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The VO Boss podcast blends business advice with inspiration & motivation for today's voice talent. Each week, host Anne Ganguzza shares guest interviews + voice over industry insights to help you grow your business and stay focused on what matters...

Mar 7, 2023

When you're an voice actor, growing your business is not just about booking another job. It's a whole process of making your business work. That process is full of potential risks, big investments...and even bigger successes. In this episode, Anne & Lau discuss making money, investing money back in your business, and fears surrounding money. In today's world, it's not enough to just be a great voice over talent. You also need to be a savvy businessperson. And that means understanding the basics of finance, including how to invest in your own business & make sure you're doing it intelligently. Money can be a scary topic to think about, and even scarier to talk about. You're not alone if you feel scared. It means that you care!
It’s time to take your business to the next level, the BOSS level! These are the premiere Business Owner Strategies and Successes being utilized by the industry’s top talent today. Rock your business like a BOSS, a VO BOSS! Now let’s welcome your host, Anne Ganguzza.
Anne: Hey everyone. Welcome to the VO BOSS podcast. I'm your host Anne Ganguzza, and I am here with the lovely and most wonderful VO BOSS co-host (laugh) Lau Lapides. Hey Lau.
Lau: Hey everyone. Hey Anne.
Anne: How are you this week?
Lau: Oh, fabulous.
Anne: Awesome.
Lau: As always. How are you? How are you?
Anne: I'm good, but you know what? I think it's time that we had a talk about money, and I know we spoke about raising rates before, but I think maybe it's because -- okay, so I admission, I downloaded Rocket Money for my iPhone, and I started to see like, where are my expenses going? What income's coming in? What am I paying on a monthly basis? And I'm just gonna start by saying that when you're trying to either cut your expenses -- and I wanted to start at least on that, if you find that you need to cut your expenses so that you can make a profit, right? Because, I mean, this is why we do VO, right? We are a business, we'd like to make a profit. It's good to find out the areas in which you're spending money. And it surprised me -- it, well, it didn't surprise me a whole lot because I've always said that a podcast is a labor of love. But I'm going to tell you that my discovery was that this podcast, with all the different things that I have going on and paying people to help me transcribe, edit, put out videos, do some social media stuff, cost me on average per year, just about $15,000 and that is not a small amount of money. (laugh) It's something, when you have a business, that's something you've gotta keep your eyes open and really look at and decide, is this worth my investment?
Lau: Yes. Absolutely. And that's, look, is that true of any business, not just our business? You really should be having some sort of a business model at the start, even if it's a skeletal one, having an idea of what's my growth? Where is my growth in the first three years, three to five years of my business? That's really the time, I mean, according to statistics, that most businesses do fail is within the first five years. So it is really important to say, okay, here's my basic model and here are the first year projects. Here are my second year projects. What do I think I'm going to gross? Like, where is my gross coming from? Where is my net? And just like basic financial language so that when you get to that powerhouse podcast, like what you have, you're not outta your mind going, what? How is that possible to invest that kind of money? Right?
Anne: Well, and I think it's something too though, and I spoke about this earlier this week on another webinar, how being an entrepreneur and having a, a voiceover business, it takes courage. It really does. It takes courage to get out there. And I know there's so many people that tend to get into this industry thinking, oh, I can work from home. All I have to do is go in my studio and record and I'll make my money. But nobody really thinks about the cycle of money. Right? Because there's an investment that has to happen. And I think our brains kind of shut that off when we first get started, because all we're thinking about is, oh, I just have to go in my studio and record, and I'll just make that money. But for every business to, I think, function successfully, there is money that you need to invest.
And it takes courage to invest money really takes courage to, especially if, let's say you're doing this full-time and you're just starting, and we're in that time period where maybe you're not comfortable yet or feel like you're making any kind of headway or profits (laugh) in the first few years. So Lau, I mean, you went even further than just a voice talent. I mean, you have a studio (laugh) like... and that is a considerable investment. And so what was it like when you were first investing in this like a physical studio, right? I mean, there's rent, there's (laugh), you know, there's equipment. What was it like for you when you first got involved in that in terms of was it scary?
