Will 2014 repeat?
We are staring the 2014 year with a bang, but we did the same thing in 2013....difference was 2013 turned into a real stinker after August or so.
Anyone concerned that 2014 will play out the same way?
Anyone taking a gamble and purchasing large quantities of new gear with overt optimism? Our Macs are getting older and older by the day.
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production, Post, Studio Sound Stage
Glad to hear 14 is starting out great for you, Rich.
Here, it's really hard to say... wish the Magic 8 Ball worked better. We've actually had an extremely busy first quarter, I'd have to look up the stats but it's likely the busiest quarter we've ever had (our 17th anniversary last week). Will it continue throughout the year? Ehhh... I doubt it, I just hope the inevitable dip isn't too deep.. or long.
We actually had a really good 2013. If 14 could match it, I'd be happy... but the goal is to beat it, of course.
I think one plus here is that we don't have any big capital expenditures anticipated or needed. Last year we gutted (and replaced, obviously) two edit suites and lots of camera expenses that we won't have this year (knock on wood), so tha puts us in a little bit better position going in compared to last year.
If things would just even out I'd be more than thrilled. Seems like that's a problem in production houses everywhere. About a month ago we actually just sent our senior editor home for two days... there was simply nothing for him to do. Lot of stuff in pre-prod and on deck, but nothing ready for him to cut. Since then though he's been jamming, and I've been cutting myself every minute that I'm not directing. Seems it's always feast or famine. Our goal is always to save some of the feast for the famine times, but that seems so hard to do.
Ya never know what will happen.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
The things I read and listen to suggest the national economy is steadily recovering, but that big business is being cagey about jumping into it full-force. The reasoning in my opinion is that they got a taste of how to run very lean, when they absolutely HAD to, and now they're thinking that those extreme measures will create higher margins and "shareholder value" if left in place when demand comes back.
What they may not get is that running TOO lean means they can't handle and exploit pent-up demand and rapidly-changing market conditions as well. Case in point: Walmart has been famous for keeping their worker's hours short enough to only qualify as "part-time", in order to hold down the pay-out of full-time worker benefits. But, their own accounting research showed them that the insufficient manpower employed in stocking and cleaning the stores was costing them more in lost sales than the miserly hours strategy was saving them, so, Walmart recently announced that more of their workers were going to be scheduled as full-timers.
The roller-coaster effect on the annual biz cycle I think partly comes from human nature and that eternal phenomenon of "spending to match quarterly approps" . You know, that "zerg rush" of work that tends to appear near the close of a quarter or fiscal year, as clients look over their budgets and realize they "saved too much money", and unless they spend right up to their limit, before the close of the fiscal, the accountants will reduce their next year's budget by that margin, so there won't be a surplus. It can be amazing, how a project that was once considered too trivial to pursue suddenly becomes necessary, when there is a budget surplus to get rid of... :-)
I think that's what we're seeing: managers are holding funds back in their second and third quarters, "in case" of something, which fails to happen, then they panic-spend, once the end of the fiscal is on the horizon, so they can hit the finish line as close to zero as possible, without going over. In a better world, managers wouldn't get penalized for under-spending, and would get access to a pool of that savings as needed for contingency needs... but I am not (yet) the President of anything, so that's not happening yet.
That's not the whole explanation of the fiscal year roller-coaster, but I think this is a part of it. Another part of it I think is the shift in obscene levels of profit-taking by corporate upper management and shareholders, at the cost of reduced re-investment in production and their work forces. We see this in the incredible bonuses CEO's get, in years where their companies make record profits, yet the workers don't get raises or profit-sharing bumps or more hiring, but rather, get benefits and pay reduced. I'll stop at that so as not to get this any more "political". But I think it's a significant trend in this decade.
this is an interesting thread, and I am observing the same thing.
Tim Wilson posted something like "so how's business" in 2013, and I said that I was busy, but had doom and gloom forecasts for 2014.
Well, so far, I have been booked solid in 2014, but I have NO big jobs coming up in my forecast, so while I have done very well SO FAR, I feel like I will be unemployed very soon. It's a strange time.
Rescue 1, Inc.
... always the optimistic ray of sunshine.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
The optimist/pessimist thing reminds me of the story of the two competing shoe salesmen who both arrive in a remote country where everyone is barefoot. The pessimist salesman phones home and says: "Boss, this is no good: nobody wears shoes here". The Optimist phones in and tells his boss: "This is fantastic: it's a wide-open new market!"
If business is slow with the conventional customers, might there be some "barefoot" customers in a new niche that need to be drawn-in?
I started working with a business coach a few months ago and we're completely changing the way we do business and where we're pivoting. He pulled me back to a laser focus on where to go in 2014 and it's something I've been thinking about for a while. We're going heavily into original production.
It's a completely new concept but fortunately I have a lot of very talented friends around the globe who are as excited about where we are going as we are. So how will 2014 turn out? I'm not sure but it's going to be a very exciting ride, the most exciting of my career for sure.
Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
HD Post and Production
Biscardi Creative Media
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To the person that pulled their post - I think you made some valid arguments that this may be perceptual on some of our parts. What you say is similar to the old saw about Hollywood, that "Nobody in Hollywood knows anything". But proprietors are not fatalistic; by definition, they believe deeply in self-determination.
Hey Mark, it was me but then I thought, "Why tell the world how my biz is doing?". But in sum, to all who didn't see my Merlot infused rant: ONE YEAR HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ADJACENT YEARS. Period. I can say that after 33 years...Last year was one of my best ever: 2 weeks vacation in Paris, 2 weeks vacation in Australia, bought a new camera & lenses, went car shopping, then POOF! 2014's 1st quarter sucked. Probably the worst ever. Fortunately I didn't buy the new car.
And Walter, is this business coach a member of our universe? Does he or she come from a video/broadcast/content creator background? Just curious. I once considered them but then I thought we are in such a unique situation that their expertise didn't pertain to us. So, how did you choose this person?