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ben chooHome is where I belong
by on Dec 7, 2007 at 12:09:38 pm

Hi guys,

please pardon my english as it's not my main spoken language.

With the advent of affordable non-linear editing technology, I quited my full time editor job around 8 yrs ago to pursue my dream of owning my business. With a secondhand G4, FCP2 and a trusty Aurora Igniter card, I slaved through my first 2 years at home, religiously cutting promos after promos, corporate after corporate etc after etc.... I was very blessed with my contacts from the network and jobs were readily available. I truly enjoy my work very much and the pay check was equally good too! So they say, all good thing must come to an end. Entered my new business partner, a sales guy, a good friend. Soon we moved out from my home to a swanky office downtown. He basically took the business to another level and overnight we have 10 staff on our payroll. We got bigger with in-house editors, producer, cameraman but sadly we were churning out work like a factory. Slowly and steadily our quality of work suffered. Fortunately or unfortunately we were still making good money! Seriously some clients just can't tell the difference between good and bad. Plus the economy wasn't too bad, everybody was making videos!

To cut the long story short, I quited from the company I started. I hated the way things were, without passion, without creativity - it's about cutting cost and maximizing profits. I've to prepare pitches, attend pitching session, presentation etc etc..... I don't mind doing it but definitely wouldn't say I love it. I don't get the opportunity to edit anymore as I took on a managerial role and supervised our in-house editor. Btw, we don't pay well enough for good editors and when you pay peanuts, you get monkeys PERIOD.

I can't supervise! I hated presentation! Pitching! It's not me. I just wanted to edit! I felt suicidal!

So we parted ways. We divided the company's assets equally and I wished my friend well. It wasn't ugly by the way. We are still very much friends and we do meet up for drinks occasionally

Today, I'm back to where I was 8 years ago, my humble apartment. When I moved out from my apartment, it was G4, FCP 2, Aurora Igniter and Beta SP1800. Today I'm BACK in my apartment with G5s, FCP 6, Kona, Blackmagic, Digi Beta, DVCpro, HDcam deck etc etc and my trusty BetaSP1800 and the ever working Aurora Igniter. It's a surreal experience, it's like an adventure, a roller coaster ride. Back from the wilderness I reckoned :)

It was tough to re-adjust myself working from home again. Cool,no more business suits, ties and leather shoes.
I'm back, editing at home, in my boxer shorts again. Starting all over was never easy, and perhaps lonely. But what the heck, I'm enjoying it and I'm a very happy man now!

Again, all good thing must come to an end.
My problem now is I might have to move out as clients on HD project wants to sit in during the session and space is a concern and also my dress code.

I need advice from you guys. My wife is concern about me having to edit frequently thru the night. Haha I just got married one year ago! Should have thought about the wedding harder lol. In short, she's concern and I'm too. Frankly, nowadays my body take longer time to recuperate after one or two overnight session and it's proving to be a challenge to stay awake during some editing session. Unlike the days when I was in my 20's, I never seem to get tired when editing....

Anyway with all the equipment I inherited, I'm thinking of starting an editing facilities where I can work on my project, whether commercial or personal and also rent it out to freelance editors and any other production houses that needed dry hire for HD editing. With such arrangement I reckoned I don't have to depend solely on my editing to pay the bills. Of course having light minded editors hanging around together everyday is a bonus. Good idea?

At the moment, I'm comfortable both financially and spiritually. Just want to make some plans ahead. Thanks!

I'm 38 years old. Might not be that old but I do have fair share of illnesses this couple of years. I really hope I can edit till 75!

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Del HolfordRe: Home is where I belong
by on Dec 7, 2007 at 6:53:23 pm

Your story is very similar to a recent thread in Discrete Edit*ors Forum. Check it out. You might even want to repost there.

fire*, smoke*, photoshopCS3
Charlotte Public Television

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RCSAUSRe: Home is where I belong
by on Dec 8, 2007 at 3:36:57 pm

Hey Ben...

