Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How to build a solid, profitable business

NOTE: I've been getting a lot of emails from readers how they can pursue their passion into profit making businesses. So this post is dedicated to all small business owners so if you're a bride planning for your wedding, more than welcome to browse through other inspirational blogs today. ;)

When I first started event design & coordination company back in 2007 as a full time career, I had no idea it would come this far. I didn't know what to expect after giving birth, but to my surprise, I received more inquiries than prior years. I've seen many wedding businesses come and go, so there was small fear in me that one day my business will close doors as well. Let's be real: If you love what you're doing but not making much profit in 2-3 years in this industry, you should reconsider your path or re-evaluate the direction you're headed towards.
There were many disappointments and conflicts I faced in this saturated wedding business, but one of the greatest assets about it is that I'm ALWAYS learning & moving forward. Here are some tips I'd to share for future wedding planners or anyone who'd like to start their own small business.These are just my personal opinion so feel free to filter out whatever I say ;) 

It is important to focus on your product or the service you're offering and be the best at it. First year is crucial to brand your business but, don't take EVERY opportunity that comes your way.  When my son's birthday party got featured on various blogs, I received an overwhelming birthday party inquiries and I had to turn down ALL of them because I knew I didn't want to spread myself too thin. It isn't our main service to chase after kids & try to deal with moms who are on an extreme tight budget. It could have brought more business or I could have given the jobs to our associate coordinators, but I intentionally wanted to focus on weddings to provide exceptional, proactive and authentic service to our clients. It was more important that I built credibility & trust with our clients than taking on way too many events to appear more attractive to customers.  It's the little things that make us reliable, professional, and an experienced vendor and I truly believe that it all starts with great customer care & undivided attention to our clients' needs.  If you say that you're good at everything & start dabbling on everything that sparks your interest every time, trust me.. you can't go too far with your flings of interest or the next 'cool' idea. I also have way too many ideas that I'd like to implement, but I sometimes have to shut my brain and be diligent with what I'm given on a daily basis.   Instead of reaching out & spend a fortune on advertising your business, focus on your product or the service you're offering and be the best at it.  Bottom line is, You have to make clients come to YOU. 

Don't get too desperate about promoting your business because good branding doesn't happen by chance.  Make sure to be intentional about where you're headed and also have a clear purpose. I'm sorry to say that there's NO short cuts, especially if you want to survive in the wedding industry for the next 10-15 years.  This means that you don't have to take on every styled shoot or go to every social networking to get your name out there. It's about working and getting connected with the right types of clients. In addition, it is important to find vendors who'd be best at representing your company's work. There's no need to sell your integrity and yourself to promote faster. Staying true to yourself is key. Better opportunities will come when you're ready for it. 

Be humble & be modest. Weddings are probably one of the most lavished events where couples spend their money that they saved their entire life. With that said, they will choose the most expensive, quality food, dress, florals and other wedding needs. However, you need to guard your heart that you are not personally affected by their money spending. Planners, having a good taste is great, but don't judge others around you if they don't meet your standards. Just because you're dealing with high end venues & clientele, don't be a snob! Just because your work is being featured at various blogs, don't  think you're now a rockstar. Weddings are just one time events, so it shouldn't influence your day to day decisions about how you live as a person.{ my personal reflection & reminder everyday}

Before you implement your 'new' idea, ask yourself, " Will the financial return exceed the money I'm spending on my business expense? How much profit will I make?"  Over the years, I've seen numerous photography studios & vendors close their shops simply because they couldn't pay for the rent. You need to make smart investments, but you also need to make an educated prediction of how much you'll be earning in one month/year. Just because you open up a fancy studio, it doesn't mean you'll immediate get business. Asking these questions will help you check your status of your business to prevent from unfortunate closures. 

If you'd like to read more tips & things I learned over the years, here are some entries I wrote in the past.  Hopefully, these entries will make you think twice about what it means to build a solid, profitable business while staying true to yourself.