Telling Compelling Stories through Film in a Small Business

Shaun & Jennifer Colon
Entrepreneurs Shaun and Jennifer Colón started Open Ended, LLC, a small business that does film production.
Entrepreneurs Shaun and Jennifer Colón started Open Ended, LLC, a small business that does film production.

In recent years, the power of crowdfunding has helped many entrepreneurs lay a financial foundation for their business enterprises. Shaun and Jennifer Colón represent a perfect example of this when they turned to Indiegogo in search of some startup capital and were blown away by the results.

The Colóns, who are clients of 1-800Accountant, proudly run their own small business called Open Ended, LLC. They use the name Open Ended Films to work on their current endeavors in the film and video production field. The expecting couple resides in Dallas, Texas, and they formally registered their LLC in May 2014.

Shaun Colón explains how Open Ended, LLC functions.

“We do video production, documentaries, music videos, short films, and other projects,” he says. “We love to tell cool stories in different ways through video. I’m a producer, director, and cinematographer. I can’t do it all myself, so Jennifer and I work with freelancers who help on our projects.”

He talks about how crowdfunding was a major factor in the couple’s decision to give small business ownership a shot.

“I was working on a documentary on a punk rock record label called A Fat Wreck,” he says. “We decided to try an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in April. We asked for $7,500, thinking it would take some time to reach this number. We ended up raising it in 24 hours and raised a total of $30,000. We definitely thought we needed to put the money somewhere in order for it to be profitable. So we decided to set up an LLC for the limited liability protection it offers.”

The entrepreneur had been working as the marketing director for a talent development school where he honed his skills doing video production work. But once the small business started taking off, he had to walk away from the job to focus on running the company full-time.

Ingredients to the Perfect Recipe for Startup Success

Small business owners point to many factors they believe are the keys to finding startup success. Colón says it’s all about the support from others.

“I’ve been able to convince a very talented team of individuals to help me out. The team effort will really make this a success. The community we’re tapping into is also very important. We’ve had so much support from people all over the world through crowdfunding.”

As for what he enjoys most about this type of work, it’s the collaboration he gets to experience working with so many talented people. On the flipside, he is not a big fan of all the business tax requirements involved in having an LLC.

Competition in the Film Industry

According to Colón, he’s found that competition in the film industry is a bit different compared to two or more small businesses that sell the same types of products.

“People we compete with are people we work with,” he explains. “People come to us for the vibe and type of storytelling we do in our productions. As we grow larger, I’m sure there will be more competition.”

To spread the word about their company, the Colóns have relied heavily on Internet marketing. They have two websites – one for the business at www.openendedfilms.com  and another for their film, A Fat Wreck, at www.afatwreck.com – along with Facebook and Twitter pages to market the movie. Plus, they have a company profile on Vimeo with samples of their work.

Challenges to Small Business Ownership

According to Colón, the financial aspects of his enterprise have posed the biggest hurdles.

“It’s all about spending the money the right way. You have to make sure you are investing in the right things. Fortunately, my wife is really good with budgeting and money. We also have a mentor who has helped us a lot through this process.”

Colón offers a few insightful pieces of advice to entrepreneurs wanting to take the plunge into starting a business.

“You have to be passionate about what you’re doing,” he says. “The money is so important as well, but it’s going to be lots of hours spent working on things. It’s really a 24-hour job. That’s why you better be passionate about what you’re doing.”

He admits that, like almost anything, there are both pros and cons to being self-employed.

“When you’re self-employed, it’s all on you. If you push hard when you wake up every day, you can be successful. If not, it’s going to be tough. The freedom is great if you are self-directed enough.

“Being your own boss also puts an added strain on your financial situation. Having a salary is great when you get a paycheck every 2 weeks. You have to be a lot better about money management. When a big lump sum comes in, you should put it away for future use.”

As clients of 1-800Accountant, Colón says he and his wife have been extremely happy with the national accounting and consulting firm’s assistance.

“The reps we’ve spoken with have been very informative,” he says. “They’ve walked us through lots of steps that we really knew nothing about. 1-800Accountant has given us peace of mind knowing that our business tax situation is in good hands so that we can focus on our business.”

Photo credit; The photograph of Shaun and Jennifer Colón was provided by Open Ended, LLC and is used with permission.

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