With more and more people working for themselves in the music and post production industries, it can be the best decision you ever make, but without preparation and realistic expectations it can go horribly wrong. Because too many people go into starting a business without knowing some key things that are a normal part of running your own business. So if you are considering working for yourself, or have just started, then read these 5 things - they will stop you feeling alone or thinking that you’ve maybe made a big mistake.
1. It Will Take At Least A Year To Build A Client Base
Often before we start our own business and, if we are sensible, we put feelers out to friends, and in some cases clients of our current employer, to see what kind of interest there will be for our service. It may be the case that people will take an interest in your new venture, but if you expect them to start using you immediately then be prepared for disappointment. For various reasons they won’t be using you right away, in some cases it may take months, some will never use you. Estimate about a year, if not two, to build a good flow of clients.
2. For Every 5 Leads Expect 1 Job… If You Are Good
We spend a lot of time working on quotes, treatments and in meetings trying to win business. Some of them come to nothing for all sorts of reasons. They may have no budget, they may have changed their minds or they may have just found someone more suitable for the job. It can feel soul destroying thinking no one wants to give you work, but as time goes on you win more work. Keep chasing leads, meeting people, using your time wisely to offer the best possible work to your clients.
3. You Get Paid Last… Change Your Lifestyle
As you spend time growing your business your income may drop, it may even drop down to zero for a period of time. If you carry on spending as if you still have the same level of income then you’re going to run into trouble… STOP! Live on the bare minimum and find ways to get cash in the bank. Don’t think about your income as an annual salary, simply figure out what you need to live on each week and then find ways to get that money in. Also remember to put as much as you can in savings to cover your tax bill - it’s more certain than death.
4. Most Clients Don’t Pay Until They Are Asked
Irrespective of your terms of trade most clients will not pay you until you ask, even if you have had them sign a contract and terms are written in red across your invoice. Make sure you invoice as soon as you can and make sure you chase clients for money. Don't fall into the trap that if you chase them for payment, they will stop using you. One or two may, but they weren't clients, they were freeloaders, sapping your time and energy for no return. Trust us, you are better off without them.
5. Don’t Give Up!
After reading the first 4 things on this list you may be thinking that running a business is a bad idea. For some it’s the best decision they have ever made. Just be sure to work hard, be determined and don’t give up. If you are already in the middle of running your own business, and the list above is like reading you life story, then DON’T GIVE UP, they are normal and to be expected.
If you are feeling under fire as you try to get your creative business off the ground, then we hope this advice helps you know that you are not alone.