Continued from The Business of the Video Production Company.

Getting your business up and running is a big step – getting business coming in, is the next hurdle. We continue our look at “Making Cents” with more business tips from a pro who’s been there.

Work for Hire

Now you’ve grown big enough, you might need to hire a staff. In my opinion, it is good business not to hire employees until you actually need them. For example, if you need to duplicate a lot of DVDs, it is not necessary to hire someone to do that for you. You can either “farm” it out to a duplication house, or purchase equipment that will allow you to do copies automatically. If you need “shooters” for special events, then hire them by the job and treat them as “independent contractors.” By doing this, you are saving yourself a lot of paperwork and expense. Contact the IRS to make sure you meet the requirements for treating them as “independent contractors,” and keep good records regarding payment. At the end of the year, you may be required to give them Form 1099 for their records. Also, check with local schools and colleges to see if there are students who need an internship. They can be a source of cheap labor for you and in turn they gain the knowledge and experience required for their course of study. When it comes time to hire your first employee, make sure that it is someone who will represent your business well, is trustworthy, and has the skills necessary for the job. I would encourage you to take new employees on a trial basis, so they have a chance to see if they enjoy the work, and you have a chance to see how they work out.


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Don’t Forget the Paperwork

You need to decide how you are going to keep your records. Record keeping is essential in order to evaluate the success of your business and meet the demands of the IRS. You will find that computers are your best friends for keeping accurate records. Find a business program that you like, such as QuickBooks Pro, and take time to learn how to use it. The time spent learning it will be more than reimbursed when it comes to filing your taxes. Also, make sure you have a computer dedicated to business transactions. An associate of mine has only one computer for his home and business – including all of his editing. Imagine how he felt when his teen-aged son corrupted the hard drive by loading a questionable program. Not only did he lose the projects he was working on, but also all of his business records. Moreover, he didn’t have anything backed up. With the price of hard drives plummeting, you should have a back-up system for all of your computers – especially the one that has all of your business records. The proper use of a business computer will free you to grow your business and not be bogged down in details.

Grow with your Business

Be actively involved in growing your business. It is not enough to have the right skills and the right equipment – let people know who you are and what you can do. There are three things that are indispensable in getting your message out to the general public.

  • The first is a good Web site. If you have the time and the skill, you may try building your own. But remember, the time you spend on developing your Web site will take you away from your primary business. Even if you were qualified, I would still encourage you to out source this to someone who is capable of producing a Web site that will effectively promote your business. In my opinion, if you don’t have an effective Web presence, you are sealing the doom of your business.
  • A good quality brochure is the second thing necessary to getting out your message. Going to a professional designer who will take time to really understand what you want to communicate is, in my opinion, a good investment. If you don’t have the funds necessary for this investment, find a good software program that has templates ready for you to use. An effective brochure is a tool that can reach potential customers in many ways, even by being downloaded on the Internet.
  • Thirdly, and the most important task necessary to getting your message out is YOU and your commitment to excellence. Wherever you go, take time to talk about your video business. Carry business cards. You never know when you might be talking to a potential customer. Send information to the newspaper about your business. Often they are looking for human interest or unique stories – and you might find yourself featured in one of the sections of the local paper. Also, make yourself available as a speaker to different groups, such as the local Lions Club or other civic organizations. You should also check to see if there are monthly “networking” meetings in your area where you can meet with other business leaders who are promoting their business and also looking to connect with businesses, such as yours, that can be of help to them. Enthusiasm communicates. Be enthusiastic about what you do, wherever you are, and you will be amazed at the opportunities that will come your way.

Commitment is your Best Advertisement

Much has happened since I received that carved duck over 18 years ago, but one thing hasn’t changed — and that is a commitment to quality. When I looked at that 8mm wedding film that was shot in the early 1950’s, I realized that I had been entrusted with a family’s greatest treasure — its memories. Part of my motivation for working so hard to do a good job on this first project was that I realized how important it was — not only to those whose memories were on the film, but to future generations who would be privileged to get a glimpse into this moment of time. A commitment to quality in everything you do will ultimately be your best advertisement and give you your greatest satisfaction. Negative words about you and your business are like throwing feathers into the wind – it is impossible to get them back. But good words because of your care and the quality of your work are like planting seeds. Eventually they will produce fruit – and you and your business will profit.

Alan Naumann makes his living producing memorial and commemorative videos and has learned to keep his business thriving and growing in an ever-changing industry.

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