Friday, 12 April 2024 04:44

How to master business growth on a shoestring budget

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Attaining business growth on a shoestring budget can be a daunting task, but it is by no means impossible. Over the past few years, we have seen some compelling stories across industries, but one of the strong use cases is playing out in the entertainment and film industry, revolutionized by the growth of streaming platforms.

The recent changes in the industry have seen a steady growth in independent film studios, which are beginning to take their slice of the pie in the industry where major studios have monopolized for over a century. 

To glean some industry insight, I had a chat with Kareem Davis, the founder of Imperium Features and an indie filmmaker who has built an impressive company starting from a low-to-no budget and made quite a splash in the industry in recent times. 

The Power of Exploration and Education

Working on a shoestring budget requires exactitude, because smaller budgets can afford few mistakes. Exploration and education are tools that enable a dreamer to immerse themself in the rhythm of their dream before investing directly in it.

It may come in the form of taking a job in your industry of choice, interning in a company or undergoing an apprenticeship. The idea is to study the industry from within to understand what is required.

"I started as a self-taught filmmaker in Atlanta," says Davis. "I learned the ropes of filmmaking through trial and error and finally established my first film studio in 2017 and began a journey of explorative moviemaking on a shoestring budget. When I look back, my season of exploration was crucial to the success I am now receiving."

Whether you choose the self-funding route or you choose to raise capital, the benefit of hands-on experience in your industry of choice cannot be overstated.

Working with a shoestring budget will demand that you be as accurate as possible and spot-on in your decision-making, or you could be out of business in no time. 

Take Advantage of Available Innovation

Over the past two decades, streaming has gradually risen to the fore in the movie and entertainment industry, with Netflix, Amazon Prime, and YouTube taking the lion's share of international entertainment distribution.

These platforms have disrupted the industry and opened up doors for independent studios to at least compete with major studios. 

With streaming, reach and access are just a click away, enabling viewers to consume entire seasons in a day. This constant demand for fresh ideas presents challenges and opportunities in the industry, creating more work and possibilities for young and upcoming filmmakers.

The lesson for shoestring entrepreneurs is this: Take advantage of what is readily available while working toward your loftier goals and sell to the customer base that is available now while working toward expansion. How you do anything is how you do everything. 

Distribution Is King, and It Doesn't Have to Be Expensive

The marketing budget often has one of the largest numbers of zeros assigned to it for a reason: Everything done in-house is for consumption by those outside and a brilliant idea is useless if no one experiences it.

In the current streaming era, independent film studios have to work smarter to get their work seen, but there are many ways to be seen without spending much money. 

"In the past, I have utilized the immediate people around me," Davis says.

"Your cast and crew are more than just that, they are essentially your first street team. Having them be so proud of the project they do curated social media posts (preapproved by you) is a great way to begin to build anticipation for your film. Marketing is key and not just any type of marketing. Spectacle marketing is wild and an attention grabber. Take your film to the streets!"

From social media to local PR, there are loads of ways to get your work seen without spending so much cash. Many entrepreneurs fall into the trap of waiting to have enough money to do proper marketing, but in reality, proper marketing is not defined by the amount of money spent, although it certainly helps.

Many of the biggest indies have used local publications that may be willing to feature their story; they also use location-based marketing to extend their paid ads. 

Research shows the success rate of targeted marketing supersedes market reach. Indie filmmakers may target their hometown, actors or alma mater if they are film school alumni.

Still, these lessons transcend the film industry and apply to every other entrepreneur looking to make a name for themself in an industry led by many big players.

Creativity and speed are some of the biggest advantages that smaller businesses have over big businesses. Any business can get the attention it needs by leveraging these two assets, combined with today's modern tools.



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