So here we are with our ‘First Year in Business Celebration’ blog!
And we are late… Because suddenly we got really busy and it feels like everyone just woke up after a long winter hibernation! Which is a really great birthday present for us. It is hard to put this past year in only a few paragraphs, but we will do our best.
When we started Shakehaus, we felt ready and fairly confident. After all, we were three experienced filmmakers with complementary skills and had a business plan that won an award within our first month of business! We were far from being naive, but even our best efforts, thorough researches and planning were not always enough to reach the goals we had set. We’ve learned a lot from our mistakes and here we are, sharing a few valuable creative business lessons we’ve learned these past 13 months!
Lesson No 1.
Overcome Your Fear(s)
First, we had to overcome our fear (some would say hate) of networking. The three of us were fairly new to the city, even Scotland, but especially to the business world. After spending many events standing in the corner and praying for someone to approach us, we had to push ourselves. We are still not perfect, some of us better than others… but I can confidently say that we have had a pretty good start.
What helped us was the acknowledgement that we were experts in our field and knew what we were talking about, combined with being able to formulate our sales pitch. But most importantly, we learned to approach networking as an opportunity to genuinely meet nice people, listen to their stories and learn from each other! In only a year we managed to meet hundreds of people, coming from all areas of business and our own industry. At first, networking can really feel pointless: so many many events can feel like a waste of time. But it is true that the more you try, the more chances you give yourself to meet the right people, collaborators, potential clients and even friends.
Lesson No. 2
Value Your Work!
The second lesson we learned was to value our work properly. I wouldn’t say that we nailed the painful subject of pricing, but we came up with a system that works. Immediately after implementing it, we could feel the results: increase in sales and profit. As a new company wanting to establish our name and have more work to showcase, we took on some very low (or not at all) paid work. And we have learned a few things from it: Too often if individuals/companies don’t want to pay you proper rates (or at all!), they will not value your work and will come back with the same inappropriate offers. We definitely don’t regret it all, but one of the conclusions we came to is that it is better to put our energy into creating our own content: we are filmmakers after all! (A Youtube Channel is on the way 🙂 )
Lesson No 3.
Learn To Sell Yourself and Not Just Your Product/Service
Thirdly and finally, we could say a few words about selling… We were confident we could do a great job making videos, but learning to sell our services was another story. Just a great website (not our words 🙂 ), a good showreel and some examples rarely convinced the clients. We basically had to learn to sell ourselves as well! Completely from scratch, we had to invent our own sales approach and learn to be good at it. It is still a work in progress, but we’ve come a long way!
In spite of all this learning, we had an amazing first 6 months -we even had a newspaper article in The Scotsman about it. Now, the following several months were quite different…December past and we told ourselves: ‘Sure it’s the holidays no one wants to work’. January: ‘People are still recovering’. February: ‘Hm, any minute now’. March: ‘Ok, shall we panic?’.
The beginning of 2017 was truly slow. It was starting to hit our spirits, confidence, motivations and made us rethink our approach. And so we did. We were not sitting on our hands and I think that it has been the busiest period we’ve ever had. We restructured the website, services, prepared our brochure (creds deck!) and kept networking – but much smarter than before!
We were all working on setting up individual meetings to connect with potential collaborators and partners and not only focusing on meeting with companies/potential leads directly. And soon enough it paid off. The end of April already looked promising and we have now reached our peak of amount of projects lined up.
These slow months gave us the time to reflect and improve. It could have been so easy to give up after almost 4 months with barely any paid work. So tempting to just try to find a secure job and never worry about paying the rent again (home and office :)). But we were already infected with the feeling of owning and growing our business. We had become entrepreneurs and giving up was never an option.
So here we are. A 1 year old Creative Video Advertising Agency who produced a bunch of good work over the past year. But we are still in a search of ‘THE’ job. Of that crazy and brave brand that will trust us to fully unleash our creativity and unconventional thinking in video marketing, to create content that will enable us to grow together.
It is just a first year, and having a business is much different than being a freelancer or working for someone else, so anything might still happen. But after this huge learning experience, after ups and downs, we just can’t wait for what the future holds!