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Author Topic: New Business Start Up  (Read 5815 times)

Derek Worden

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New Business Start Up
« on: August 19, 2008, 03:41:07 pm »

I suppose I should give a little background before I ask the question.

For the past 7 years I have been doing sound for various groups. In high school I did sound for plays/musicals, dances, and graduations. In college I was in charge of the mobile sound and light system and worked more on sound and lights than homework (my major was math which I am very quick at). Now my fiancee and I are have graduated she is working at the college and doing a conducting internship there. After this school year she will be hopefully attending graduate school, which means we maybe moving out of the area in a year.

I originally wanted to start working with some local sound companies but when looking the only opportunity that turned up was an hour drive away and didn't have enough work to make the cost in gas worth it.

So sound, acoustics, and system design is what I love to do, and I have thought of starting to do it on my own targeting churches in my area. I've been thinking of contacting some and offering to look at what they have, see what problems they experience, then offer advice, training and installation services.

Some people have told me that this will be a great idea, that I will be able to next summer/year have more experience under my belt that might make me more appealing to larger companies. I also have a concern that I don't want to start providing services to churches and in a year have to leave them with no one.

I don't need this to be full time work, but if it turns that way good. So my question is does any one have advise on how to do business so that if I leave the are in a year I don't leave any churches in the dark, or does any one have advise on starting up a business on my own.
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Charlie Zureki

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Re: New Business Start Up
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2008, 05:22:26 pm »

  Hey Derek,

 Remember your Personal Reputation! I think you might be better off holding the business start up until after you move.

You don't want to leave anyone in a bad position with their (your) system. And, telling them up-front that you'll likely leave town, probably would not net you any work.

 Find some other work to pay your bills and possibly volunteer your time with your Church/Temple/ whatever, until you move. You'll learn for the future!


 That's My Opinion

 Good Luck,
 Hammer
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Be prepared, you'll need it!

Tom Young

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Re: New Business Start Up
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2008, 06:46:41 am »

It appears that you need to read up on the whole concept of starting a business.

And then there are specific needs for installation work.

You will need: liability insurance, to register your business, ensure you do not need to be licensed, figure out whether to incorporate, set up as a LLC or as another form of business, you will need tools (from hand tools to ladders to vehicle to test & measurement), book keeping software, drawing software, possibly a website and other business marketing stuff (cards, brochures), etc.

When most of us started out, driving an hour for work was no big deal. I realise that current gas prices change that. But I also do not think that being a small time installer in churches will count a great deal when you look to get hired by a sound company. It will count some, but not a lot if you do not follow standard installation practices. How will you learn these ?
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Tom Young
Electroacoustic Design Services
Oxford CT
Tel: 203.888.6217
Email: dbspl@earthlink.net
www.dbspl.com

Brad Weber

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Re: New Business Start Up
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2008, 10:02:38 am »

To add to Tom's excellent comments, I'll be blunt and ask the questions you probably need to ask yourself; what are you actually going to offer, what are your abilities and experience in those areas and why should someone hire you?

Please don't take this wrong, my goal is not to discourage you, it is simply to make you think a bit about the realities of such an endeavour.  Have you put together a business plan?  Have you considered what services you actually plan to offer and the costs to do so?  Have you thought about the fact that the nearest sound company being an hour away and not having enough work either tells you something about that company, which may in itself be instructive, or about the market?  Have you done anything to confirm that there is any market for the services you would offer?

There are some services that you may be able to provide with minimal financial investment, but what do you bring to a potential client that they don't already have internally or that isn't already available to them?  And realize that the fact that it is a temporary business does not change anything regarding taxes, licensing, contracts, liability, insurance and so forth.  Do you understand the issues related these or have someone to help you there (I am so thankful for my attorney, CPA and peers for helping me though many of these)?  

Please keep in mind that none of this is personal and that we don't actually know you or what actual relevant experience, education, training, certification, etc. you have.  You mentioned having experience with high school theatre and portable sound in college but we do not know the scale of the systems and applications involved or of your role and you did  not mention any training, education, apprenticeship, etc.  I will say that it sort of jumped out at me that your plan is apparently to target churches and provide installation but you didn't mention having any church sound or installation experience.
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Brad Weber
muse Audio Video

Ivan Beaver

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Re: New Business Start Up
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2008, 06:49:19 pm »

I run into churches all the time that "had a guy" tell them they needed to do "so and so".  And they think we should do it.  Just about all the time they have been given bad advice, by an unknowledgable person who "thought" they knew what they were doing.

