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How to start a lighting and sound company?

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by s11a11b11, Jan 26, 2011.

  1. s11a11b11

    s11a11b11 New Member

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    Hi I need some advice on how i would go about starting a lighting and sound company which would also have photography and video included with it. I was hoping on having a small business someday and i was wondering what is all involved? I am hopping on going to collage soon and wanted some advice from some experts?
  2. avkid

    avkid Not a New User

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    Business License
    Tax ID
    Insurance

    It's not really that complicated to start a business, keeping the doors open is the hard part.
  3. Anvilx

    Anvilx Member

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    It's called a business plan and it should be amended to the list above. Not only is it a useful road map for you but it is almost essential in securing outside investment in any company.
  4. cpf

    cpf Well-Known Member

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    The business plan is the most important part of any startup business. Even if you don't have all the specifics, writing one helps tremendously in identifying niches your business could fill, how it could make money in those areas, what the cash-flow would look like, and so on. The cheapest way for your business to fail is on paper and in your imagination.
  5. Edrick

    Edrick Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Money lots and lots of it (got to get the gear from somewhere).
  6. DaveySimps

    DaveySimps CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Moving this thread to the General Advice Forum so it is properly posted.

    ~Dave
  7. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    A good spell/grammar check is a good one thing to have as well. It'll help make your buisness plan look more professional.
  8. DuckJordan

    DuckJordan Well-Known Member

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    It can't be stressed enough, Location! If you have a business but don't have the customer base in your area you can't survive. Its no use buying all top of the line equipment and hiring some of the best guys in the field and have them sit around all the time doing nothing. When you go to college, make sure you take some business courses if not either major or minor in business management. I have many friends not just in this industry but in several others who didn't take any courses in business management and found themselves completely overwhelmed.

    Another good thing to remember is why you want to start a business. Is it because you don't want to work for someone else? Are you trying to fill an obvious need of the community? or is it just a dream to one day own a business? Without a serious goal in mind you'll likely not get more than a 6 months to a year away from your start point.

    This is not saying don't do it, just to remember that starting a business is a big procedure and what people don't like to tell you is money is a huge issue with starting a business.

    So take some courses, find a place that needs your services. I'm not sure how large Huron is getting since I've been stuck in vermilion area for the last two years but I'm betting its still a little small to start a business in entertainment equipment.

    just my 2c.
  9. derekleffew

    derekleffew Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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  10. museav

    museav CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Not amended to, but rather it should probably happen before worrying about some of those issues.

    I found that the most helpful thing for me in preparing a business plan was to try to put myself in a potential client's place, ignoring what you know about yourself and trying to figure out who your market, how you find them and why they would want to hire you. Along the way you have to identify your potential competition and what makes you stand out from them or be a better choice. Being good at what you do may get you return business and word of mouth but you have to develop work and a reputation first before that becomes relevant.

    There are many things to consider before deciding things such as what form the company should take (sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, C-Corporation, S-Corporation, etc.). Are you doing this alone? Will you have employees? Will you have a building or property and if so, will you rent, lease or purchase? Will you be selling goods or only services? How willing are you to risk your personal savings and everything you own?

    I took several courses in management and accounting while in college and frankly, they haven't been that much help for a small business. I'm sure it would be quite different for a larger business, but in may case some of the Adult Education classes at a local college helped more along with the SBA (Small Business Administration office located there.

    I'll add that finding a good business attorney and getting their input prior to starting my business was one of the smartest moves I made. It may not have been inexpensive but his assistance and support were well worth it.
  11. NickVon

    NickVon Member

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    Aside from the paper work side of starting a buisness. The next big one i would think would be Transportation.

    Of your self or your equipment. IE, if you drive a little Nissan Z3 or some such, you might want to look into a Miniban, Cargo Van. You need a way to get your equipment to and from gigs.

    Next would be using some free online services, develope a rental aggreement that protects you, your hardware, and your customer. I'd watch the People Court, you can get a lot of good ideas of what NOT to do :)
  12. museav

    museav CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Assuming that rental and staging is the type of business being considered, there are other forms of lighting and sound companies. While they may be good for initial research, for actual contract advice or anything like that I would find a good attorney that knows what they are talking about and that will work with you.

