My videography business allows me to be there for my children when they get home from school. Even though they are now teenagers and less dependent on me than they used to be, I feel that supervision at this stage is all the more important. I also schedule my appointments around their sport schedules, doctor appointments, and the like. When your kids are sick, the advantage of working from home is that you don’t have to find a babysitter or call a boss who may not be so understanding. I know several videographers who have run their businesses around caring for an ailing parent or sick spouse. In fact, one day my son called me from school not feeling well. After taking care of him, I was still able to edit while he slept at home. What’s more, when this happened, it was snowing outside with sub-zero temperatures. Inclement weather or sickness doesn’t stop me from making money. In the summer, I am able to sit on my deck and work on my wireless laptop while my kids swim in the pool.
If you have children, get phones of different colors for home and business use, and teach them the difference. For example, my home phone is gray and my business phone is white. This way, when my children see me talking on the business (white) phone, they know to be quiet and not to interrupt me.
Some videographers build a separate studio or convert an existing room. By design, my studio is immediately on the left of the main entrance to my home. This way, the rest of my family isn’t disturbed (or vice versa) when a client comes over for an appointment. A separate entrance would be ideal, but you make do with what you have.
You can get some great tax benefits when working out of your home, and taking home-office tax deductions isn’t the red flag it once was. You can deduct a percentage of your mortgage, taxes, utilities, home maintenance, and so on if you have a work space used exclusively for your business. Just be honest in your deductions and income so if an audit does arrive you will be prepared. The added tax savings from working at home can then be used to fund your IRA. Check with your tax accountant, insurance company, and municipality to make sure you are meeting all the requirements for running a home business.
When clients enter your studio, you want to impress them before you start talking. Your studio should have its own “brag wall.” This is where you hang your awards, plaques, certificates, and press clippings. The bookshelves in my studio are filled with wedding memorabilia, my wedding photo, and other video-related items.
Be very careful if you set up your studio in the basement. A sump pump or water heater could go out and you could have a messy clean-up and possibly ruined equipment. You can usually get sump-pump coverage added on to your home insurance (for a price, of course). Just to be safe, keep important papers, files, and tapes up high or in a plastic waterproof container.
I’ll bet most of us tend to multitask throughout our day. I’ll throw in a load of laundry, make and take phone calls, burn some DVDs, run to the post office, exercise. I make my business and marketing calls during the day because that is when people are available. I tend to do my editing later in the evening, when things are quiet and I can focus. We all work differently—having set hours just doesn’t fit my lifestyle—but the one thing everyone needs is discipline and dedication when working from home.
Even though you may work from home, you don’t want to put your home at risk. A lawyer who spoke at our Illinois Videographers Association recommended getting a Title of Entity if you own your home jointly. A Title of Entity will protect you from losing your home if you get sued. The cost is around $200 to set it up. Contact your lawyer for more information. In addition to having errors and omission insurance (see my September 2006 column, The Need for Plan B), this is just another contributing factor to your peace of mind.
For privacy, you can list just your telephone number and city in the phonebook. My address is not on my website either. I only give it out to the client once we have set an appointment. Many wedding professionals advertise “by appointment only.” I use a post office box for such things such as registering for websites where I don’t want to give my home address out. It’s also not a bad idea to get a home alarm (a portion of the cost is tax-deductible).
If this all sounds like a good way to run your business and integrate your life and work, go ahead and click your heels three times, and repeat after me, “There is no place like a home-based videography business.”
Kris Malandruccolo, an EventDV 25 honoree and 2007 WEVA Hall of Fame inductee, is the owner of Chicago-based Elegant Videos by Kris and Elegant Storybooks by Kris. She is a master weddinfg vendor through the Association of Bridal Consultants; WEVA Public Relations chair; a national speaker, and past president of the Illinois Videographers Association.