When we start the hustle, building our own video production companies and fueling entrepreneurial dreams, it’s easy to do it all. Well, sort of. Most of the time, it’s because our clients aren’t coming out of our ears and we’re still learning the ropes of how to make a business run. It’s a wonderful and sometimes stressful season of learning. Learning not only the other areas of video production that we’re weak in, but also learning the details of business from doing the accounting to worrying about taxes. It’s invigorating!
But then it happens. That magical moment when you say to a potential client, “I’m sorry, I’m booked that month.” And it’s not just a random, one-off thing either. You’re consistently booked. Your business is growing! And suddenly the time that you had to do it all seems to slip through your fingers.
In the video production world, there are two types of people: Gear Heads and Software Nerds.
Gear Heads love everything production: the cameras, the lights, the lens, the jibs, the drones, the underwater mics, and the monitors. Everything is in pursuit of setting up the perfect shot and capturing the moment. This post is written for you. Because chances are you’re crippling yourself trying to do it all.
Software Nerds on the other hand, love post-production: computer processors, storage devices, color-correcting, NLE debates, stock footage sites, plugins, sound design, and codecs. Everything is about refining the footage so it can tell a story. This post is written so you can find Gear Heads who need your skills.
While most of us entrepreneurs frequently have elements of both types, many of us tend to fall on one side of the spectrum. And while it can work for a while that you live in both worlds, the reality is that there will come a time when your business will only continue to grow if you decide to stay in the world that suits you best.
So how can you tell if you’re getting to the point where you need to decide? Here are 5 signs you need to watch out for:
1). You find yourself spending more time doing things you hate than doing things you enjoy.
For the Gear Head: Let’s face it. You started your video company to be your own boss and to have freedom to work on whatever you liked. So when did work become a drag again? The post-production tasks grow more tedious with each and every project. And it’s making you more noticeably cranky and grumpy when you talk to family and friends. It’s time to find someone who can finish those projects for you.
For the Software Nerd: As you have conversations with your fellow video producing friends, pay attention. Who is complaining about their post-production process? Who seems to be spending more time away from shooting? Who is always coming to you to fix a problem with their edit?
2). You’re losing out on the opportunities you REALLY want to work on.
All of us got into this business inspired by a particular type of video we wanted to work on someday. Getting there meant taking whatever projects came across our path. But at some point, the opportunities you want will pass you by because you’re busy with all that other stuff.
For the Gear Head: There’s two options for you: either quit the other work and hope you can find other projects like what you want to work on, or, work with somebody else who can free you up to do the part you love. Even if that means farming out a single project to an editor just to make time in your production calendar.
For the Software Nerd: Pay attention to those projects coming at you randomly from a Gear Head. Think of a way you can propose working together to make it more consistent and lucrative for both of you.
3). You’re sinking more and more money into the equipment to do what you dislike, rather than love.
Any part of this business is expensive. New camera gear. New computers to render our footage. If you’re doing it all, you’ll need to keep it all up-to-date. Now if you’re a Gear Head and that means buying a new camera body, score! But if you’re a Gear Head and you hate to edit but now you’ve got to buy a new computer to handle your 4K footage...that new camera body will have to wait. Working with someone with the opposite passion means they’re the one willing to spend the money on their equipment, not you.
For the Gear Head: It’s obvious that the guy who wants to sink lots of money into a render machine for that 4K VR video is going to be a Software Nerd. Find one and save yourself time and money.
For the Software Nerd: use your powerful tools as a selling point. You’re probably shelling out more for plugins and computer hardware than a Gear Head.
4). Your work shines with quality in one area, but not in another. And it’s suffering even more these days.
I’ll be honest. I’m a Software Nerd. I love the edit. The stuff Gear Heads love? Not so much. And it shows when I have to be behind a camera for a shoot. My footage just doesn’t sparkle. My editing skills are kick-ass, but the whole video is brought down by shots that look like they were shot by a 1990’s film student. Blegh!
For both Gear Heads and Software Nerds: In the beginning stages of your business, you’re probably a little green all around the video production process so this doesn’t matter as much. But what if you’re clearly better at one and not the other? Or what if you’re so busy that now you’re shoving work out the door, just barely making work that satisfies both you and the client? The only way to put forth a quality product is to work with people who are better than you.
5). You’re leaving money on the table.
You know you could get more work doing the part you love--if only you could just get the other stuff out of the way. You know it because the opportunities are right in front of you. But your production calendar won’t let you anywhere near that money.
I tell you from experience, that money won’t be on the table for long. While you’re busy trying to figure out how to get all your other stuff done, some fresh buckaroo will come along and snap up your opportunities. (Print up some fresh business cards and hit the networking events. Again.)
For the Gear Head and the Software Nerd: This doesn’t have to be reality. You entered the world of working for yourself and building your dream job because you wanted the freedom to do the work you love. The only way to beat the competition is to hustle harder by leveraging the skills and talents of other people. As one man or woman, you’ve only got 24 hours in a day. But when you start working with another person, you double your production power. And the amount of money you can take from the table.
I noticed these five signs in my work as a one-man production company. I since wised up and stopped shooting. Now I only edit for Gear Heads who want quality work made from their quality shots. I’m a happier entrepreneur and a happier video editor.
How about you? What other signs have you noticed that it’s now time to find your opposite?