Getting Started With a Food Product Business

I’m in the middle of starting this food product business and still in the journey. I have little to any money to put into this business. However, when you have a great product and you believe you your product then you must put the effort out there to make it available for people to buy. In my case, I’m in the process of putting to market a garlic salsa that tastes amazing! While in the journey, I’m doing plenty of research everyday as to what are the formalities of doing a food product business the right way.

One thing that I learned about the business is that you can’t prepare your product at home and must be prepared in what is called a certified commercial kitchen. This can be a daunting task but there are places out there that rent kitchen space to create food products.

But probably the most cost effective avenue to take is getting your food product outsourced. When you outsource your food product you aren’t burdened with the start up costs that could easily run into the hundreds of thousands to get the machines to create the products that you want to package. Not to mention in addition the packaging materials and shipping still associate with your packaged food product.

As of now, I have located a place where I can get my garlic salsa outsourced and doing some research. Everyday must be a small step forward to get your product off the ground. You must learn something new everyday and apply what you have learned. Especially if it’s something that you’re passionate about.

Right now, in the current economic times is the best time to start a business. It’s more affordable now than ever for many industries to get started. Small business America needs to step up and create opportunities and jobs. We must be innovative. And right now is that time.

Video Production Business Tips – Expediting Payments From Video Production Clients

After running your video production business for so long, you’ll soon realize that receiving timely payments from your video business clients can often be a challenge. Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years that can speed up this process.

1. Make sure your contracts state EXACTLY when you expect to be paid.

If you are working as a freelancer, set your terms so that payment is due no later than 30 days after the shoot date and consider asking for a deposit to secure your equipment and personnel. Getting a deposit will give you some cash to work with immediately and will lessen the blow if/when clients are late with your final payment. If you are providing turn-key video services, request multiple payments at various phases of the project and communicate with the client frequently about your expected payment schedule.

2. Submit your final invoice to the client on or before the closing date of your projects and ask if it’s possible to get your check processed within two weeks.

The key here is to hit them with the invoice while the relationship is still hot. In most cases, they’ll want to help you get paid quickly if they are happy with their experience with your video production business. Waiting a few days or weeks after the project is complete to submit your invoice almost always guarantees that the client has already moved on to other priorities. When their attention has changed to other projects, your invoice will fall to the bottom of the priority list and your payment will be delayed.

3. Email a copy of your invoice directly to the person who managed the project on behalf of your client.

Then, mail a hard copy of the invoice attention to “Accounts Payable.” In both the email copy and hard copy, ask them in bold letters to “call or send a return email to verify that they received your invoice.” Never assume that they received your invoice just because you sent an email. The reason you send a hard copy to accounts payable is because it’s their job to make sure bills get paid for the business. When they receive the invoice, they will contact the project manager in their business to verify the validity of the invoice.

Once the project manager approves the amount your video production business has charged, accounts payable will begin processing your payment immediately. Also, when the accounting department calls you to verify that they received your invoice, ask if it’s possible to expedite payment. Very few people actually communicate directly with accounts payable. They will often be happy to push your invoice through the system. Remember that the squeaky wheel gets the oil!

Video Production Business Tips – Systematizing the Creative Process

I spent the better part of my weekend reading a book about starting your own business. Reading such books will help you see the light as it relates to building a more successful video production business. It certainly helped me better understand a lot of the emotions I cycle through on a regular basis due to the stress involved with running a company, managing production and actually being the one to shoot and edit a good percentage of the work that comes into my studio.

I’ve found that the largest time suck and profit leak in a video business is the creative process. We often spend way too much time trying, tweaking and hating our work (repeat) until the deadline arrives and we are forced to hurry up and make it suitable for delivery to our client. In our studio, this is often referred to as “polishing a turd!”

When this happens, we aren’t fulfilled as artists and our bank account isn’t filled up with the cash needed to support our families and to reinvest in our businesses.

In order to be both fulfilled and financially successful, we have to find ways to systematize our creative process so we can deliver quality products, faster and with higher profit margins.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. However, in any creative environment, I think we’d agree that another possible definition might be doing something different every time but expecting the same result.

In other words, we want the freedom to be as creative as possible in each project we work on and we also want to be paid for all the time spent making the client’s masterpiece. It simply doesn’t happen this way.

We don’t have the luxury of an open-ended meter where we can just work on a project as long as we want with the guarantee of getting paid for every single hour it takes to complete it to our satisfaction.