Lau: Well, I'll be honest, as I try to be all the time, I was shitting bricks. I mean, it was terrifying. (laugh) I'm sorry, your engineer might have to take that one out, but listen, I think our audience can deal with that.
Anne: I think so too.
Lau: Yeah. I'll be honest with you, I was 40, I was not a young kid. I was already, you know, getting to middle-age, and I was offered a space -- this is how it happened for me. I was offered a space through my dad who was a big real estate owner, and he was an amazing entrepreneur unto himself in his own right. And he looked at me one day and he said, I have a space that's opening up, Lau. It's in a prime location. Location is everything, when you're looking at space, whether you're looking to live or own a business, I wanna give it to you, not give it to you, but I wanna offer it to you. And how do you feel about that?
And I remember exactly where I was. I was in a Dunkin Donuts, I know the exactly where it was, how I felt, and I could feel my heart, Anne, drop into my stomach as if you're on the edge of a cliff, like I could feel it like you're gonna jump out of a plane. And all I could say is in the most important times of my life with the biggest decisions, all I could say was yes. That doesn't mean I was like, knew what the hell I was doing. It just meant more of me wanted to do it than not wanna do it. And I knew, I knew in my heart it was now or never, that that was the window of time to do it. So taking on that level of financial investment, taking on prime territory space, all these things that we do need to think about is a leap of faith. A tremendous leap of faith.
Anne: Yes. I was just gonna say that, it's a tremendous leap of faith, and something that I think that -- you know, it's great to have a leap of faith and belief and a passion and a dream to follow it. But I think you also have to have the street smarts to do that in an intelligent way. Right? Because we're not gonna make investments if we don't have some money to back that up, of course. And before we can get to that place to where we might have money to invest, right, there might be places in our career where we can start to save a little money and put that away. And I've said this multiple times, that the most confident I was ever in my business was when I had a savings account, that I had enough money in there that I could make sure that I could pay the mortgage for the next three months, six months -- actually it was six months -- and I would feel okay if the work didn't come in, or if I needed to make an investment. That confidence led me to take the leap of faith and take the risks that was required for me to actually grow beyond where I was.
Because otherwise, I think we just sit here in our studio, and we sit there, and we try to get job after job and we audition, we audition, we audition. But where is the growth? I mean, you could audition your life away, right? But if you're not taking a leap of faith or a risk somewhere and making an investment -- and investment doesn't always have to be money. But I'm gonna say that for most of us, right, the money is like in your face, (laugh), you know what I mean? It's like, that's the kind of risky, scary stuff that it's like, oh no, I've gotta pay what? (laugh) And even if you're talking about a demo, right, or something, you're just getting started or a new microphone, it can be overwhelming, the investment, the money. And I think we're both here to say that, look, you're not alone if you're scared. Right? You're not-- or if you're nervous about that.
Lau: No, no. And you have to be, it's important to me because that level of fear, apprehension, that level of anxiety is also telling yourself that you care. You really care about what happens to you, what happens to the business, what happens to your money, what happens with safety and security. Like you're connected to that ,you care. You're not just saying, oh yeah, it'll be easy and fun. Let me just throw a hundred grand at it and let's see what happens. You're really connected to the outcomes in understanding that sacrifice is happening. You have to be ready to sacrifice to have a business, especially a brick and mortar business.
Anne: Oh gosh, yes.
Lau: Yeah. Like all of our wonderful restaurant friends during Covid really sacrificed and suffered. Well, so did we to some degree. Like we can have a home studio, which is amazing. But if you have any kind of brick and mortar, you have to be ready to sacrifice to keep that shingle up every single month. Every every month it has to be up. You can't just take six months off from it or a year off from paying your rent or your mortgage, or the heat, or I always say, you know, there's toilet paper, there's all sorts of ancillary services that you are providing if you have any kind of a brick and mortar that the public comes into. You have to have insurance. You have to make sure if God forbid, someone gets hurt, you're covered. You have to make sure that, you know, on and on it goes. Taxes are paid, property taxes, on and on it goes. So not to scare anyone, but to sort of keep it real, that even if you're in a home studio, someone is taking care of that home. Someone is paying that rental on that apartment. Someone is, and it's probably you. Right? So it is a level of sacrifice and understanding that I need to continue doing this in order to build this into a viable business, a real business that makes profit.