I've looked at your post as I was the 'post' before you. ('Selling stock footage: worth it or not?'). I've been in the write/shoot/edit/produce area for more years than I can remember. Maybe like you, I remember the days when video editing was done in big production houses with million-dollar machinery. Then along came Media 100, then Avid, then a lot of other really good programs - then Final Cut Pro. Now what I used to pay $600 per hour at a production house to do, I can do on my desktop.

Like a swag of people before you, you've learnt that if you want to make big dollars, you need to be a 'big' studio, with lots of employees. That means you need to make a bucket of money (to pay everything else) before you get a dime. That means you're in business, and are no longer a 'creative'. And no longer being a 'creative' (if that's where your heart lies) means you won't enjoy your life. Been there, done that.

You gotta make up your mind. If you want to make money in this funny business, go back to your partner. It seems he's got a good mind-set.

If you want to stay creative, pull on the ol'blue jeans and have a ball. But the chances are, given the increasing sophistication and widespread availability of edit platforms and cameras - and the burgeoning numbers of 'wannabees' entering the game - you will increasingly earn less and less, unless you are exceptionally creative (or can build new creative 'models', but that's another story entirely).

A young fella like you, newly married, should be looking for a secure economic future. My recommendation? Find a production company which can benefit from your expertise, maybe work for them part-time while you work on your own (paying) projects, and build a resume which will give you good options.

That means you might be able to maintain your independence and re-build your own business, but you could take a full-time job if your circumstances change.

With a new wife and the prospects of a new family, that might be the best way to go.

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zrb123Re: Home is where I belong
by on Dec 8, 2007 at 6:02:51 pm

[RCSAUS] "Like a swag of people before you, you've learnt that if you want to make big dollars, you need to be a 'big' studio, with lots of employees."

Like his original post said he is happier away from that. And you don't have to have a BIG studio to make big dollars.

[RCSAUS] "You gotta make up your mind. If you want to make money in this funny business, go back to your partner. It seems he's got a good mind-set. "

He douse not have to go back to make more money. It really sounds like from the original post that the quality and creativity of the work was suffering big time where he was at. And when the quality of work suffers clients will stop coming back, and that means less money not more.

He clearly said that they would not pay enough to get good editors, and I completely agree when he said "when you pay peanuts, you get monkeys PERIOD"

He left to be happier, and to have more time to do what he loves, he douse not like having to play the roll of the boss.

After having worked for a place that payed peanuts and that was even at a small place, it became clear that I would rather work for myself and not have any employees (I decided that I would rather have no employees then pay employees peanuts, and it can be extremely hard to pay well and offer good benefits to an employee).

So don't go telling him that he should go crawling back.

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RCSAUSRe: Home is where I belong
by on Dec 9, 2007 at 1:43:00 am

Hey zrbo!

Read between the lines!

Ben acknowledges that his business with his partner was doing fine:

Ben Choo: we were still making good money!

Ben also acknowledges that he sucks at the

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Tim KolbRe: Home is where I belong
by on Dec 8, 2007 at 3:42:52 pm

Ben...I'm not sure where you are located, but I know that Nick Griffin has a really nice arrangement.

He decided to get rid of the office and home and move to a bigger home where he has a section that is his office. The business makes a part of the mortgage/rent payment in cases like this so maybe that might be an option worth considering.

When the door between the house and office is open...boxer shorts...when it's closed...polo shirt and closed toe shoes (and pants...pants are probably good).

As far as your body not "bouncing back" from those around-the-clock editing sessions...boy, can I relate to that. This way your bed is close and you don't have travel time/fuel expenses for commuting...'s a thought.

Director, Consultant
Kolb Productions,

Creative Cow Host,

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Nick GriffinRe: Home is where I belong
by on Dec 8, 2007 at 7:14:09 pm

Yes, Tim. I wear PANTS in the office (usually). Yet I'm almost always in flip flops.

I have no regrets about the decision years ago to sell a normal size house, stop paying rent for a downtown office and consolidate in a very large structure with a separate entrance for the office and a thick door to close between the spaces where I work and the spaces where I live.

