» Budget Boot Camp

Budgeting is certainly not the most fun part of managing your business, but it is essential. Fortunately there are ways to simplify the process and make it less of a headache.

Here are the top three guidelines on how to best cultivate your budget:

1. e-Budget. Using finance software can eliminate the stress of an overflowing file cabinet. Forgoing paper receipts and data entry for a technology-based maintenance tool that will manage your bank account and set alerts is extremely helpful in managing your finances, and freeing up some of your time for real work! The tool inDinero offers features for keeping track of your transactions. You can connect multiple bank accounts to view all of your expenses and budgets in one place, as well as set specific categories. Plus, inDinero will sort transactions into your accounts automatically. For more niche tasks, Xpenser is a platform specifically for expense reports, with mobile apps available on iPhone, Android and Windows. Finally, FreshBooks is a tool specifically for managing invoices. Programs and platforms like these also help to really visualize cash flow—something that can be difficult to maintain while juggling physical materials, automatic payments and multiple accounts.

2.  Ask around. Remember, there are no dumb questions—especially when it comes to the financial safety and the success of your business. Using answer sites like Quora can be helpful in reaching a wide audience of professionals who may have been in your position before, and potentially have found a solution to one or more of your problems. Asking questions in forums like this is particularly beneficial for young companies or companies experiencing rapid growth, as they may not be as conditioned to changes in financial situations. Also, reach out to other Wedding Pros who can relate to your industry on WeddingWire by posting business management and growth questions in the Pro Forum!

3. Over-estimate. Wouldn’t you rather end up with a surplus than a debt? Most business expenses are predictable—office supplies, commuting costs, phone bills, computers and software, etc.—but what about unexpected travel fees? A rise in gas prices? Parking tickets? Saving funds, and leaving room in your budget for these types of  unplanned expenses will allow for peace of mind, and potentially, some extra money.

» Use Twitter #Hashtags for Your Business

At WeddingWire, we recommend incorporating social media into your overall business and marketing strategy. One of the top social media sites to develop a professional presence on is Twitter, a micro-blogging site that uses up to 140 character posts (called tweets) to generate information across the web—keeping your message short, sweet, and direct.

Hashtags should be part of your Twitter social media strategy. Hashtags are designated by a number sign (#), and are used to make your tweet’s topic searchable. Adding a relevant hashtag to your tweet will help to ensure that your message reaches your intended audience. For example, if sharing a tip on preparing for the big day, you could add #weddingplanning to your tweet and your message could be found by a couple searching for wedding planning tips or resources.

Get started using hashtags to lead potential clients to your account, which will ultimately generate more followers for your business! We’ve compiled some valuable tips on how to optimize hashtag use when marketing your business on Twitter below, inspired by a recent Mashable post.

Mind your business. Seeking out business-specific hashtags like #smallbiz or #wedding will ensure you are categorized by relevant audiences. To generate even more specific categories for opportunities to interact, try adding in industry specific hashtags like #weddingplanning to access relevant content and connections.

Keep it simple. Don’t create long or complex hashtags, as the terms will get lost in the Twittersphere. Instead, use hashtags that are short and direct in order to receive more search queries.

Put it on the dashboard. If you’re using a dashboard platform to organize your multiple social media accounts, try organizing your accounts by hashtag that most applies to your business. This will allow you to see all tweets according to the topic, and is an easy way to stay in the conversation and share great information, while monitoring the trends.

Follow on Friday! Follow Friday (also referred to as #FF) is a popular Twitter trend. Each Friday is designated as a day to share the people that you recommend to your followers, and gain recognition from your own Twitter friends! It is easy to be part of Follow Friday; simply select an account or several accounts you recommend, tag them by posting an @ before their twitter handle, add any short message about why you recommend them, and include the #FF hashtag!

#HappyHashtagging! 

» WeddingWire Happy Hour Providence

Last night, local Wedding Pros in Providence, Rhode Island gathered at Bravo Brasserie for a WeddingWire Happy Hour networking event!

Providence Wedding Pros had the opportunity to network with other local Pros across all service categories, and meet members of the WeddingWire team. Other Happy Hour events have been held in Boston, Westchester, New York City, South Florida, North Jersey, Philadelphia, San Diego, Richmond, St. Louis, and Hartford, with the list of cities growing. Thank you to all the wonderful Providence Pros who joined us!

A big thank you to our partners, Bravo Brasserie for the event space with beautiful views of downtown Providence, and providing the wonderful appetizers and drinks, and to Blueflash Photography for capturing amazing photo highlights from the evening.

Finally, congrats to our prize pack winner, Paul Lavallee of Nicole Gesmondi Photographer, LLC!

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» WeddingWire Happy Hour Hartford

Yesterday, members of the WeddingWire team gathered at Max Downtown in Hartford, CT along with local Wedding Pros for a Happy Hour!

Similar to our past WeddingWire Happy Hour events in Boston, Westchester, New York City, South Florida, North Jersey, Philadelphia, San Diego, Richmond, and St. Louis, Hartford Wedding Pros had the opportunity to mix and mingle with other local Pros across all service categories and meet members of the WeddingWire team.