Instead, we either work too many hours that we don’t get paid for or we intentionally work fewer hours because we want to make sure we get paid for all our efforts.

Both options are bad for us, the video business owner. If we work too many hours that aren’t compensated, we can’t survive and thrive financially and if we work fewer hours than it takes to deliver an exceptional product for the client, we risk not getting hired again which also impacts our financial well-being.

It’s a lose/lose scenario.

In order to be successful in our industry, we MUST systematize as much of the creative process as possible. Here are some areas to consider.

1. Scriptwriting

How do you go about writing a script? Create a process for doing the research, developing the outline, submitting for client review/approval, etc. Another thing you can consider doing is to encourage the client to handle more of the scriptwriting responsibilities so you don’t get bogged down with that part of the process. This is what I try to do in most projects and it’s been much more profitable (and pleasurable) for me overall.

2. Lighting Interviews, B-ROLL, etc.

I know DPs who like to take a different approach to lighting on every single shoot. I’ve actually heard them say that they don’t want any two shoots to look the same as far as lighting is concerned. I think this is insane! In my opinion, you don’t want to change your style with every shoot. Instead, pick a style, master it and use it for a long time on many shoots until you feel like you need to upgrade it with either different equipment or more advanced techniques.

It used to take me an hour to properly light an interview. Now I can do it in 15 minutes or less because I do it the same time, every time.

3. Editing & Motion Graphics

This is the part of our creative process that really kills us. The artist in us wants to try something new but the business manager just wants to hurry up and finish it. Believe it or not, there are patterns that you develop over time in the editing and design process that you can replicate with minor tweaks. Doing it this way takes much less time to create but looks completely different in the eyes of your clients.

The same logo animation with different color schemes, shadows, fonts, etc. can be used in dozens of videos without anyone ever knowing. The same color correction style or vignette treatment can also be recycled in each project without any issues. There are tons of things you can do to keep your work fresh for each client but to greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to complete it.

I know I didn’t go into a ton of detail in this post on how to systematize every aspect of the creative process but I hope you are already getting ideas on how you can find ways to produce outstanding work in less time… resulting in higher profits for your video production business!

Video Production Business Tips – Why Your Sales Projections Should Come From Reflections

In the long years of being in a video production business, I realized that everyone wants projections from you. The only problem is that you don’t have a crystal ball and it would be foolish to pretend that you know what’s going to happen in 3 months, a year and especially 3 years. After several years of failed attempts at predicting what future sales would be for our video production business, my wife and I decided to reflect on previous years instead.

My talent is making the money whereas her talent is keeping the money. We make a great team! As it turned out, all the interested parties I listed above were much happier with our projections once we started basing them on averages of previous year’s sales. How do we do this?

It’s really quite simple to use this method for projecting future sales if you have been in the video production business at least 2 years. Write down what you sold in each month of year one and in each month of year two. Then, average the numbers for each month.

The sales average for each month is your projected sales number for the upcoming year. For instance, if you did $10,000 in November of 2008 and $8,000 in November of 2009, the average of those two numbers is $9,000. This is what you should project for sales to be in November 2010. This is a very conservative projection and your bankers and investors will appreciate that. Plus, this gives you a realistic view of what your business should and most likely will do in sales each month in the coming year.

To get a picture of what your entire year will look like, repeat the exercise above for each month. Your total sales for the year should equal the average of the previous two year’s sales. In theory, all you’ll have to do to meet these numbers is keep doing what you’ve always done. You can follow the same level of product and customer service; make the same or similar volume of repeat orders and new orders, and the assumption that there won’t be any major changes in the economy.

The question now is, “Are you happy with those numbers?” If so, great! You can continue to do what you love best and feel good about what the next year will bring. If not, you’ll need to look at how and where you can improve your video production business to increase your revenues. In this case, I’d suggest smaller, incremental changes each year instead of a complete overhaul. Complete overhauls take a lot of your time and will cost quite a bit of money.

Talk to your mentors about these numbers. I’m assuming you have several mentors you consult with on a regular basis. Ask for their help in analyzing your numbers and for ideas on how to improve them.

Finally, remember that the only number more important than how much you sell is the number that reflects how much you keep. You need to be very aggressive is guarding your expenses because even if your video production business only experiences single digit percentage growth each year, you’ll continue to get wealthier and wealthier.