The couple of times I've re-visited this decision I've always come back to not wanting to pay tens of thousands of dollars in rent for a "proper" office nor wanting the hassle of owning and maintaining a second location. Another consideration is being able to work when I want to because the computers containing the work and the studio with the cameras is footsteps away instead of miles away.

And just to clarify, my accountant does NOT have the business paying part of the mortgage because he says that opens up areas of tax liability which we don't need to enter. The business does reimburse for utilities, though.

This arrangement works for me. Your mileage may vary.

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Steve WargoRe: Home is where I belong
by on Dec 8, 2007 at 11:48:54 pm

We spent two years looking for "just the right place. When we moved from a 700 sf studio into our 3000 sf home (in Jan. 1998), we took out a $60k second to finance adding on to our place. We now have 1900 sf of house and 3000 sf of office/studio. Our corporate clients love it. We did lose a few snooty people but that was expected. Our kitchen is dual purpose. It has doors on both side so it can be part of the office or completely unaccessible.

There are days when I truly believe that we need to expand and hire 10 employees, but then, the drugs wear off and I snap back into reality. Our CPA set us up so that the business pays for 60% of the mortgage as well as 60% of the utilities. Our video company rents from our land investment LLC. Our office and studio have their own entrances and air conditioning.

We have an 18 x 18 office, a 17 x 14 edit suite, a 24 x 24 edit suite / machine room, 24 x 9 store room and an 1100 sf shooting studio with 12 foot ceilings, a 5 ton a/c unit and a complete lighting grid with dimmers.

We've spent $90,000 on tenant improvements and have saved about $800,000 in rental costs. Any way you look at it, we're 700 grand ahead. If we would have had the monthly debt, we probably would never have survived Sept. 11, 2001, when business took a nose dive.

So why am I always broke?

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
Sony EX-1 on the way.

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Raymond Motion PicturesRe: Home is where I belong
by on Dec 9, 2007 at 4:10:57 am

[Steve Wargo] "So why am I always broke?"

Because you haven't produced a Shanaladingdong brain-dead blockbuster?

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Todd at Fantastic PlasticRe: Home is where I belong
by on Dec 9, 2007 at 7:04:14 pm

Working out of a home office or an in-home suite can certainly have its advantages.... but it can of course have its pitfalls, too.

My little company has been around for ten years now, and for the first year of that I was a one-man-band company working out of the house. I thought it was great (and it was, at first). It was cheap (obviously), and it was so super convenient that I could literally roll out of bed and go to work. The best advice I received about that setup was from a buddy who also had a home office... who told me that you must still treat it as "going to the office"... i.e., get up at a regular time, shower, shave, put on your "work clothes," and go to work. I managed to do that for about nine days, and after that the FedEx guy started catching me in my boxer shorts on a fairly regular basis.

Starting the company at home was a bit of a challenge on the legal side. My house is zoned "residential only," plus on top of that it is downtown in one of my city's three historic districts and the historical commision (or hysterical commission, as we call them) is very picky about what they allow. But after begging and pleading and assuring them my business would be completely invisible to the neighborhood, they allowed it.

I quickly found that it was just TOO easy to go to work... ergo, I was working all the time, even when I didn't need to be. I can't count the times I would go in to the suite around bedtime "just for a second" and the next thing I knew the sun was coming up. Plus I didn't really like having clients in my house, even confined to the edit suite.

I finally moved out to outside studio space about about a year... and it was great. Finally we had a "real" space, attractive and comfy for clients, and a cool place leave the house for. The biggest plus was that office was about two minutes from my house. More clients, expansion, and employees necessitated a move to a bigger place a couple of years later, but it's still only about four minutes from home, which works well.

We don't have a huge space now, but it works well. Finally we have a real lobby, soundstage space, three small edit suites, conference, accounting, greenroom, makeup, etc. I have found though that you physically expand to slightly bigger than the space you have, so you always need a little more. When we first moved in here we thought the space, about 3600 square feet, was more that we would ever need... we even rented out a couple of the offices to an advertising agency client of ours. But now, we've filled it all up... and even have to rent external storage for set pieces, props, wardrobe, and general crap that we don't want to throw away.

