I’m a voice over actor AND a businessman. No, I don’t hold a business degree, but since I’m running my own show here, I think I qualify for the title. And this one is not my first business. When I’m not in the studio recording or at the computer editing tracks, I’m managing a number of business-y things. Invoices, tax forms, visioning sessions, data analysis...I do all of this and more as a voice over actor.
And I’ve always thought there were a few standard business “rules” I should follow, like getting an MBA and cultivating a large and diverse client base. But the longer I’ve worked as a voice actor, the more I’ve thought that some of these rules just don’t make sense. And when rules no longer make sense, they need to be broken.
Yes, I said it.
So let’s break these business rules.
Rule #1 - Don’t work for free.
If making money is your primary goal, then this one may make sense....at first. There are times, however, when providing some of your services at no charge are a good idea, and may even result in more money for you in the long run. For example, let’s say you’ve got a client who you’re hoping turns into a repeat customer or IS a repeat customer, but they ask for some additional work that was not initially agreed upon. Do you charge them for it? Unless it’s a crazy amount of work, I don’t, because the potential for long-term work outweighs a little extra cash now.
Rule #2 - Don’t mix work with family and friends.
This one is just silly to me. Some of my best friends are also people I work with, and I love having both a personal and a professional relationship with these folks. I think it just adds another layer to the relationship, and to me, that is a good thing. I’m sure there are plenty of instances where friendships have suffered because of work conflicts, but more often than not, I believe these relationships can benefit.
Rule #3 - You must have a formal business plan.
If you Google “formal business plan,” you’ll see all sorts of templates that have the same basic stuff: executive summary, company overview, marketing plan, financial plan, and on and on. Is all this really necessary for today’s voice over actor? I say no. While I do think you need to have some sort of a plan in place, there’s no reason you need to draft up some 20-page document full of painstaking details that you’ll forget all about in a month. Instead, write down some goals, have a clear understanding of certain key areas (marketing, payments, etc.), and go with that. You can even call it an informal business plan, if you like.