Hoping to start your own business? With more than 4.4 million new businesses created in the U.S. in 2020 alone (a 24.3% increase from 2019!), entrepreneurs everywhere are expanding their horizons and starting new ventures.
One area that’s keeping up with the pace? The wedding and event industry! Projected to be worth more than $1,552.9 billion by 2028, there are a few things you’ll need to know if you’re considering starting a business in this sector.
Fortunately, we sat down with a handful of successful event professionals and asked them what they wished they knew before launching their brand–here’s what they had to say.
Put your values first
As you jump into this exciting new chapter, it’s important not to lose sight of what you truly love. Only then can you build a business that makes a valuable impact in the lives of others.
“It's really important to ground down your values,” emphasizes Jenna Porter of Jenna Noelle Creative. “What does the life you want to live look like? Who are the people you want to work with? What do you want to create? Once you identify the answers to those questions, make sure every step you take aligns with them.”
Practice saying no
When you first start your business, you may want to say yes to every opportunity that crosses your path. However, it’s vital to only take on clients you feel are a good fit! If you only focus on the income, you may begin accepting clients that aren’t worth the stress.
“During your consultation calls, it’s important to remember you’re interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you, as not everyone is your ideal client,” reminds Sandy Brooks of Timeless Event Planning.
Know your different roles
Experienced business owners know they’re not simply a photographer, event planner, or caterer. As an entrepreneur, you fill many roles in your company—all of which you’ll want to consider beforehand.
“There are many areas, such as accounting, advertising, technical website skills, day-to-day running of a business, management skills, etc.,” notes Monika Kreinberg of Furever Us - Wedding Pet Care. “You have to be ready to wear all those hats or have the money set aside to pay someone to wear them. When starting a business, you need to consider your skills and limitations and plan accordingly—hiring outside workers in areas where you lack experience.”
Find a mentor
Entrepreneurship can get lonely, and growing your business can feel incredibly intimidating when you’re working on your own. That’s why finding someone who can offer advice is so valuable to your well-being and the future of your company!
As Shannon Tarrant of Wedding Venue Map advises, “Find a mentor as soon as possible. Someone who has walked the career path you are aspiring to follow. Having that guidance and someone to ask for help, check in with, and share advice has helped me achieve great things.”
Understand typical workflows
During the summer, event professionals hardly have a second to catch their breath. But slow seasons can feel like they drag on indefinitely! So as you enter this new space, note the time of year you’ll be busiest and plan your time accordingly.
“I wish that I had understood the seasonality of the wedding industry better,” shares Betsy Scott of Hudson Valley Weddings at The Hill. “Those peak times felt like there were never enough hours in the day. And the lulls made it seem like I’d never get another booking.”
In the wedding and event industry, fostering high-quality relationships allows you to grow as an entrepreneur. Consider stepping outside of your comfort zone so you can learn from those around you.
Peter Mitsaelides of Brooklake Country Club and Events suggests, “Take consistent advantage of networking. Whether virtual or in person, those events provide new resources for your business and opportunities for doing business. And remember, those opportunities don’t happen overnight. Enduring professional relationships require cultivation.”
Don’t be afraid to outsource
Many entrepreneurs struggle to ask for help, especially as they’re just starting. But if you’re to grow while focusing on your passions, accept that it’s more than okay to let someone else behind the curtain! Having a few more hands in your business will help you scale and optimize.
“I wish I had learned the very important art of delegating and focusing on what I do best,” says Cathy O’Connell of COJ Events. “Entrepreneurs always think they have to do it all and that no one can do it better, but that is far from the truth, and I would have had a healthier balance if I had outsourced some tasks early on.”
Adrienna McDermott of Ava And The Bee seconds this, sharing, “One of my biggest pieces of advice is that it's okay to ask for help. Having other people do tasks for you outside your zone of genius is perfectly fine! Outsourcing doesn't mean you have to hire a huge team but can mean hiring a virtual assistant or marketing company to handle your tasks so you can focus on doing what you love.”
The best business owners know entrepreneurship is a journey–and one that’s full of growth. So to become a savvier entrepreneur, make learning a priority!
“Continue to educate yourself in the art of sales and customer service,” recommends Steven Feinberg of Bunn DJ Company - San Diego. “Keep up with event industry trends. And make sure your marketing reflects both the tangible and intangible qualities that make your business a valuable part of a client’s experience.”
Know your worth
Many entrepreneurs struggle with how to price their services. But no matter your business, remember that it’s okay to give yourself credit for your hard work.
Keith Willard of Keith Willard Events shares, “The biggest thing I wish I had known when first starting out is knowing my worth! In my first year, I greatly undersold my services. I also took every piece of business that came my way, regardless of the size or scope. Once I was halfway into my first year, I realized that I was working all the time but that the income was not covering my expenses.”
Go for it
If you’ve been twiddling your thumbs when it comes to starting your business, there’s no better time than now. Getting started is usually the hardest part!
“Do it even if you’re afraid,” notes Jen Sulak of Weirdo Weddings. “Do it when it feels like no one cares or sees. Do it even when you feel a lack of support. While some would say ‘wait,’ I say GO with what draws you and pulls you deeply that you can no longer NOT speak about it or share the passion within you.”
Starting a new business is scary–of course! Luckily, it’s also incredibly rewarding. Remember your worth, take a few risks, and you’re sure to build something that fills you with pride and serves your favorite clients.