I am way too old for the temptation of working around the clock any more, therefore, I will never have a home office again (knock on wood). I still, however, never put on a suit for work (when I left the corporate world I gave away a rack full of Brooks Brothers straightjackets, vowing never to return to them). All clients get me in my usual uniform: cargo shorts, Hawaiian shirt, sandals, and baseball cap... no matter how much of a bigshot they are.

This long diatribe was my way of saying that while home offices work well for some people (and I'm glad they do), they sure didn't work for me. Be careful, or you will find yourself at work all the time... and life is waaaay too short for that. You gotta do what makes you happy.


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Nick GriffinRe: Home is where I belong
by on Dec 9, 2007 at 10:14:19 pm

[Todd at Fantastic Plastic] "Be careful, or you will find yourself at work all the time"

Oh! So THAT'S why I'm always working!

Zoning is certainly an issue and one with which I don't trifle. I'm fortunate in that there's just two of us full time and we both have home offices and, while he may be a fairly frequent visitor in my offices, my junior partner is a visitor rather than someone with a dedicated desk and an office. The various writers and art directors we work with also have their own home offices.

Another company I know in this area which did have zoning and neighbor problems got pinched because he had messengers, FedEx and other couriers constantly coming and going. If your business needs that kind of constant flow of physical materials you're better off in an office.

If you need multiple employees, you're better off in an office. A home-based business buzzing with people who are always there will only become a zoning violation waiting to get caught.

The nature of what we do and the widespread geography of our clients means that only a few clients come visit us each year. (Most of our contacts are in their offices -- and NOW through MediaBatch.) I can easily understand how if we were hired out as edit suites or worked as a production company for other producers having clients constantly coming to me would be untenable. I consider myself lucky to have a business model that works for me. But, like I said, your mileage may vary.

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Joe MurrayRe: Home is where I belong
by on Dec 10, 2007 at 12:42:43 am

I've never tried to work from home, but originally I was set up as someone who would work within an ad agency or production company. Eventually I got enough gear that it wouldn't fit in my car anymore so I started renting space. Two years ago I purchased a 2200 square foot business condo and built two edit suites, graphics suite and machine room, and audio suite and two VO booths. It's one mile from my house; not quite like rolling out of bed into the suite but about as close as you can get without actually working at home.

In my situation it's still important to have a decent environment to host clients, sometimes 10-12 at a time when things are busy. And owning an appreciating asset as opposed to all the computers and decks is a very good thing. I have no idea what the real estate market is like where you guys are but if you don't need too much space it can be a great way to build some equity, which is otherwise very difficult in our line of work. It's more difficult to make this affordable if you need studio space for shooting, with high ceilings etc. but it can be done.

The hairbrained scheme I've never pulled the trigger on is buying a 30 foot Airstream and setting up a pimped out suite in it. Then park it at the house or pull up in front of a client's office...still some separation from either the house or the client, and all the panache of a Hollywood trailer on the backlot of a studio.

I still may do that someday, but the condo is working pretty well right now. Good luck on figuring out where the balance is for you.

Joe Murray
Edit at Joe's
Charlotte, NC

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Raymond Motion PicturesRe: Home is where I belong
by on Dec 10, 2007 at 1:22:21 am

I've been working out of a home office for over 20 years now. My best year was 1.3m - all Fortune 500 automotive - well, most anyway. It can be done and I love it!

As far as clients needing to sit over shoulder while in the edit - I have completely sidestepped that pain-in-the-neck by becoming rather proficient at encoding to flash video - serving it up on a hidden web page - with written comments like 'How's that?' It's much more efficient for both of us.

I'm of the school that says if you give a client toooo many choices - he'll/she'll drive you nuts. You have to train clients.

Whatever angst Ben is going through - I wish him well and hope that he can let go at a 'final' when the clock has run out - some of us know that you tweak an edit like you can tweak a short story and never see it published. There is really no end to perfecting something - I feel a comradery with Ben on that, but Ben, I've learned to not stress over a 'final.' It's done and it's way better than most. Next!

