Your voice is a small part of the equation – learning how to run a business is key.
Business and entrepreneurial skills may best be explained by analysing the average entrepreneur’s attitude towards business. Think big, because that’s what voice talents with business entrepreneurial skills do. For example, they:
- Learn the basic rules of any business first, and then start making their own rules.
- Are not afraid of what other people think. They trust their gut and act on their decisions.
- Love being their own boss. In fact, it’s very unlikely they’d be able to work for someone else.
- Offer clients ‘buyer options’ and know that the way to increase a budget is to know ‘why you want to work with someone’.
- Constantly pay attention to business trends and keep abreast of them.
- Think outside the box. They’re always wondering ‘how can I make/do this better’.
- Enjoy taking risks, and would rather ask forgiveness than permission.
- Think internationally. Their lives have become countryless, or at a minimum, borderless.
- Enjoy being exposed to different cultures, and view all people as ‘people’. They tend to be very creative, which can lead to misunderstandings because they’re sometimes misunderstood, but they prefer it that way.
It is all about customer service. Make sure you understand your client, and the client of your client! Remember that there are many more people with a similar voice like yours, customer service can make the difference on the long term.
Customer service is the single most important skill after your voice. Treat every client with courtesy. Be professional. Follow through on your commitments to time, quality and format.
As far as Voice123 goes, here’s a story worth telling: One slow auditioning day, a voice talent happened across an IVR phone messaging job online. Sure, it only paid fifty US dollars, but there was something about the job she noticed: the job entailed the creation of a phone tree for an advertising agency. Advertising agencies always need voice talents, and she naturally knew this. She auditioned for the job, and got it. On submitting the final audio, she tagged on a voice note to the client: “You know, I do voiceover work for other types of jobs, too – not just IVR’.
Fast forward several months and this lowly fifty buck job turned into an $11,000 gig – plus she’d established a great talent/client relationship. And what were the skills involved here?
- She was brave enough to ask.
- She had her business plan down.
- She was easy to work with.
- She understood what an ad agency did, and figured, ‘why not more than just this one job?’
Sure, one can argue that she got lucky, but as the CEO and all the staff in her company of one, she’d also played it smart. She did not wait for someone to ask her what she wanted. That said, it’s true not everyone is naturally independent, and it may take some getting used to, but when you accept that you’re in this to do and to be your best, you can make your own luck just like she did.
Making your own luck is also about being prepared. Allow us to suggest the following:
- Reply to emails in a timely manner. Since you spend a lot of your time in the sound booth recording and editing, maybe adding an auto-reply to your email letting your clients know the email was received and that you will reply (place a potential date, time, etc., on it).
- Keep your clients engaged with emails from time to time, letting them know what you have done lately, what you have been up to.
- Meet your deadlines, or deliver early, if you can. (This can be achieved by overestimating how long a job will take.)
- Keep your website up to date.
- From time to time, clients might want you to record in their studio. Try convincing them that you can do the same in your own studio. Travel time is wasted time.
- Send invoices in a timely manner. Paypal offers the option of sending invoices that you can personalize, or use small business accounting software. (More on this in Section 8. We talk about associated entrepreneurial marketing skills in Section 4).