, international success (uhh…). Goals can be lofty and scary. If we as entrepreneurs are means-driven, we will not wait for a blockbuster idea, or thousands of start-up cash to begin the venture; rather, we will be inspired to take action because we have a clear idea of where to begin.

So how do we know what our means are? In class on Wednesday, we worked on understanding who we are, what we know and who we know, which will add up to what we have, or the resources with which to work. First, we ranked our top five values from a list of 30+, including honesty, faith, humor, health, integrity, passion, success, work, wealth and so on. Writing our values on post-its, they were then stuck to the wall for everyone to check out. There were some definite overlaps, like humor and integrity/honesty, which is a good sign, I’d say.


As we worked our way through the chart, scribbling down our passions and hobbies and ruminating over our knowledge bases and professional networks, there was a fair amount of overlap. We are all about the same age, all studying for Master of Fine Arts degrees at the same school, so performance skills, theatre production skills and the names of faculty at ASU popped up again and again. Nevertheless, as working artists, we do have a wide network of connections across the state, and I am extremely excited to see which resources we can leverage as we begin our business venture.

Our yellow post-its will continue to be used tomorrow when we begin the ideation process. I look forward to challenging myself to remain means-driven over goals-driven and keeping in mind who I am, what I know and who I know in order to understand what I have to contribute to the group.


[1] Read, S., Sarasvathy, S., Dew, N., Wiltbank, R., Ohlsson, A-V. (2011) Effectual Entrepreneurship. New York: Routledge.

[2] Use What You Got Lyrics. http://www.metrolyrics.com/use-what-you-got-lyrics-a.html.

Toilet Paper, M&M’s and Our First Class

Welcome to our blog and my first post of the semester! My name is Ashley and I’m a second year Theatre for Youth MFA student at ASU. As a TFY student (or really as any MFA student), I’ve found there are so many avenues to explore: teaching, mentoring, writing, performing, producing, directing. I’m pursuing many of them, but most of all, I am interested in creating something new: innovative community projects, original plays, exciting programs for youth. This interest in how to create something original and innovative lead me to enroll in THP: 552 Arts Entrepreneurship. Most of the articles we’ve read over the last two weeks have been extremely out of my familiarity zone (or my circular flow of equilibrium, heyyy Schumpeter?) but they have lead me to realize one very important thing about arts entrepreneurship: it begins with a vision. How one arrives at that vision, how one facilitates the fruition of that vision and what one gains from that vision seem to be where the debate occurs. However, the vision for innovation is most important. Of course, anyone can have a great idea. I feel like I have SO MANY great ideas right as I am drifting off to sleep, but solely having ideas does not an entrepreneur make. On Barry’s Blog, Andrew Taylor says, “Innovation is more than a great idea, it’s the application of that idea to bring real value to people.”[1] I am looking forward to exploring the “hows” in the application process this semester.

As an artist with a background in performance, I especially connect with how Linda Essig defines arts entrepreneurship. She says it is, “the application of entrepreneurial action in the service of art,” and urges entrepreneurs to keep art at the center of business ventures. Other posts on Barry’s Blog also emphasize the need for passion, confidence and guts,[2] which are things I simultaneously think I need more of, but already possess as well.

At the end of our first class last Wednesday, Linda passed around a roll of toilet paper with instructions to, “take as much as you need for the rest of the day.” A bit apprehensively, we all did so. Then, she passed around a bowl of M&M’s, giving us the same directions. Everyone took noticeably less candy than toilet paper. Clearly, the five of us weren’t too wild about chocolate, but it was an experiment in the utilitarian versus the hedonic, or our needs versus our wants. Sometimes, the very basic things we need to survive are free, like water (usually). Many times, we are willing to spend way more money on items that we want, especially if they are scarce. Nowadays, Broadway tickets are $100-$120 per seat, partly due to the consumer’s belief that they are seeing the best theatre New York, maybe even the world, has to offer. There’s only one Broadway, so those ticket prices are worth it, right?

This semester, I’m excited to collaborate with my classmates to create a business of some kind and after the toilet paper/M&M experiment, I’m especially looking forward to trying to create something that is both utilitarian and hedonic. Is that possible? I look forward to letting you know!


[1] Taylor, Andrew. (2014, May 29). Arts Entrepreneurship Blogathon-Day 5. Retrieved from http://blog.westaf.org/2014/05/arts-entrepreneurship-blogathon-day-5.html.

[2] Essig, Linda. (2014, May 25) Arts Entrepreneurship Blogathon-Day 1. Retrieved from http://blog.westaf.org/2014/05/arts-entrepreneurship-blogathon-day-1.html