Starting a business is easy, maintaining one is another matter completely. I have been fortunate enough to have kept my video production business (Daniel Alexander Films) alive and well for many years now, but it’s been no easy task. During this time i have discovered many lessons and factors into effectively keeping a business not only operational but respectfully successful too. I hope that a few of the lessons i learned along the way will help some of you also.
- IF YOU DON’T HAVE CUSTOMERS, YOU DON’T HAVE A BUSINESS
This is a lesson I had to learn quickly. Having a passion for something is all well and good, and there is nothing wrong with doing what you love for just personal fulfilment, but that is not a business. HOWEVER, if you are serious about turning that passion into a functioning business that will replace working a 9-5 job, then you now have to realise that
no matter how much you love doing a thing, or how good you are at it, if you don’t have any customers then you don’t have a business.
Which leads me on to my next point…
2. GET NEW CUSTOMERS AND GROW YOUR NETWORK
Potential customers are everywhere. We are living in a digital age where everything is visual. it literally has never been a better time for you to build your customer database. Whether you shoot music videos, produce adverts or make films, every organisation, business and artist is in need of professional visual representation. When I first started out, I found it difficult to find people who were willing to pay for what I could do. That was largely due to the fact I wasn’t presenting myself properly and not reaching out to people outside of my comfort zone. I quickly learned that if i wanted to be in business, I would have to look and act like a business too (even if i didn’t feel like it).
This meant creating new email addresses, an official website with my work and also a separation of my personal and business presence on social media. Instead of messaging people inside my network I would reach further afield and message all sorts of businesses in the hope one of them would let me produce an advert for them. I soon discovered the beauty of averages. The more people I contacted, the more jobs i managed to get. But this requires very thick skin. If you are easily offended then this may not be the business for you, as you may get 99 no’s before that one ‘YES’, which makes the past turn downs all worth it.
3. LET YOUR WORK DO THE TALKING
It’s important to have a business presence, for people to know and hear about the great things you’re doing. This is how you stay in business. But there is a temptation to just talk about the great things you ‘WANT’ to do instead of showing examples of what you’ve ‘DONE’ and are ‘DOING’. The world is full of great ideas, promises and good business intentions, but without actual application, without actually doing the work, you will soon find that you won’t have a business and instead be left with hopes and dreams inside empty pockets. If you want to stay in business, DO YOUR BUSINESS! There’s a time for planning and a time for execution. Too much time in planning and the world will pass you by until those plans become outdated and you find yourself in an eternal loop of catch up.
4. TIME IS NOT MONEY, IT IS SO SO MUCH MORE…
Let me paint a common picture in this business for you…one day a customer approaches you and tells you that he/she requires a quick video, they tell you it will only take a few hours to film and not long to edit and so they have a low budget that reflects the tiny amount of work requested. So you as the business owner and video producer, now think that this will be a quick an easy job and will keep the income flowing, and so you accept and now begin the job. This is when you realise the big mistake you have made…you let someone else tell you how long your job will take without them knowing the requirements your job has. This quick and easy job has now turned into a complicated and extended job because the client didn’t know that in order for them to get what they want it would require elements they never considered, and because the quick money was enticing, you failed to get ALL the details of the job. Let me stress that point again…ALWAYS GET ALL THE DETAILS OF A JOB. Failing to do so will mean an expected 2 day job will turn into a 2 month job and completely block you earning elsewhere, not to mention losing the current client anyway due to inevitable frustration on both sides.
This can all be avoided by ensuring that you take all the details in the beginning. Know exactly what your client wants and then you tell them how much that will cost. You may find that what is actually required isn’t covered by what they’re willing to pay and not doable in the time allotted. Value your time like you value your money and you will find yourself making much better business decisions.
5. DON’T GET LEFT BEHIND
The video production business like many other businesses are ones which are constantly changing. Technology, techniques, client expectations are always growing and so must you. From experience I believe that if your not growing and getting better at what you do then you are getting worse. There is no standing still, you are either rising or sinking. Constantly be on the look out for some of the great work being created elsewhere, examine the way customers are engaging with other businesses, research new technology trends, look at what people want and how they want it. remember a successful business caters to the needs of a customer, they solve a problem or fulfil a desire and they do it to a standard that amazes them every time. Be that business.
Thanks again for taking the time to read my blog, I hope it has been of help to someone. Please feel free to contact me for any further information.
All the best
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