Anne: Yeah. And I think too, something that's very key is in terms of having the courage, right, to make investments, we're investing in a business that is very much a business about us. Right? It's very much a personal brand. This is about our voice. This is about us being able to perform a service with our voice, which is such a personal part of us. And if we see failure, I think it compounds it. It's not like, oh, I have a product here, a new formula. Right? But when it's our voice, and it's when it's all about us, and we're talking about making an investment in us and giving that money up to invest in us -- if it does not work, right, it affects us personally. And I think that is where a lot of the fear comes in for people coming into this industry.
And I'll tell you what, it doesn't go away. And I'm not trying to be a Debbie Downer, but the bigger you get, right, the more you grow and the more you invest. And so I'm gonna say from the beginning it was just about, well, let me invest in my coaching, let me invest in my demos. Then it became, I've got to invest in, create an S Corp or an LLC or let me invest into a better studio now. And then also I have to invest in other things. Now I've gotten to the point where if I haven't grown every year, I'm looking at my growth. And if I'm not growing, I have to figure out, well what do I need to do to continue that growth? And we can talk about outsourcing, right? I pay people, gosh, for at least 10 years, I've been paying people to help me do things. And the team, I have a team and and that team again is another investment in my business and in my growth.
Lau: Yes. I mean, we can flower this out for hours, this program because we can't even get into the level of detail as you grow. Like we both have a business, roughly both of us are at like the 15 year mark. So can you stay static? Sure. Can you stay in a comfort zone? Absolutely. And I totally am okay with that and respect people who say, I'm capped, I'm at my ceiling, I'm happy with what I'm doing. I'm happy with my services, but I'm not. Like, I'm insatiable in the sense of wanting to provide more value, to educate more, to lift the level of income, to go from, as they say now in the ether, it's very big. Go from six figure to seven figure. How do you do that? Well, you do that through scaling. So everything that you're talking about, Anne, that we built our our businesses on, which is the person, the personality, the personalization, which is what we try to bring to our copy as talent. Right? How do we personalize a real person.
Also, there's a sacrifice in that too. And it's a very hard gray zone. How do I keep the personalization and keep the boutiqueness of my product and scale? Which is automization, which is about, you know, you're in the whole AI world. It's about like, how do I get into a place where things are being funneled and things are being structured in a system? It's no longer high touch. Like I don't have to be a part of every transaction. And then at the end of the day, it's not about me anymore; it's about the process or the product. And that's like to wrap your brain around that, when you start a business that's so personal and so high touch, is just a jump. It's a jump. It's a transition that a lot of us are working towards making. Keeping it personal. Keeping it real for us. Keeping it something we love and care about, but allowing our control to get out of the way so that other systems and controls can come in. And keep providing value at a much larger level.
Anne: Absolutely. And I think in terms of money, (laugh) I say money, and I don't want people to think --
Lau: I like how you said that.
Anne: -- that Anne, money, she's obsessed with money, that Anne. But here's the deal for me, like again, I always talk about wanting to grow my business. And so for me, it becomes a challenge. And I've always been a girl that takes on challenges. And so you have to feel comfortable with money, number one. And you have to feel comfortable investing money to make money. Right? And then to be accepting of that money. And again, that goes back to like, know you're worth, charge an appropriate fee so that you can make that money, so that you can reinvest in parts of your business to continue to grow, and take that opportunity to just embrace the thought of money (laugh) in abundance. Right? You're always talking about abundance, Lau. And again, I'm not gonna get too woo woo here, but I think manifesting that worth, you need to manifest that worth out to your potential clients so that they say, oh yeah, absolutely. My goodness, can I pay you more money to do what you're doing, (laugh)?
