Business Success – Different Definitions for Different People

Business Success – Different Definitions for Different People

The end of the current year – and therefore the starting of a new year – is a great time for not only personal reflection and planning, but also for business reflection and planning.  And, one of the important things that I reflect on, and plan for, is achieving business success.  Of course, when most people hear the phrase “business success,” they think of piles of money, yachts, vacation homes, etc. – and to some, that is the main success they seek from their business.  There is nothing wrong with that vision, I promise!

However, for others, success is more than just money.  Now, don’t get me wrong, it is tough to continue to be in business if you don’t make more money than you spend before too long.  However, for many of us, large amounts of money is not the only success we seek.  The success we may seek is control, or flexibility, or helping the world, or a combination of all of them.  The thing to remember is that it doesn’t matter what you are seeking, the key is to have it defined for the year, then evaluate at the end of each year on how successful you were compared to your definition, and then determine what needs to be done to make next year successful.  Below are a couple of quick tips:

1)  Know your personal success factors first, because they should shape your business success factors.  For example, if you (and your significant other) want more flexibility, starting/growing a bricks-and-mortar business, or looking to book large numbers of jobs well in advance, probably wouldn’t fit the bill.  Instead, maybe market yourself as having the ability to take last-minute jobs and/or look for a way to increase your prices so you can make the same amount of money with fewer jobs.

2)  Once you have your personal and business success factors determined, write business goals that fit.  For example, if your personal and business success factors include more time for family, yet the business needs to be making the same or more money, your goals should represent that – and your plan might include ways to upsell the clients that you do get and/or streamline systems and processes to reduce the amount of time you spend on each client. 

Our personal success factors are a mixture of income, flexibility, and impact.  Did we achieve success last year?  Well, partially.  Are we working on business goals and plans that achieve success this year?  You bet!!!  

I look forward to hearing what your personal and business success factors are, and your 2017 goals.  Come hang out in my Facebook group (“The Elevator: Moving Our Businesses Up Together”) to share!

Are you taking time off?

Are you taking time off?

This will be something that I talk much more about in the future – work-life integration (not balance, as I don’t think there truly ever is “balance”).  But as we are hitting the core of the wedding season for many of us, are you actually taking time off?  Is it proactive and intentional?  Or is it last-minute as you’ve hit a wall (or got sick) and need time off?

I think that this is one of the hardest things for wedding industry entrepreneurs and small business owners to deal with.  After all, making our living in the wedding industry means that our life is busiest when the world tends to be slowest – on weekends – and our potential time off is when our clients are often back to work and back to their emails.

So how do you deal with that?  We know that working seven days a week with no downtime is a recipe for burnout – and that helps no one.  And it’s also rough on relationships, both family relationships and friend relationships.  Not to mention on your health.

So what do you do?  Do you have a set “day off” each week?  I know that some wedding pros take Mondays off.  Personally, I find that a tough day to take off, as my couples are clearly back to work and emailing me, as are new inquiring couples.  Wednesdays tend to be an easier day off for me – midweek so it’s after the get-back-to-work rush and before the wedding weekend prep.  But I also have found that I need to be flexible and carve out days off as I find them, as every Wednesday isn’t an option for me – I sometimes have other obligations that I cannot move on some Wednesdays.  And sometimes a cool opportunity for something specific to do pops up on another day.

And what do you do on that day (or days) off?  Do you not check emails at all?  Do you check them in the morning and at night but ignore them in between?  Do you carve just a certain number of hours out, but not the whole day?  With the ability to work from our laptops and our phones, this is absolutely the toughest thing to do, I think, as it’s easy to work a bit from most anywhere.  Plus, let’s be honest, ignoring our emails for an entire day can sometimes take the rest of the week to crawl back out from (or is that just me??)!  And that’s not always worth it.

But, no matter when you do it, and how you do it, carve time out for yourself.  Even if just a morning where you let yourself sleep in extra long (can you tell that I have no kids when this is one of my favorite options?), or you shut down the computer midday and go for a long lunch and walk with your best friend, or a nice facial and massage with some of the gratuities from your grateful clients…  you need some time off.  We need to remember that we can’t take care of others – be it our clients or our family members or both – if we don’t take care of ourselves too.

How do you decide when you’re full?

How do you decide when you’re full?

No, really – how do you decide when you’ve taken on the right number of weddings?  Do you have a year number?  A monthly number?  A max per week or weekend?  Or do you just keep saying yes until you regret it?

This is something that all of us should be proactively dealing with, and yet I know from personal experience how often it really happens in hindsight.  What do I mean by this?  Oftentimes, as wedding professionals, we really don’t know just how many weddings we can take on until we’ve gotten through a year and can take a look back at how it went.  I’ve been officiating weddings here in San Diego for seven years (and almost 700 weddings now), and I can tell you that I still am trying to figure out the right number of weddings for me.  I originally set an annual goal and annual max, but then realized that I needed to break that down further, as I could only do so many per month, and especially so many per week.  If I didn’t want to change my process and wanted to do them all the way I want to do them (custom ceremonies, co-created with my couples, and working with my ideal clients), then I really had to say no more often.  Yes, even on days that were seemingly open and available.  For the sake of all of us, I had to say no.

