Friday, January 9, 2009

Breaking into the biz

The following information is strictly opinion. I am by no means a business expert but feel my experiences in the past few years could lend some inspiration to someone out there...

People send us emails, all of the time, saying that they really identify with the way that I started this business. They inevitably ask for our advice on breaking into the business and while it is completely different for everybody and every business, I hope that my basic guidelines will help someone along the way.

1. Have a good solid business plan. This will be necessary if you are going to need to take out a business loan. Obviously, the type of business you are starting determines whether or not you need to do this. No overhead costs might mean that you don't need a business loan at all.

2. If you are not financially saavy, hire someone. Hire someone trustworthy to review your business financials, if you can. This becomes increasingly important at tax time. Owning your own business at tax time can be hellish, to say the least.

3. Find out what your state/city requirements are for operating a business. Resale or retailer's certificates might be necessary so be sure you find out what is required before you start. Other permits will be required if you have a storefront.

4. Put your best foot forward... Your products and services represent you. Make sure your product is a direct reflection of you! Less than perfect service and/or product will only make new clients harder to find!

5. Maintain integrity at all times. If you have been following my blog at all you will maybe remember my little rant a while back about design stealing...but I digress. The most successful businesses are those that set them self apart somehow. By creating products and services that are unique to you, you ensure that you are creating your own clientele.

6. If you have a dispute with a customer over something, know up front, what your boundaries are and make those boundaries clear to your customer in some type of policy document. If the customer keeps pushing for resolution that you feel is unfair and a direct compromise of your policy, know how far you are willing to go to make that customer happy. While its true that the customer is always right, in this industry you are most likely dealing with a highly stressed bride/groom where even the smallest of issues is overblown.

7. Take the good press with the bad. For every customer that is unhappy, you more than likely have tons of happy customers. Its impossible to please everyone and the sooner you let that sink in, the easier it will be to let go of the one in a million bad situation and move on to the next good one. {I'm a perfectionist in every sense of the word so when that one in a million customer is not satisfied, I literally lose sleep over it. I take it way too personally so this is something that I need to work on.}

8. Create a network of professionals in the industry. Provide excellent service or products to them and watch your business grow through referrals. You could quickly become their go-to person, which means more consistent business for you!

9. Owning your own business is a 24 hour 7 day a week job, no matter what type of business you create. It means lots of late nights and working through most of your weekend. If you aren't prepared to eat, live and breathe your new business, it will be unsuccessful. This is especially tough on newlyweds! If you are newly married and considering starting your own business, keep that in mind. You lose a certain amount of freedom, especially in the early stages.

10. Love what you do with every ounce of your being. It will make the hard work and life altering experience so worth the effort that you put into it.

Again, I'm definitely not a business expert. In the past (almost) 5 years, I have learned a lot through trial and error. I wish I had someone sharing their insight with me when I started!

1 comment:

Setting the Mood said...

This is great advice. I can tell you've been in the biz a while. I can relate to EVERYTHING you said!!