This post is by Jennifer Reitmeyer. Jennifer has worked in the wedding industry since 1997. In addition to owning MyDeejay, an award-winning wedding entertainment firm serving the Washington, D.C. market, she also maintains a wedding business blog, WeddingIQ, and a blogging and social media service for wedding businesses, Firebrand Messaging. Jennifer is available for small business coaching, speaking, and writing opportunities. Read more at jenniferreitmeyer.com.
Entrepreneurs are a unique bunch. For those of us with “business in our blood,” the exhilaration of forming and operating our own businesses is addictive. Unfortunately, as exciting as it may be to become your own boss, the ugly truth is that, per Bloomberg, 80% of new businesses fail within the first 18 months. What a terrible statistic, right?
Wedding professionals aren’t exempt from the odds, but we also have some special qualities that can help us beat them. For one thing, most of the wedding business owners I know are super invested in what they do. Unlike, say, someone who distributes widgets (are those a thing?), people who choose to work in the wedding industry seem especially passionate about their service or product. They also, for the most part, seem to truly care about their clients. We all know how important our couples’ wedding day is to them, and we want to make it perfect.
So, how can we leverage that passion, that investment, and succeed as business owners? I’d say the magic formula lies partly on the “outside” – your branding and marketing, your selling techniques, and how you perform your services on the day of the wedding – but, perhaps even more, on the “inside.” Success comes from your head and your heart. It’s balancing being ambitious with being realistic. It’s anticipating the challenges ahead, and having a game plan to overcome them. It’s mustering the discipline to keep going when the business isn’t fun anymore. It’s finding ways to make it fun again.
It’s treating the growing pains.
We all deal with them – no one is immune. Paying attention to them, learning the lesson that comes with them, and adapting your business for the better are what will keep you going long past that 18-month lifespan of most new businesses.
Here are some typical types of growing pains for small business owners, and the treatment:
What Hurts: The thrill is gone. You were so driven when you started, and you were so energized by the whirlwind of the startup: naming your business, ordering marketing materials, and sharing your excitement with those around you. And now, your business has been around a while, and it feels like all you do is sift through emails, answer the same old client questions, and pay bills. It no longer interests you.
The Rx: There are a few things you can do. You can figure out ways to work with more of the people you like, and weed out people you don’t. Working with “your people” automatically makes anything you do more rewarding. You can look for opportunities to expand or refine your services to renew some of the sense of challenge and excitement. You can seek new sources of inspiration: a great book or blog, a mastermind group, a session with a business coach. You can focus on other areas of your life – sure, work takes up a lot of time, especially for business owners, but it’s not (or shouldn’t be) all you do. Maybe there’s a new hobby you can pursue, or an old one you can pick up again. Maybe there’s a great cause that could use some volunteer help. Diversifying your interests can go a long way toward addressing entrepreneurial ennui.
What Hurts: Your brand feels stale. You perceive that your competitors’ marketing is sharper, cooler, prettier or more effective than yours. Those beautiful business cards you were so excited to hand out? Now you’d rather leave them in the bottom of your bag. You don’t feel motivated to try to drive more traffic to your website, because frankly, you don’t really want any more eyes on it than necessary. Even your business name doesn’t sound right any more, and you find yourself wanting to skip over it when you’re networking with new people.