Warm fuzzies for you and yours.
It’s that time of year when we are balls to the walls busy (I recently learned that that term is an aviation thing- so is totally not what you were thinking). But in between making sure all is made, all is packed, all is ready to be set up for a big, glorious bash, we have glimpses into next year. What we want to work on. We’ve got big plans that will help your event design biz get a leg up (ehem, sign up to stay in the loop).
But first, there is a break. A small amount of time where there is nothing. Just slathering love all over my friends and family. Investing in relationships. And my brain will be happy for that break.
So in the spirit of break. Let’s reminisce on the sweet images from a styled photoshoot of winter’s past coupled with one of my favorite poems. Thank you Candice of Ivy and Tweed for a visual story of these two love birds. (ps, for styled shoots, get people that are actually in love). Shot at Trinity Tree Farms in Issaquah, Washington.
“I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart)I am never without it (anywhere I go you go,my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)
I fear no fate (for you are my fate,my sweet) I want no world (for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)”
― E.E. Cummings
Happy Holidays, friends! Here’s to our winter break before the excitement of a new year.
Thanks also to Vintage Ambiance for the furnishings, and Honeycrumb Cake studio for the yummies.
Things I Wish I Knew When I Began My Event Business, Part 3: Support
You don’t know what you are doing, but you probably have an idea of what kind of business support systems you will need.
But before you add yet another thing to your to do list, I’d like to review some of the systems and networks that are help and those that do not.
Some things look like a worth time and money investment but actually end up helping somebody ELSE with what they need.
We are in about the middle of our “10 Things I Wish I Knew Series”. Links to the other pieces are at the bottom!
Here is a list of the kind of support you will NOT need:
I know that you’ll probably want to try a few of these out anyway. Hopefully, this list will at least make you aware of when something might not be working out and needs to be purged from your attention.
NO: A Group Of Like-Minded Individuals Also Just Starting Out
While this can help you feel safe and calm your fears, it is far better to gain that information from people who already passed through your stage in business.
Networking with established business is scarier but trust me: most of them remember being where you are, and will tell you what you want and need to know.
The event industry relies on each other within our own disciplines and across other disciplines.You know you will need the kind of emotional support that will allow you to keep moving forward even when your motives start looking a little blurry. You need someone to remind you that the trade-offs you are making in your personal life are worthwhile to gain a wildly satisfying living.
In the beginning, there is a lot of struggle.
This often leads to looking at the success of others as a reminder that you aren’t succeeding. While it may feel good to know that you are not alone by surrounding yourself with others who are in a similar position, it’s not helping you progress–it’s helping you feel safe where you are now. The catch is: You don’t want to feel safe where you are! Assuming you’re not planning on staying in that struggling, beginning stage for very long, you want to use that discomfort as a motivator for moving forward.
YES: A Group Of Seasoned Business Owners…
…even if they’ve been in the biz only a little while.
They don’t even have to be in your exact industry. In John C. Maxwell’s book The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, he writes that the environment in which you choose to place yourself should have the following characteristics:
Others are ahead of me.
I am continually Challenged,
My focus is forward
The atmosphere is Affirming
I am often out of my Comfort Zone.
NO: A Group Of The Wrong Kind Of People
I was a group junkie when I first started out.
I thought there might be a group of people who could help me grow faster and give me the answers I needed. I thought that I could cross promote my business through other businesses. I’ve checked out mastermind groups, the kind of groups where other people are required to refer your work and you are required to refer theirs regardless of whether or not you actually think they are the best at what they do, industry groups, and women business owner groups.
It turns out that in my specific creative business of event design, there are only a few people at very specific times who are ready to make the decision to hire me. Cross promoting with businesses who don’t serve this laser focused person is a waste of resources.
If the group you are in is not a challenge, if it wastes too much time, if it’s filled with people who cannot get you the kind of work you want, people who are not stretching themselves and reaching, people who do not understand the necessity of finding your ideal customer, then it’s not the right group of folks for you.
YES: Tangential Interest Groups
Try groups where you can causally network and show them what you do.
That may not be business owners–this may be places where your clients hang out.
Maybe you are a floral designer and you are hired by wedding planners–join their planning group.
Maybe you do non-profit fundraisers–join a fundraiser’s education group.
Perhaps you want to target restaurant owners or hotels–join a chamber of commerce.
