It’s hard to believe it was a little over a year ago that we started this new venture with Frame One Media.  While the company has been around for years (under a different name), this was the first year as a fully staffed, bricks and mortar, around-the-clock business.  I tend to live almost exclusively in the future, so this is a good opportunity to look back, assess what I’ve learned and appreciate where we’re at today. What are my major takeaways?

  • Leadership – I would never advise anyone to start their own company, where they’ll have others reporting directly to them, without having gained some management and leadership experience prior to that.  Sure, you can learn some things on the job and undergo baptism by fire, but the painful process will weigh on your employees/staff in an unnecessary fashion. I was fortunate enough to get some great management and leadership experience, mentoring and understanding before I began this recent journey.  And thank goodness I did. The one constant, throughout all the chaos, has been a solid team with loyalty going both ways. Leadership is vital.
  • Organization and delegation – Unless you don’t care about cutting costs, you’re wearing a ton of hats for the first leg of the trip.  As a small business owner, you have to be even more organized and detail-oriented than I realized. Lucky for me, I’m OCD and already very organized in many facets throughout my life.  However, I probably didn’t realize just how much time and energy would go into admin, housekeeping and bookkeeping from the start. It was a tough adjustment at first. Once you get to a good place, you can start to delegate to those you trust and/or can hold accountable in some fashion.  I dream of the day I can hire more people to handle more tasks.
  • If you build it, that doesn’t mean they will come – What always scared me about starting my own video company was the potential for drought. We’ve been extremely fortunate to stay busy since day one, but I also know it won’t last forever, status quo. And yes, there are a million different things that play a role in this, but simply starting a company and putting your name out there isn’t enough.  Doing great work isn’t enough. Having what people want isn’t even necessarily enough. It’s about timing, connections, the general economy, and so much more. Marketing and sales are crucial and as we tip-toe into year 2, that’s something I hope I can write about with success and greater understanding a year from now.
  • Integrity is vital – No matter how tough the situations get, or how low your bank account starts to dwindle, you have to remain focused and keep your integrity on point.  This isn’t something I learned during this year, but something I’m glad I promised myself I would do beforehand. And it paid off far more than I could have hoped. You’ll run into difficult clients, bizarre issues and horrible projects.  The only way to come out on the other side where you’ll be able to stand behind your words and actions is to act with integrity – as an individual and as the face of the company. Stay true to your values regardless of how others act or how dark the situation may seem.  You’ll be glad you did. And people talk – negative reviews and remarks travel at light speed and spread like wild fire. Make sure you leave people with a positive experience.

Lastly, what I know to be true and would advise anyone looking to start their own business: it has to be about more than money. At least I hope that would be your mindset if you’re looking to start your own company.  Money comes and goes and none of it lasts forever. Money can’t be your only motivator in the process. If it is, it will be a really unfulfilling experience.  Sure, at first it’s great, but that wears off. Like thinking back to what gifts you got for your birthday or a holiday two years ago. You can’t remember, because even though at the time it felt like the greatest thing ever, it was a short-lived feeling.  You’ll spend so much of your time and energy in the business and it has to amount than more than dollar signs, more than material or tangible items. You have to love what you do and do it because of that. After all, time is our most precious resource and investing so much of it, even more so than your monetary input, has to give you a return on investment

This kid learned a lot in the past 12 months.