With no experience, they "thought"  Laughing it would work
Mad

I just hope he has the proper experience, before he starts to give out bad information, and then the church has to pay somebody else to come fix the problem.

There is a lot more involved in doing it right than most people think.

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For every complicated question-there is a simple- easy to understand WRONG answer.

Can I have some more talent in the monitors--PLEASE?

Ivan Beaver
dB Audio & Video Inc.
Danley Sound Labs

Derek Worden

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Re: New Business Start Up
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2008, 07:33:22 am »

Well I have to say looking back at what I asked I am not surprised that no one responded... "what are you stupid?" I guess I miss communicated somethings

If I do start doing things on my own, I don't plan to do anything over my head. My goal is to provided good advice and good work, not make quick money. I mean if I do big installs and under cut other guys, I'm screwing myself over because I want to work with them in the future. Actually one of my thoughts has not to do any install work, but refer churches to companies that I know can do good work. More consulting less installing. I would run cable, terminate cables, build racks, and things like that tomorrow, but something like suspending speakers I don't want to get wrong and I want to learn the right and legal way first.

I did miss a big part in my background. I did help my church out 5 years ago with installing what they have right now. Also I went to college at a Christian College. Without mentioning that I must have sounded like I was preying on churches. I actually started out school in a ministry track, so I know very much how churches services are run. And I graduated with a music minor so I have solid background in music. But I switched because I realized there is reason I am good with electronics and love working with sound equipment.

To finish I'd like to stress I only want to do sound because it's what I love to do! And I want to work with smaller churches at this point to give my self a professional starting point and to make sure churches are equipped with what is right for them.

In case some was interested I have composed a list of the events I have been involved in, it's not complete but close.
http://sites.google.com/site/addisonaudio/intresting-files/P RODUCTION.doc?attredirects=0
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: New Business Start Up
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2008, 09:08:08 am »

Not to sound negative, but what real experience do you base your knowledge on?  Doing one install and helping out with sound-even for a number of years does not give you the range of experience/knowledge need to be able to "consult" with people and charge them money.

How do you know what companies to recommend?  Have you worked WITH them-or are just going on what you have "heard" about them?  Perceptions can very often be deceiving.

Having a background in music and ministry is a good thing, but does not help much when it comes down to the "science" of audio.

In order to provide a REAL consulting service, you have to know about a wide variety of gear and what it is REALLY capable of doing, not just reading some spec sheets.  What is your experience with different products?  What about reliability?  What are your testing abilities to see how well the products actually perform?

What happens when your advice does not work as intended?  Who is going to "make it right" by the church?

There is just a lot more to it than just "advising".  WHat are you going to base your rates on?

Do you have ANY formal training in sound?  Take a Synaudcon class-even the beginner class to get a little taste of what you probably don't fully know/understand.

Just throwing out a reality check.
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For every complicated question-there is a simple- easy to understand WRONG answer.

Can I have some more talent in the monitors--PLEASE?

Ivan Beaver
dB Audio & Video Inc.
Danley Sound Labs

Don Boone

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Re: New Business Start Up
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2008, 01:43:54 pm »

I'm with Ivan here. Take the 4 Synaudcon courses. Take the 3 Smaart courses. Take a rigging class. Look into training from NSCA.  
Don
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Brad Weber

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Re: New Business Start Up
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2008, 05:03:45 pm »

Derek Worden wrote on Mon, 25 August 2008 07:33

More consulting less installing. I would run cable, terminate cables, build racks, and things like that tomorrow, but something like suspending speakers I don't want to get wrong and I want to learn the right and legal way first.
Derek Worden wrote on Mon, 25 August 2008 07:33

To finish I'd like to stress I only want to do sound because it's what I love to do! And I want to work with smaller churches at this point to give my self a professional starting point and to make sure churches are equipped with what is right for them.

So just what will you do?  Only doing sound will be limiting as many churches are more multimedia based, but I think the last statement is worth more discussion.  Looking at it from a practical perspective, especially with it involving a limited time period, I do not see you becoming a dealer for products or getting a low voltage contractor license or obtaining any related certification.  Your experience seems primarily as an end user of the technology, you don't really seem to have experience with installed system design (which is very different from production design) or the business aspects (bids, contracts, liability, documentation, etc.).  I could be wrong on this, but you also do not seem to have a lot of existing relationships with other audio professionals in your area.  So if you want to have your own business then how about using your production experience to help them while you learn more about the consulting and installation side of the business.  Instead of focusing on equipment and adding equipment, maybe you could focus on helping churches more effectively implement what they already have and look in general terms at what they may need for for what they want to do.
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Brad Weber
muse Audio Video

Derek Worden

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Re: New Business Start Up
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2008, 05:21:56 pm »

Brad Weber wrote on Mon, 25 August 2008 16:03

maybe you could focus on helping churches more effectively implement what they already have and look in general terms at what they may need for for what they want to do.

