LEARN THE MARKET AND DEFINE YOUR BUSINESS
A business requires clients to grow. Spend time thinking about who your likely clients/customers will be. Find out who is likely to spend money hiring you.
The best way to do this is to invite a potential customer to lunch to talk one-on-one with you. This is NOT a sales pitch, it is an informational meeting for you to learn about them and what they are interested in.
I get asked this one all the time: “How do you find clients?” A large part of my work in the last eight months has come through word-of-mouth and through my network of professionals and friends. I’ve gotten jobs from Twitter, from random conversations with people while on vacation, and just plain ol’ friends hooking me up.
BECOME A BUSINESS
You want to start a business. That means generating revenue and staying alive for the long-term. There’s a reason most businesses fail within five years. The owner created a company without actually starting a business.
Your business has the potential to last long after you are dead. Create a name that you will be comfortable with when you are ten years older. What seems cool to someone who is 22 seems pretentious and awkward to someone who is 35.
So where does that leave us? The key skills I see are:
Any technical skills you think would help sell a clear product that people will buy Consistent marketing activity, to generate regular leads
Sales skills to win clients
TRACK THE BUSINESS
The part of the business that most creative people have the hardest time with is finance, accounting and administration. This is why the world invented accountants, office managers, and payroll companies. The smartest thing I ever did, when my company was two years old, was hire an office manager. Eight years later, she is still with me and indispensable to our entire group.
MARKET THE BUSINESS
Without clients, you don’t have a business. If you don’t like marketing yourself, partner with someone who does! Without marketing, you don’t have a business.
In my business, I’ve found it is best to partner with a marketing person, so I can concentrate on running the company and creating cool new products, while they can concentrate on making us famous.
You can’t do everything and grow. You CAN do everything and stay small. If growth is your target, finding good people is the key. The people you hire for your team will determine the success of your company.
Hire people who know what you don’t know
Hire people a bit different from you
Hire people who fit with your personality
SETUP SYSTEMS AND PAPERWORK
The secret to successful editing is organisation. Get organised at the start of a project and stay organised throughout. This is one of those truisms that newbies nod their heads and ignore. Until they are at deadline on a major project and can’t find the stupid logo that they need to finish that stupid, high-budget project.
BUY GEAR AND GET TO WORK
Buying gear is fun and exciting – and, if you don’t have clients, it will drive you into bankruptcy. When a client says they want to work with you, signs your work agreement, and hands you a check for 50% of your charges, it will take you exactly 2 nanoseconds to order all the gear you need for the project.
Get the money FIRST, then spend it on gear.
After that, the fun starts.