Developing a Business Plan

A business plan is one of the most important directives for your company. More than just a bunch of papers that you can take to the bank to request a business loan, it is a living, breathing entity that should be revisited and updated each and every year to keep you on track with your career goals.

Knowing If VOICE ACTING Is The Right Path For You

Ask yourself these questions to see whether this business is right for you:

  • Do you know how to use your voice for voice acting? Although most people think that voice acting is all about the voice, the truth of the matter is that it’s not about the voice but rather how it’s used. For instance, you may be born with a booming, announcer voice, but if you don’t know how to use it effectively or know how to act, your naturally sonorous voice won’t get you anywhere.
  • Do you embrace technology? This question is important, especially if you freelance. Being a freelance voice actor means that you need to have the skills to operate all the studio equipment as well as provide a convincing performance. Some people in the industry can help you get familiar with your equipment and show you how to put it to good use. The chapters in Part V delve deeper into the technical aspects of voice acting.
  • Do you have marketing know-how? The voice acting industry, like all entertainment and media fields, is teeming with talented people. So how do you get noticed? Successful voice actors are savvy marketers. Marketing the services you provide as a voice actor is critical. People won’t know what you do or why they should hire you unless you tell them. You can spread the word about your voice-over in hundreds of ways. Chapter 9 discusses some creative ways you can promote your talents and get noticed.
  • Do you think running your own business is risky? Most entrepreneurs enjoy the thrill of risk. Whether you have an agent or you’re freelancing, you are running your own business — you’re an entrepreneur. Part of running your own business is accepting and being prepared to take some risks. Chapters 15 and 16 go into the basics of running a business.

Planning For Success

Why should voice actors create a business plan? Success doesn’t just happen. It is planned for.

Having a business plan will help you stay motivated; remind you why you want to be self-employed, and what you offer that differentiates your services from other voice talent. It will help you keep track of your business budget and assess where you may need some financial backing in order to achieve your goals.

Many people are daunted by the task of creating a business plan, thinking that it needs to be hundreds of pages of complex financial forecasts. While that’s definitely not the case, the point is to have a comprehensive well-thought-out plan. Keep it simple, yet thorough.

Your business plan should clearly state the purpose of the business, that you are committed to making your venture grow, and that you have the skills, expertise, and self-confidence to make that happen.

Key Elements of a Business Plan

Business Description

You should open with a business description or proposal that defines exactly what your business will be, its industry, and the types of customers you plan on serving. You should also include personal goals and objectives, and any elements that will add to your company’s success. This section will act as the backbone for the rest of your business plan.

Market Analysis

Your market analysis is an important part of your business plan. It will show you (and any future lenders) what you’re up against in the voice-over industry. You will need to research and detail some key metrics such as how much competition there is in the industry, how many jobs there are, average voice talent earnings, economic stability, and the estimated net-worth of the industry itself.  Provide information about your target markets and client demographics.

Sales and Services

Describe the voice-over services you offer to prospective clients, including any complementary services such as music production, copywriting, and post-production. Describe what solutions you provide, precisely how those solutions fill the needs of your clients, and identify how they will benefit from working with you. Explain how much you charge for each type of voice-over service you provide and how that compares to others in the industry.

Operations and Overhead

The purpose of this section is to outline how and where you plan to operate your business. You’ll want to detail the costs and any special licences or legalities involved in operating your business, presumably from your home. Provide detailed information on your administrative needs, including any projected human resources costs, such as hiring an assistant or bookkeeper. Your overhead includes the acquisition and maintenance of your recording studio and equipment. List everything you need in order to execute the services you offer.

Development and Growth

Dare to dream. Project your future vision for your business. Provide specific details on how you plan to market your business, where you’d like to see yourself in 2 years, and how you intend to get there. Flow charts are great “at a glance” references for this section. Be realistic, but don’t be afraid to think big. Be honest with yourself. What do you need to put into your business to make the living you long for? Describe how you think you can get there.

Financial Summary

Now, back to the present! You'll need to provide some financial data such as assets, investments, and liquidations, and your total personal and business net-worth. This is particularly important if you’re asking for a business loan. The lender can then estimate your ability to repay the loan. Be sure you include your forecasted cash flow; the amount of cash needed to run your business, and expected annual income.

Executive Summary

Your Executive Summary should be the first page of your business plan. We included it here at the end because it is best written after you have completed all the sections above to help you create a synopsis of what’s included in your plan. This section should be no more than one or two pages with your key points.

3 Common Mistakes in Business Plans

  • Antiquated information. Don’t use statistics from 10 years ago when discussing the state of the voice-over economy. Do your research and find out what the current and projected statistics are. Cite your sources and use graphs to illustrate your points when possible.
  • Overly ambitious. Substantiate your claims, assumptions, and projections with realistic, well-thought-out forecasts.
  • Inaccurate financial data. If there are any financial difficulties, don’t try to mask them. Be transparent and truthful when writing your Financial Summary. You, and possibly your lender, will be thankful for it in the end.