    A basic tenet of any business plan is defining whether you are creating something to fill a known need in an identified market, creating something unique for which you need create a need and market or creating something for which there is no apparent need or market. Each has different potential risks and rewards but products or services with no identifiable market or offering nothing unique in an already saturated market are not usually a good business plan.
  13. Edrick

    Edrick Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Does anyone have samples of business plans in word document? I've looked at a few places online but they all want you to purchase their software or something. Perhaps if some companies had samples of their plans that'd be great.
  14. themuzicman

    themuzicman Active Member

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    I'd say try to work for one first before you go starting one. Learn how they do it and go from there. I work for both a smaller company that focuses in audio and a larger company that does audio/video/lighting. The smaller company is giving me a firsthand look at how hard it is to start in the business - but I am learning what it takes to get connections and run a business.

    On one end of business you need to buy gear, assemble said gear into a road-worthy manner, a way to get gear to a venue, a proficient operator, and of course a gig to work. On the other end of business you have taxes, billing customers, buying gear, repairing gear, and tons of tiny things you wouldn't believe!

    PM me and I can tell you tons o valuable things I've been learning!
  15. mstaylor

    mstaylor Well-Known Member

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    When you start buying equipment, insure it. It costs but so does a catastrophic loss. I work with a company that did that and lost 90% of his gear. When he replaced it he had been able to take some extra money and the insurance money and greatly improve his system. I don't suggest going out and trashing your gear but at least he didn't have to start over.
  16. len

    len Well-Known Member

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    If I can borrow a joke from another industry:

    The best way to make a small fortune in the entertainment production industry? Start with a large fortune.

    Seriously, if you're serious, find a job working in another company. Learn the ropes. Learn everything. Be good at coiling cable. It's more complicated than it sounds. Learn everything you can. Take notes. Ask questions. Don't spout off too much. Don't act like you know it all. I've been in the business for 30 years and I still don't know 1/100th of what I need to.
  17. avkid

    avkid Not a New User

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    Len hit it spot on, don't jump in when you're not sure if the water is over your head.
    I'm still getting out from under the debt I incurred in my first attempt at starting a production company.

    You can have all the best gear in the world, but if you don't have the right people it will just sit collecting dust.
    I definitely consider myself lucky to be able to work alongside some of the most talented, yet humble people in the business.

    You're never too good to coil the feeder.
  18. mstaylor

    mstaylor Well-Known Member

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    Another addage when bidding jobs,"If you get everything you bid, you are too cheap. If you don't get any, you are too high. If if get some, lose others then you are in the neighborhood."
  19. themuzicman

    themuzicman Active Member

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    The best boss I ever had held this mantra, "I will never ask you to do anything I wouldn't do or haven't already done" - to prove his point, when our trash compactor broke one day he jumped straight in the dumpster to rearrange trash so everything would fit.

    That was at a deli, but the same applies for production work, you are never too good to coil feeder. Plus, if you want feeder coiled right you need people who know what they are doing! The best type of training in production work is to watch how it's done (at least for me) - lead by example and people will follow suit!
  20. derekleffew

    derekleffew Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Sorry for the hijack...
    Well, yes and know...
    I'm reminded of something from another thread:
    I love watching other people work, especially if they've previously pissed me off.:evil:

    The reason "experienced hands" will watch and wait to be told is that they hate doing things twice. The local hands are working under the direction of someone they've never met before, who will be gone in a few hours, and possibly will never meet again. The road guy knows what has to be done and how he wants it. Most locals also know what needs to be done, but probably don't know necessarily the order in which things have to happen, or whether the road guy wants his cable coiled over-over, over-under, figure-8, or another. If he doesn't specify and then doesn't like the way I'm doing it, it's his fault not mine, and it might be a very long load-in. (Load-outs not-so-much, as everyone wants to get out ASAP. Four-hour minimums for a two-hour load-out work in the road guy's favor.)

    Lead by example, of course, but don't let others get away with watching while you work. Involve them. That's what they're there for. Encourage and teach rather than criticize.

    /end hijack
    mstaylor and (deleted member) like this.

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