At our client networking session a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to catch up with some of HTA’s clients, learning more about what makes them and their businesses tick.
This months client conversation dives a little deeper into the conversation I had with Tim from Burninghouse during the networking event.
Thank you both so much for taking the time to chat with me today, as new clients to HTA Advisory i have discovered a little about your business but for those out there that are unaware, can you tell us a little about your career and in turn came about starting Burninghouse?
Charlie (right): I had been working in Advertising in Europe, before returning to Australia in 2007. At that time the agency I was at was delivering lots of what we then called “online content”. Getting back I recognized that there was not a lot of effort made, delivering this type of content to these emerging online platforms (YouTube etc.) here in Australia. I knew Tim well as a TV producer and started talking to him about the opportunities in being a supplier focused on ‘online content’.
Tim (left): By the time Charlie returned to Australia I had been working in television production for over ten years. In that time I had watched as the production industry steadfastly refused to acknowledge and adapt to what was a clearly changing marketplace. The platforms to market were expanding, digital technology had slashed the cost of production yet the cost of producing content failed to reflect any of this. When Charlie suggested we combine our skills and open a company focusing on the online sphere I jumped at the chance.
We opened our doors in October 2008. Five months later Black Saturday happened. Suddenly naming the company Burninghouse didn’t feel so smart!
Delivering across the ‘Production Spectrum’, from strategy through, creative, development, production, post production and distribution.
In starting your new business and achieving growth in targets, what have you had to overcome to get where you are today?
The first lesson we had to learn when it came to achieving growth targets was to actually set them! Invariably growth in the early stages of a business is quite organic, particularly when you are punting on a market that is not yet fully formed. We were probably pretty naïve, being happy with any revenue increase but once we were shown the importance of forecasting it became a major driving force in our growth.
Our second lesson concerned staff. Finding the right people and employing them at the right time is a major concern for every business. Once you’re clear on where the business is going, hiring the correct talent becomes a great deal easier.
Finally - procedures. In writing. “That’s just the way we do it” doesn’t work when you’re growing. We’ve spent a lot of time developing workflow procedures to streamline how the business operates, how the financials are reported and how we work with clients. This has enabled us to manage a steady and more structured growth.
They are fantastic points and ones every new business owner could definitely relate to. In ensuring your business remains profitable and sustainable, what tools/strategies have you implemented?
We’re essentially a communications company so the biggest tool or strategy in the beginning was our ability to start conversations with people. We were dogged in our cold calling and open in our vision of how video could and should be used. We were eager to talk to whoever would sit down with us.
Likewise, the importance of listening cannot be over emphasized. In any communication it’s vital you understand your client’s needs first and foremost. We listened to our clients, we listened to our market and we listened to our industry. We knew what was working and what wasn’t and this enabled us to keep ahead of a rapidly evolving marketplace.
As important as external conversations are, internal communication is equally important. Setting clear goals, ensuring staff understand exactly where we are on the journey and celebrating success are vital in making sure we’re a not so big happy family!
With so many other businesses out there specialising in online content, what sets your business apart and makes you stand out from the crowd?
In the crowded video and animation space we stand out because of our understanding of the ‘Visual Content Ecosystem’ that each brand, business or organization has (if you’re unsure of yours, we’d love to talk). Few if any of our competitors look at the visual content space in this way and we’ve constantly found that it simplifies the process of identifying the visual content companies require and assists in building a coordinated online approach.
What are you currently working on at Burninghouse that will assist with your future growth and aspirations?
A big shift is recognizing the move away from visual content being used exclusively for promotional purposes. We’re excited by the benefits of using video and animation for improving internal processes and culture in a business or organisation. Working with our partners to understand this and how to best use visual content is a big opportunity.
I know you've only been with HTA Advisory for a short period of time, but from your experience so far how have we assisted in getting your business to where it is today?
As with visual content you often don’t know you’re doing something wrong until you’re shown how to do something right. Like you mentioned, we’re reasonably new to the HTA fold, but immediately we’ve been struck by their management accounting ethos, as apposed to simple compliance accounting. This was exactly in line with our need to produce more structured and sustainable growth in order to realize our vision of the future Burninghouse. Planning our financial future rather then reacting to our financial reports has empowered us to make the right decisions around how to grow our business. In short? We’re fans.
Is there anything else you'd like to mention?
We find a lot of businesses are hesitant about where to start when it comes to visual content. It’s common for us to hear “We’ve got nothing to highlight”. For any business unsure of where to begin we always say look at your FAQ’s. If you’ve been asked a question about your business more than twice, it can and should be made into a video.
That is such a good point and something we are also looking into at HTA Advisory. Thank you both so much for such an informative and enlightening chat.
If you'd like to learn more about Burninghouse or have a conversation about how they might be able to assist your business be sure to check out their website.
If you'd like to feature in one of our client conversations be sure to let us know.