I don’t see myself as an expert in business, Mark Zuckerberg or Richard Branson I am not! However for the majority of my working life I have been self-employed. From running my own design and dressmaking business, twice once in Stoke-on-Trent and the other in Nottingham to free-lance writing, to managing the door in various nightclubs, to running my own club promotion and flyering business, to dancing (yes dancing I know it was a long time ago) to a wedding and event planner and now as a wedding and lifestyle. I have been self-employed a long time……so maybe actually I am an expert!?!
I have made a A LOT of mistakes but I have also learnt a hell of a lot along the way. Today I want to discuss where I am at the moment, how my business has moved on and how it has changed in the past 4 – 5 years.
I’d also love to hear your thoughts and have your impute as we go along. I’m hoping that people may learn a little from me so if anyone one else wants to join in feel free to add your thoughts and wisdom along the way!
I noticed after the first/second year of business that once you have set up and you are up and running that there isn’t really that much help out there for you, I guess by year two people expect you to know what you are doing. There is so much help out there for start-up businesses, personally I spent a good 6 months attending workshops, talks and lessons on every area of business going, and after that a good year or two attending networking events. But as I began to get busy I just couldn’t fit all this extra leaning and networking into my day. My days got busier and I started to work longer hours, often right into the early hours. Before I knew it in year two I was working 90-100 hours a week, often not finishing till 2am and starting again at 9am……….7 days a week.
I dug my heels in took on every booking I could, started taking sponsors on the wedding blog and I tried as hard as I could to make my business a success.
I immersed myself in social media, and lived and breathed my work. I had to do everything in my power to get my name out there for the Boho Brand to be seen.
And that I believe I did!
At the beginning it seemed to be a competition I measured my success on how busy I was………but now times have changed!
I am now in my 5th year of running Boho Weddings and now Boho Life. I now work 70 hours a week and finish my day at 9pm instead of 2am and I have a full day off! I’m making enough money to be comfortable, not rich, I still have a long way to go, but I can pay the bills and I have savings!! (not much but still!)
So what has changed in 5 years?
I was talking with some other wedding professionals not long ago and we all said the same thing. We were all a good few years into our business and the underlying theme seemed to be the same. Work less, and enjoy life more.
We all seem to be in a position where we are trying all we can to streamline our business, to free up our time so we can get back some sort of life! We all enjoy our work but our work isn’t our lives. I realise now success isn’t managed by how busy you are, it’s how you manage your time. I think I am part way there but I still have a long way to go.
So how do you cut back on work when your work is what drives you and what pays the bills?
These are a few things I have learnt………
Take on fewer bookings but more of the right bookings
In the last couple of years I have really cut down on the amount of weddings and events I plan per year. In my first couple of years I took on a crazy amount of bookings, but didn’t charge enough. It wasn’t until I gained more experience that I was able to value my services more and so put my prices up, so allowing me to take on fewer bookings per year.
With this I have been able to pick and choose which bookings I do take on and make sure they are the right sort fop the brand
Less time on social media
Social media is great, but my God it can suck every last bit for your soul if you’re not careful! I LIVED on twitter when I first started out but now I find I don’t have that much to say. For the majority of my day I am just behind my computer so nothing particularly exciting to report there and if I am doing something socially, the last thing I want to be doing is tweeting about it. Social media for me is mainly a work tool.
You learn how to say no
I get asked to do so many things, invitations to events, launches and shows, collaborations, new projects. At the beginning I was flattered every time I got asked and said yes, but as time moved on I realised that I couldn’t say yes to everything and it wasn’t until I learnt to say no that I freed up more my time. Pick wisely and only do the things that are going to benefit you and your business.
Make sure you have industry friends
As much as I love keeping up with my old friends and enjoying a social life, I have also found it important to have industry friends, who I can chat with, drink with and who can offer advice. I love my friends outside of the industry but a lot of them really don’t get what it is I do. They have no idea about blogging and what it all entails. That’s why it’s import to have a circle of industry friends who you trust to bounce ideas off and who can empathise with you. These industry friends have in turn become as important to me as my non industry friends.
Don’t feel guilty taking time off
I think the most important thing I have learnt recently is not to feel guilty about taking time off! Again this goes back to success not being measured by the amount of hours you work, it’s not a competition! I used to look at the people who worked the longest hours as being the successful ones, but now I look up to those people who have got the work life balance thing sussed. These people running a successful business but still enjoying their weekends or days off!
Don’t be made to feel that you HAVE to work every hour! Life is for living after all!
In short, in my 5 years of business there have been many ups and downs. I have worked my butt off to get to where I am, from the wedding planning to the wedidng blog and now this new blog! However I now feel that I need to streamline a bit, to appreciate what is around me. My priorities have shifted I guess. I still love running Boho but I also appreciate the other things around me, my friends, my family, my devoting husband and soon our brand new baby boy!
So those 70 hours I am currently working will soon become 40 hours. You know like normal people do!
I’d love to hear from you if you are in business, are you in your first year? How are you finding it? Have you been going for a while now? How have you found the transition from start up to being established? Do you find that your priorities have changed or shifted at all?
If there are any other subjects you would like me to cover in my business musings posts, or if you would like to write for the blog yourself, email me on [email protected]