On January 15, 2008, I interviewed Mr. John Shriver of Multimedia Technologies Ltd in his home. He owns a multimedia development business of his own. He has been running this business for a year and currently hires two graphics designers. Because he has a limited number of clients, he does most of the technical and the administrative work himself.
Mr. Shriver discussed different aspects of his work particularly in the areas of job duties, advantages, disadvantages, personal characteristics and communication skills. Job duties Mr. Shriver picked up the necessary skills when he was working as a multimedia developer in a software development company. His principal duty is to prepare promotional multimedia presentations. He visits clients and talks with them regarding the requirements of the multimedia presentations. Sometimes the purpose of the presentation is to present the organizational structure of the client organization. Sometimes the purpose is to sell products.
For example, the client might be arranging a seminar to launch a new product. In that case, Mr.Shriver prepares multimedia presentations that acquaint the audience with different features of the product. His company develops presentations for both the internal audience and the external audience. He is doing mostly repeat business. As a result, he is not incurring promotional expenses. His client list currently consists of five organizations in different industries which launch new products from time to time or which arrange training and development programs for their employees and, when undertaking these programs, the five organizations make extensive use of multimedia presentations.
So this is the source of business for Multimedia Technologies Ltd. He also develops interactive applications. However the company is not limited to multimedia development. He also lends a hand in concept development in graphics designing. The client company might be developing a brochure or a printed ad and in that case he helps the graphics designers develop a conceptual framework for the graphics that will go into the printed ads. Advantages Mr. Shriver said that he was very happy with his decision to start the business because it enabled him to work at his own pace.
Of course there were client deadlines and sometimes those deadlines were very tight. However Mr. Shriver could arrange his own schedule in completing the projects. The business also gave him an opportunity to apply his creative skills because each project was different. So there was an element of variety in his daily schedule. The industry rates were also very good. Disadvantages The industry was very competitive and so the presentations had to be of a very high quality. As a result, the job had state-of-the-art computer hardware and software requirements.
These were very expensive purchases. Because Mr. Shriver’s company was small, these expenses made a difference. The multimedia development industry also advanced at a very rapid pace. As a result, there was always the risk of falling behind in terms of service excellence which was technologically driven. Personal characteristics Creativity and project planning are important characteristics. Mr. Shriver had completed a project management course some time ago and he was discovering that skills in this area were critical in the business.
At a time he was working on multiple orders from different client organizations or from the same client organization which had different deadlines. As a result he had to be able to manage his resources effectively. Resource deployments were particularly critical when it came to assigning the graphics designers to the different orders. They had a certain level of productivity which Mr. Shriver had to factor into his equations in planning the implementation of different projects. He realized that it would have been much more difficult for him if he had hired additional multimedia developers and graphics designers to work with him.
Of course it would have enhanced the profitability of his business much more. Some of his clients had already told Mr. Shriver that they would like to see a bit more of 3D modeling and animation in his presentations. Mr. Shriver himself was unable to enrich the products with more 3D features because he lacked the expertise and the experience. Therefore he was considering the possibility of hiring 3D animators. However it would require a greater level of project planning skills because the amount of resources available would be greater. However he believed that he was ready to do so.
Creativity was equally important. Each presentation had to be different based on the informational requirements of the presentations and the targeted audience. He had to make the presentations accessible to the audience in a way which would be not only informative but also entertaining. The clients were very demanding in terms of the presentation style of the content because once they had communicated to Mr. Shriver the information that was to be presented, they left the structure of the presentation to him. The clients demanded an imaginative approach to the presentations.
This was particularly difficult because different presentations sometimes had the same informational content. So creativity was important in the business. In this respect, he was helped considerably by the graphics designers. Communication Mr. Shriver is a good writer and that enables him to develop impressive attention-grabbing textual content in his presentations. The problem in developing the products was that the developer had to be extremely economical with text because the clients frowned upon too much text. The clients preferred it when the focus was on imaginative graphics and interesting animations.
However as the nature of the information to be communicated could not be all encompassed through graphics and animations, Mr. Shriver had to use text and in this respect he had to be extremely careful in his selection of words which had to be limited yet communicative. His writing skills therefore came in handy in the business. Mr. Shriver told me that he had also completed a negotiations course and the skills he had developed in this area as a result helped him in arranging the terms and conditions with client organizations. Of course these were mostly repeat client organizations and therefore the rates of payments were mostly fixed.
However negotiations for payment were important when it came to dealing with new client organizations. He also had to negotiate for adequate time in terms of product development. Conclusion Mr. Shriver has a very busy schedule and he was very nice to give me an hour from that busy schedule. The interview was both instructive and entertaining. It was obvious from the way he talked that he loved his job. Talking to a successful entrepreneur like Mr. Shriver has given me the interest to start a business of my own.
Guffey, Mary Ellen. Essentials of Business Communication. McGraw Hill/Irwin. 2004.