Today, we going to be looking to how to systematize your business. Systemizing aspects of your business is one of the first things you should do when starting your business. We’ll cover the reasons and practicalities of how to systematize your business and focus on video businesses specifically.
So why would you want to systematize your video business? Let us count the reasons…
Well, have you ever found yourself in the unenviable situation where you feel overwhelmed as you just have too many tasks on your to-do list? Or, don’t you hate it when your scriptwriter still hasn’t finished his writing, especially 2 days before the start of the shoot.
How about when, suddenly, one of your camera guys decides to take a last minute vacation, leaving you up the creek without a paddle?
These are just some of the typical things that can happen that we often call time wasters, and they have the potential to delay the overall schedule of any project you’re working on.
You can prevent the domino effect of delays by ensuring that you have a good system in place. Like any solid business, having a fluid and sound system will help you get things done faster, more efficiently and definitely less costly.
Having a good system in place can already solve many potential problems before they even come up, thus streamlining your projects and workflow. And starting out with a system in your video production business will help avoid a lot of mistakes many new production houses tend to fall into.
A system can also help you when you come to expand your offerings: for example, if you are interested in getting into wedding photography, or packaging your video services and giving clients options beyond just video work.
1. Plan, plan, and plan some more
Set your plan and make sure you give it a timeline. With the timeline set, you can start chewing into the tasks and knock them off your to-do list.
With a system, you also have to plan:
- when you want to start looking to create a system,
- when to evaluate your system,
- when you are going to make the changes for improvement.
That may sound a bit like inception, but that’s a starting point. With the conscious idea of implementing a system in mind, you get to think about what you want to have in your system, and what you want this system to achieve.
We’ll talk in more detail about this later on in the article, but a system allows us to setup Standard Operating Procedures (or SOPs). These SOPs are written (or even video) instructions for any task that you do more than once in your business.
SOPs make everything so much easier. When you don’t know what to do (or where to start) on a task, you just consult your SOPs.
So, as an example, here are a few things that you can use Standard Operating Procedures for:
- Inventorying gear after (and before) shoots.
- Replying to enquiries.
- Writing blog posts.
2. Write out what needs to be done after time
What do you usually do in preparation for a shoot, during the shoot, and after the shoot? Effectively writing all of these tasks lets you know what needs to be done.
Speaking of what to be doing, this is actually creating the objective of having a system. Usually, the objective of having a system is to have something that works for you, the team and the client.
This often includes having listed tasks, identifying which of your crew will be assigned to these tasks, when each task needs to be done, and also knowing what tasks are dependent on other tasks.
You can’t start shooting without a camera or a script (or at least a written idea of what you’re going to shoot), right? Neither can you start editing without your video footage.
Some of these tasks and dependencies are quite logical. But, in a stressful situation, it would definitely be good to have it all listed down, and worked out, so that you can see a clear roadmap for each project.
3. Identify who takes on the work
Ideally, you want to give exact roles to people, connected to the tasks that need to be accomplished. When you start this way, you can also create a list of who is assigned to do what. This way, you know exactly who is doing what and when in pre-production, production and post-production.
Aside from that, you create some accountability. When you assign someone to take care of a certain task, you entrust that they will have those things ready for when they’re necessary.
Let’s touch on pre-production here. You can’t shoot in a venue that hasn’t been cleared with the area or property owner, right? Someone has to be assigned to do that job, and get the schedule and clearance, before you even get to start shooting.
4. Create a process
From knowing what you actually do, you now have to think about when things are going to be done, and by whom. You may want to create some sort of flow of how things get done. A flowchart is of great use here.
It makes work so much clearer for everyone. People will know their tasks, where they should be, and when they should be doing them.
Also, it is essential to figure out when is the best time to say the process has started, and when it has ended. Does this process start with the initial discovery meeting with the client? Does it end with the final render of the video or overall collection of the fees?
Processes, and overall systems don’t have to be complicated. It just has to work. Simple processes are clear and easy to follow, and you definitely want that.
Avoid stressing yourself out in preparation for a shoot, just because you have a rigid process. That would just be counterintuitive.
5. Implement the process
This is where you see your plan in action. While it isn’t a movie itself, it is something to keep a close eye on, especially when it is a big contributing factor to the success and continuity your video production business.
Once you have steps 1-4 done, you can see how those steps workout in action, and then take notes based on your observation about what is successful and what didn’t really work out.
With this process, you can see at any time what your colleagues are supposed to be doing, and where they should be.
It should also be able to show you immediately some potential red flags, like how potentially delayed the project may get if you are a few steps behind from where you had targeted yourself to be at any stage.
In this way, you should get a highly elevated bird’s eye view of not just each project, but your whole business.
6. See what you can outsource
Sometimes you and your team can’t take on all the work. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with outsourcing work. A prime example is the legal and accounting stuff that needs to be taken care of.
That usually is the case anyway, with many other video production companies doing the same. There are a lot of freelancer accountants and lawyers who specialize in video production companies.
It’s always better to outsource something if you know either:
- You’ll take more time doing the task than someone else would.
- You’ve worked out your EHR (your Effective Hourly Rate) and know that you’re paying yourself less by doing a task than you could make by just outsourcing it to somebody else.
7. Agree on some policies and rules
You’re not a parent to your video production team. It would be good to treat each other with equal respect as it should be, and setting the right policies and rules in place would help everyone treat and be treated with equal respect.
8. Be open to gathering feedback
The only way to really get better at something is to keep learning. And to keep learning, you have to know what you still need to know, right? In fact, a great mindset to take on is that you’re always the student and never stop learning.
It helps when you are able to get feedback about whether project has achieved what it set out to do, or has fallen short of the mark.
Sometimes, negative feedback can also be turned around, and seen as a strong point for improvement.
Remember, don’t take negative feedback to heart. It’s a chance for improvement, so don’t get all defensive.
Instead, listen carefully to what your clients, peers and colleagues tell you, and listen to what they are saying. Is it an opinion or a fact? A task that you may have missed out is a fact, they way someone felt about how you talked to them is an opinion.
9. Always improve on the process
Even if you have already created something in place, don’t just sit there and expect that it is perfect. It may be a good system now, but it may still be improved on.
Try to keep an objective eye when evaluating your system and seeing it play out. Also, with the feedback you get, from your team, and constructive criticism you may get from your clients, you may evaluate how to make things better.
A system will always have something to improve on. Even when you think it is possibly the best it can be, there is still an opportunity to improve on it some more.
For example, perhaps it is possible to streamline the timeline even more. Your editor may start working on some editing, while the shoot is still ongoing. He may work onsite, so that the editing and overview process is much faster.
Perhaps even investing in more hard drives may be good in the long run, because it allows you to have a more thorough backup system. Setting up a cloud account may also be beneficial in the future, to store all archived projects, so that you don’t lose them.
These are just some examples to look at, and it doesn’t just involve the system per project, but the entire business as a whole. Give it some thought.
Systematize Your Business – A Conclusion
Overall, you have to start with the end in mind, ‘I want to finish this project on time, have it very much high quality, something that I can definitely be proud of, and within the budget I had allocated for it.’
With having a system that works for you and your production team, all of these success points end up being a win for everyone.
We hope you’ve found this article on how to systematize your business helpful. What steps have you taken to systematize your business? Let us know in the comments just below here.