The simple, at first look, seems doable. Buy a video camera, tripod, mic and light, a few spare batteries and memory cards. Come up with a name, print some business cards, get Internet hosting service and set up a website. Voilà! Not difficult at all.

A lot of video enthusiasts have taken this route. Some have made it, learning along the way through research, mistakes and hard knocks, adding to what’s necessary and needed until they actually get things going, more or less. Others aren’t so fortunate, spending hard-earned money on the wrong gear, overlooking legal and basic business speed bumps farther down the road and running off the road to success.
Bridges do exist — to cross over to the commercial side without falling into the chasm. Just like we need maps to show us where those bridges are, we need some guidance to help us make it over successfully. There are budget considerations. Basic business decisions such as home-based or commercial location, start small and build or go for broke and if it’s go for broke — is our business plan sound? Will our location and service area demographics support the kind of video we want to produce, the services we want to offer? What about the competition? Will this be for part-time supplemental income or if making a livable income, can we recoup investments and generate profits?
The questions start rolling in faster and faster with more questions pushing from behind. Questions about insurance, business licenses, fees and taxes need answers. Is there a budget for advertising and marketing? If not, how do you get the traffic to generate business now — and later?
After that initial impulsive thought about crossing from hobby or pastime to commercial venture, the distance appears wider, and the chasm deeper. Bridges seem farther apart and we realize just how hard it can be.
But it doesn’t have to be that hard. Resources are readily available to guide us along the entrepreneurial path. Knowing — going in — how far the jump, how deep the plunge, and planning accordingly brings the bridges — our options — closer together and making the map easier to read. Now we have a business plan based on what we need to know, what we need to learn, how much we need to invest to get started and what we can realistically expect to keep us focused.
How hard can it be, crossing over to the commercial side? Difficult and time-consuming but not at all impossible. For many who want to make this journey, the hardest part may be taking it one step at a time. How many times have we heard people say it’s only as hard as you make it.
Matthew York is Videomaker's Publisher/Editor.