Need Advice on Jumpstarting a Business

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by NickD, Apr 30, 2007.

  1. NickD macrumors 6502a


    Mar 25, 2007
    Hey all,

    I'm very interested in starting an independent media facility after/during college, but I also think that it would be a good idea to start doing some business now in order to gain some experience before college.

    Before I begin, be aware of a couple things:

    1. I'm only 15, but I am completely serious, and have thought about this for a few years.
    2. I've been doing web design for many years, as well as video work and photography, so I'm not completely new to this.

    At this point, as far as my "business", I've done some simple web design for some people my parents know, as well as some small video projects (very small, no pay) for a private school near me that just got started, and some other small organizations (youth groups, school clubs, etc.). Up to this point I haven't been paid for anything.

    I don't mean to brag, but I can take very good photos. I've been getting tips and advice from some people I know who have become big-time wedding photographers in the past, and they seem to think I really have it.

    At this point, I think I am ready to jumpstart and independent business and earn myself some money, but I need some tips, because I really don't know where to start. I already have all the equipment I need, I just don't know how to get off the ground.

    Any tips would be greatly appreciated!


    P.S. - I am especially interested in video production, hence the post is in this forum.
  2. Cromulent macrumors 603


    Oct 2, 2006
    The Land of Hope and Glory
    Your main problem is not likely to be skill (I am sure you have that or at least the will to learn), it is your age. Getting people to trust a 15 year old with their hard earned money is not going to be easy.

    I would suggest building a strong portfolio of your work and getting as many references as you can. Keep doing the free work, it will benefit you in the long run. Also you could have problems with legal matters being technically a child (no I do not mean that in a derogatory way, it is just a matter of fact). Do some research on setting up your own business and the legal requirements that come with it. I do not know anything about US business law so you will have to do that yourself.

    Other than that I would suggest you start with a few small jobs or projects for yourself so that you have a lot of work already done which you can show prospective clients and say "this is what I have already done".

    Mainly setting up a business is pretty generic, no matter what field you are in. Get the equipment, show some examples of your work, advertise your services and then try and sell your products.
  3. Maxiseller macrumors 6502a


    Jan 11, 2005
    Little grey, chilly island.
    Firstly, I think it's a great idea and I'd say to stick at it regardless of the age factor.

    When I was 15 I decided to set up my own private teaching practice (music) and age was certainly a hinderance. I'm now 22, been at it for 7 years and my first pupil is an excellent player so I know I've done a good job!

    You will get people who take one look and say 'I'm sorry, this isn't going to be right for you' even though you know you can do the work - and it does hurt. But you'll also find people that don't judge, and actually look at your past performance and say "This guy really knows what he is doing".

    So, a couple of tips:

    Get yourself a VERY professional presence firstly. This should be a website, letterheads, business cards (especially important so you can just hand them out).

    Get yourself a mobile that is just for business (or a line that you can reliably answer).

    Alter your prices so that they are a) Discounted from others like yourself who may be older b) Not too cheap to seem too cheap and hence a con c) Not to cheap as to cheapen the industry as a whole and piss off all the people who work in it.

    The main thing is getting people to look at your work (which means keep working for free! and stuff for youself) then charging them a rate which makes them want to take a chance on you. If it pays off, you'll be doing great; after all, a happy client always comes back.
  4. Cromulent macrumors 603


    Oct 2, 2006
    The Land of Hope and Glory
    Just wanted to say sorry if I sounded negative in my post. You should definitely go for it, nothing ventured nothing gained as they say.

    I just think that it helps to be aware of the potential pit falls before you start. Do not let them demotivate you though :), in fact use the extra difficulties as an added means of motivation.
  5. -DH macrumors 65816

    Nov 28, 2006
    Nashville Tennessee

    Most small business people go into business for themselves because they're good at what they do; be it a mechanic that opens his own repair shop, an accountant that starts their own practice or a photographer/videographer.

    But over 70% of new businesses fail within the first five years. It isn't that they weren't good at what they do; it's due to the fact that very few are good at the business of running a business and even fewer are good at marketing their business. That's the #1 cuase of new business failures.

    So my advice to you would be to keep learning and perfecting your craft, but place equal importance on learning business, basic accounting and marketing.

    By the way, the #2 cause of new business failures is under-capitalization ... so save as much money as you can in preparation for launching your business.

    Best of luck,
    (in my 17th year of owning my own business)
  6. bmcgonag macrumors 65816


    Mar 20, 2007
    Both of these people have great advice, and I would expand on it just a bit inthe area of work for free.

    Choose who you work for for free. For instant, a local non-profit organization may need some work done, send them your info and drop off your portfolio, tell them that for good word of mouth advertising and referrals you will do the first project for free, if they've got a great start. Also, the whole charity thing is a great thing in other peoples eyes, and you can put it on scholarship essays, admission letters for college, etc.

    Second do some free work for people who you know have many contacts in the business world, but know what and who your target clientel will be. Just because someone has contacts, doesn't mean those contacts will be useful to you. They may not need video or photo stuff done. Almost everyone can use a good website, so definitely push that on anyone.

    Hope this helps, and go for it.


  7. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Don't charge a low rate, but charge a discounted rate. For example, lets say you want your rate to $20/hr but no one is willing to pay that to a 15yr old kid they don't know. So offer them a "new client discount" rate of, let's say, $10 an hour. On the invoice you give them make sure it reads $20/hr discounted to $10. If you do a good job and they want to hire you again they'll be more willing to pay the $20 because they know they got the first job "on sale." But if you say your rate is $10 to get the first job it will be very difficult (if not impossible) to get the same client to pay more than $10 for subsequent jobs.

  8. NickD thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Mar 25, 2007
    Thanks for the advice so far everyone. I'm very fortunate to have a dad who has run his own business for the past 15+ years, and he is educating me on the business end. I do believe that I can get this to go, so I'm going to take your advice and figure out what my next step will be.
  9. eRondeau macrumors 65816


    Mar 3, 2004
    Canada's South Coast
    I made signs and banners for many years, and I saw many small businesses start and fail for the same reasons. All advice given so far is good, however above all -- keep your startup costs under control. Don't make the mistake of spending beyond your means on the latest and greatest brand-new equipment. That gets more startups in trouble than anything else. Take out a Yellow Pages ad, a good one properly placed will pay back its costs ten fold. Don't promise anything you can't deliver, always do exactly what you say you're going to do, and if possible try to throw something in as a little bonus -- people will remember that, and good word-of-mouth is the best advertising!
  10. Jopling macrumors 6502

    Jul 14, 2004
    I started freelance editing when I had just turned 17. I was making $40 an hour and had work 3 weeks out of the month. I'd say the best thing I did was networking. I marketed myself and created great relationships with clients who later referred me to my other clients. Even before I did all of that though I took up two internships in one summer. One with a film production company and the other with a commerical video company. Both taught me the business side of the film industry. Those internships instilled a lot of confidence in not just myself, but my clients too. I'd suggest you go around to your local TV stations or commercial companies in the area and see if you can get an internship before you start up your own company. This also looks great on your application for college, especially if you are applying to a school like NYU.

Share This Page