Starting a company
March 20, 2018
I remember on my first day at university a lecturer said that there were many career pathways but some of us may end up starting our own company. That idea stuck in my head. A year after I graduated the opportunity to start a company presented itself.
Actually doing it was much harder than thinking it but it’s the best career decision I ever made. As a company we didn’t get everything right first time and even now we are still going through phases of our journey but here are a few tips I like to offer when asked about starting a company.
Don’t start something that you don’t want to do in five years. If you are not sure, have a go at a few different things and see what you like. I worked freelance before Captive North and I dipped my toe in television, film, corporate, non-profit and discovered what I was passionate about.
Pick a company name.
There are literal names like ‘Video Production Manchester’ and random names like ‘Green Monkey Limited’. We discussed relevant buzzwords and ‘captivating’ stuck. At the time there was also a big movement north with the Northern Powerhouse and the construction of MediaCityUK so ‘north’ also managed to sneak in. One lunchtime meeting later and we were called Captive North.
Create a company structure.
We became a limited company in 2012 and we employed an accountant to help manage our finances. If you are a creative type get an accountant. Trust me, they are worth every penny. Set up a bank account too because that’s where you need to keep your pennies. Allocate roles and responsibilities for the people in the company. Decide how you are going to get work in, who does the work and who delivers it.
We made a decision on who our customers were going to be. The target audience has changed slightly over the years along with our pricing structure and our service offering but having it written down and amending as you go is useful.
Somewhere to work.
At the start, everyone in the team worked from home. It was cost effective but we eventually realised that having a company office would give us a better space to collaborate and grow.
When we began we had a couple of laptops, a DSLR camera and a Sony Z1 camera. Fast forward to today and we have a lot more tools. Not just cameras and computers but lighting, audio, grip, props and just about everything else you need to shoot a video. Investing in your equipment is important.
It is easy to focus on your clients but it is also easy to forget about your own marketing. That’s why the team treat Captive North as one of its clients. Each month we dedicate time to making content for the company and that’s worked out really well because it means we practise what we preach. Clients are more responsive when they see us demonstrating the power of video with our own time and money.
You will learn on the job. We certainly did. It can be hard for creatives to find their footing as a business person. The best plan is to speak to other people who run their own businesses. Learn from their experience. If you can, find yourself a Gandalf a.k.a business guru.
Avoid procrastinating over the meaningless tasks. Focus on growing your business. Don’t mistake movement for progress. If you struggle to focus on certain tasks then either agree to delegate or create a system which makes you accountable. A little pressure can sometimes help.
I hope you find this blog useful. If you need any further advice, find me on LinkedIn and I will point you towards some wise business gurus.
Tom Marshall, Creative Director