3 Things We Learned Starting Our Own Business
When we first began She TV Media, we knew nothing about running a business. And when I say “nothing” I mean practically nothing. Fun fact: they don’t teach you anything about creating or operating your own business in film school. So we had to pull up our bedazzled bootstraps and figure it out on our own.
For the first 3 months of She TV Media’s life, we went to every single free workshop in Los Angeles that we could find: How to Build Your Business, Learning Finance, Women in Business, and so on. We found these events on Eventbrite — it’s incredible what a couple key words and the “free” filter will get you! Nevertheless, our first few months were filled with hundreds of questions, thousands of pages of note taking, and numerous new connections with business women across Los Angeles.
Let us break down some of our biggest take-aways from this raucous and illuminating time:
1. “It’s NetWORK, not netWISH”
When we started She TV Media, we didn’t expect that most of our time would be spent networking, socializing, and this fancy new term: “Lead Generating”. We had naively expected that our contacts that we built over the last 4–5 years in the industry would supply us with a plethora of new clients. Don’t get us wrong, most of our early jobs were from people we had worked with before — or our moms. But those were mainly portfolio-building jobs. We needed new clients with new expectations to help put us out of our comfort zone and figure out how She TV Media was going to grow as a business and a brand.
One of our clients, Debra Lauzon, hired us to film a promo video for a new business she started. In her interview, she said, “It’s netWORK — not netWISH, netHOPE.” This quote really stuck with us for a number of reasons. You have to network with people in order to get your brand/name out there. It’s not easy, but it can be fun! The best part is: Network does not mean you have to be schmoozy or salesy. It’s all about building an authentic connection with people and showing how your passion and skill-set can help their business grow. Network tends to have a negative connotation, but in reality, it is the absolute best way to create connections and generate business-if you’re lucky enough some of the events even have wine.
2. Mentors. Mentors. Mentors.
In our early stages, we were not shy about seeking out mentors. Our first mentor was an incredible producer, actor, business owner, and friend: Wiley. Wiley and Natalie have known each other for a few years and he was always invested in her work ethic and passion for cinematography. When she announced that she started She TV Media, Wiley was more than happy to give advice or guidance whenever it was needed. “Call me anytime”, he said. And that’s exactly what we did! Even as simple a question as, “We want to open up a business bank account… Do you have any recommendations?” We would call, and he would answer.
Our next line of mentors developed from our own research. We discovered the Small Business Association (SBA) which offered a number of services and opportunities for small businesses. In particular, we reached out to right away to a program called SCORE LA that provides free mentors to new businesses. We signed up and chose a mentor in the film industry: John. John was instrumental in our early growth. He taught us about LLCs vs. S-Corps, he challenged us to pick a target market and run with it, and he gave straightforward and necessary advice for our project Scars Unseen during its development. John was the first mentor who broke us down to pieces and then helped us rebuild for the best strategy possible for our project.
This year, we continued to research small business opportunities. We finally came across the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) which offered free business advisors. We showed up for our first meeting, drained from a long morning of lead generating and networking. We were introduced to our new advisor: Deb. She smiled sweetly and invited us into her office. AND THEN TORE US APART (in the best way possible).
The funny thing about Deb was that she could see right through us. With Wiley or John we were able to hold our own, even if we didn’t have an answer or know what we were talking about. But with Deb, we feel, she could see into our souls. She broke our business plan down and revealed all the aspects we needed to improve upon. After her white board was completely full of She TV Media challenges, she sat down at her desk and looked at us with a sweet smile. On the brink of tears, we waited in anticipation of what she would say. “I like you girls! When are we going to meet next?” she said. WHAT?! We were beyond shocked. In the car we were confused, “I thought she hated us… and then she said she likes us?!”
We laugh about the whole interaction now and Deb is still very active in helping us build and scale our business. We are so incredibly grateful for Deb and all of our mentors (including the ones not mentioned in this blog post) who willingly answered hundreds of questions and patiently walked us through our concerns. No matter who they are, you need to have mentors when building your business. You need to have someone who has done the darn thing and can tell you all about it. You need someone who can hold you accountable and who believes in what you’re doing.
3. Build Your Portfolio/Website Professionally
One of the very first things we did when we started She TV Media, was create all the social media accounts with @shetvmedia, get our email, and purchase the domain SheTV.me. We were ecstatic about all this, but figured we should start designing our website first. “Landing page” was a fun term we had learned — it’s basically the place you will direct potential clients and fans. People find you on Instagram? Your link will send them to your Landing page. People get your business card? The website will send them to your Landing page. So we needed a landing page.
Our first version was super cute. It had She TV Media at the top and about 5 super cute photos of the two of us together. There was just a bit of copy that said something like “The future is female”, “We Rise”, and “Contact us for more information.” Not the best first website, but we loved it.
A week later, we looked at our website and nearly spit up. EW. Who had created that and why did we allow it to be public for a whole week?!?! We spent the evening redesigning and creating new copy. Then we published. This cycle went on every single week (if not more often than that) for about six months. It felt like every day we were updating our website to look more professional and more relevant to our look for “She TV Media” (whatever that meant at the time).
After a lot of learning and adjustments we had our website, but we needed content to put up there. We need to show that we make films and that they look good! She TV Media collaborated early on with a few nonprofits and small businesses to help develop content for their website, as well as build our portfolio. Most of the projects we worked on in the early months (for little to no money) ended up helping us in the long run. We are still close with those businesses and enjoy collaborating with them. Since then, we have grown in the scale of our productions as well as a business and business owners.
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We continue to create as much meaningful content as possible and are thrilled to collaborate with fellow entrepreneurs. Our team is not afraid to ask questions and loves to learn, which is what we will continue to do moving forward. We are always looking for a new and exciting project or video challenge, so if you are up for some She TV Media realness in your life, hit us up! We can’t wait to meet you.