How to Start Your Own Production Company - Part I

by Don Lawler

I hear it all the time: "One of these days I'll..." or, "If I could just...." Have you ever said, "One of these days I'll start my own production company." If so, I hope this series of articles will help you make some right choices and head you toward your dream. I might also add that just because you're a great writer or producer doesn't mean you'll make a good business person. The purpose of this article is to help you find out if you've got what it takes.

This is one of the greatest opportunity eras in the history of the world. We have entered into the age of the entrepreneur and the intrepreneur. There are more companies being formed now than at any other time in history, and the rate of company formation is accelerating dramatically. There are over a million businesses a year being incorporated. That doesn't even take into account all the sole-proprietorships and partnerships. Of all those new businesses, eighty percent will fail within five years - a sobering thought.

The purpose of these articles is not to make you an expert on business, but to give you some direction and information that can help you start and run a profitable production company. I will write from ten years of personal experience as the founder and president of three production companies, and part-owner of a record company. I've made money, and I've lost money. You'll hear what I've done right and what I've done wrong. Business has been a life-long joy and pursuit for me. I started earning my own money at the age of eight and developed entrepreneurial tendencies by doing everything from cutting grass and throwing papers, to selling candy to classmates and shoe shine products to fellow ROTC students who hated shining their shoes the hard way. Entrepreneurs often show a propensity for business at an early age. During my radio career, I have been an announcer, engineer, News Director, Program Director, Production Director, and done sales. I took brief career detours as a Director of Media Productions, and even a police officer. As I go over this list, I'm reminded of one of my favorite sayings: "Everything counts!" Consider everything as a learning experience and you'll enjoy your work more, increase your worth, and have less frustration.

After my first year in radio, I knew that I loved this field and wanted to somehow find a niche that I could parlay into a business. I became a "student of both radio and business" with an insatiable appetite to learn everything I could. I spent almost ten years in school and personal study learning radio broadcasting, engineering, and management before opening my first company. I have since spent thousands of dollars and personal hours attending courses, buying training tapes, and additional education in business, accounting, and sales. I think it is important for an entrepreneur to have a broad understanding of their field as well as a specialty. It will help when you start trying to put together all of the intricate pieces.

Now, the basic problem with anyone saying, "One of these days I'll..." is that the statement is nothing more than a wish. A dream is great to have, but until it becomes a goal with a plan to reach it, it is nothing more than a wish. You must have a very strong desire to be successful in business.

To attempt a business enterprise is like starting a journey over an uncharted ocean, because no matter what your destination, the tides and winds will change your direction very, very quickly. Without an intense desire to succeed in business, you're going to be washed overboard. Your goals need to be crystal clear and compelling.

Once you decide what it is that you want to accomplish, set a definite time frame. Make sure that everything you're doing on a day-to-day basis is consistent with your goals. One of the main reasons for failure in life and business is the inability to focus on one single thing at a time.