Lau: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.
Anne: That's what I want. And really that's how it comes. And I think that as entrepreneurs, you have to not just think of yourself as a voiceover artist. That's why I'm always saying, I'm not just a, a voiceover actor, a voiceover artist. I am an entrepreneur, and I am as much in tune with growing my business as I am with getting the next gig.
Lau: Yeah. No question about it. And you have to figure that out over time. You know, I became someone who became most comfortable -- here was talk about being in a discomfort zone. I was in a discomfort zone opening a business and putting everything on the line. But I figured out about myself, which ultimately became my brand, was I was much happier giving value to someone else and growing their career and seeing them flourish than for myself. And that's a pure irony 'cause I was an actor for many years. I was a voice talent for many years. But that was a level of sacrifice that I was willing to make because I had to really honestly identify what is your niche? What is your niche? What do you offer the best? What do you do the best? You can do 10 million things, but what do you do the best? And I figured out it was, I like leading I like creation. I'm the idea creator. And I like executing those more than I like doing the talent piece for myself. And that took me years to figure that out. That was a revelation. I almost felt guilty about that because I was in such an actor's mindset for so many years.
Anne: Very interesting.
Lau: And I thought, why would you give that up? Why would you stop doing that? I've had clients that say, why aren't you doing it? I'd say, okay. Because I was building a business that was giving this value to other people and that satisfied me. That satisfied me tremendously. And I figured out that that's okay. Like that's enough. And it, not only is it enough, but you've got a lot more to build.
Anne: That's like coaching and teaching for me. Right? I mean, again, it's something that -- and performing as well --but I think that inherent, I like to mentor, to inspire, to help people grow their businesses, to grow their skills. And that to me gives the joy a lot of the joy in my business. And yes, money. (laugh), again money. And I say that unabashedly and unashamedly because I need to pay the bills. I do, I need to pay the bills. But it's not the top game. It's, I've gotta have joy first and then that money will come. I believe that. Because if I'm following my business, if I'm following my gut and my intuition to how I wanna grow that business, I'm always chasing the joy and the passion. And if that happens to be in my business, then yes, I'm going to yield a profit.
Lau: Yeah. And I think it comes down to too is women in our industry and in the world at large, we're always figuring out, you know, what does value mean? What is our value in the world and in this industry? Value is many things. It's monetary, it's actual process related. It's sacrifice and charity. It's, it's a lot of things. But at the bottom line, we can't be afraid of the money, and contracts, and negotiation, and saying -- one of the more famous campaigns of L'Oreal that I always loved was get this, and I'm worth it. You know what I mean? That was a L'Oreal campaign, I thought as a kid, I was like, ooh, that makes me cringe. It's like so arrogant to say that, whatever. But as you get older and you've build your business, you have to say, here's what I provide. This is a value to you. And it's worth it. Right? There's a worth to it.
Anne: Absolutely. And it's also, there's purpose beyond profit. Right? And I think that if some people might take a look at things like with big businesses and today, the big companies out there and say that greed is at the base of all of it. But I'm going to say that for me, it's not greed, but I wanna say that as I prosper, right, again, I want to give back even more. It comes from a place of, well I personally like think that wealth is more than just money. It can be mindset, it can be time, it can be a lot of things. But as my business grows and my financial wealth grows, I am willing to donate. I'm willing to share that, be philanthropic. And so I think a lot of times when people criticize billionaires and millionaires and say it's an uneven system -- but I'll tell you, there's a lot of billionaires that do good as well as make a lot of money.
Lau: Sure. Absolutely. And I can tell you the stats now is that 99% of companies in our nation, all companies in our nation are considered small business. And I started to research what is small business? Small business is defined as 500 or less employees. So I felt so satisfied knowing I was a small business. But I was in the company of most businesses.
Anne: Yes, absolutely.