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seamusRe: Home is where I belong
by on Dec 10, 2007 at 3:36:08 am

I can relate so well to all this...

I have been a freelance editor/motion graphic designer gaining more and more clients myself over the years and therefore worked from home more and more.

It was great, for all the reasons people have stated above, but there was a point I could no longer do it. Kids were the major reason. Having a toddler climbing under the desk with a billion plugs was NOT good. But it also became clastrophobic. Never away from work never really tuned into it either.

So I have moved out a got myself a room above a pub (Bar). (I'm in Australia by the way)
Its brilliant. super cheap (its just a single room), its enough for a simple edit system.

I have no interest in becoming a facility. That would be death. I am earning more than I ever have. Clients love it because they feel they have a space without the obvious expense.

They also have a pub with a great Thai restaurant out in the beer garden. So for them, they love it! I have gained a few more good paying clients who can see through the plush office expense of other places, and want a person who is a good editor/graphics above all else. They know what you can do with so little now, there not easily fooled by huge machine rooms.

I don't want to become bigger than this. Small and efficient is definitely better in this new video world we inhabit. My income is very healthy, and I would have to expand considerably to see that improve and in this climate that is just too much risk with little reward.

I leave other places to bare the huge cost of being a facility and heaps of employees and sell myself on experience and quality rather than gear.

In short, keep it small and nimble and many days of happy editing await, I reckon!

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Todd at Fantastic PlasticRe: Home is where I belong
by on Dec 10, 2007 at 5:30:52 am

Office over a bar???...hmmmm, now why didn't I think of that?


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Mark SuszkoRe: Home is where I belong
by on Dec 10, 2007 at 6:34:30 am

Well there are a couple things going on here. I like a lot of what's been said already, so I won't repeat it. What I'm sensing maybe is that very normal middle-age panic that all men start to feel where the needs to make the money and the need to fulfill oneself artistically can collide. Grinner's ongoing saga covers this well over in the Editing forum, and I wish him every success.

Maybe the problem for this guy is he's looking at the projects he does as either-or and not of his choosing. What if he was to take a portion of his time for a personal project and sink his creativity into that to the hilt, while still paying some bills doing less creatively strenuous things for his ex-partner? He's happiest being an editor, not a businessman or salesman. There is nothing wrong with this if he can find someone to handle those issues for him. We're short on Medici's now, but maybe the old partner will bankroll a special project like a theatrical film, an indie of some type, in exchange for profit sharing?

They say a change is as good as a rest: working on such a project, even if still in the same home studio, may stretch unused creative muscles in new ways.

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Mick HaenslerRe: Home is where I belong
by on Dec 10, 2007 at 3:37:41 pm

First of all let me introduce myself. My name is Mick Haensler, and after years of lurking here I finally joined a few weeks ago. This is my first post.

This thread hits home for me. I've been working a corporate job for the last three years doing everything from shooting and editing, to event light and sound design, and even DJing on some events. I work an average of 62 hours a week with hardly any weekends free. This past summer I hit the burnout wall. After months of deliberation, financial figuring, market analysis and so on, I have decided to go back to working for myself out of my home. We have a large historic home that my wife already works out of. And although our neighborhood is zoned residential, my wife has had her practice here for almost 10 years with no issues. Most of the neighbors consider her business an asset to the community. We have informally polled them as to our plans for my work and all have been supportive. So even if your home isn't zoned for business, there are ways, albeit a little risky, to get around things. If you keep yourself low on the radar, it's been my experience most Zoning officials couldn't care less what you do as long as you don't draw attention to yourself. Once they get a complaint they will come a knockin'.

We have a 16 track project recording studio already in the home that will be reworked as a full multimedia studio with a new dual quad mac and 48 inches of HD display. We will be shooting XDCAM HD. Now here is the thing.

My wife and I have no children, no debt, lots of equity to tap, low overhead, and a not to shabby investment portfolio. We have run the numbers and know what I need to make. I have already secured 3 months of work that is willing to wait for me to jump. I have joined the Chamber of Commerce as well as utilized all my contacts from my current job to get the word out. There is hardly any competition in my area except for wedding videographers(no offense, I've certainly done my fair share in the last few years). In other words, we have planned extensively and are going into this with eyes wide open. I have no need to make a ton of money, although I won't turn it down!!!

