By Lindsay Longacre
Happy New Year, All! We are more than ready to embrace the “in with the old and out with the new” mindset—I absolutely love a fresh start, and the new year is a perfect excuse to hit reset when it comes to your business practices.
I love practicing yoga, and, at the beginning of every class, the teacher gives you the opportunity to come up with your own intention for the class. For the yogis who have a hard time thinking of one (I’m sometimes in that boat!), the teacher will often offer up his or her own intention (gratitude, getting rid of excess, self-love, etc.) for you to embrace and embody throughout the rest of the practice. So, consider today’s post me offering up a handful of “intentions” for you to incorporate into your 2018 resolutions list. Feel free to embrace the ones that resonate with you, and leave aside the ones that don’t. Enjoy...and namaste.
1. Set Boundaries With Your Clients
Wedding planning is a high-touch career. After all, your client’s wedding is the most important day of their life....but that doesn’t mean it has to consume yours. It is so important for you to have balance in your life in order to maintain some sanity, but working with enthusiastic, excited and anxious engaged couples who want all of your waking hours to themselves can make that hard. This year, I encourage you to set some clear boundaries with your clients. Remember—being proactive and setting these boundaries up front is so important (it’s like training a puppy from the start rather than waiting until they’re full grown and used to certain habits to then break them of those bad habits). Boundaries are different for each planner, but a good start is to set your working hours up front. Let your couples know when you are in the office and when they can expect you to reply (if you’re an early bird, for example, and prefer to start your day at 7am and end it at 3pm, let your clients know that). You’ll also want to be clear about what modes of communication work for you and which don’t (yes to quick emails; no to unexpected FaceTime calls at 2am ). This is an essential resolution to ensure burnout doesn’t happen before the year’s end.
2. Enhance A Skill You Struggle With
This year, I’m making a commitment to learn how to be a master of my finances. I personally hate numbers and accounting, and I tend to ignore them because it seems like the easy thing to do. But, that inevitably leads to stress and not-so-fun surprises when I finally delve into finances at the end of each year. Running a small business requires you to wear so many hats—even the ones you don’t find so flattering—but it is imperative to your success that keep up with every aspect of your business...even the ones you don’t enjoy. So, whether you need to work on your design sketching skills (try Sketchbook Series), improve your online marketing skills or get better about bookkeeping, I encourage you to focus on one thing you aren't amazing at and work on developing those skills in 2018!
3. Reach Out To One Creative Partner You Have Been Intimated To Connect With
There is always that one person you want to reach out to, but don’t out of fear or intimidation—fear they won’t respond, fear of what they think of you or your work, fear of not knowing what to say. Personally, this is one of my biggest struggles. There are so many people who I look up to in the wedding industry—and it’s easy to let that fear stop me from pursuing my full potential. Over the past few years, though, I’ve made myself reach out to at least one new creative partner who I think may be beyond my reach every year, and it has always been worth it. Making that leap on an annual basis has helped me grow my business, my self confidence and my network of amazing connections.
4. Send Handwritten Thank You Notes
Ah, the lost art of the thank-you note. So often we receive thank-you emails or texts, but our world has strayed so far away from the classic handwritten thank-you note that, on the rare occasion I do receive one, it means so much more to me. An easy way to stand out with your clients and creative partners is to take the time to write them a handwritten note—whether you’re thanking them for something specific, or are just writing to let them know how awesome they are in general.
5. Increase Your Pricing...Even The Smallest Amount
Every year I push myself to increase my pricing. When you run your own business, after all, it’s up to you (and only you) to give yourself a raise—a step that’s absolutely necessary when it comes to keeping up with inflation and the cost of living. I hate to admit this, but I only charged $3,000 for the first full-service wedding I planned! Ten years later, my minimum for full planning is now $15,000. (It was $10,000 in 2017.) In 2018, I am going to take a leap of faith and increase my minimum a bit more and see what happens. I am a firm believer that what you put out there, you will get back (probably part of my yogi mindset). The bottom line is this: if you don’t value your own work, how can you expect others to? I challenge you to increase your value this year and see what amazing clients and epic weddings you receive in return.
6. Create a Mastermind Group
I was listening to the Think and Grow Rich audiobook by Napoleon Hill (thanks to my husband’s recommendation), and he talks a lot about creating a mastermind group. I absolutely love this idea, because one of the main reasons my company is where it is today is thanks to a “mastermind group” we created of like-minded wedding planners back in the day. That mastermind group—without me even knowing it—contained some of my top performing employees and my now business partner, Heather. I can not begin to tell you how beneficial something like this could be for your business. Connecting with others costs you only your time, and that’s a small investment to make for such large returns. Like-minded creatives and planners will teach you new things, hold you accountable and give you a sense of community!
Overall, I encourage you to embrace challenges, sharpen skill sets and make new connections (even intimidating ones) in the New Year. You—and only you—know what’s best for your business, though, so I invite you take the above 6 resolutions and tailor any one (or all) of them to work for you and your business. Cheers to a 2018 full of growth and success!