The things that make you great at your niche in the wedding industry don’t necessarily make you great at business. That’s a harsh reality, but one you have to address if you want to have a successful business. The skills and tools you need to be successful in business are available to you through the pages of trade magazines, through your trade associations, and at the myriad of conferences held locally and nationally.
Here are some of my top reasons businesses fail in the wedding industry:
1. They think too small.
One of the biggest mistakes I see is people who think too small. If you see yourself as a small business, you’ll always be a small business. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being a small business, as long as you can make the money you want. Describe the business you want to be in five years. What does your company look like? What does your branding look like? What do people say when they talk about your business? Then, try to act like that business, right now. If your clients see you as that business, you’re more likely to become that business.
2. They don’t invest in themselves.
Invest in yourself, so others will invest in you. You want your customers to invest their hard-earned money with you to get the results that they want for their wedding, but are you investing in yourself first? Or, are you taking a shoestring budget approach to your business? Did you make your website yourself? Did you buy the cheapest business cards? Are you using an @gmail email address (or worse, AOL)? What’s the first impression you’re giving your customers, and the rest of the industry? Can you tell when someone has used a professional graphic designer? Can you tell when someone has used a professional website designer? If you can tell, so can your customers and your industry connections.
Investing in yourself also means investing in your advertising and marketing. If you know that your target customer uses a particular website, goes to a certain bridal show, or reads a certain magazine, that’s where you should be. But taking the smallest ad or smallest booth is not giving it your best shot. Too many people think they’ll try the smallest ad and, if that works, they’ll upgrade. The results of taking the smallest ad or booth in the back are not representative of what a bigger ad or better booth placement can get you. Go big or go home!
3. They don’t know how to sell.
How are your sales skills? No matter how talented you are you don’t get to apply that skill until you make a sale. So, how well do you handle email inquiries? How good are you at getting appointments? How good are you at closing the sale? Those are different skills than what you do in the industry. Whether you take a class, read a book, or get personal coaching, investing in better sales skills is something that pays off now and in the future. You’re always selling in some way, whether it’s at a networking event, wedding show, or an actual sales appointment. If you’re not comfortable with sales, then you have two choices. Get better at it, or hire someone else to do it. You simply can’t have a successful business without sales.
4. They don’t charge enough.
Not charging enough is a big mistake. If you sit down and figure out how much time you’re really investing in each wedding, your hourly rate is probably a lot lower than you’d think. It’s not just the time at the wedding, it’s all the time preparing, doing emails, on the phone, doing consultations, connecting with suppliers, traveling, and more. What’s your real hourly rate? Too many people set their prices based upon what others are charging. That assumes that others are correct and that their cost structure and needs are the same as yours. Copying others without knowing how they came to their pricing is foolish. If you can’t make a good living at those rates then you should rethink that strategy. Set your rates based upon your own costs and the profit you’d like to make for the time you invest. Set your rates based upon the value of the service you’re providing, not the money it costs you to provide that value. People pay for the outcome of working with you, not the process.
Whether this is your full-time or part-time business, you need to be profiting enough from the time you’re investing. Otherwise you have a hobby, not a business. So, if you want to be a successful business, think like a successful business.
Alan Berg is a business consultant and the wedding and event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®, the highest-earned designation for a professional speaker, and a featured speaker at Catersource ® each year. Find out more at www.AlanBerg.com. Get more business ideas at Alan’s online learning portal www.WeddingIndustryInsiders.com