Lau: Most businesses are small. And so there's layers of this sacrifice that you're looking at to say, okay, well if I need to make money in order to survive, make it a viable business, in our industry would say tag, what's our tag -- one of the best financial advisors who I love so much, Susie Orman, used to say it's people first, then money, then things. And I love that. And I sort of live by that in my own right, because it's, for me, relationships. It's about value, it's about -- but right behind it is money because I can't keep doing that and sustaining that without financial benefit, nor can anyone. And when we go back to the origins of our businesses, Anne, and when we're starting our businesses, and you have --take your pot of gold, you take your savings.
I like you, was a really good saver. I'm very frugal. I'm not a super materialistic person. So I would tend to save the money. I would take that pot of gold, take that savings and say, I'm not spending anything. Even though it's scary, I'm not. I'm investing in something that I know is viable. And that to me is the first step of having a real business and saying, I have the belief system. I have the belief system based on research, homework, relationships, and knowledge of what my skillset is that this can work and this will work. And as they say, failure is not an option. It's not an option. Don't give yourself an out. Like keep yourself accountable. I oftentimes say I am the toughest, toughest BOSS I've ever worked for.
Anne: Oh my God. Me too. I'm a real witch.
Lau: Tough.
Anne: Yeah. (laugh). Yeah. I said, oh my God, that I do that. I'm a real -itch.
Lau: (laugh) that big. Right. What is she making me do today? Right. But that's that accountability, it's the internal accountability that I know creates sustainability. That's what it does.
Anne: And I think -- one thing I always like to bring up is I keep this in mind. Mind your own business, your own business. And that means don't let others influence you on what your business should look like, how much money you should be making, that kind of a thing. Because in reality it is your business. And honestly, nobody needs to know. And as a matter of fact, I'm always really quiet. Number one, I work a lot in the area of the market that has NDAs. And so I'm very low profile on any work that I'm doing or any gigs that I'm getting. And I don't even like to necessarily report.
Some people put money, oh, I made so much money this week and clients. And, and that for me is not the way to really talk about my business because I think in that way, some people think maybe it inspires some people, but I also think there's a lot of people who aren't talking about that, that it makes feel bad. They feel bad about that. And I don't want any of you BOSSes out there to feel bad about your business because it is your business. And that the same goes for, I'm gonna say this, whatever money you're making, I mean, yes, there are concerns I have with certain online casting sites, but I will never judge someone for running their business the way they see fit because it is your business.
Lau: Me too. And that's, of course, we all know that's the biggest, one of the bigger sources of conversation especially in the early to mid-range market of people who are in the market. It's like, should I do this? Should I be on a pay-to-play? Should I do that? And here's what I say, I simply say this as a coach, I'm putting my coaching hat on, saying Listen, you have a business that you are running, and you have to sit down with pen and paper, and you have to say, what am I reaching for this year? What are my goals and how am I going to get them? And you need to leave everyone out of that. The circle you've created are there for you to come back to, to connect to, to befriend, to help. But that's not the time. The time is your inner search. My inner search is, I want to do this. I need to do this. How am I going to do this? When you start listening to too many voices and too many points of view, you get really confused. And at the end of the day, you have to cook your dinner, you have to eat it, and you have to live with what it tasted like.
Anne: And there's nothing wrong with supplemental income while you're building your business. I mean, in any industry, we've all got our talents. And so especially for me coming from the corporate educational world into an entrepreneurship with my own business, that's night and day in terms of (laugh). Oh my gosh. Before I didn't have to worry about who's doing the accounting. I just show up, I show up to my job, but do my job. I get paid every two weeks. Now all of a sudden, that is so not what I'm doing with an entrepreneur business.
Lau: A lot of folks are coming in and they're under this delusion of like, how do I get what you have? How do I come in at the rate that you're at? I say, I said, okay, well you have to do like 30 years and you have to do this, this, and this. Like side hustle was my middle name when I -- before I opened. Before I opened my studio, I literally was what they call in in California, you know this term, a highway flyer. What I would do is I'd get in my car and I'd go to six different colleges. This was after graduate school. Six, count it, guys, six, 'cause I was adjunct. I was not a full-time. And I would teach two to three classes per college per semester. Count it. I was up to 15 classes one semester. Right?
