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Last week I started my how to guide on how to become a wedding planner. This is going to be a 10 part guide on how to develop your career as a wedding planner for all your budding wedding planners, event organisers and stylists out there.
Realistically most of this series will be relevant to any start up business.
Now I want to stress once again that this isn’t the how to bible, I’m not saying I am the queen of all things wedding planning, or even business related, I am just little old me who is still learning as I go along, but I felt it would be useful to put this together as I get so many requests for advice from other wanna be wedding planners.
I am by no means a business Guru, I can only comment on how I have done things and how I have made it work for myself.
I have spent a large part of my working life being self-employed so when I decided to set up on my own again, after being made redundant from my recruitment job I knew I had to go and get as much business advice as possible
Most people who set up a business or become self-employed do so because there is something specific that they are good at, but a lot of the time business plans, cash flows, marketing and book keeping are not high on the list of importance…..BUT they are vital in making your business grow!
I have made my fair share of mistakes in the past when I had my design business, at that point I was younger so I was able to get advice and funding from the Prices trust, plus a massive amount of help and advice and also funding back then from Business link…even still after 7 years I still had my figures wrong so I ended up closing the business down as I just couldn’t charge what I needed to make a proper living.
So 5 years later and I came to do it all over again, even though I knew the basics I understood that getting as much business advice as possible was going to be key in getting me on the ladder of success.
This time 2 years ago I had all the time in the world so I was in a lucky position, I had been made redundant and very luckily had taken out redundancy insurance a few months before my redundancy actually happened, so I had this to live on for a few months while I was finding my feet in the business and wedding planning world. So I had all my days free to go and get as much help and do as much research as possible. However I knew this money wouldn’t last for ever and after that I would have no earnings at all……………….I had the ‘fear’ and I truly believe that it is that that kept me truly motivated!
So where did I go first?
One of the things I felt I was looking for was a business mentor, someone who would be able to work with me and tell me what I should be doing and where I should be doing next.
So my search started with:
Big (now solutions for business)
Every local council will be different, I was lucky enough in Sheffield to have a new start up enterprise scheme called Big (now solutions for business) who where offering small grants for start-up business which involved going on a 2 week business course. The course was quite basic but it helped me jog my memory back into the realms of cash flow forecasts and the likes.
I had had a great relationship with Business link when I set up my business the first time so I went back to them to explore what they could offer. Things have changed a lot since, they are still a very helpful organisation but the funding options have gone and they have become more of a sign posting organisation now. I did get to see an adviser once who gave me some pointers and then sent me off on my merry way!
He did send me to a mentoring circle which I wholeheartedly advice you not to go to…….if you have 2 hours spare a week to talk about how hard setting up a business six with 4 other women, and how it makes you feel then fab, but I really didn’t! and neither did I want to talk about my emotions with a group of strangers!
However the website has some great stuff on it, lots if print outs and work sheets, so make sure you check it out.
Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Industry
I also joined Sheffield Chamber, I believe that most cities have something similar and at the time it was a help, I had an advisor who I went to see hoping that it would be someone I would get to meet on a regular basis. However there really wasn’t much he could help me with. His words being ‘I’m not married, or ever intend to be married, so I don’t know much about weddings’ he did set me up with a marketing man who offered me a free hours’ worth of advice…..who told me that the name Boho would never work as it’s too much like Boo Hoo…cheers for those words of wisdom! I also got to see a website man who gave me some basic advice about setting up my website which did actually help a bit.
HM revenue and Customs
Your local tax office will run a tax course for people looking to set up as slef employed. It talks through all the basics with you about tax and national insurance as well as the basics of setting up. I actually found this quite useful it tells you all about the things you can and can’t claim for. It lasts for about 4 hours.
Workshops and mini courses
Nearly all of the above offered workshops and mini courses. Business link epically offer a huge range of workshops….go to the events page of your local business link website.
At the time I was going to one a week just to get as much information as I could…well it was free so why not!….my poor little brain was like a sponge for all things business!
I also went on course with Barclays bank, who runs business workshops nationally. Also through my local Chamber of commerce I found out about a few local women’s business groups that also offered workshops, so I joined Working Women and Entrepreneurs Ladders.
All in all I attended the following courses and workshops:
• Planning for Success – Introduction to Planning for Success, Market Research, Calculating Prices and Overheads, Sales Forecasting, Book Keeping, Profit & Loss/Cash Flow, Health and Safety/Legal Requirements, Marketing and Selling
• Sales and Marketing part 1,2 & 3
• Selling your service
• Book keeping
• Design Development
• Time Management
• Basic Legal skills for small businesses
• Negotiating skills
• Web design
• Double sales from your brochures, flyers, ads, e-shots and website
• How to turn your website into a Customer Magnet
• Email Marketing
• Online Social Media
• HM Revenue & Customs – Becoming Self-Employed
• Gain a High Ranking in Google
• Let’s Talk Bright Marketing
• How to get Free Publicity in the Media
• How to use Social media to drive your business
• Working under pressure
• Marketing your Business
• Book Keeping and Accounts
The other thing about these courses is that you get to meet other start-up businesses and other people who may have been in business for 2-3 years, so it’s a great way to (I hate to use the word) ‘network.’ It’s also a great place to meet people in the same boat as you!
As time went on I got busier and busier so I had less time to go to all of the courses I had started to go to. I also found as a few months went by that I was leaning more so pretty much knew what the course or workshop was about.
So Once you go to one of these things and you are not learning anything new then you know that you have done all you can do and it’s time to start doing it for real!
2 years on I’m still making mistakes and still learning but I’m doing it hands on. I don’t see an adviser, I never did find that mentor I was so hoping to find, but I have built up a solid group of wedding friends and trusted suppliers around me that I can call on for regular advice!
Even if you have been in the business for 20 years you still need to learn and keep moving with the times, so I hope when wedding season comes to an end around November that I might get some time to go and do some refresher courses, just the odd afternoon here and there!
If you have started your own business and have any advice to offer my readers on where you found your business advice, or have any words of wisdom please feel free to share and add your own comments. Or if you are in the process of starting your own business please let us know how you are getting on.
Come back next week for Part 2: Starting a wedding planning course
(Thanks to www.andertoons.com for the use of the images.)