What’s in Your VO Business Plan? (Part 2)


NOTE: This is the second post in a two-part article. To read part one, click here!

Last week, we discussed the need for you, as a voice over artist, to behave as a business. Every business needs a Business Plan. Unless your plan is intended to be read by potential investors or partners, yours doesn’t have to be super-formal. But it should address all aspects of your voice over business, be written down, and be well thought-out.

Much of that thought is simply a matter of Common Sense, so don’t let this task intimidate you. The key thing is that you don’t overlook something that will be important down the road, and that you be realistic in your projections and expectations.

So as you apply your common sense, don’t guess at the answers. Take your numbers and guidance from current, reliable sources.

Here’s a guide as to what to include:

Market potential

What niche (or few niches) will you pursue? Consider both your capabilities and your interests. What will you most enjoy doing, and is there a demand for it? Will you work full-time or part-time? Should you focus on one genre, or will you be able (or need to) serve more than one market? Has the VO market you’re considering changed since you first looked at it? Is it growing? What other VO markets involve similar capabilities that you have? Who (or what) will be your competition, and what do they offer? If the market is so large and saturated that you’ll just be a drop in the bucket, what sub-genres within it have sharper demand?

Product development

You are the “product.” What will your product be? How will you learn the business? Not just the performance part, but the business aspects, too. You’ll need at least one demo. How will you approach that, and who will produce it? What partnerships do you already enjoy, or might you cultivate, to help give you feedback and encouragement? How will you continue to learn and expand your capabilities? What ancillary services (e.g., production) might you add to give your product added value?

Marketing Plan

Production and Operations

Will you work out of a home studio, or at clients’ studios, or both? What recording hardware and software will you need? How does your recording space sound? Will you use the studio just for auditioning, or also for final production? Starting simple is usually best. Will you be able to add-on or replace items as might be needed later? How much time will you be recording and producing, vs. time spent on other VO business operations? (Hint: Sometimes the ratio is as low as 1-to-9.) When and where will you practice? How quick a turn-around can you reliably deliver, and how will you do that? When will you take vacation and holiday time? How will you distribute your demo (Email? CD? Thumb drive?), and how will your produce the copies? What will you do during “down time”? (Hint: Work on your marketing efforts. If you offer production services, what will be your source of music, SFX, etc.?

Organization

You’ll probably be the only person on your organization chart, so this won’t be a very big section, or will overlap “Operations,” if you include it at all. But give it some thought. If you work at home, your family is part of your “organization.” How will you work around them, or work them into your schedule? If you’re just totally all thumbs in technical matters, will you incorporate an occasional technical consultant? Might you offer production services by partnering with a studio? Should you incorporate? Do you do your own books and taxes, or will you want an accountant? Don’t let these matters intimidate you -- you’re probably dealing with them already as part of everyday life -- but do recognize that they are part of you as a “business.”

Finances

What are your income needs? How much can you realistically expect to earn in the genres you’ve chosen? What will be your rate structure and how will you bill it? At what point should you charge extra for added-value services? How will you finance your start-up costs (demo, lessons, website, marketing materials, etc.)? How long will it take to get your income up to speed? What will be your ongoing costs (e.g. updated marketing materials, electricity, rent, insurance, etc.)? You’ll probably need supplementary income as you’re starting out; what will that be? How will you arrange to insure your professional equipment, and what will that cost? (Also consider liability and disability coverage.)

Growth and Evolution

The world changes, technology evolves, and over time, so should you. How will you ascertain changes in your marketplace, and how will you adapt to them? Would voice and/or singing or improv lessons enhance your capabilities? As your needs (and your clients’ needs) grow, how will you grow your capabilities? Can you expand into other genres? This also relates to your product development and marketing plan.

Part of the point of having a plan is that it encourages you to think. That’s one reason you should set it in writing. Think about all the options, opportunities, and, yes, your limitations.

As we’ve said, no one business plan template can think of everything, and in the foregoing, we’ve just provided examples.

Even after you’ve thought everything through, over time it’s all too easy to forget about a critical factor. That’s another reason for writing it out.

Review your plan every three months. Have you neglected anything? Have you hit your marks? If not, why not, and how do you fix that? Fix, apply and repeat.

With a sound business plan tucked under your arm, you’ll be much better prepared to succeed in the spoken sound business. Just don’t rustle the pages.

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To learn more about Edge Studio’s Business and Money classes, call our studio at 888-321-3343 or email training@edgestudio.com.

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