Many aspiring planners ask me how to build their wedding planning business while they're still working a traditional 9 to 5 job. I tell them that it is entirely possible as long as they plan it well. (Good practice, right? Plan, planner? OK, bad joke!) While starting a wedding planning business on a part time basis may be difficult, it can be successful if you focus on some essentials.
Here are some of the things I feel are important areas of focus while building your business while working full time. Pay special attention to:
Having startup capital that covers your living expenses is a key ingredient anytime you start a business. You can't let your home life suffer while you're building your dream, right? Let's face it...you may not book your first bride right away.
You can operate a wedding planning business on a part time basis as long as you take care to provide yourself enough money to "build" the business. Allocating a portion of your full time job salary will help you to continually grow your business, especially when investing in monthly marketing activities.
Continue to sharpen your expertise with continuing education. Workshops, books and spending time with other more experienced planners are a must. Carve out time in your schedule for each of these on a consistent basis. Set a goal to read at least one business book per month; meet with 2-3 vendors (including other planners) each week and find a workshop or some sort of information sharing event at least 3-4 times per year.
Hands On Experience
Get some experience at real weddings. Either shadow another planner or offer to help friends and family plan their weddings for free or for a nominal fee. It's crucial that you learn what happens at a real event before you take on the planning and coordinating of a paying bride. Weddings are highly emotional events and you must be prepared for all of the things that can go wrong.
Creative and Compelling Marketing
Be creative and intentional about your marketing. The number one marketing activity for new planners is networking! I can't stress this enough. Word of mouth referrals are going to be the best way to build your clientele and to get the word out that you are a wedding planner with a new message. Be different and be bold because if you dont, you'll end up getting lost in a sea of planners.
And attend a variety of networking group events in your community...not just wedding and event related...and start to build the "know, like and trust" factor among the business owners that share your target market. Nail shops, hair salons and spas, popular meeting places for brides like trendy boutiques are great businesses to join forces with. Bridal shows may also be very beneficial if the attendees are in your target market. Learn how to maximize your time at a bridal show and be sure to follow up!
Professional and Precise Systems
Make sure you setup systems to do everything in your business. Attending networking events, educating yourself, etc. will mean nothing if you don't have the right system setup for when you DO get a call from that first bride. Write down and fine tune your client experience. From the moment they first come in contact with you and your brand, until the wedding is over, what is the process? Phone calls, emails, documents and the entire planning process you take your bride through should be written down and followed consistently.
A Plan to Ditch Corporate America
And finally, plan on going full time with planning weddings in twelve to eighteen months. Anymore time than that, and you won't be able to effectively be of service to your growing clientele. Also, you won't be able to spend enough time on activities that grow your business, as described above.
So? Are you ready to make that move?
Wendy is the founder of Aspire to Plan and Before the Bride; a program created to empower and develop wedding planners into wedding industry leaders. She feels there is a need for more business coaching for aspiring wedding planners in order to promote more professionalism in the industry.
After successfully running a wedding planning business for 5 years, Wendy now uses the very principles she learned in corporate America, and in the wedding industry to teach others how to successfully start a wedding planning business.