This is not my first sojourn into self employment and the biggest thing I have learned is LOW OVERHEAD!! I have no need for a "proper" office. My only fear is that I am not the most disciplined person in the world and am not great at the paper work side of things. Therefore, my wife and I will be hiring someone to help on that end of both businesses. We are fortunate in that we live close to a major business school so eager young undergrads willing to work cheap are easy to find, and love getting the entrepreneurial experience.

A home based studio is certainly not for everyone and isn't feasable for most. But it fits the bill for me. I look forward to keeping this forum updated on the progress. I will be leaving my current job at the end of January '08.

Mick Haensler
Higher Ground Media

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Timothy J. AllenRe: Home is where I belong
by on Dec 11, 2007 at 1:49:16 am

Welcome! It's great to see you post. It sounds like you've done your homework. All of us here wish you the greatest success.

We'd also love to hear how it's going from time to time. Please don't hesitate to continue to tap into this forum (and the others at the COW) if you ever want to bounce ideas off of a group of peers.

You probably won't be reducing your work hours, but at least it won't always feel like work. ;-)


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Mick HaenslerRe: Home is where I belong
by on Dec 12, 2007 at 1:46:51 am

Thanks for the warm welcome Tim. I will gladly keep the forum updated to the progress. I was even thinking of possibly doing a blog about the experience. It surprises me how little information on the business end of things there is. Just look at the number of posts here vs the the technical forums. I look forward to being an active part of this community.

Mick Haensler
Higher Ground Media (website to be launched January of '08)

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Steve WargoBusiness hours are for business
by on Dec 12, 2007 at 6:10:29 am

One of the most important things is to set business hours for yourself and schedule yourself like an employee.

Don't work in your underwear. Dress each day like you're going to a job.

Don't fall into the same trap as too many others by saying "I'll just drop into the edit suite for an hour or so" when you have free time. This will become a terrible habit to break. Some home-office types actually walk out of one door and into another to go to work.

The worst thing is having kids, and you don't, but how about friends that think that you're at home so they can drop by to visit, whenever they want, for as long as they want. Get the point across to them quickly, and in no uncertain terms.

Another problem is the people that think that you have all the free time in the world and you can't possibly be charging them for doing something while you're at home, doing nothing.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
Sony EX-1 on the way.

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RennieRe: Home is where I belong
by on Dec 11, 2007 at 9:44:02 pm

Ben, you are in a position to avoid what many others have evolved into. Working out of a house in a residential area. These days more and more communities realize the need for Live/Work housing and these areas have much lower taxes than commercial property. If you have a down payment it's time to start looking for a house in a live/work zoned district or you may find something in a commercial area. Chances are your apartment rent will almost cover your mortgage payments and you can sit and watch your real estate investment climb. A house on land is nice rather than a condo because you can build an addition or garage at some point and you can make more noise! It also has better investment potential and less politics with strata councils etc. Conversely, there is less noise from your neighbors. A house is more likely to have parking space too, something your clients will love. Try to find something near your clients with good visibility and access.

I recall a seminar I attended where the near retirement aged presenter unveiled his secrets to success garnered from his years in business. At the end of the presentation one person asked "if you had it all to do over again, is there anything you would do differently?" He thought a moment and replied "yes, I liked it better when it was just myself, just one person."

As soon as you hire one person you get a huge pile of paperwork and training to do.
When you achieve a level as your last situation you can hire a bookkeeper or accountant to deal with this workload.
When you get 10 times bigger than that you buy an office condo in Bermuda and just show up at work once in a while.

The worst downside of a live/work setting is people come by at 9:30 PM Monday night or on Sunday wanting an update, estimate or 2nd copy etc. etc. This is where a separate business phone and a garage (to hide your car in) come in handy.

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RCSAUSRe: Home is where I belong
by on Dec 12, 2007 at 1:26:38 am

As well meaning as a lot of the posts to this topic are, I think most really miss the mark.

