What are some things you wished you knew before starting your business?
What I didn't realize is how important a support network is.
What I didn’t realize is how important a support network is. For me, I found that in a group of strong entrepreneurial women that I look up to and have mutual respect and support for. Beyond your immediate friends and family, I realized how important it is to have fellow, like-minded professionals surrounding you, supporting you, cheering you on and giving you that push when you really need it. I only wish that I knew this earlier on, and didn’t try to do it all alone at the start.
Tionna Van Gundy
Wedding Planner & CEO
Wedicity, Chicago, IL
I wish I knew how much work running the business would be.
I wish I knew how much work running the business would be. In the past couple of years, we have expanded to a team of 5 and I have begun taking fewer and fewer weddings myself so that I can refocus on the growth and development of our brand and the team.
There are so many moving parts to running a successful business and things constantly need to be updated and worked on. So having the space to get it all done is super important.
I wish I would have known the importance of keeping the proper work-life balance.
I wish I would have known the importance of keeping the proper work-life balance. As a business owner, you get so consumed with working that sometimes you let your personal life go. So I am telling you now, don’t do it! A healthy personal life is just as important as a successful business. You have to have self-care time scheduled and keep to it because if you aren’t happy in your personal life – it will bleed into your business.
Event Planners are mostly all Type-A personalities, so delegating to-dos is not necessarily something that comes naturally to us.
This is truly something I reflect on daily. I always knew starting my own business was going to be a challenge, however, there were many things that came up along the way that I felt I learned the hard way. Besides an endless amount of administrative things I’ve had to Google (tax laws anyone?), I think the biggest thing I had come to terms with before jumping in was asking for help. I don’t mean working with vendors or hiring production assistants, but taking advice from family and friends who are offering their help! Event Planners are mostly all Type-A personalities, so delegating to-dos is not necessarily something that comes naturally to us. Getting caught up in ensuring the details are perfect for your clients is what makes event planners great, but knowing when you need a hand is also just as important!
Kelly Elizabeth Events, Boston, MA
I wish I had studied more about knowing my numbers and really pricing myself for my worth right out of the starting gate!
I wish I had studied more about knowing my numbers and really pricing myself for my worth right out of the starting gate! It can be hard to navigate expenses as a small business and what are the right areas to be financially investing in and there were definitely some bumps along the way that I wish I had a better grip on when I started my business!
How all-consuming it can be!
How all-consuming it can be! Running your own business, especially in an industry where each event is a once in a lifetime experience for your clients, is a very personal affair. It’s exciting, it’s thrilling to work for yourself, but that means that everything that happens, the ups and the downs, are your responsibility. It rests on our shoulders, and we take our clients and their needs very seriously.
I wish I had offered to buy consultation time from key vendors when I got started.
We’re in the “can I buy you coffee” trend in life. If you want to sit down and pick someone’s brain, it’s more than a price of coffee. Offer to pay people for their consulting time! It will build a better relationship for you and the vendor and will give more to the conversation. I wish I had offered to buy consultation time from key vendors when I got started.
To have a successful event, it is in the details from start to finish.
To have a successful event, it is in the details from start to finish. You need to stay consistent in focusing on every aspect. If you are not able to start out strong focusing in on the smaller details due to experience or environmental circumstances, do the best you can until you are able to drill down on the finer details. This is the difference between a good event and a great event. In the world of events, you can never be too big for your britches. You need to be the problem solver no matter how big or small. Ultimately, this leads to people’s perception of the event (and you) You want to give everyone involved the best value experience possible with your event!
The most unexpected obstacle was employee relations.
Honestly, I pretty much got what I expected. I spent years while working my other jobs getting prepared to execute my vision. The most unexpected obstacle was employee relations. Every employee has a different personality and every employee has to be treated according to their personal needs. Learning to treat or address people in the way they need to be handled was very difficult and still is. I always say to my new managers: some people you need to leave alone, some you need to push hard and some you need to baby. Figuring out what each individual needs is the hard part.
I wish someone said to learn about mental health and having a work/life balance.
I wished someone told me I needed to build a team around me. I wish someone said to learn about mental health and having a work/life balance. To delve more into finance. How to build relationships. How to be a storyteller. How to adapt to social media and advertising on various platforms.
These things, you don’t learn in school and I wish I did.
To not compare myself to everyone else.
To not compare myself to everyone else. I have rebranded 3 times trying to go with what everyone else is doing. I am now trying to be 100% me in everything that I publish. I am the only person on the planet who can serve clients as I do. There is something special in that. I am unique and I like working with easy-going unique clients.
Owner and Lead Planner
Ashley Nicole Events Inc., Chicago, IL
Ask for opinions and take your ego out of it.
Wow – – Marketing. You only can learn about what will work for you by trying. I did a whole series of ads for golf courses in the area that gave me zero return on investment. Some websites aren’t worth it for referrals but are worth it when it comes to coverage and social media.
Business Cards – This is your best piece of marketing and it needs to be fabulous. My first business card I thought was amazing until I saw someone else’s and realized I needed a change!
Ask for opinions and take your ego out of it. Getting constructive feedback is everything but if you worked endlessly on it and it’s not well received it could give you a sting. Suck it up and change!