Of course, that was my decision, and as I have worked with various types of wedding professionals as their business coach, we’ve talked about how this is actually a decision that can be made in all sorts of ways.  It just needs to fit you and your business.

Maybe you have a different level of offering or service for last-minute requests.  So you can still say yes, but not feel obligated or required to do your normal full process with them.  You need to factor in the amount of time required before the wedding day, on the wedding day, and after the wedding day.  Each one of us has different numbers for that.  Some is by category – for instance, as an officiant, I put in more prep time beforehand than a typical DJ does, but the DJ spends much more time on the wedding day itself than I do, while a typical photographer spends even more time on the wedding day than a typical DJ does, and has much more time involved after the wedding day than either the DJ or me.  So, can you change your process in terms of time required to allow you to take on more weddings?

Maybe you take on more staff, such as an associate planner or photographer, trained by you, and doing weddings under your brand, but not you.

And some professionals I know only take weddings on certain days of the week, completely blocking out certain days, like Sundays or special holidays, to always have that time for themselves and for their family.

All your call, of course – one of the best things about us having our own businesses.  But I advise you to be proactive and thoughtful about it, not just reactive, as then you’re likely to enjoy your business more, and make more fitting business decisions for you.

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Relevant – one of the most important parts of your SMART goals

Relevant – one of the most important parts of your SMART goals

I’ve been thinking a whole bunch lately about goal setting and why the work sometimes and don’t other times.  Did you see my previous post about goal setting and making them SMART goals?

Well, I’ve been thinking more about the “R’ one, and here is what I’ve changed it to:

  • S – Specific – focused and well-defined, answers the 5 Ws (who/what/where/when/why)
  • M – Measurable – use numbers – how much/many?
  • A – Attainable – within reach and realistic for you, your industry
  • R – Relevant – would make a difference in your business and should be a focus
  • T – Time-Specific – there is a deadline that allows for a sense of urgency

I think that it’s really important for us to be sure that we are focusing on the right thing(s) in our business.  It’s so easy to get distracted by the many many things that we could be doing.  And yet it’s only useful if the goals we set and the actions we take move our business forward in the way that makes sense for us.

So my advice is to be sure to think about Relevancy as you set and revise your goals, and as you think about where to put your time each and every day.

As we start the second quarter…

As we start the second quarter…

In the wedding industry, our first quarter almost always starts out more slowly as far as actual weddings are concerned, which makes it a great time to look at our bookings, evaluate how the year is shaping up, and make adjustments to our marketing as necessary. With good periodic tracking of our year-over-year numbers and of our progress toward current year goals (you do have written goals, right??), we can always be aware of when additional marketing may be necessary.

If you are behind on your bookings, the question always is, “what can I do?” Many business owners look at how they can cut costs – and although sometimes a little cost-cutting is necessary, usually doing “response” cost cutting can hurt your business more than help. Instead, I think that you should look at it the other way – what more can I be doing? The first thing I recommend is to evaluate your booking cycle (how far out couples book you, and others doing what you do). Based on your booking cycle, you can determine if more bookings could be coming for this year, and/or if there are possibilities for getting what might be considered, to you, last-minute bookings.

Then, here are some ideas –
* Look for upcoming wedding shows.
* Put the word out to colleagues that you have availability for last-minute bookings and that you are able to assist on weddings where they need help.
* Reach out to past couples to get more reviews.
* Improve your website’s SEO with fresh content (including blog posts and testimonials).
* Place a new ad or listing on a site or in a publication that targets your ideal client.

Even if you don’t generate the additional business you would like for this year, these activities should definitely improve your future bookings, and thus are a better way to go for your business than just focusing on cost-cutting.

What is success?

What is success?

I think that every single person would answer this differently, and I absolutely believe that we each should.  Yet how we personally define success should determine much of what we want to accomplish and do, in business and in life – and therefore plays a key role in setting each of our priorities and goals.

That is why it is always something I talk about up-front with my coaching clients, as working on what I think is important in and for their business might not at all be their priority.

So I think that it’s important to start with this.  Your goals must be balanced around the three most important areas in your life, which include:

Personal, Family & Health Goals – (Your “Why” Goals):  These goals pertain to “Why” you want to achieve your Business, Career & Financial Goals.

Business, Career & Financial Goals – (Your “What” Goals):  These goals pertain to “What” you need to do to achieve your “Why” Goals.

Personal Professional Development Goals – (Your “How” Goals):  These goals pertain to “How” you achieve the “What” to enjoy the “Why.”

Figure out your “Why” Goals first, and then you can focus on the rest.  Want to be let in behind the scenes of my own life and marriage and businesses?  I’ll share our Why Goals in my next post.