Thinking back to when I started my wedding planning business in 2005, I can hardly believe I made it through 12 successful and profitable 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. In this post, I am sharing what I would have done differently if I had to start my business over again.
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 were 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.
If you are looking for guidance on how to price your wedding planning services, our professional guidebook, Pricing With Confidence: Secrets to Profitable Pricing & Services for Professional Wedding Planners has comprehensive information on how to price your services, ready-to-use planning package templates, and a custom programmed spreadsheet.
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 wedding couples on a tight budget 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.There is a significant difference in planning a budget wedding versus a luxury wedding.
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
Managing a wedding day by myself was physically and mentally exhausting. I could do a much better job by having at least one wedding planning assistant at every event. I learned this in my second year of business and make sure we have enough wedding day assistants based on the guest count, timing of the events, location(s), and logistics. Once key detail to do BEFORE hiring a wedding planning assistant is to have solid independent contractor agreements in place before hiring help. I cannot stress the importance of having this agreement in place to protect your business and intellectual property.
If you are an experienced planner, what would you have done differently when you started? Please share with us in the comments.