Name: Michael Nguyen
Business Name: Take This Productions
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Describe your business:
I produce software tutorials, animations and YouTube videos for my clients that help grow their business or educate their audiences.
Tell us about your self-employment journey.
In 2014, I graduated from college with a vague ambition of working while I traveled. I wanted to relive those fulfilling experiences interning abroad. However, working remotely for a company was rare back then.
I stumbled upon UpWork and the lightbulb went off in my head: I could freelance while working anywhere in the world. It was a slow start obtaining my first client, but as I got more and built a reputation on the platform, my business grew. I saved more than enough to travel while I worked. I was in Asia and Europe, country-hopping while working for a few years.
What area of your business are you most passionate about?
I love self-employment because you can shape your business to meet personal and professional goals. I leveraged my business to gain location freedom. I can work anywhere in the world, which is a huge thing for me. Currently, I’m leveraging it on my road to financial freedom!
On top of that, I simply enjoy helping my clients solve their problems. It’s rewarding when I give my best effort on video projects and see positive results unfold.
What’s the most valuable thing you learned early in your career that has contributed to your success?
Be a life-long student and never stop learning. I’m constantly seeking more knowledge about my video production craft, how to run a small business, how to serve clients well and trends in the industry.
My failures, Google, books and online courses have been the best teachers in my journey.
How are you pivoting your business during the COVID-19 pandemic?
My largest clients grew during the pandemic, and I did as a result. I was very fortunate in that regard. I knew if I continued serving them well with quality work and customer service, success was around the corner.
Video demand blew up in the pandemic. I’m continually researching how videos are being consumed either on YouTube, social media or other platforms. The awesome part is I am watching videos every day, and it’s for “work.”
What’s a recent project that you’ve worked on that you’re really excited about?
I recently wrapped up a year-long video project with my client. He completely renovated his 100-year-old rental property. It was rewarding seeing the progress he made over the year.
This video is my favorite in the series. My client performs demolition to the property, ripping out walls, electrical and plumbing, all the way down to the studs.
Are you a part of any freelancer communities? Which ones and how do they support you?
I used to be part of Freelancers Union and SELF-Philly. They were great organizations to meet others in the industry, bounce ideas off and ask questions.
What advice would you give other self-employed people?
Don’t equate failure with your self-worth. Embrace it and use it as a learning lesson.
I’ve made countless mistakes in my years of self-employment, including undercharging and spoiling client relationships, easily costing tens of thousands of dollars. I screwed up my business formation and tax compliance tasks (which resulted in a massive audit). Looking back, I’ve produced many bad videos. Self-employment is not an easy path, but nothing worthwhile in life is easy.
How has forming an S Corp helped you level up your business?
My business feels so legitimate from a structure standpoint. Instead of worrying if I’m complying with the government, it’s nice to know I have a team behind me who support me in this area.
The bookkeeping I’m required to do has been helpful. It’s easy to see the big picture of where my revenue is coming from and what my business is spending on.
Finally, saving thousands on taxes through my S Corp is huge as I can reinvest it back into the company and my side hustles.
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