Actress and recording artist, Jane Katherine-Watson founded L.A. Saditte in 2001 with her husband, Michael A. Watson. Initially formed as a talent management agency to develop actors, singers, dancers and writers, the company has since expanded to produce independent film projects worldwide in addition to managing artists.
Watson was motivated by the desire to help qualified artists find work after years of stage and television experience herself. She launched L.A. Saditte using her former network of contacts from the entertainment industry. Despite pouring her heart and soul into the business and getting work for clients, a decade later she still couldn’t afford to quit her day job. “My sister told me I was putting all my efforts into making other people rich, and I should go to the SBDC [for help],” Watson recalls.
The SBDC, hosted by College of the Canyons, helped Watson re-evaluate and rebrand her business, differentiate herself in the marketplace, and redesign her business website. In addition, the SBDC advisors assisted Watson with her new business plan and financial projections, as well as assisted her with applying for a business loan.
Have a Plan
“Catherine told me I couldn’t work with Gil until I had a business plan,” recalls Watson. “I showed her my business plan, and she said, ‘That is not a business plan–hence the problem with your business!’ “
“I’m in the entertainment business, and the business plan I showed the SBDC was entertaining,” Watson says with a laugh. “It had a lot of pictures of me with celebrities, but it didn’t have the fundamentals I needed to go into a bank and apply for a loan. I didn’t think I needed that type of business plan—after all, I was working with Halle Berry! But my plan was full of fluff. The SBDC’s was full of information.”
The SBDC helped Watson develop a new business plan and gain confidence in her role as a business owner. “At first, I didn’t know answers to my advisor’s questions about my own business,” she recalls. “If you can’t answer questions about your own business, how can you call yourself a CEO?” Revising the plan helped her pinpoint her competition and hone in on her target market.
Budgeting and Beyond
Watson was caught up in day-to-day operations and making “just enough to pay the bills,” she recalls. To handle cash-flow shortfalls, she obtained personal loans or credit cards. “What woke me up was when my advisor said, ‘Where do you see yourself financially in five years?’ “She says.
Murphy showed her how to do three-year profit-and-loss projections, and then set up a budget to account for every penny going into and coming out of the business. Finally, he emphasized the importance of separating business and personal finances.
Know your Worth
Before visiting the SBDC, Watson couldn’t obtain a business loan.
Now, with the SBDC’s guidance, she was offered a business loan—
but turned it down, “The APR was too high. Because of the SBDC,
I know my worth. Five years ago, I would have taken that loan. Now, with my financial knowledge, I can choose.”
Watson also began paying herself for the first time. Previously, her husband’s salary had supported them while she put all the company’s
income back into the business. “It’s not a lot of money,” she says of her salary, “but it’s good for my morale. It feels like a real business now.”
Stand out from the Crowd
Watson re-evaluated herself, her business and her clients to pinpoint her unique selling proposition in a highly competitive industry. “The SBDC told me to list in bullet points why an actor should sign with me as their manager,” she explains. Thus, Watson focused on her strengths and narrowed her target market to artists with whom she could develop mutually beneficial relationships. As a result, Watson developed her pitch, highlighting her knowledge, familiarity with the industry, and vast network.
Brand it, Own it
The SBDC also helped Watson gain a fuller understanding of branding and how it could create ancillary income for her business. “Suppose I do a reality show for Oxygen, which is partly owned by NBC,” she says. “If a catch-phrase from the show [becomes popular], I don’t own that phrase–the network does.” Instead of giving away potentially lucrative opportunities (such as selling T-shirts or accessories with the catch-phrase), Murphy advised her to include ownership in every contract or deal memo. “My advisor does not come from the entertainment industry,” Watson says, “but he understands that show business is 5 percent show and 95 percent business!”
“My business started the day I met my SBDC advisors,” Watson says. “Working with them has taught me not only about my business, but more importantly about myself. Gil’s first-hand experience and the information he has imparted are priceless. In the entertainment business, no one helps anyone. Working with Gil has given me that much-needed edge.”
“My business started the day I met my SBDC advisors. Working with them has taught me not only about my business, but more importantly about myself.” -Jane Katherine-Watson, Co-Owner/CEO, L.A. Saditte, Inc.