Innovating Through Artistry


In Entrepreneurial Tool Box on November 3, 2006 at 1:30 pm

Do you have an MBO? Its an acronym for Motivation By Objective. My father introduced me to it when I was in high school attending Interlochen Arts Academy. My father was a Harvard graduate, a criminal attorney, who turned into an entrepreneur, a business man, because he grew tired of defending criminals–understandably I think. He made a lot of money doing it, but he sure did not feel good about himself getting the bad guy off. I always respected him for that decision.

In any event, the purpose behind an MBO is to have an agenda that you are focused on, and that stays right in front of you always. My dad use to say, “think of it like keeping your eye on the ball”.  

An MBO is something bigger then a to do list. Its not something easy to cross off, but something big you are working towards that every day you have a choice about making progress towards or not.  For artistic types, while it is true most of us have discipline, it was required to perfect our skill, we also often get comfortable in our “zone” and dislike stretching beyond it.

MBO’s are designed to reach for something more and requires more from you.  The kind of things you put on a MBO list are those that when consistently done, will bring you to a whole new level in your life.

For me, in college, when I was starting my first business out of my dorm room, my first MBO was seemingly so basic yet really a challenge for me daily. I needed to be available to answer my phone and chat with customers a certain number of hours during the day, not letting the phone roll over into voice-mail instead. The reason this was so important is that I knew if my customers got to know me they would do business with me. Let’s face it, you can’t make friends with voice mail!

So I had to be very disciplined about not wasting time hanging out with a friend or spending extra time at school doing stuff I could be doing at home. Being consistent about doing this and creating in about six months, what started out as a big challenge, eventually became routine. It was at first terribly inconvient and required me often to think harder about the best way to manage my schedule. At first it did not seem to be for any good reason because the phone rarely rang.  It was months actually before the phone rang with any consistency. But what did happen in time, is that my potential customers soon figured out when they could reach me and seemed to call exactly during those times when I was around- because I was consistent in my availability.

One of the most important basic lessons in Entrepreneurship is to recognize that YOU are the reason your customers will come, shop and buy.  They want you! This is especially true in any type of a creative business.

So as you ponder your weekend plans, think about what you can do to make the talent, product, or creative output you have to offer the world more accessible. Start by making your own MBO.

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