Maybe you need to access wealthy women who entertain regularly. Heck, join their local yoga studio. Win win.
The point is, go to the people who likely have a problem you can solve. Then stay connected.
NO: Financial Support In The Form Of Debt
The beginning of a business is a little experimental and can feel frantic. It’s easy to get caught up in feeling like you cannot begin unless you have the right tool/ training/ mentor/ webpage, etc.
There are so many people trying to sell you something with great stories about why their ad, their whatever will help you sell more.
Before you have figured out what makes you special and who wants to buy your kind of special, you are better off saving your money.
You may find that what seemed like a great tool at the beginning, is actually not necessary. You may find you don’t want to offer a service that you thought you would offer, you may in a month, discover a totally different message than the one you spent money on.
Give it some time. Get your hands dirty first.
When I first began I had visions of an event design firm that worked side by side with a landscape design and build company. I would, of course, do both. I soon realized that these two services required directing my attention to two totally different markets.
My attention and effort would be split and that could not be good if I needed to be profitable within a year. After about 3 months, I had to revise my website, and get new business cards.
Save yourself the agony, and figure out what your business is, who it serves, and why customers should buy from your instead of all the other choices in the marketplace before you spend money on the next major money-printing widget.
YES: Creative Means Of Covering Your Needs
Will you need some sort of financial safety net? Yes.
And most people I know do not have a sugar daddy/ mama or their own nest egg.
I’ve met business owners that moved into their parent’s basement when they first started. People have become nannies. Maybe you could do it just by growing more slowly than I did and implementing the systems I will talk about later. Maybe you could quit your full-time job and get a part-time job.
What you can do by not taking on more debt, you should do.
NO: Misguided Friends And Family
Your friends miss you. They miss going out to restaurants and spending your paychecks on food and that botanical infused locally made gin cocktail of the day. They miss going on vacations with you in the summer. They miss you not being stressed out. The miss griping about their jobs with you.
To this group of risk averse friends, this thing you are doing just looks like something that is making you LESS financially secure and more stressed out.
You will hear things like…. “what’s the good of money if you can’t enjoy it.”
And “We never see you anymore” and “You’ve just got to relax, I’m worried about you.”
This is brain noise you don’t need.
You already have your work cut out for you with quieting your inner critic. Be clear with them on your intentions, or just nod your head and let it wash past you.
YES: Be On The Lookout For New Go-Getting Hustlers Like Yourself Who Are Inspired By Working Hard On A Risky Venture That Could Pay Off Big-Time.
Seek them out and surround yourself with them. They will help move you forward, and will be a source of energy when it feels like your well of spirit and hustle is running dry.
As for the friends who can’t help themselves from pulling you down? If they cannot let up, it’s time to get some new friends.
You don’t need to necessarily toss out the old ones, just improve your relationship with the ones that can be excited about your path, and who will point out for you all the ways you are progressing while you’re slogging through your startup swamp.
NO: Service And Professional Support
If your financial resources are sparse, know that you don’t need much in the way of professional help. The IRS is likely not interested in a business as small as yours and when starting out, you won’t need to pay taxes until the end of the year.
Don’t stress about an accountant. So depending on when you start, you’ve got some time. Bookkeeping, labor, graphic design, web development, these are all things you can do yourself with inexpensive or free apps or by friend-sourcing.
YES: Find Free Or Cheap Ways To Get What You Need.
I’ve found that an invoicing system was necessary to prevent mistakes.
- Freshbooks has a starter version that is reasonably priced.
- Canva will help you create images for free to help you look pulled together.
- Upwork or Fiverr can help you source graphic help or any tech help online from people all over the world eager to work with you.
- Google docs in lieu of Microsoft Office.
- Cute PDF Writer in lieu of Acrobat.
The point is, it may take a while for you to see financial promise–it took me three years. It took another two years to see that it could be sustainable at the level that I felt we were all being taken care of properly.
I’d like you to feel secure in your company sooner.
You are an observant person and you’ll gain knowledge from any experience in which you place yourself. My job here is to help you get the most useful stuff faster in order to raise you to that comfy place.
Sign up to our mailing list to ensure you don’t miss any of the next posts on “10 Things I Wish I Knew”. If you’ve missed the last ones, find them here:
Part Three: Creating Systems
Part Two: The Expert
Part One: Marketing