Making Business Personal – Yes Filmmakers, This One’s For You

What do you see your film company doing in five years?  How will you handle a failure in the movie business?  What are your goals for the future?  How do you plan for success, and failure?  All this and more comes down to making business personal – investing personal energy and goal-setting into your film business future.

While we are constantly told to keep business separate from our personal interests – before starting out with your own company, you have to do the opposite. You have to consider both, hand in hand.

What does this mean? Let’s use an example.

You’ve created a great piece of software for the film industry that is unique, original and fills a gap in the market. Or you’ve got an idea for a film, better still, you’ve got a completed script that you want to produce yourself. What do you personally want to see the business created from this product do?

Do you want to be the top company in this market, or make your money fast and get out? Are you going to use this first product to get attention for the business (yourself) and then branch out into other, related areas at a later date? Do you want to corner the market, buy up other companies that work in related areas – become the next Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch, Harvey Weinstein or Kerry Packer?

Do you know where you want the company to be in five years? Ten years? Twenty years? Yes, its that question that we all dislike hearing in job interviews, but its asked for a reason. If you can answer that question, then it shows that you have goals, that you’re aiming for something. Whether the answer you give to your prospective boss is “Being Vice President of Distribution” or “Doing your job”, as long as you have a vision of where you, and in this case, your business, is heading, then you’ll find the going that much easier.

So, decide on where you want your business to be placed and what it will be doing long term. Make that your ultimate destination for the business. Then set smaller goals along that timeline. Start with where do you want the company to be in a year. Then in two years, then in three, and so on. Write it down. Put it up on your office wall, or near your computer. Put it somewhere where you will see it and be reminded of where you are going. Each goal is like a milestone along the road to success, so treat them as such.

Next, consider what you personally want from the success of your business. Why do you want to create and run this business? Is it for financial independence? Because you believe in the product or service? You want to be your own boss? Fulfill a dream? Retire early, buy a yacht and sail to the Carribean? Take over the world?

Whatever you expect personally from your business is just as important as what you personally want for your business. The combination of the two means that you are personally connected to what you do, you have emotionally invested in the success of your business, and so an enthusiasm for what you do is created that is contagious. Also, when the going gets tough, being committed to your business, for whatever reason, gives you a greater chance to overcome the hurdles you will face more easily, than if you’re just doing it “because it sounds like a good idea”.

The next thing you have to do is look at your risk tolerance. This is where you need to be clinical and distanced from the personal considerations for a while. This is where you need to assess just how prepared you are emotionally, financially and professionally in case your business is put in risk – for any reason. If the business failed, would you cope emotionally? Would you be able to wear a financial loss? Would you be able to weather any storms on the horizon? Because there’ll be a few.

When looking at your tolerance for risk, be hard on yourself – allow yourself to picture the worst case scenario and imagine how you’ll react. Talk to your bank manager or accountant to make sure that you’re safeguarded as much as possible financially, should the worst occur. And be honest. There is no point going into a business venture if you’re not prepared to take the risks that go with it. No start-up runs smoothly. If it’s not problems with paying tax on time, then it’s setbacks with the product, or issues with funding, or anything else you can think of. As they say, “The best laid plans of mice and men, etc, etc”.

Once you’ve realistically assessed how you’ll handle any of the risks, and you’ve decided that you can handle anything thrown at you, you can put that aspect aside and not think about it again, knowing that you’re secure no matter what occurs. Then you’re ready to seriously start planning your business goals, writing your business plan, buying office furniture and getting in a Feng Shui expert.

Of course, goals and attitudes can change, and they should be flexible to allow for unforeseen opportunity and sometimes misfortune. But if you keep your ultimate goal in mind, and personally invest yourself and your goals for your business, in your business, and finally – are persistent and determined, then your success is already one step closer to reality.

Originally published May 2004 © Sally McLean. All rights reserved.

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