Thinking back to when I started my event planning business in 2005, I can hardly believe I made it through 10 hugely successful years with how little knowledge I had at the time. Of course, hindsight is always 20/20 and I’m so thankful for everything I have learned. Today, I am sharing what I would have done differently when I started.
Here are eight things I would have done differently during my first few years in business:
1) Attended a conference during my first full year in business instead of waiting until my third year
The incredible insight and knowledge I received from attending industry conferences was priceless. My business would not have had nearly the amount of success without those conferences and the connections I made. I wish I would have started going to conferences sooner. You can find a full list of wedding industry conferences on our Conferences+Events page.
2) Paid for mentoring or coaching sooner
I’m not even sure anyone was offering this for event planners at the time, but I wish I would have tried harder to find a mentor or coach who could have helped me grow my business faster and avoid some of the mistakes that new business owners make. I offer coaching and mentoring services through Planner’s Lounge.
3) Had confidence in my ability as a designer and stylist sooner
It took me five years to accept and realize I could style an event. I never thought of myself as an artist before and wasn’t confident in my ability. Luckily I had a few wonderful clients who believed in me and saw my ability before I did. After working with those clients and designing their events, I gained confidence in my ability and started promoting my business as a planning AND design company. Then I made sure that all the planners I hired had natural design talent.
4) Started custom quoting events sooner
I sold planning packages for five years until I consulted with a business coach and realized how much better I could serve my clients by custom pricing events based on the logistics, style, design, guest count, budget, and location. Selling packages are a great way to start, but custom quoting made more sense for where I wanted my business to go.
5) Not focused on budget brides
I wasn’t confident in my skills initially and I sold my services at such a low price that I mainly attracted budget brides for the first few years. Then I spent the next few years trying to get out of that target market. Looking back, I would have priced my services higher and branded my company as a premier planning company from the start.
6) Read more business and marketing books
I didn’t understand the power of reading business books when I started my planning business. It’s incredible how much I can transform myself and business from reading great books. For $10-$25, I can spend a few weeks learning what has taken others years to master.
7) Showed more of my personality and style in my website and business
When I started, I had a very general website and marketing materials. Instead of trying to market to everyone, I wish I have shown my personality and style from the start. It also would have been very helpful to define my niche and/or target market clearly.
8) I didn’t have an assistant for every event
Doing big weddings by myself was physically and mentally exhausting. I could do a much better job by having an assistant at every event. I learned this in my second year of business and now we always have at least one assistant unless the event is very small. I also would have made sure to have solid independent contractor agreements in place before hiring help.
If you are an experienced planner, what would you have done differently when you started? Please share with us in the comments.