abVoices, located in Blacksburg, Virginia, is a professional narration and voice-over company.
Tell me about abVoices.
Through abVoices, I'm providing industrial narrations for a variety of clients in the online educational arena as well as voice-overs for several Messaging On-Hold clients and Television stations. I also provide audio editing services for several online marketers. I also provide character voices for the eCard division of American Greetings. Most recently, I completed a 17.5 hour narration for an audio book project that I'm very excited about.
What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
Though this is my first self-employment venture, I was a professional broadcaster for nearly 20 years. In my last job, I was in charge of the commercial production department for a cluster of six radio stations.
How did you come up with your business idea?
For me it was a no-brainer. I had a home studio already set up with enough licensed music and sound effects tracks to make a go of it. It was just a matter of getting my name out there and making the right contacts.
What were the challenges and benefits of operating your business from your home studio?
The benefits were numerous: being able to set my own hours, to be able to work around family commitments, and be able to become a "stay at home Dad" while my youngest was still pre-school age. The challenges were primarily finding quiet times to record narrations and how to set up a book keeping system to allow for self-employment taxes and so forth. A little work in Excel, though, really made a difference for that.
Green business is all the rage right now. Has it really been practical for you as an entrepreneur to incorporate green business practices?
Since I provide something of an "intangible" product, I embrace "green" practices. I use the Internet for file delivery, and do all of my book keeping on my PC. I use as little paper as possible, and typically use "both sides" when printing out new scripts.
Have you outsourced any portion of your business? Has that worked for your business?
As a "one man shop," and given the state of the economy, I do everything myself outside of tax preparation. If things continue to grow as they have been, however, I can certainly foresee the need to begin outsourcing work to other voice talents in an effort to provide my current clients with more variety.
Social marketing is consistently being written about in the small business space. Has it worked generating business for you?
By and large, I have made some fantastic contacts through social media, and it's a great way to keep in touch with existing clients. I'm all for it!
How has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?
I expected much more pressure than I have actually experienced. So far, being my own boss has been a joy, and I would encourage anyone who thinks they can't do it to think again. All you need is the gumption to get off your backside and GO FOR IT.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
Make as many contacts as you can, and rely on people you have known throughout the years to help you make new contacts.
Remember: you meet the same people on "the way up" as you do on "the way down." Every person you have ever worked with is a potential resource.
Thank you for taking the time to share your excellent advice with other entrepreneurs. Best wishes for growing your business, Andy!