This is ultimately what I was trying to say with "more consulting less installation"

I know I may not have much hands on experience with installation, but when it comes to the physics behind audio and the electronics I am very knowledgeable (but I know that I am not done learning).

You guys have mentioned classes and some certifications. What do you guys think is best one to start out with and which do you feel carries the most weight? The ones I have looked into are mostly Syn Aud Con and Info Comm CTS certification, but I am open to hearing about others ( such as NSCA, I assume not www.nsca-lift.org  Laughing )
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Derek Worden

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Re: New Business Start Up
« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2008, 05:26:48 pm »

Derek Worden wrote on Mon, 25 August 2008 06:33


I would run cable, terminate cables, build racks, and things like that tomorrow, but something like suspending speakers I don't want to get wrong and I want to learn the right and legal way first.


By this I mean I am comfortable to do some of this work, but I don't think I will start installation work right away.

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Brad Weber

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Re: New Business Start Up
« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2008, 06:26:35 pm »

It depends on the application.  In the AV world, the InfoComm advanced CTS certifications (CTS-I and CTS-D in this case) probably mean the most, especially to potential employers.  The basic CTS is a good introduction but not really much of a certification.  NSCA (the National Systems Contractor Association) offers the C-EST certification, but that seems to be in a transition period due to the transfer of the certification program to the ESPA consortium NSCA helped start and I'm not sure what that will do to it, especially as ESPA seems to represent a wide range of interests with many of them focused on consumer electronics and residential systems.

SynAudCon is not a certification program (although you can get CE units for some classes) but is probably the best technical education opportunity available in commercial audio.  Great information, great resources and great people.

InfoComm and NSCA also offers classes at the annual InfoComm show (Orlando in 2009 then Las Vegas in 2010) and there will be a combined fall educational event, although the inaugural one that was to be held this year was recently cancelled.
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Brad Weber
muse Audio Video

Gary Creely

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Re: New Business Start Up
« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2008, 11:11:13 am »

Derek,

It seems a lot of guys here are telling you to not do it. In many ways it seems rather discouraging, but they are right. Unfortunately we have all experienced instances when "that guy" came in and made a mess of things.

Although if the truth were known we all started somewhere, and have at some point in our career encountered projects that we were not completely experienced with.

My company primarily serves the HOW market. We are good at what we do, and can hang with other much larger companies in our specific market. In our very early days (more than 10 years ago) we were likely much like you in terms of experience, and the truth is we did some work I would not want to repeat. If I had it to do over I would have gotten more training be fore we started. We got much of our training from other more experience installation companies, and people.

I would say you are several years away from providing churches with reasonable service or advice on a for hire basis.


For instance you said- "but something like suspending speakers I don't want to get wrong and I want to learn the right and legal way first"

Suspending speakers properly is not difficult, you simply need the training and the equipment to do it. If you don't have even that level of knowledge you have no business starting a business.
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Gary Creely
Co-owner steeple sound avl
http://www.steeplesoundavl.com


Ivan Beaver

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Re: New Business Start Up
« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2008, 12:57:57 pm »

Amen Brother-for you speak the truth!

Like you I got into this when there was not a lot of education of be had.  Times have changed, and education is much more readily available.

It is far better to give NO advise-than to offer bad/wrong advise.

But Hey, this is audio-when has that ever stopped anybody Laughing
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For every complicated question-there is a simple- easy to understand WRONG answer.

Can I have some more talent in the monitors--PLEASE?

Ivan Beaver
dB Audio & Video Inc.
Danley Sound Labs

Gary Creely

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Re: New Business Start Up
« Reply #14 on: August 27, 2008, 02:21:02 pm »

This is a bit of the cart before the horse. If you do not have a reasonably complete understanding of installation matters I would say you really shouldn't be handing out advice on installed systems.

Your best designer/consultants are going to be guys who at some point had a good bit of installation experience. It is almost like paying you dues, or doing your time. Even though we have employees I still do a fair amount of installation. I would really focus on rounding out your knowledge base before trying to do any business.

