7 Mistakes You Should Avoid To Grow Your Animation Studio

Written by Aram Movsisyan

Senior Producer, Yans Media

My animation studio is fairly small. But it was much smaller before I decided to learn the secrets of how to grow my animation business. So I decided to do some research. And I decided to ignore all the nonsense and learn only from people with experience and big guys in the industry to see what they did.

I read a lot of interviews from both famous and not famous people. Just people who have succeeded in this business. I was trying to find common ground and tipping points. Then I implemented the best ideas myself, and learned from trial and error. Read on to learn what I did!

7 Problems Animation Studio Owners Have.  How To Solve Them And Grow

1. Nobody Does It Better Than I Do

This is a potentially catastrophic problem that all business owners can be stricken with, not just small animation studio owners. And this is especially applicable if the owner is a tech person. You think,

“Well, It will take a decade to teach what I know to someone. Plus, I’ll do it better anyway. It’s better to do it myself.”

Then your whole day consists of doing small, menial tasks by yourself.

Do NOT do that.

Hire someone. Teach and let people do it. At first, they may not do very well. You’ll have to learn to be OK with that. But after a bit of time, they will get better and you’ll feel like a burden has been lifted from your shoulders. So delegate all your routine work. Start your day (or week) with delegating and spend some time to figure out how you can delegate other tasks.

So your first step should be to hire people and manage them. This can save you up to 90 percent of your daily routine, no joke. You’re a business owner, but you should also focus on being a business developer, and you can’t do that if you’re spending most of your time mired in the daily minutiae.

 

 

From manager to business leader

The above will save you time to develop your business. But one day you’ll notice that you don’t have enough time to manage either. So your next step should be to hire managers to manage people. And here, again, you don’t need to teach everything. Just create systems and rules they should follow. Introduce them to the company’s goals and philosophy and let them do what you hired them to do. All you need to do is check in from time to time to make sure the ship is still sailing smoothly. Now you can concentrate on bigger deals, new connections, etc.

2. I Don’t Have Enough Time

You can’t create more time, but you can free up more time

Animation business owners are constantly struggling with a serious lack of time. And the main issue comes from problem number 1, so make sure not to skip it. To dig a little deeper, though, here are three steps you can take: 

  • Write down all the things you do daily basis — ALL.
  • Delegate them, or cut them out entirely if they are not expanding or growing your business.
  • Prioritize the things that are most important on your list.

1. Write down

Focus and remember all the things you do. I mean everything, even things like making coffee or checking website speed. Everything! Then write down all the old projects, plans, and experiments you are doing or planning to do.

 

2. Then go through your list and:

  • Scribble out all the things that are not currently necessary. Also take a moment to remove them from your mind to free space and stress.
  • Scribble over all the tasks that you can’t do, or tasks that don’t affect your animation business development.
  • Remove all the time wasting things – social media, excessive TV, any other dumb things that you know you should cut back on.
  • Cross out things that interrupt you. Messages, meetings, colleagues – set up some “office hours” so you aren’t being disturbed and breaking focus constantly.

Focus on the positive elements

Now you have plenty of time to focus on your business development. Start with closing all the leads you haven’t had time to close.

 

3. I Don’t Have Enough Money

Make time, make sales, make yourself an expert

Yeah, that’s a tricky one and it can stem from the problems above. But now you should have some extra time (which is the most valuable resource of all) after making your list, so start selling more and you will have more.

If you decide to play against big studios you should remember that they have huge connections, successful clients, a lot of resources, and strength that you don’t. So the thing you don’t want to do is to fight them on all fronts. Find their weak points and try to evolve your business there.

You can also establish a market niche that the big guys aren’t hitting and become known for that. Remember, if they’re “good” at everything, they’re probably not “great” at many things! With a specialty, even a small animation studio can make a big impact – and profit.

4. The random stuff

Tips that didn’t fit anywhere else

Honesty, I couldn’t find a category for this. These are just some individual snippets. The truth is, there are too many situations to cover even in a giant book. So here are 3 tips that I would like to mention that are extremely underrated among business owners:

  1. People who work with you are different. They will all have their own personalities and their own ways of doing things. And you don’t want to change the rules every other day. There should be rules for everyone, but the rules and regulations should reward and punish them, not YOU.
  2. Be a leader and don’t be afraid to teach and share your knowledge; that includes everything you know.
  3. Always track performance and try to understand how you can help your employees to improve. And here we arrive at problem number 5.

5. Tracking

Never lose track of where you’re at

Just because you’re delegating responsibilities, that doesn’t mean you should be out of the loop. You need to keep tabs on every facet of your organization. Track every aspect of your business to understand the dynamic and stay current. Track the people that work with you, track yourself, monitor cash flow, know your number of clients, know your profit from a deal etc. You should track to understand where you need to interject and where you can improve.

6. Self-discipline

This is not a game you play to tie

Here’s the deal. If there is any task (or action) in your business that you won’t do, this means you are in the wrong business. Don’t go to your office like you go to a regular job. This is your business and you must love it. You must do it because you love it – the kind of thing you would do for free if you had money from other sources. You must do anything to make your animation studio better than it was yesterday.

And don’t dwell on the rough periods. If you have bad times, go get a new project. That’ll cheer you up.

7. Uncompleted plans

Take those ideas off the back burner

Oh, this is a real one – I mean it! You’ve got a lot of great plans and don’t know where to find time to do them. This discourages and demotivates. They back up and before you know it, you’re stuck in the mud. Find partners. Find people that will execute for you. Be smart, but don’t overthink about salaries or the cost investment. There are people that would love to execute your big plans for a fee or percent of the business.

One thing you should know in advance is that some of your plans will fail but try not to stress about that. Everyone fails. Everyone. This is just part of the process. Action is the most important thing. You should move – start bringing your plans to life, one way or another. At least some of them which is better than nothing.

Final Words

I hope this will help you grow your animation studio. Maybe one day you’ll email me and suggest we work together, haha.

Why did I share all this? Because the biggest problem is to start. So start here NOW. Don’t think that you need more knowledge. You know enough to grow your business. Of course you should evolve as a person too but you need to start today, even if the action you take is small. Use the knowledge you have and take action now.