The Basic Business Attributes You Need to Have

By Paul Santiago

How many times have we heard the saying “we learn from our mistakes”. I have to agree with this saying, and also that the lessons we learn hardest we learn best! I have learned a lot from my mistakes, sadly (for me) most of them were made before the Internet existed as the fantastic networking tool it is today. Today it is possible to read articles or join a forum and get great advice (and not so great advice).

While it is great to learn from our mistakes, it is better to learn from the mistakes of others, or by ‘standing on the shoulders of giants as Newton said. These are my ‘business mistakes’ I have learned from.

Keep your monthly fixed costs as low as possible, and make your number one priority to arrange an equal amount of regular income on a regular monthly basis to cover this amount.

If there was one piece of advice I would give it would be the above, as more businesses go bust due to poor cash flow than anything else! Thank goodness California is warm almost all year, we film weddings from January to December. As a wedding vendor you probably know, winter is pretty slim, for weddings. By keeping our overhead low, we get to save during the months of plenty to help us survive the lean winter months. 

Thoroughly research and bounce ideas off of your peers.  Market test it as much as possible while keeping the idea as quiet as possible.

When we first started our business, we worked hard and kept our heads down. We didn’t really mingle with the wedding crown until much later when we were 5 years into the business. I wish we had expanded our network of friends sooner, we would have learned so much from our friends back then and avoided some costly mistakes. 

Get a business plan and set in stone a solid plan for achieving this. After you hit break even continue it on to the next target, and so on.

I just used the magic word there, ‘target’. You MUST be sales orientated in business as the owner, if you are not then you are failing in your main duty which is to ensure the continued existence of your livelihood. If we don’t take a hard look at our numbers and raised our prices, we wouldn’t have lasted 10 years in the wedding industry. 

Do not care what others think about you, i.e. what camera you use, what car you drive,  etc. Your talent can take you farther than the latest equipment can. Keep your focus on short term targets and longer term goals and do not be distracted by shiny objects. 

For example, when the first GoPro Hero HD camera came out, a lot of wedding videographers bought one and incorporated this super-wide shot footage into their videos. We didn’t follow this trend because 1) we didn’t need a new camera, and 2) we didn’t want to experiment on our client’s wedding videos. Our videos remained classic and timeless because of the absence of the very distinct GoPro circa 2010 look. 

Keep your focus, decide what the targets are, work out how to get them, and focus on doing that.

If you need $5000 a month to pay the bills, then this is what you MUST do. If you lose focus of your core objective, you are going to lose out big time, and end up failing.

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