Congrats to our prize pack winner, Kia Martinson of ESTOccasions! And, a special thanks to Max Downtown for the lovely event space and delicious appetizers and drinks, and Kim Bova Photography for capturing wonderful photo highlights from the evening, as seen below!

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» Vote for WeddingWire to be at SXSW!

South by Southwest (SXSW), one of the most diverse and well-known festivals in the country, provides attendees with nine days at the forefront of music, film and technology every year in Austin, TX. Members of the WeddingWire team were lucky enough to attend the interactive portion of the festival last year, and got to experience a sea of awe-inspiring ideas, presentations and products that were a sneak-peek into the future of tech and media. This year, we hope to be more involved in the action by having our very own Chief Marketing Officer, Sonny Ganguly, as a featured presenter, and you can help!

Always the progressive thinkers, SXSW has a “by the people, for the people” process for picking their presenters, and creating the most relevant programming. Submit a speaker and an idea, and the most votes gets you noticed!

How can you help Sonny stand out? Here’s what to do:

1. Create a quick and free SXSW PanelPicker Sign-up
2.  Cast your vote  for Sonny’s presentation, “What the Tech?! BIG Technology for Small Business.”

Voting ends tomorrow, August 31st, at Midnight, so vote now!

» ADJA Presents: The Las Vegas DJ Show!

This year, American Disc Jockey Association (ADJA) has announced its third annual educational conference, newly named The Las Vegas DJ Show. Scheduled to take place September 10th-12th at the Las Vegas Resort Hotel and CasinoThe Las Vegas DJ Show offers the best and brightest in DJ education to all attendees. Meet and network with other DJs, attend seminars, discover new technology and equipment that can help keep your DJ business at the cutting edge of the industry, and learn how to add power to your business!

WeddingWire understands the value of industry education, so we’re eager to share this exciting opportunity! At The Las Vegas DJ Show, both WeddingWire CMO, Sonny Ganguly, as well as WeddingWire Education Expert, Alan Berg, will be presenting—in addition to many other informative and fun presentations from industry experts. Event highlights include developing successful strategies to build your brand, strengthening your business practice, and the opportunity to network with other DJs in order to boost your spirits, and boost your business!

Interested in attending The Las Vegas DJ Show? Click Here to learn more!

» WeddingWire Networking Night Houston

Yesterday evening, we had the pleasure of holding our WeddingWire Networking Night Houston at the House of Blues. Similar to past events in Portland, Nashville, Tampa, Phoenix, Denver, Orlando, Austin, Philadelphia, Miami, New York, Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, Raleigh, Seattle, Dallas, and New Orleans, local Houston Wedding Pros had the opportunity to mix and mingle with other area Pros across all service categories.

We had such a great time mixing and mingling with all the wonderful Houston Pros!

We would like to take a moment to thank all the lovely partners who helped make the event possible:

Congrats to Erin Peters, of Change Your Latitude Travel, who is the lucky winner of a WeddingWire prize pack, including a mini Andriod tablet!

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» Join WeddingWire at NAWP Connect: Destination Miami!

National Assocation of Wedding Professionals (NAWP) is holding its 2012 Conference, NAWP Connect in Miami, FL this year! Taking place at the Westin Colonnade in the Coral Gables area of Miami, September 9th-11th, NAWP Connect is an opportunity for wedding professionals to get together in sunny South Florida, meet and network with other Pros, and experience educational presentations from industry experts!

WeddingWire knows the power of education, so we’re excited to share this unique opportunity with you to grow a more successful business. WeddingWire CMO, Sonny Ganguly, will be presenting “Get Social, Go Mobile” at the conference, and will provide insight on how to keep your business current and stay ahead of technology trends. Additionally, you’ll develop successful strategies to build your brand, and have informative breakout sessions with Sonny and other great speakers!

Interested in attending? Registration ends September 3rd, so get on board and sign up for NAWP Connect today! Learn more about how to register.

» Be a Better Boss… To Yourself!

As an independent business owner, you get the luxury of running the show however you like… as well as the responsibility of managing every last detail that concerns your company and its success. Being self-employed lends its own stress and struggles to the daily grind, but here are some ways you can optimize your day-to-day business, and be a better boss to yourself!

1. Thirst for knowledge. Every great entrepreneur knows there is always something new to learn. Invest in your business education whenever you can by attending conferences, training sessions and networking events in your industry. If you aspire to be competitive in your field, constantly be exploring opportunities to help grow your expertise and your business, both on a local level, and on a larger scale.

2. Spend smart. In today’s economy, it is sometimes difficult to gauge what is a necessary expense, especially in deciding what will truly aid your business. Don’t be afraid to invest in areas like technology or legal that could potentially hold your business back if you go on without them. It’s important to keep in mind the ultimate value of a seemingly pricy investment , if it can help you get more work accomplished in less time, or provide financial protection for your company.

3. Give yourself a raise. Many new business-owners are unsure of what to charge for their services, and end up losing money for their valuable time. But even those who have been in the industry for many years can lose track of the most current standard cost for their services, and can cheat themselves out of income as well. Don’t make unreasonable demands, as it damages your credibility, but always ensure that your talents and time are being compensated properly.