Because I was adopting children. I had to have cash for that. I was starting a business. I had to have cash for that. And you have to have cash flow. It can't be tied up. You have to have flow ready to go. I like to say right now I loved it'cause I'm like a type A personality. So I loved all that stuff. But to the average person, that's crazy. They'd say, wait a second, how did you do all of that? And you were a performer and you were a director, and, and, and? I said, because I loved it and I had passion for it and I was working my way up the ladder.
Anne: Yep. Absolutely.
Lau: So to speak. Do I wanna do that now? No, I don't because I'm at a different place now. But I can't come in saying, oh, how do I walk into this, Lau, and how do I get all the clients I want and be at six figures? And I said, well you gotta pay some dues. You have to pay some dues and it's not bad either. I had fun doing that. I loved it. I had a ball. I was like always testing. How much can I do? Where can I go?
Anne: Yeah. I'm right there with you. And I'm gonna say the challenge to me --
Lau: I miss it. (laugh)
Anne: -- that floors me. I mean that just makes me so excited. The challenge. Right? Rising up to the challenge. But it's not that I didn't curl up in a fetal ball (laugh) every once in a while and cry, just saying, guys. There have been times when it's frustrating and it's hard, and there's nobody there. Sometimes I'm like, why? Why do I do this? I can't even talk to anybody about it. Like I could be running into these issues. And I'm like, I don't know what to do. I've never experienced this before. How do I do this? And then there's no answers. And I'm like, (laugh), why is it so hard? It's so hard. But guys, most days I like to say I rise to the challenge, but I'm also gonna completely admit to you that yeah, sometimes I'll curl up in the fetal position and cry, but it's worth it.
Lau: But you know what? You know how you get out of that position? You know how you get out? 'Cause we all do that. When you email me and you say, Lau, what we just did made a difference.
Anne: Yeah.
Lau: And then I keep that. I keep every single one of those. I put 'em in my little e folder, I'll print a few out. And just when I'm like sobbing my eyes out thinking none of this is worth it, I look at that and I go, oh my God. But for this person, it literally changed their life. It literally changed the trajectory of how they think. To me, there's no better work than that.
Anne: I agree.
Lau: And, and I get to make money. And I get to make my own hours and my own structure, and yes, it'll drive you crazy 'cause most of us need structure and usually expect it from someone else. But it's so wonderful to have that level of creative and artistic freedom.
Anne: Agreed. Totally agree.
Lau: I'd rather work my butt off for myself. (laugh).
Anne: I can't ever work for somebody again. Pretty much. That's the way it works.
Lau: I can't either.
Anne: Except for voiceover 'cause it's one. And you know, get in, get out real quick. I mean I have some great clients that I keep coming back to, but yeah, absolutely.
Lau: Of course, of course. That doesn't mean you can't job in for an agency or job in for this. But that's not the same as running your own biz. When you run your own shop, you don't mind working really, really, really hard. 'cause you know you're building something that's a legacy for you.
Anne: Absolutely. Woo, what a great conversation. I'll tell you. So BOSSes, money, money, money, (laugh). Don't be afraid of it. Use it wisely. Invest it wisely so that you can grow your business. Lau and I certainly have the faith, we have the faith in all of you out there that this can be done. You can be successful. So don't be afraid of money. And also I'm gonna say that when you, BOSSes, you are BOSSes out there. And if you have a little bit of extra money, maybe you have a local nonprofit that's close to your heart. If you know a nonprofit that you would like to do more to help them and to give back, you can visit to find out more. And a big shout out to our sponsor, ipDTL. You too can network and connect like BOSSes, like Lau and myself. Find out more at You guys, have an amazing week and we'll see you next week.
Lau: See you next week, bye.
Join us next week for another edition of VO BOSS with your host Anne Ganguzza. And take your business to the next level. Sign up for our mailing list at and receive exclusive content, industry revolutionizing tips and strategies, and new ways to rock your business like a BOSS. Redistribution with permission. Coast to coast connectivity via ipDTL.