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Copyright © 2004 -
Information Today, Inc.

Lehman's Terms: Taking Care of Business
Posted Dec 1, 2004 - May 1998 [Volume 7, Issue 6] Issue Print Version     Page 1of 1

Most videographers are creative and technical people, but they often aren't business people. No matter how talented we are, if we don't treat our businesses like businesses, we will fail. The single most important thing you can do to insure your business success is to write a business plan.

Profit should be our goal, but how do we get there? Our videography businesses--unlike our cameras, workstations, and editors--don't come with owner's manuals. Many companies spend thousands of hours and dollars writing business plans, and it is a very worthwhile investment. Writing your business plan takes time and thought but does not have to be difficult. There are many books and software programs available to help you, and many have samples that you can use as a guide.

One of the best ways to learn about writing a business plan is to study the plans of established businesses in your industry. Fins a videographer, photographer, or other special event vendor whose success you'd like to emulate, and ask to see their plan.

Start small and start now to create a working plan to achieve your goals. Break down the plan into several parts to make it more manageable. You will continue to use this plan to change and reflect your business as it grows.

The business plan guides you through the various phases of your business. A thorough plan will help identify roadblocks so that you can avoid them and find solutions.

Business Plan Outline
Before you begin writing your business plan, ask yourself these questions:

  • What services and products does your business provide and what needs does it fill?
  • What are your business and personal goals?
  • What are your assets and financial resources?
  • What are your financial risks and startup costs?
  • Who are your customers and why will they purchase the services and products you offer from you?
  • How will you get your potential customers?
  • Who are your competitors and how are you different from them?

You also need to address the following concerns:

  • Determine the legal ownership of your business (e.g., sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation).
  • Create your business (register your name; incorporate the business; secure a domain name on the Web).
  • Select an accountant.
  • Select a banker; get credit card status.
  • Set up a business checking account.
  • Apply for business loans (if applicable).
  • Obtain business and liability insurance.
  • Review local business codes.
  • Obtain a business license and sales tax license or permit (if applicable).
  • Get a federal and state employer identification number (if applicable).

Business Plan Contents
Effective business plans include the following:

  1. Description of the business. Describe the business and its goals. Discuss the ownership of the business and its legal structure. List your skills and experience. Discuss the advantages you and your business have over your competitors. List the products and services you will offer.
  2. Marketing.I have had my best help from this source but others good places include a local school of photography or video. Students are usually eager to get experience and willing to work hard. Many schools offer school credit to students to work as interns. My local college is eager to work with me to supply me with students for hire. You can also search for help through local video and photography associations. I believe people with strong photography experience make great videographers. I have also advertised in my local Woman In Film and Video Association for editors and had many, very interested and qualified people eager for the job. Also running an ad in the local paper will get lots of responses.Make a marketing calendar with details of exactly how and when you are going to market and to whom. Identify your clients and the demand for your services and products. Identify the size and location of your client base. Define exactly how you will attract these clients: Explain your pricing, costs, and profits.
  3. Finances. How are you going to finance your business? Do you need capital, and if so, how much? Can you get a small business loan? Create a monthly operating budget for one year. Estimate your expenses, income, and profit. Decide who will maintain your accounting records and how. Use this information to attract business partners, and demonstrate your potential to make a profit.
  4. Management. Discuss how your business will be managed on a day-to-day basis. Identify each job in detail. Make a progress chart and include every job that needs to be done. Discuss job responsibilities and hired help. Discuss overhead, leases, equipment use, and process for production of services and products.
  5. Summarize. Summarize your goals, plans, and commitment to the success of your business. Put your plan into action and use the plan to track, monitor, and evaluate your progress. It will help you look realistically at your business, allowing you to see that you have worked out all the problems in advance. It reveals potential problems and alternatives before they happen. By establishing timelines and goals, you can compare your projections to actual accomplishments. And always say focused on the goal: to make a profit.

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