As Tracey mentioned in her article titled “Advice I Wish I Had When I First Started” a few days ago, WPIC Inc. is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year! I got certified through a US-based course back in 1999 and started my wedding planning company, The Wedding Planners, at the end of 1999/beginning of 2000.
The wedding industry in Canada was very, very different back then. The movie, The Wedding Planner, hadn’t come out yet, so people really had no idea what a wedding planner even was. There were 3 wedding planning services listed in the Toronto Yellow Pages (including me), and I was the ONLY wedding planner company listed in search engines on the internet for all of Canada until 2002! I was truly on my own when I first started out and there was no one to ask for advice.
Here is some advice I wish I had when I first started:
- Get out and network. Go to the Industry Nights, the venue Open Houses, and the Wedding Pro Meetups.
- Get good Professional Headshots and Working Shots done regularly! You wouldn’t believe how many times I was asked for a working photo to include with a Media Interview and I didn’t have any! No one EVER takes photos of the Wedding Planner behind the scenes, so you have to get those photos. (This is why we started the WPIC Headshot Extravaganzas 12 years ago so our Alumni would have those photos. Our most recent one was in June.)
- Never Stop Learning. Your education is never finished and you should be improving yourself all the time. For yourself, your clients, and your business. If you feel lacking in any area of business or skill, there are many conferences, webinars, networking events, and courses available.
- You have to make money to stay in business. If you aren’t making money, you just have an expensive hobby. Read that again!
- Work/Life Balance is going to be very challenging. You need to have boundaries set like working blocks and family blocks. Establish office hours (that you stick to!) so clients are not expecting access to you 24/7.
- Resist Imposter Syndrome! It is very easy to feel inadequate or like an imposter when you are seeing amazing events posted on Social Media all the time. Tune in to hear Tracey and I talk about this and how to overcome Imposter Syndrome at the Book More Weddings Online Summit happening next week. Here is a link to FREE ticket!
- No one deserves to be put on a pedestal. Often when you are starting out you look to other famous or successful planners in aww. The unfortunate thing about putting someone on a pedestal is that they can only go down. I have met every single “famous” planner I’ve ever looked up to, often we have hired them as speakers for our WPIC Conferences. And yes, they are awesome, but remember they are also human with their own pressures and insecurities. You can admire their work but don’t expect them to be a God. That is way too much pressure on them, and can only lead to disappointment for you.
- Keep good records. There are two ways to keep your business records: throw every single receipt and invoice into a box and then turn it over to your bookkeeper, and then to the accountant at tax time, or keep great organized records to turn over to your accountant. I used to do the former, but I ended up paying so much money in bookkeeping/sorting fees, I soon realized it’s cheaper, smarter, neater, and takes less space, to just have an organized accordion file and sort as the invoices come in.
- Keep your ego in check. Sometimes planners can get a lot of industry or media attention right away. Or perhaps they find the perfect niche and get a lot of business. Don’t let that go to your head. Stay centered, stay kind, and stay approachable. The biggest trend lately has been planners claiming to be self-taught, when we know for a fact that isn’t true 😉 Sure, you got experience on the job and found your own way of running your business, but remember your roots, where you came from, and who helped you get there. It REALLY isn’t a flex to say you are self-taught.
- There is no such thing as luck. Building a business takes hard work and utilizing the opportunities put in front of you. WPIC provides many opportunities for planners to improve themselves and their businesses. We offer conferences, continued education courses, webinars, the WPIC Facebook Group, access and discounts to other conferences, and even this blog. There are a wealth of resources available to you. You just need to seize the opportunities for growth and implement the knowledge and resources available to you.
We hope you can learn from our experience and maybe suffer a few less growing pains! Happy Anniversary WPIC!