4 top tips to survive launching your business

For Lachlan Fletcher and his wife Samantha, 20 years in the Australian television industry was more than enough. “We met on Survivor, but we’d both worked for years on just about any Australian show you’d care to name,” Lachlan recalls. “And we’d had enough of it. We wanted a change, to get out and do something ourselves. We’re entrepreneurs at heart.”

Samantha and Lachlan went into the video production business for themselves with Studio 18a. They started out in the lucrative wedding film business but soon branched out into corporate profile videos. Lachlan ran the corporate profile videos side-by-side with the wedding videos, which were now in the hands of Samantha.

“That transition was one of the main challenges we’ve faced,” he says. “That was a huge move for us, letting go of a side to the business which was generating 50% of our income. But we had a vision that documentary film making was more suited for us. So we made a decision to move into the corporate space and see if we could introduce a ‘real’ storytelling approach to that area.”

Lachlan and Samantha’s vision paid off, with referrals mounting until they were soon at full capacity. But letting go of the lucrative wedding video side of things was still a wrench. “The first year was super scary without that cash flow back up,” Lachlan recalls.

Lachlan’s clients include children’s charity GingerCloud, and the work he’s done for them ranks among his most proud. “One of the things they’re developing right now is the Modified Rugby Program,” he says. “The videos I put together for that, they’re the ones I’m most proud of. I love stuff that’s emotive, and has purpose.”

Lachlan’s advice to anyone considering launching their own business:

  • Gain a good understanding of the financial side of your business, not just the creative aspects. “Things like tax and GST, cash flow and cash reserves – things that I now do religiously – I could have done better in the beginning,” he admits. “The problem with creative people is that they think, ‘I’m a creative person, I don’t need to know that other stuff,’ but that’s wrong. You need to understand all of it. And if you don’t, then you’re going to fail. I was lucky enough to find that out in time.”
  • Plough 30% of every penny you make into a cash reserve. “My accountant told me this and it’s the best advice I’ve ever received,” he says. “Put it aside and never think for a second that it’s yours.”
  • Make sure you have a good 5 year plan in place. “It’s crucial,” Lachlan says. “Work out what it’s going to cost you to have the life that you want in 5 years, and then work on achieving that. It always comes as a bit of a shock, what it’ll cost to have the life that you want in 5 years. But entrepreneurs are lucky, because if you really put your mind to it, nothing is unattainable. It’s harder to do that on a salary. But if you have your own business that’s scalable, you can achieve it.”
  • Be prepared to work hard, and don’t listen to negative people. “I’ve had plenty of times where I’ve thought about chucking it in,” Lachlan admits. “But at the end of the day, a day job just won’t do for you and your family what owning a business will, or that allows you the same kind of flexibility. When you have an idea to do something, you’re the only one who can see it through. And people who are negative don’t help your cause. Listen to the people who support you, and go with your gut.”

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