Archive for March, 2011
Start-up Business Action Item List, from the Kimberly Reid Show
Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011
Special thanks to Kimberly Reid, of the “Connect with Kimberly Reid” Radio Show (listen live). Kimberly’s radio show focuses Monday through Friday on Relationships, life balance, wellness, money/career, and spirit.
She very kindly had me on to talk about action items for entrepreneurs and business owners. (Listen to the show).
I very much enjoyed our interview and hope my suggestions were useful for entrepreneurs and business owners.
Here is the list of action items I went through, a few great book recommendations, and a few related hyperlinks for business owners, entrepreneurs and those who aspire to be.
1. Know your business – Draft a professional, full and complete Business Plan
What is your business? Specifically – can you describe it in a 30 second elevator speach?
What is your product, and why are you different from / better than what is already out there?
How will you stand out from what is already out there?
Who is your client?
How will you get to her?
How will she know about / get to you?
You can’t be vague. You can’t be “hopeful” – You must KNOW!
Identify: Expected (and realistic) costs, expected (and realistic) revenues, projected growth – from day 1 to 5 years out.
Will anything change within the : week, month, year?
How will you price your service/ product? Break it down into individual parts – costs? Profits?
Competitors? Can your competitors respond to your model – and hurt you?
Blockbuster versus Netflix !! When Netflix first launched, Blockbuster laughed at the business model. Now years later, Blockbuster is in bankruptcy and Netflix is thriving and beginning to move into original content. But had Blockbuster focused on Netflix early on, it could have crushed Netflix at their own business model. Still the competition, or potential competition must be considered in forming your business plan.
No competitors? Why Not? Either you’re a genius or there isn’t an OBVIOUS need or demand.
If you do everything according to your plan – WILL YOU MAKE A PROFIT ??
PROVE IT – on paper.
EXIT – What is your exit strategy – whether you’re fantastically successful or not – what’s your exit strategy? Sell? When? How will you get there – map it out. Retire there? When? What growth has happened until then – map it out.
2. Start Forming Your Team !
Analyze your weaknesses. You’ll need to supplement with the skill sets of others to compensate. But ignore your weaknesses at your peril.
What are your strengths? Play to those.
Your team may include:
Business Lawyer (like yours truly)
Shipping & Delivery relationships
- domestic versus overseas
Designer / engineers
Consumable suppliers – paper goods, etc.
There’s a ton of homework to be done on each of these areas, so start much earlier then you think you need to. The more you research, the more you will learn. You will find competitive advantages and learn of new obstacles. The earlier you find these the better!
3. Strategize the Name
Research for same / similar names –
Secretary of State
U.S. Trademark Office
Think 6 months into your business – will this name still be relevant? One year? Six years?
Think “evolution” of your business model – will this name and branding still work, or will you have to “reinvent” for the evolved business.
Reinvention – restarting requires resources, time, energy, distraction – try to get it right the first time.
4. Register the Name
- Domain Name
- Secretary of State’s Office
- U.S. Trademark Office
**Don’t use the name until you know it’s clear AND you’ve claimed it as your own!
Liability protection – an LLC or Corporate entity is absolutely necessary for a myriad of reasons.
Entity through which you do business.
Contracts will be in the name of the LLC or Corporate entity.
Hiring and Firing will be done by the LLC or Corporate entity, not you personally.
6. Scout your location
Consider the balance of expense v. location. Out of the way = cheaper >>> but also means less visible. How does that affect your customer/client flow.
7. Get necessary Insurance(s).
8. Market Yourself ! And your business.
Business Cards – Don’t Leave Home without them
Social Media – never before have you been able to do so much FOR FREE !!
Networking – IT’S NOT AN EVENT ACROSS TOWN. IT’S EVERY DAY, 24 -7.
Get a Contact Management System – it may be as simple as the free Google Contacts tool. But whatever you use should assist you in collecting important contacts, and aide you in following up with people you’ve met. Especially with people with whom you’ve had a connection.
8. Transition from “Founder” to “Owner” – “Manager”
Doing it all yourself may have gotten you where you are, but as your business grows you will have to delegate more to others. At a certain point doing it all yourself will hold your business back, rather than propel it forward.
Prepare for the transition from “Founder” to “Owner-Manager.”
- hire passionate people
- design the business’ culture so it focuses on the things that made you successful (See “Delivering Happiness,” noted below).
BEST OF LUCK WITH ALL YOUR ENDEAVORS!
Linchpin, by Seth Godin (ON BEING INDESPENSABLE)
Make a Name for Yourself: 8 Steps Every Woman Needs to Create a Personal Brand Strategy for Success, Robin Fisher Roffer
Drive, Daniel Pink (ON MOTIVATION – OF YOURSELF AND OTHERS)
Value-Based Fees, Alan Weiss
Delivering Happiness, Tony Hsieh (DEDICATION – PERSERVERANCE)
MISCELLANEOUS – The Four Hour Workweek, Timothy Ferris (take what is applicable and useful)
- Analysis of a Business Plan (thinkup.waldenu.edu)
- How Netflix Bankrupted And Destroyed Blockbuster [INFOGRAPHIC] (NFLX) (businessinsider.com)
I’ll be speaking at the Storywise Seminar, Saturday, 3/19
Thursday, March 17th, 2011
Join me at UCLA Saturday for Screenwriting Instructor Jen Grisanti’s afternoon seminar.
