What were you doing before you started ManMade?
I was working at another videography agency, which is predominantly where I learnt my most important lessons to date. However, before that I was Head of Digital of an IT marketing agency which is where I learnt all the basics of working in the business world.
Starting a business is an exciting time and not without some risk, what was the driving factor behind your choice to leave the security of employment and join the ranks of the entrepreneurs?
For me, it was mainly ambition and understanding what I had always wanted to do. Both my roles had set me up for something like this, but the jump still required a vast amount of courage and faith in our own ability. I think being young really helped because I technically had no commitments and thus still have time to make mistakes and learn as I go along.
Did you know what you were going to do before you left employment?
Kind of? I’d built up several skills over the years and had finally found something that I really loved doing, and could most definitely excel in. Videography for us and for me was the safest and most rewarding choice.
You are now Managing Director for ManMade, what is the business and who is it aimed at?
ManMade is a family-run digital agency specialising in video, wedding videos, animation, TV adverts, that kind of stuff. It’s really aimed at any organisation who really wants to show off their organisation, or their event, or their food or even rooms. Video is now ubiquitous on the internet, and if organisations really want to target our upcoming generation, they need video. We’re here to help companies address that requirement without the high price tag that video normally has.
Starting a new business needs planning, there are many frameworks that can be used to help guide business owners along the path to achieving their goals, describe for our readers the processes you went through in building your business plan.
Ha! Interesting question… I think the key for me was visualising everything, and kind of knowing where you want to go with it. Without a clear picture in your mind of what you’re trying to achieve, you can’t build a plan to get there. I did look up a few frameworks but in the end resorted to help from contacts that I had built up over the years, and I can’t thank all those people enough for helping us get to where we are today.
What advice would you give to anyone considering making the same move as you?
Look for that one contact that will put you in the exact place that you want to be; because once you have found that individual, they will help to propel your business into places that you never had once thought would be possible. Never, ever give up either!
What is ManMade’s competitive advantage and how will you sustain it?
I’d like to think our competitive advantage will always be that we are ‘people’ people. There’s a big problem with how agencies engage with their customers, so we always try to make our clients feel like they’re part of our family. Sustaining that hopefully shouldn’t be too difficult, because it’s who we are and we think that customers will always stay with you if you are willing to go above and beyond for them!
Start-ups need finance and there are many options available, which route did you go down and why?
We explored several different options but for us, this is all a risk of out of our own pocket. Fortunately, starting up a company nowadays requires little capital, especially for digital businesses!
In your opinion when is the most dangerous time in the life of a start up?
I feel like we’re still in that dangerous time! It’s always going to be the first 18 months. It can make or break you, and if you don’t have long term contracts to keep you going, how will you survive? So, I think planning, will power and a bit of good luck should see anyone through no problem.
Where do you see ManMade in three years’ time?
Hopefully in 3 years’ time ManMade won’t be limited to just digital marketing services. We don’t just want to excel in one area, but it’s about what that happens to be and whether or not it would have been put into action yet!
What are you most excited for in terms of ManMade’s future?
I think I’m most looking forward to the turning point of success, where we can look back and review all the mistakes and gains that we’ve made and feel the sensation of reward. I can imagine that nothing really tops that feeling of building up something from scratch.
How important is Social Media to the success of ManMade?
Social media is a big one for us as it gives us a platform to show off our work. But.. it’s always hard to measure how social media interaction impacts lead generation. However, based on things right now it’s vital. Our clients use their videos for their social, and we get to reach out to our customers through social – so unless that changes, social media will always be important to our success.
What is the one thing you wish you had done differently?
That I’d started even earlier, and that I had previous experience of doing anything like this at school and sixth form. I took a light interest into Photography over the last 5 years, but I never really had dived into Videography and I wish I had given myself more time to master the art!
Michael Man - firstname.lastname@example.org