I wish I knew and understood the importance of creating systems and processes that automate your workflow from the beginning.
I wish I knew and understood the importance of creating systems and processes that automate your workflow from the beginning. There’s so much free information out there—blog posts, podcasts, newsletters—that can help you manage your business and save you time, money and energy down the road if you have systems and processes in place for your business. For example, I use HoneyBook to send proposals, sign contracts, receive payments, save files and more for my clients to keep things organized and moving forward. Having that in place has saved me countless hours.
Owner and Certified Wedding & Event Planner
Preoccupied Bride Events, Evanston, IL
Expenses. They are truly all over the place and you really aren’t sure how to budget things appropriately.
Expenses. They are truly all over the place and you really aren’t sure how to budget things appropriately. I wish I had more capital when I first started out so that the lessons I learned weren’t as expensive. Marketing is key, but there are ways to do that on a MUCH cheaper level than what I did. Also, you should keep a journal of what you are doing for each event. At the end, you will see how many hours it took, and in the future, if it would take that long. For instance, when you made a timeline for a wedding, is this something that in the future I will have to do from scratch? Probably not, I can use what I have and change some of the information. It saves a lot of time and energy when you already have a beginning step.
Monica Lattimer Events,
One of the things I wish I knew about was Paypal’s electronic services to invoice clients and receive payment prior to picking up.
One of the things I wish I knew about was Paypal’s electronic services to invoice clients and receive payment prior to picking up. I’ve experienced hardships where clients would pay me with a personal check and have no available funds. This was lost time, labor, and materials. Recently, I decided to utilize HelloSign services to upload my contracts where clients can electronically sign for the delivery of their goods as well as pay upfront. The contracts were provided by a law firm that details what the clients are responsible for and how to go about arbitration in the event of a disagreement.
I wish someone had told me to find the best accountant I can who understands event production and experiential marketing and to collaborate with them on getting taxes done and booking handled.
I wish someone had told me to find the best accountant I can who understands event production and experiential marketing and to collaborate with them on getting taxes done and booking handled. In the beginning, like most start-ups, I had limited resources and far less revenue and expenses, as both grew rapidly it became clear to me that I was a horrible accountant. Now I have a team that I absolutely love who gets what I do and as a result has been able to offer guidance, strategy and most importantly handle all my taxes like professionals!
Your business will change, build a business that doubles down on your strengths, and niche down.
Your business will change. As I mentioned, my business pivoted from a food media company to an experiential marketing agency. It was a windy path and every step of the way lead to key learnings that helped me develop the business.
Build a business that doubles down on your strengths. My first venture in food media didn’t tap into my strongest skills. I’m a project-oriented person who enjoys diving deep to solve a unique creative problem before moving onto the next project. The consistent, on-going nature of publishing digital content was a total mismatch. Now, I’m able to leverage my project management skills and unleash my creativity to design and produce experiential activations for natural food and wellness brands.
Niche down. The value of a niche is something I had read about but really didn’t take to heart until reading Seth Godin’s latest book, This is Marketing. Hidden Rhythm has been able to gain traction because we choose to only serve natural food and wellness brands. In today’s noisy marketing world, it’s nearly impossible to stand out unless you over-serve your customers. You can only do that by being obsessively focused on their needs.
I wish I really knew how important networking and making connections in the industry was.
I wish I really knew how important networking and making connections in the industry was. I had a general idea but I realize how diligent and consistent I really needed to be. I was also aware of but not fully aware of how much this would take me away from my family. For the most part, I banked on weekends. I did not anticipate that all of wedding season I would not be around and all of graduation/reunion season I would not be 100% present. These are things that were hard to come to terms with, but I love what I do and the upside is that there are plenty of times I can bring my kids with me to meetings or fun events like New York Fashion Week.
You have to know your worth and when to stop giving away everything for FREE.
You have to know your worth and when to stop giving away everything for FREE. Our time is our currency – we are good at we do and we should be paid for it. It is also a different mentality to go from an employee to a business owner. Every decision we make matters and influences the direction your company goes in. We spend a lot of time discussing strategies and opportunities.
Pink Salt Cuisine,
My top two: the amount of mindset work I’d need to do and that I’d need to learn so much new lingo.
My top two: the amount of mindset work I’d need to do and that I’d need to learn so much new lingo. I was surprised by both. I hadn’t realized how ingrained certain ideas were until I started my business.
For example, I noticed that I needed to change my mindset around money. In non-profits, it was a surprise if you’d break even on an event and relied heavily on donations or fundraising to fund your “goodwill” events. This always frustrated me because it felt like we were throwing away people’s money unnecessarily. I was tired of being asked to spend recklessly just so we could get more on our budget line the following year. I tell you this because I thought switching to the for-profit world would be easy – I was wrong. Apparently the poverty mindset was engaged in almost everything, including lingo! I spent the first few months learning new business terms and trying to equate them to “non-profit speak.”
Neither of these things was something I had expected. Thankfully a former colleague helped to change my mindset and bridge that gap with a single comment… just when I needed it.
That you cannot please everyone and that’s okay.
That you cannot please everyone and that’s okay.
I would not have changed a thing.
I would not have changed a thing. Though probably should have charged more. I really do make my self available for my clients.
Jamie Joffe Events, Chicago, IL