I’ll be discussing what to expect once a script sells, but the highlight will be Jen’s class and the panel discussion of accomplished writers!
STORYWISE SEMINAR: HOW TO TELL A STORY THAT SELLS @ UCLA – Saturday, March 19th 2:00 – 6:00 p.m. in the DeNeve Plaza Bldg., 3rd Floor, Rm B
Jen’s class and panel discussion will cover the components of what makes a strong story in TV and features. This will include log lines, drawing from your emotional well, adding fiction to your truth, finding your voice, creating powerful dilemmas and stemming them into clear goals, establishing strong emotional stakes and implementing theme and symbolism. She will look at the top features and TV shows and break down what works and why it works. She will be teaching from her new book STORY LINE: FINDING GOLD IN YOUR LIFE STORY. Books will be available for sale after the seminar.
Panelists (So far); Ted Humphrey (THE GOOD WIFE), Wendy West (DEXTER), Vanessa Taylor (GAMES OF THRONES, GREAT HOPE SPRINGS, JACK & BOBBY), Paul Ruehl (HARD TIMES OF RJ BERGER), Janet Tamaro (RIZZOLI & ISLES), Karen Horne (NBC, VP)
For more information and to sign up, go to:
Contracts & Business Needs of Film Production – and why.
Friday, March 11th, 2011
Filmmakers and writers often let the contract and business details be a second – or third or forth priority, which is unfortunate. Neglecting contracts and business formalities may prevent getting investors into a movie, or may cause a host of other problems that mean a film cannot get interest or distribution.
What follows is a brief list of “what and why” film and writing business details that must be done, from the outset, to minimize obstacles to a film or project’s success.
- Form a Production Company through which the film must be made. Why? A host of reasons. First, that will be the legal entity into which development/investment money is deposited. Why not take money/investments personally? Because of the second primary reason – liability. Liability in film development and production can come from multiple angles – from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for taking investments without the proper paperwork (a “prospectus” or “private placement memorandum” – VERY different from a “business plan”), from an accident to the cast or crew on set, or to a bystander not part of the cast or crew (think a lighting element falling onto a passerby), or to the production “losing” funds needed to pay cast and crew.
This “parade of horribles” isn’t fiction – it happens all the time. And if it happens without the legal protection of an LLC or similar legally separate production company, the legal liability will likely fall personally onto the producers and those heading up the project, and potentially onto the investors personally – meaning that personal assets will be responsible for whatever harm or legal claims.
The third reason is that the legal entity will be the “person” (a legal “person” under the law) that contracts with all those involved in the film – from the producer(s), directors, cast and crew, transportation, catering, etc. If anything goes sideways with these contracts, it is the legal person that is held accountable instead of the actual persons heading up and investing in the project.
- Contract with the writer(s) and/or legal acquisition of the script or story through a literary acquisition agreement (a/k/a an “option/purchase” agreement). Failure to do this means that the production does not have formal rights to the intellectual property it is making – meaning the writer/creator may have the ability to withdraw his material and prevent the production from doing anything commercial with footage already shot. So it is critical that this be accomplished before any production – or even development – takes place.
- Production contracts. Like it or not, a film – or a script written on spec – is a business. A writer makes a product (the script or story), or many people come together to make a product (the film), which hopefully will be sold in one form or another, resulting in a financial return that will make everyone involved happy. Perhaps that happiness will be manifest in the ability to eat higher quality raman noodles; or perhaps the ability to make another film – or obtain a return on investment – or result in children being fed and college funds being strengthened.
But a script or film is a business, and as such there are contracts that must be used in the making of the product. What contracts depend on the activity (writing versus filmmaking), budget and the type of production (feature versus documentary, for example). But the principal is the same – contracts that clearly state who owns what, who has rights to what, profit/interest divisions, etc.
Essentially the who, what, when, where, why (perhaps) and how much regarding the business transactions involved. These may include: the script/story option purchase agreement, cast and crew agreements, talent/interviewee release agreements, name and likeness releases, licensing agreements for use of the intellectual property of others (music, photographs, products, film or video clips (no – YouTube does not mean it’s in the public domain)), location agreements, craft services contracts, transportation agreements, insurance (workers comp, liability, errors and omissions, defamation protection), sponsorship and product placement agreements, distribution (foreign and domestic) agreements, appropriate trademark registrations, and the list goes on and on and on.
Failure to use appropriate contracts and follow reasonable business procedures will put the whole project in danger.
Kafee: “Mortal danger?” Col. Jessep: “Is there another kind?”
Keep your project out of danger – focus on the appropriate contracts and business formalities from the outset. Thereby clearing the way for your project to get sold and/or distributed.
The higher quality raman is truly worth it.
If I may be of assistance in advancing your business or entertainment project, please contact me at your convenience.