I guess what I am saying is you talk like you wouldn't do anything beyond your abilities, but the realities is it is difficult to know what that is. For instance you are not confident rigging speakers, but your are confident playing a consulting role of some nature. What is interesting is rigging speakers (and installation in general) is far less complicated than serving as any sort of consultant. The problem is it (advice giving) looks easier than it is.
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Gary Creely
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Jeff Babcock

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Re: New Business Start Up
« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2008, 05:05:14 pm »

Starting from scratch as a one man operation is really risky.

In my case it is only in recent years that I have gotten into installations, and that has been via acting as a consultant for the largest sound company in my (relatively small) city whom I have a very longstanding relationship with.

If you're starting from scratch, how can you do things like product demos, temporary "loaner" equipment, where will you get crew from, where will sales, service, support come from?  

It might be different if you've been in the industry for years and built up contacts, relationships, and a good reputation.  But from ground zero is really tough.  You might be able to volunteer to help some churches but if you can't provide more complete services they will have a hard time justifying paying you for "advice".

I guess what I am saying is you need some allies to support you, going it alone in your position does not seem very promising.

Best regards
Jeff

Robin Parker

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Re: New Business Start Up
« Reply #16 on: August 29, 2008, 10:57:32 pm »

I'm coming in a bit late to this discussion, having scanned the earlier replies - these topics may already be covered....  

Starting in the sound business requires a huge investment of time and money...  Just the tooling alone to set up one truck is in the (multiple) thousands... not to mention the investment of hardware,  parts, pieces, connectors, and the other thirty six thousand things you'll need(that is unless you like spending all of your time going to Home Depot, for that one 6/32 screw you don't have.) Have you considered all of just what may be considered "standard" with respect to audio connectors, adapters, fittings, cables, and interfaces alone? Pick up a BTX or Comprehensive catalog sometime - hours of fascinating reading. I speak from experience as I started my business 8 years ago, having spent over 20 years working for other contractors and then 5 years as a rep for a major east coast company - add to this 20 years of "on stage" experience with another 10 at FOH for local bands - OK, knowing what to do is one thing, how to do it is another - but none of it means squirt if you do not advertise and market yourself. I spend a gawd-awfully stupid amount of money to promote my business - direct mail will eat you alive, but you have to do it.

Keep in mind that each and every "compartment" of the largest company (sales, engineering, management, shop maintenance, running service calls, accounting, shipping, receiving, going to the post office, and UPS and Fastenal and the other 40 to 50 places you'll need to go weekly, marketing, answering the phone, sending faxes, floor sweeping, would you like me to go on?) ALL has to be duplicated, even if on a microscopic scale for a small business to function. It's now 10:30 on a Friday night and I just got in from a church service call and I'm just getting around to answering my e-mails - you do know that a church will not call for service until Friday don't you? And yes, they knew about the problem on Monday...

Labor - manpower - are you planning to pull cable by yourself? (note - it's a bit tough) and rigging speakers by yourself is not only dangerous, but stupid. How are you going to handle payroll, and taxes, and your monthly 944 deposits? Do you have an accountant and a pit bull for a lawyer? Who is going to invoice your customers and take time to file judgements when they don't pay? Oh, did you forgot to order the NL4's for that job tomorrow? And did you know that the rack came in damaged, and will have to be shipped back? You do have a big truck don't you?  

Now, do you really want to know the funny part about all of this? I haven't even started to scratch the surface.

No, despite what may appear to be the initial "tone" (pun intended) of this note, I'm not trying to discourage you - quite the contrary - I salute you for even having the balls to consider trying. Personally, I wouldn't trade places with anyone - there is a sense of pride that comes with your own business that cannot be put into words.

Do not be foolish enough to think that just because you know how to do something, that simply printing a business card will magically bring business to your door - running your own (successful) business is more work than you can possibly begin to imagine - and I love every minute of it!

If I may take a moment here to blow my own horn - please read my article in the July 21st issue of Sound & Communications Magazine (page 30) - it speaks directly to this subject and I hope you will find it informative!  
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Dennis Cimo

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Re: New Business Start Up
« Reply #17 on: August 30, 2008, 02:35:08 pm »



very well said Robin, These are the very reasons that I am still working for a contractor. I get to do what I love and still spend time with my wife and kids most evenings.  

I haven't seen you since my days at ADI in Richmond. Glad to hear that your business is doing well!

Peace,

Dennis Cimo
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