"If you don't drive your business, you will be driven out of business." - B.C Forbes
I was asked two questions the other day:
- As a content creating business, what's better for success (keeping the lights on), developing and pitching - or making it and pushing it out online?
- Is animation as a service business viable, or is an independent better off pursuing something else (like apps)?
So these questions are really one in the same. It asks that as an independent studio/small business if one should focus on service or product. The question that comes to mind is, “what do you want to do?” What is your end goal if you had one?
Some people are totally cool with being guns for hire jumping from one job to the next. Others are all about making their product and bringing it to market. Both sides are interested in making money, but let’s remove that factor real quick and then bring it back into the picture at a later point. If you didn’t have to worry about money or resources, what would your studio being doing right now?
Whatever you come to a conclusion on, that’s the direction you should go in. It’s not to say that you can’t work on both service AND product, but it’s that end goal, the one you just thought about, that will ultimately dictation your decision making process and the path your business will be moving in. If you’re looking to just work on some really awesome projects then you’ll be traveling down a certain path than if you were to go the product route. For me, the end goal has always been to make our own product. However, because I’m not comfortable with investors or using OPM (other people’s money) we use the profits made from our service work to fund product development. Doing service work for us keeps the lights on while letting us do what we need to in the most independent way possible.
Whether your product comes in the form of apps, episodes, shorts or features on thing is certain; you need eggs before you can make that omelet.
Is the service industry a viable path? Sure it is. Is an independent better off doing there own thing? Absolutely.
To Be or Not To Be Commercial...
While I totally lean on producing art, animation sits in the middle of the art and business table. To produce games or shorts or what have you, it takes a lot of time and effort. The concept of employing people is to help spread the load and produce - or service - just a little bit faster.
Now, the gray area with product development is whether this is something you’re simply looking to create and release into the world or is it something that you’re looking to make a profit out of. If you’re opening up a business, by my standards, the business should be turning profit on day one. If it’s not, then what you have on your hands is a hobby and not so much a business. It’s not a bad thing, but being able to delineate which side of the table you’re sitting will definitely help in sorting out priorities.
In regards to developing and pitching, again this all comes down to your end goal. What are you trying to achieve by selling your content to say a broadcaster or distributor? Why are you looking to sell your IP in the first place? Going the network route is a very slow process of developing trust and relationships. You could end up spending years trying to sell a show idea and it might not just be the time for or place for it. If you go the online route, it’s about creating the demand for your supply and continuing to feed that demand consistently and being able to monetize off of it. Whether that’s in the form of sponsorship, advertising money, pay-per-click, affiliation or online distribution, you have to find some way to fund the work.
The one question that should always be asked after each answer is “Why?” Ask enough times and you get to the most simplistic and authentic answer. Once you have that, that’s your starting point.
"Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless." - Thomas Edison
This was originally posted on Linkedin's Pulse: http://bit.ly/1MzwWb4