Things I've Learnt
I’ve learnt a huge amount since launching my business and continue to do so everyday. So many of my expectations and preconceptions have been challenged that I thought it might be interesting/helpful to put together a list of some of the things I’ve learnt along the way. Other planners please feel free to email me and let me know any more points that you feel deserve to feature.
Wedding planning is mostly unglamorous! There are moments of glamour but for the most part, the day-to-day work of a planner is fairly mundane. No matter how well planned an event is, inevitably I find myself rushing around, breaking my nails and doing the jobs that nobody else is willing to do.
Not all suppliers are pleased to be working with planners. If suppliers have had a bad experience of another planner or feel that you are going to make their life more complicated they can be uncooperative and difficult to work with.
Life as a planner can be lonely and isolating. When most planners launch, they work from home, by themselves. Compared to the gossip, jokes and general hubbub that happens in a normal office environment, working by yourself can be lonely and takes time to get used to.
Being a business owner will takeover your life. It requires a huge level of emotional, financial and professional commitment to own your own business. At the outset (or if the economy takes a nosedive) finances will be tight and you might need to change you and your family’s lifestyle. As you build the business you will find yourself working long hours, evenings and weekends which can be tough to juggle with family commitments.
Be Patient. Building a business takes a long time and perseverance is very important. In the early days, it can be hard to keep working towards the business, especially if you are seeing little return for all your hard work. Don’t give up, persevere and you will begin to see results!
Having a supportive partner and/or family can make all the difference. I constantly use my husband as a sounding board, ideas generator, proof reader and technical advisor. Whilst I have been working to establish the business, he has had to make lots of sacrifices and if he was unsupportive, things would have been much, much harder.
Do not view all other planners simply as competition. As a business owner, it is obviously important to have an idea local ‘competitors’ and to establish your USP. However, getting to know other planners and sharing experiences can be invaluable both professionally and personally.
Take advantage of all available opportunities. At the outset, it might not make financial sense to do something but if it means you’ll gain experience or make a good contact, do it. In the first month of being a professional planner I made a 560 mile round trip to attend one of the UKAWP’s networking evenings. The traveling took the best part of two days and in total the trip cost around £100. However, aside from having a great evening, I was lucky enough to meet the editor of a wedding magazine and as such I have been mentioned in nearly every subsequent issue of the magazine. In addition, I met Kelly Chandler who was kind enough to let me tag along to one of her weddings a few weeks later. Since then, I’ve helped Kelly at two other weddings, gaining invaluable experience and the benefit of her (often lifesaving) advice. If I had decided to give the networking evening a miss because it was too far/too inconvenient, my business might have been in a very different place.
Overall, successful planners have a good business head. As a planner it helps to be passionate about beautiful, seamless weddings and this can be what motivates you when times are hard. However, the most successful planners I know are actually shrewd entrepreneurs who know when an idea is commercially viable and adjust their business/es accordingly. They understand that eventually a business must generate an income for the owner and that being a planner is a profession not a hobby.
Zoë Lingard runs Weddings by Zoë Lingard, operating throughout South East England