How to grow video business
I'm wondering if any of you who have your own production company could share how you grew your business. I'm a one man shop producing, directing, and editing mostly corporate, marketing, and PR videos. I hire freelance crews for the shoot, but I do all directing and editing. It seems like I have to spend lots of time with some clients, and I spend a great deal of time editing etc. When I have more than one job going at a time, it can get quite challenging to be in different phases. Also, if I can't do the job because of time conflicts, I have no other source to get it done, and have to turn down the work. Also, being the only person who can do the work limits my earning power. I'd love to be able to grow my business to the point where I have some full-time employees, an office w/suites, equipment for everyone to work on, and fill other voids with freelancers.
I see many production houses down here that have started small, and are now major players in this market. Any suggestions on how to move my one man shop to the next level?
So how did you all grow? Thanks.
Sounds like you answered yourself , hire some good professionsl help and pay them well to make a good team ! :)
Huh? I'm barely supporting myself...how can I just go out and hire a team Tom? Are you for real?
Yea I am for real , you are the one that says you have to turn down work because you cant cover it. So what I am saying is that if you can't do it all by yourself then the way to grow is with more people.
Find a partner who complements your abilities. Someone who can handle sales & producing is ideal. The sales cycle is such that as he "finishes" his work, it becomes your work. For expanding, get to know the freelancers in your market. Go to usergroup meets, etc. With the incredibly rapid adoption of FCP, coupled with the ever-plummeting cost of hardware, it's easier now than ever to add (even temporary) facility power. Also, don't think of your sales/producer partner as an "expense" - the more he/she makes, the more YOU make.
Bob Woodhead / Atlanta
G5 DP 2G, 10.3.4, 3.5GB RAM, FCP 4.5, Aja IO, Huge 320R [raid3]
I am in a similar position, and face many of the same problems you do, and I dont't have all of the answers. However, one piece of my philosophy is to NEVER turn down work. Any job you turn down just goes to your competition and will likely stay there. For me, finding new leads and closing new customers is always a challenge, so to risk losing one is a chance I won't take. I would rather take the job and farm it out to someone I know and trust at higher than usual expense, and make little or no money on the job, than to turn it down. I realize that this makes for some harried weeks and a few less profitable jobs, but it means more customers in the end, and this is very important when the slow periods come along... (Also, then the guy you farmed the job out to "owes you one" which is also valuable). Just a thought.
As for hiring someone...I've seen too many people hire staff only to have it bite them in the backside, so I am overly cautious about this. The only way I would hire someone is if I had a "guaranteed" income to cover the position, meaning a long term contract, or a product that had regular sales, etc. I realize that this is not the only way to do business, and that taking a risk (getting a bank loan, finding an office space, hiring sales staff and employees) could pay off, HOWEVER I have often said before in this forum that as equipment becomes cheaper and cheaper, and therefore competition becomes greater and greater, this is becoming a less and less lucrative business, and playing it cautious is very important.
As for hiring someone...I've seen too many people hire staff only to have it bite them in the backside,
Been there, Done that. Got the T-Shirt. The real key is stupifyingly obvious but it;s all about hiring the "right someone" and not just any someone. Look for an extremely strong work ethic and a passion for accomplishing things, not just staying busy.
One of the things that I've seen in highly successful companies is the amount of time they devout to finding and interviewing potential employees. Four, five and more interviews. Rigorous follow-up on references and so on.
I would also submit to Greg that if you're "barely supporting yourself" AND turning away work you need to raise your self-esteem and especially re-price your services.
Thanks for the feedback. The "barely supporting myself" comment was in response to one answer here that said just hire another employee. My question was really how others here made the switch...when did they know they could do it? Obviously working as a one man shop is one thing, but thereal money is in expanding your business. Any advice there?
BTW there's nothing wrong with my self-esteem, but the business can certainly have it's peaks and valleys of activity.
Not to burst anyone's bubble, but taking unprofitable work just because it's there is a terrible business model. If the project is undertaken, and that project isn
Ah, the good old days when I could turn down work. Boy, those were the days. My sincere advice is to focus on your organization and time management to the point where you are dedicating only the provided time to a given project at a chosen rate. If your time is so stressed that you
I guess it's a tested axiom that it's cheaper and more profitable to retain a happy client than to go out and try to generate new ones. It looks to me like your business is on the cusp of the growth decision, and when times are uncertain, I'm a conservative person in issues of money, so I would focus on retaining and growing long-term relationships with a select list of your best current clients and raising your rates in a gentle, structured manner, over drumming up one-shot gigs with new accounts.
I say this because it seems to me you are selling "you" as the product/service, and there just isn't any more "you" being made to add on to the business. So adding partners and expanding a staff don't necessarily amplify the product of "you", they just raise the overall stakes of the business: you add overhead, you now have to generate more volume or higher prices to support it, and the circle feeds back on itself so that it's more about volume and thruput than quality and craft. If it is just about making money, this is not an obstacle. Me, I also have to get something out of it besides a payday.
There is only so much time you can spend in a day, so I say if you have the luxury, spend your time with the clients that make it worthwhile. If the issue is dividing your time between sales and creative, then look into hiring a rep to handle sales, the previous posts had great info on this. My info is likely outdated, but when I was more in tune with this part of the biz, every good editor, producer, and director in town was repped by someone/some agency. Often because a lot of "creatives" just don't like to be bothered with "business stuff", that's not what's fun about the work, better to offload those tasks on someone who likes to do it. That has probably changed over time, a friend who's a high-dollar corporate editor reps himself, and pockets the commission he would be paying the reps, but he has the luxury of a long-standing near-full-time, well-paying client to lean on, and many contacts built thru long-term relationships. It would make me nervous in this economy to have only one "sure thing" client, but everybody's comfort level is different.
You may be feeling like you're missing the parade, like you'e missing the bigger payoff. That's often a gambler's instinct talking it's siren song. Myself, like I said, I play it very conservative in terms of finances. I will go for less money on the sure thing than gamble on a bigger payday when the results may be snake eyes, because I's a family man with kids. If I was a single bachelor, I would be less risk-averse.