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VOICE OVER BUSINESS - PART 2
Add These Key Players To Your Voice Over
Business Team, And Watch Your Cash Flow 


By Kim Handysides
Voice Actor & Coach

Occasionally a voice actor will have a knack for business, or a business background or be uber organized and love to tick boxes as much as they love to explore character and performing stories.

But more often than not, voice over actors fall short in the running-my-own-business category. If this is the weakest link in your biz chain, this article is for you. 

Full disclosure: I suck at paperwork. It's something I push myself to do. There's often an amount of inner conflict, kicking, and teeth gnashing, but hey, as my kids used to say when faced with unpleasant chores, "ya gotta do what ya gotta do."

So, I did what I had to do:
  • My own quarterly and annual taxes.
  • My own marketing (which was my fav part of the business end of the business as I always saw it as an outlet for creativity).
  • My own payments to suppliers, subcontractors and agents.
All this, until a few years ago, when my rate of incoming work exceeded my available hours in a week (it was getting up to 80 which is unsustainable), and my husband quit his job and stepped in to run my voice over business with me. Happy day! A former small business owner (19 employees) with a BCom himself, he came with all the bells and whistles I did not.

Among the many things he taught me (see Part 1), is that I needed key players on my VO business team.

You'll need some of these players early to help move your business forward. And others you'll add later as you bring in more work to voice, and have less time to devote to other aspects of your business. Here's what to consider.

AGENTS

Keep in mind that your agent is a business partner they are in business to make money with you if you earn, they earn. 

So this relationship needs to be symbiotic, or at the very least a B2B equal partnership.

Communication with your agent or agents is a key ingredient in that relationship. The better they understand your business where you're booking, what genres are your jam, who you're training with, what workshops you're attending the better equipped they'll be to sell your services to buyers who are looking for voice talent.

Let them know about your latest achievements and new goals. 
Cash Flow Note: Often, the client is billed by the agent, who will then collect the money, assess their commission and then pay the remainder out to you, the talent. This can mean your expected payment schedule may have additional time added to it for that processing. 

Be aware of that timetable when accounting for when that money will actually get to you.  Also, if your arrangement is to collect from the client and then pay your agent, be cognizant of their cash flow expectations and be transparent about your collections and payments to them.
SUBCONTRACTORS

According to Investopedia:
"Subcontracting is the practice of assigning, or outsourcing, part of the obligations and tasks under a contract to another party known as a subcontractor. Subcontracting is especially prevalent in areas where complex projects are the norm, such as construction and information technology."
In the voice over industry, this would include people you hire to perform audio editing, video editing, proofreading, translation, website hosting services or any ancillary services you offer.

Sometimes this includes other voice over talent if you offer casting services or have lists you provide clients of talent for jobs in languages you do not speak. 
CashFlow Note: Keep in mind, many of us expect to be paid right away. I can't argue, it's best. But the rest of the world operates on "net" which can be 15 days net, 30 or occasionally 60. Union payment schedule is net 30 days and then late fees. 

The key here is to be transparent and clear about payment terms and when they can expect to be paid.
SUPPLIERS

In a pure business-to-business (B2B) relationship, a supplier is an entity that supplies goods and services to another organization.

In voice over, this can include Pay-to-Play (P2P, online casting) sites, marketplace memberships (including Union dues), subscriptions to services like Dropbox, We Transfer, Source-Connect, Adobe, etc.
CashFlow Note: Make sure you're paying attention to your usage, especially with tools and services you subscribe to, but perhaps aren't utilizing. This can be a large outflow with no benefit to your business.

For example, I had a LinkedIn Pro account that I wasn't using, but paying for to the tune of $60 a month! Buh-bye.
MONEY MATTERS
 
Ok, so I've given you some "Cash Flow Notes" and you may be wondering what that means. 

Cash Flow

This is all money that comes in and out of your business. In order for your business to be profitable, you have to make sure more money comes in than goes out.

Because of the nature of the voice over business, you may have some income on a regular, trackable schedule, and other income from new or one-off projects that you'll need to stay on top of and plan for when that money will hit your account. 

Out-flows are typically more regular (monthly subscriptions, weekly coaching sessions, etc.), so planning for income to cover those expenses is paramount.

Invoicing And Getting Paid

It is important to invoice as soon as possible after the job is done. Remember that you are likely one of many vendors billing them, so waiting to send invoices until some time after the job can lead to confusion and disorganization. 

Do everything you can to be professional and help your client stay on top of their account payables. 

In your invoices, include job description, date, PO numbers or any invoicing specifics the client has requested. If provided one, use the client's format for invoicing, and make sure you have the correct person to address the invoice to (the person who hired you may not be the person responsible for paying you).

In my case, my husband Ed keeps a running template of repeat customers and companies that have specific needs for invoicing.

Organize With A System

As your business grows, you'll need to be organized and keep systems to streamline your time.

For instance, when money comes in, have a system for noting the invoice and the client who paid you. It is a smart business practice to have some way (accounting software, spreadsheet, a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) program I happen to use VoiceOverView, etc.) to know what you've invoiced and what you've been paid for every job from every client.

Keep in mind that your clients will have varying payment terms, so try to establish this upfront when quoting the job). Some will pay right away, some will stretch it out 30/60/90 days.

If They Pay Late - Or Never ...

If the client has missed the agreed-upon payment due date, don't automatically cut them out as customers.

In this very freelance business, you have to be flexible and adapt. Communication is key here.

And if payment does become extremely delayed, remember that collection is persistence.

Some VO artists feel very uncomfortable in becoming demanding when payments are overdue.

But this is a business, so when invoices are overdue by more than 90 days, how do you collect? In my case, Ed sends weekly emails, then daily emails, then threatens to put them on voice over red flags.

If you'd booked the work on a P2P, while they won't actively collect on your behalf, they may block that client from posting future jobs until your issue is resolved.

I confess I suck at this. Before my husband got involved, I had $40K in over-90-days-collectibles. Now, it's maybe $400, if that.

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ABOUT KIM

Kim Handysides is a top voice over artist in commercials, eLearning and narration. With a background in theatre and film and a thorough grounding in radio and television, she's a 2019 Voice Arts Awards winner and five-time nominee, and "loves sharing advice, tips and experience with anyone who asks." She is also a voice over coach, offering private coaching and group study classes - and loves dogs, mountains, beaches and story.



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