Tips from an idiot currently starting up a video business.
So straight off the bat, I’m not an expert (I’m also not an idiot, but catchy titles eh?). My film company has been running for a total of 6 months and we’re still very much in the start-up phase.
There’s a lot of great advice out there for starting up businesses, and a lot of it is actually from real experts with mountains of experience, skills and knowledge. And whilst I’m not a complete novice to filmmaking (I’ve been freelancing for 6 years, Aaron for 4), I have never started my own business before now.
So these “5 Tips” are not intended to be a comprehenive how-to, or something that will teach and guide readers, but rather to offer my personal perspective ‘from-the-trenches’, so to speak.
1) SEEK ADVICE FROM REAL HUMANS
Starting up any kind of business usually starts with an idea and a lot of research. So when Aaron and I were hashing our plan to start up our own film company in Bristol, I read/watched/consumed countless articles and videos usually with some kind of title like “3 Top Tips for Creative Businesses, 7 Mistakes to Avoid when Starting a Company, Starting a Video Company?”.
But of all the adivce, tips and guidance I’ve received over our continuing start-up, the stuff that has been the most significant, has been from real people in real time. Meeting up with friends that know about design, know about accounting, know about starting up a small business… they’re the one’s who have been the most influential and instrumental in actually making ideas happen. Of whom, we’re extremely grateful for as well!
2) OVER-ESTIMATE YOUR TIMINGS
I’ve learnt that I’m rubbish at estimating how long something will take.
Looking back, things did not progress as quickly as I initially expected. I thought that the website (with showreel) would be up and running within a month and it’d be all about getting into the flow of business from there. Boy was I wrong! In reality it took us about 4.5 months before launch!
I was crazy! And in hind-sight that expectation was totally unrealistic. In my naivty I didn’t anticipate all the extra moving parts of starting up a business and that the business of filmmaking would run alongside website stuffs and, rightly so, the films took priority.
A rookie error, but we’ve certainly learnt from it.
3) KEEP THE MAIN THING THE MAIN THING
Being a small team of 2, we’ve done pretty much everything ourselves; from graphic design, to website building, to accounts & budgetting, to emails & phone calls, to social media and to writing blogs. But one of my most valuable motivators through it all has been how much I love making films! The thing that keeps me going is filmmaking, and reminding myself of what I really love about this business and working towards doing more of that, has been invaluable.
4) DON’T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY
Starting a business, you create your own opportunities, your own income… it becomes own baby, and it feels like the stakes are higher. I reckon our lighthearted-ness and positivity has been a real strength in what could have been a stressful period.
We take making films seriously, but try not to get too serious about ourselves.
5) FOR GOODNESS SAKE, COMMUNICATE!
It’s an obvious tip that applies to any walk of life, but it is absolutely essential.
Communicating within the company, with clients, with family, on set, in meetings, through email and phone, and even, yes even, face to face… you can’t escape it!
So you might as well try and get good at it. Throughout the last 6 months I’ve been doing my best to listen, summarise, be clear and concise, and be the best communicator I can be. It sounds hack, but it’s true.
So there you have it, our 5 top tips for starting a video business. At the very least they can be used for prosterity; so that I can look back on them one day and perhaps say “What was I thinking?!” as I pop off to Tescos for the night-shift.
They might not be the most groundbreaking tips, but I do hope they’ve provided you with an alternative, fresh perspective that also comes with an uncertainty of what the future holds… although, having said that, we’re pretty sure it’s gonna be great.