At the heart of Ben Choo's dilemma is not whether working from home is good or bad or how to manage his time/life commitments, although clearly these matters must be weighed up in his decision-making. He has been given excellent advice by the many posters who do work from home - I work from home and empathise/sympathise with all the comments made.

More importantly I believe, Ben's decision will likely be predicated by a much more fundamental imperative: Will he make a living without the fundamental 'human infrastructure' that bigger studios provide?

Here is the key in what he says: [Ben Choo]: "I hated presentation! Pitching! It's not me. I just wanted to edit!"

Editing from home demands that the practitioner is more than a good editor. He's also the janitor, the receptionist, the book-keeper, the coffee-maker, the logistics manager, the Chairman of the I need go on? Most importantly, he needs to be a salesman! Unless the Edit Fairy has sprinkled him with magic 'come to me aren't I terrific' dust, at some stage he'll be sitting there until the Moon turns purple waiting for someone - anyone - to come a knockin'.

The alternative is for him to work for the right studio that will appreciate his talent. Maybe that's part-time work or full-time work - but the point is, he's not responsible for beating the bushes to flush out his next job.

Ben is fretting for his future now and his health is suffering.

All I've got to say is to work for yourself, from home, requires the fortitude, discipline and steely-resolve of a 'special-forces' soldier and the flare, resourcefulness and entrepreneural skills of a bounty-hunter. Does Ben have those qualities?

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Steve WargoRe: Home is where I belong
by on Dec 12, 2007 at 6:18:43 am

I hate sales. I hate sales. I hate sales.

The only thing that saves us is the fact that almost all of our business is referral. You don't actually have to be a salesman but you have to be able to sell yourself once someone contacts you. When my wife left to start her own company in another field, I took a 40% hit in business. I had to become something I didn't want to be. I have chosen to ask some others in the field to rep for me and I pay decent commissions.

I hate sales.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
Sony EX-1 on the way.

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RCSAUSRe: Home is where I belong
by on Dec 12, 2007 at 1:49:49 pm

Steve, I'm with you. I hate sales too. I agree with you that those of us who do choose to work independently - and who are unable or unwilling to sell ourselves - need to find people who can sell for us.

Over a few years, I paid big buckets for two young ladies to do that for me (sequentially, not at the same time!) The first was better than the second - but once I had 'trained' them and they were both becoming useful and productive, both left to join other (non-competing) outfits (one went on to sell cars, the other to sell ads for a newspaper).

There were no employment issues (I supplied one with a company car and healthy expense account - the other with a good car allowance and expenses) and looked after them exceptionally well.

We all became very good friends and there were no hard feelings on my part when they left. I am still good friends with both - but I had to come to terms with the fact that they were both young and had to move on career-wise, even though I was paying them top dollar.

I think I took their departure harder than they did: I lost something from my business beyond employee/employer relationships.

This in fact points to an interesting phenomenon - in 'micro' businesses, it's really hard to separate employment from friendship, particularly as you work so closely with those who are part of your professional life.

In a bigger business, there's more separation.

Not so for the sole-trader.

Now I hire no-one, although I do agree with you that the best way to go these days is maybe to engage a freelance sales-rep and sell on commission. Trouble is, getting the right sort of person to sell that way is easier said than done.

Still, Ben could probably benefit from this approach, so long as (a) he can find the right person (b) he can absorb the lazy few grand it takes to get that person up-to-speed and 'incentivize' them, and (c) accept the clients that sales-person will bring to him.

In my case, like a lot of so-called 'creatives', I rejected working for some people my sales-girls brought to me. I knew the clients who preyed on them and who were looking for great 'creative' at insulting prices.

But...aahhhh....the good thing for working for yourself is that you have the ability to say 'no' whenever you like. When push comes to shove, you have that sublime ability to tell a potential client what you think of them.

Not good for sales, but very, very satisfying!

These are the grey areas of self employment - but Damn! I can sleep at night, I only work for those I want to, and I still have great fun from time to time telling potential clients to go stuff themselves.

I go hungry often - but I feed off an empty stomach.

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