What separates you from earning more? Booking more? Are you running your business as efficiently as possible? Getting to the next level in business can be tricky. That’s why I’m so excited to welcome Lindsey of LOVELY DAY STRATEGY to the blog. She is a seasoned pro with 10 years of wedding planner experience. Today she’s sharing her top 3 pieces of advice for newbies wanting to elevate their wedding planner business.
Elevate Your Wedding Planner Business
When I was a newbie to owning a wedding business, I just went for it. I made a lot of mistakes and had some serious learning curves. Instagram did not exist. People were just starting to get the hang of Facebook. This whole internet industry of resources for wedding planners and aspiring wedding planners was years away.
Starting a wedding planning business ten years ago there were two options. One, buy an existing turn-key wedding planning business. Two, trial and error. I also lived in a very small, rural town in Wyoming back then, so there were no event associations hosting in person educational events or networking opportunities.
I chose option 2, trial and error. I also made a lot of smart, lucky and calculated decisions. I also tried a lot of things that didn’t work out and took a lot of time. There is a lot of advice I would give newbie me. Some of these things I did in the beginning and they moved my business forward (yeah!!!). Some I didn’t do in the beginning and it was painful until I figured them out (booo).
Without further ado, here are the top three pieces of advice I would give my newbie self, based on my now ten seasons as a wedding planner.
1. FIND A MENTOR
Finding a mentor is not as daunting as it seems. This is probably the single most valuable action you can take for yourself and your business. Your mentor doesn’t need to be in your same profession, they don’t even need to be in the wedding industry. They just need to be a business person that you respect and look up to.
A mentor is so amazing, because you can talk to them about topics that seem very daunting, ask questions that feel ameteaur, discuss pricing candidly and share your wildest dreams for your wedding planning business. Your savvy mentor knows you, sees your potential and has more experience than you. This is the formula for a mentor helping you to be successful.
So, how do you find a mentor? It doesn’t have to be a whole formal to do. Think about people you’ve met or worked with that you respect, click with and feel like you could talk openly with. Maybe your future mentor is a former manager of yours, consultant you worked with or member of the same association you are in. Invite that person to coffee, tell them how much you respect their work and ask them if you can pick their brain about your new business. Most likely they will say yes!
I did have a mentor in the beginning. She was the one that told me to just do it, start your own business. She was (and still is) a cheerleader and someone I look up to. The best part is, no judgement, just listening and advice based on her many more years of business experience.
If you want to know more about my and my wild ride through entrepreneurship (including closing up a business of mine and moving across the country to support my husband’s dream of owning a cigar store), be sure to hop on over HERE and read all the juicy details.
2. BUSINESS PLAN
Every business needs a business plan, especially and even when starting. Even if you are not trying to get a loan, a business plan is essential to setting yourself up for success. You don’t need a fancy business plan filled with graphs, formulas and pages filled with text. A basic business plan will get your business started in the right direction. A basic business plan should include:
- Summary – What is the name of your business? what are the core values? A general overview. What area do you serve?
- Mission and vision statements – These are two different things. A mission statement describes why you exist (what do you do, how do you do it and who do you serve). A vision statement describes what your success looks like in the future.
- Services you provide – include the different packages with prices and descriptions
- Marketing plan – include a social media with IG, FB and Pinterest as well as in person networking. This is also a good place to talk about your ideal client.
- Operations – What needs to happen for the office piece run? what do you need in your office (computer, printer, notebooks, etc.)? Will you have staff? Where will your office be? Who do you need to hire (bookkeeper, web designer, etc.)?
- Budget – A basic budget with income and expenses. How many weddings do you need to do a which price points to meet that budget?
I am proud to say that I did have a business plan when I started, many years ago. It was pretty basic, but it outlined what I wanted to do, prices and marketing. To this day I still do a big review at the end of the year and plan for the next year and beyond.
Start off by using a real bookkeeping program. Excel and Google Sheets are not bookkeeping programs. This cannot be emphasized enough. Especially, if you are not a bookkeeping or numbers minded person you should not be using Excel or Google Sheets for your bookkeeping.
There are so many free and low cost online bookkeeping programs out there now. I personally use FreshBooks and love it. It’s easy to use, friendly price and has a handy timer so I know how long I am spending on each client and business pieces.
Also, have a professional bookkeeper or accountant to do your accounting at the end of the year. There are so many rules and taxes for small business owners, it is much less painful with a pro to help you navigate taxes and bookkeeping.
When I started I did not use a real bookkeeping (but I did have an awesome accountant). I thought Quickbooks was all there was and I was totally intimidated by it. So I did a horrible job of bookkeeping in Excel. At the time it wasn’t even backed up on my computer! When I did make the switch to Freshbooks it made my life sooo much easier, less stressful and saved me tons of time.
Start using a real bookkeeping program now, I promise it will save you loads of time and headache. Keeping on top of your finances is essential to being a successful and lucrative wedding planner.
Do you want to want a free list of my favorite online tools for wedding planners? Grab it here right now!
Lindsey is a marketing and business strategist for wedding planners who want to be fully booked with wonderful clients. She provides doable, focused action steps based on her many years as a wedding planner. Based in Napa, Calif. She is a Bay Area native with a passion for outdoors adventures and travel. Read her wedding planner business and marketing tips on her blog