I recently started a third business: FinVid, LLC (doing business as Vidzuno).
We’re calling it a “video production company” with a mission to “help influencers and brands create amazing video.” It’s admittedly broad in scope. We’re hoping to refine that this year.
Today I thought I’d share my motivation for this new company and walk you through the steps I took to get it up and running. This company–and how I think about it–will make for a great case study for future content as well since I’ll be attempting to optimize the business and potentially scale it.
The process of starting any new business is pretty simple. It’s not easy. But it’s simple.
All you need to do is create a service or product (or access to a product) that other people find useful and sell it to them for a profit. Do this over and over again and you’d got yourself a business.
At some point, you’d want a federal tax identification number and a bank account to make things easier for tracking and reporting purposes. That’s about it.
Why are we Starting a Video Production Company?
I keep saying “we” because even though I’m the sole owner of the business (at the outset) I wouldn’t have dreamed of starting it unless my friend and FinCon teammate, Justin Bufkin wanted to run this thing.
Justin will serve as the CEO, lead editor, salesperson, manager, customer support, occasional cameraman, and much more.
I’m simply setting up the business, providing some marketing assistance, and overall business consulting–then I’ll just let Justin do his thing.
So, “we” are doing this for a few reasons:
1. Justin wants to do more creative video work
He spent the last year as a full-time FinCon employee. Since we only have enough technical/video work for about a third of the work year, I put Justin to work doing marketing, content, and other odd jobs. This meant that Justin was only able to do what he loves about 33% of the time. And I was wasting his most valuable skill: video production and technical direction.
This new business allows him to put much more of his time doing what he loves and excels at.
2. There is definitely a market for video production services
Influencers and brands that attend FinCon, as well as other event planners that I network with, need video services. Justin has received many requests for his services over the past year. This business comes with a customer base that already knows and trusts us. That’s something that not every business is so lucky to have right off the bat.
3. Moving Justin to a new company allows me to improve the bottom line of FinCon
Three full-time salaries were too much for an event our size. It made us look less profitable than we would have been otherwise. I know we will eventually grow into three salaries, but I pulled that trigger too early. This move allows me to reverse that decision.
4. Justin may want to run his own company one day
This new company will give Justin the freedom and autonomy that will ideally lead to him getting comfortable with running (and owning) the entire operation. I would love it if in a few years Justin owns a large chunk of this business and I’m just a small investor and customer.
The Exact Steps We Took to Start the Business
1. Some Planning
First, we sat down an discussed the opportunity and the work that needed to be done. We created a simple business plan laying out our roles and initial ideas for the business.
2. Serving Customers
Since our customer base is already asking for these services, Justin finally started saying “yes” to project requests and we were in business. He ended up doing a couple of shoots in late December of last year.
Justin’s process is simple; meet with the customer, discover what they want, create a proposal, and then go do the work once accepted.
3. Getting Legal
While Justin was doing the actual work, I began forming the legal entity and chose an official start date of January 1.
For $300, I got the LLC set up in the State of Texas. I decided on an LLC because of the simple structure and the ability to declare another tax classification for tax purposes. I also applied for a free EIN from the IRS.
We didn’t have a name for the business initially, so we just chose something that married video with finances: FinVid, LLC.
4. Setting up a Bank Account
With my EIN and LLC documents in hand, I went to Chase and opened up a separate checking account for the business. I funded the account with $50k of my own dollars.
5. Starting Payroll
Finally, I asked my accountant to begin Justin’s payroll on January 1.
PT is starting a video production company. Here are the exact steps he took as well as his thoughts and concerns for the company. Check it out!Click to tweet
Activities in the New Year
On December 31st I terminated Justin from FinCon and immediately hired him full-time for FinVid, LLC. It’s official! FinVid, LLC has it’s first employee.
Justin has spent the initial days of 2019 setting up his workspace, editing/delivering video, fielding sales calls (from referrals already!), and bidding on a few projects.
I’ve spent 2019, setting up the bare bones website and starting the process to establish a new SIMPLE IRA plan for Justin to participate in (I wanted to ensure he maintains the same benefits he has at FinCon).
What Kind of Video Production Will We Do?
Right now, we are up for anything video related. We will initially have a broad scope of services: promotional videos, event video, and generally anything that tells an influencer’s (or brand’s) story to share an idea or communicate an offer.
Justin’s very first completed project was a book trailer for Grant Sabatier (Millennial Money). Since that project, Justin has been asked to possibly do more book trailer work for other authors. We think this may turn into our specialty or niche of focus.
Take a look at that video here.
Justin has also bid on a project where we would do the video for another event. He is also in discussions to do some corporate videos and is planning a video course for influencers. He is also looking into doing video editing services for Youtubers.
And of course, Justin will still do the AV work for FinCon. We will establish a $30k contract for FinVid to do that work for FinCon.
It will be chaos at first. But we’re hoping to expose Justin to a variety of project opportunities and them drill down as the year moves forward.
Things I’m Concerned About
As we move forward here are some of the things I’m concerned about.
Not getting the work done in a timely manner
A one-week video project can easily extend into two or three weeks. Since Justin is the sole employee, the progress will initially depend on his ability to get through the work. He’s a talented guy and doesn’t put out shoddy work, so this will be a constant rub in the business.
We’ll have to be careful not to overbook and be mindful of the actual time these projects can take.
Not having processes
It’s hard for a business to grow and thrive without processes in place. Having good processes will reduce the time needed to complete projects and allow us to eventually hire Justin some help.
Processes are hard to implement when you’re just doing the work day in and day out. It requires you stop to create them. That’s hard to do at the outset when you’re just trying to grab at any potential work you can find.
Not finding a niche
Without a niche or specialty, it will be hard for us to separate the business from competitors and demand a premium rate. When you have too many choices for customers it’s hard to “productize” the business. Ultimately, we want customers to quickly understand what we do, love what we do because we do it better than anyone else, and we want to be able to create a bulletproof process to grow the business to serve a ton of clients. The simpler the business the easier this is to do.
Things I’m Not Concerned About
We’ve got some great assets in our pocket already. Here are some of the areas where I’m really confident:
Justin is a great videographer and creative. He has a ton of experience on many different projects. I know he’ll make great stuff regardless of what we choose to do.
Justin and I both do marketing so we’ve got this skill in the bag. I’m confident we can effectively present the offers to clients.
With our FinCon contacts (both influencers and brands), and Justin’s contacts from his previous career in Church video production, we should be all set with leads for potential work.
Up next, I will complete the retirement plan set up, and start doing some word of mouth marketing among my friendly contacts. Justin will get into the groove of editing, sales, new projects, and filling up his calendar for the year.
We are both very excited about what this year will bring for FinVid, LLC (aka Vidzuno).
Update #2: New Clients, Better Website Built, and Marketing at an Event
Vidzuno (now our official name) is approaching the end of its first quarter of business. Things are moving along nicely.
Justin built out a better-looking splash website. He used WordPress and the Astra Theme with Elementor to design it. See the screen grab below.
Right now, the website points to a Calendly link so that prospective clients can set up a call with Justin to go over their idea. At some point, we should probably add a basic contact form as well for general inquiries.
We marketed the Vidzuno service at an event this month: Podfest in Orlando. Our goal was to pick up a few clients and spread awareness of this new service.