7 Ways To Grow Your Wedding Business
Do you want to know the secret to success? You're not going to like it. The secret is hard work, doing the right things and a little bit of luck. How do I know this? Because it is what has worked for me and for every other successful business person I know.
There are lots of people out there telling you how to 'get rich quick', sharing the 'secret to success', allowing you in to their amazing 18 step program to boost your income to 6 figures in 4 weeks (for a relatively large sign up fee) but, if you dig down into any of these supposed miracle programs, what they ultimately boil down to is: doing the right things and working hard. They always have a wonderful looking front person who has overnight managed to become a millionaire but in reality, how many people do you know who have a story like this? Every successful business owner I know has worked incredibly hard to make their business a success. To other people, it often appears as though they are an overnight success because they suddenly appear all over the place and are apparently doing really well, but behind the scenes, what you haven't seen are the months and years of hard work that have gone into this now, wonderful business.
When I first started my business over two and a half years ago I met with the fabulous queen of weddings, Pamella Dunn, and I asked her that very question: 'what is the key to success?' in the hope that she would tell me some magic words that would suddenly grow my business, or perhaps say 'hire this person and they will make it happen' or maybe just wave her wand and all would be well. In reality I knew what she was going to say before the words left her mouth: 'hard work, hard work, hard work'. Damn! I was hoping this was going to be easy! Well if there's one thing I can do, it is work hard. So off I trotted, with this mantra in mind and not a clue of what I was letting myself in for becoming a business owner. Nearly three years, thousands of late nights, early mornings and countless tears later, I have built a business that is relatively successful. It definitely wasn't/isn't easy. My friends are now practically strangers who I see on occasion, my poor husband has forgotten what I look like and I can't do anything without my business cogs clicking away in my head. I have become business obsessed. It has taken me becoming some sort of multi-tasking, constantly planning, mistake making, tenacious, always learning robot to actually make my business work.
So today, in the last of our Business Takeover Week posts, I thought I'd share with you, what I believe are the best ways to grow your business. Please note, there is no quick fix, but what I would say is, having put in your blood, sweat and tears, growing your own business is hugely rewarding and allows you to demonstrate to yourself and the world just how amazing you are.
Seven 'Grow Your Business' Tips
1. Get focused - this has to be the start point. What does your business do? Answer this question in one sentence. You need to have a clear, concise overall focus that you and your business are working towards - your mission statement. Often, as a business owner, it is easy to get pulled in lots of directions and try to do everything. This can lead to you not really doing anything as you're trying to be everything to everyone and it's simply not possible. By having a key focus, knowing who your target audience are and catering to them will mean you can put all your time and effort into serving that audience. They will then pay for your services/items because you are good at what you do and you have a clear brand. Clients will not invest in a business where they're not really sure where their expertise lies. If you make amazing macarons, do that, shout about it, be the best in the business, don't try to become someone who also does everything else. This is a slippery road that will lead you to becoming unclear about what your business does, and even more worryingly, will leave your clients unclear. By all means offer further services/items once you have established your business and diversify then, but definitely at the start, you need to have a clear 'thing that you do well' so that people are happy to invest in you and your business.
Once you have your overall mission statement you then need to break this down into smaller goals and actions. What do you need to do to achieve your mission statement? Think long term, medium term and short term. Write down your goals and then write a list of actions underneath, things you need to do to make that goal happen. People often want something to happen but don't get clear on what they need to do to achieve it. They are too vague. You must know what steps to take in order to achieve your goal.
For example, a goal might be:
- to grow your Instagram following to 5,000 followers
The actions needed to achieve this might be:
- post to Instagram once a day
- download app to edit photos so they have a consistent look
- like and comment on three accounts a day
- network like crazy by joining an Instagram pod and attending at least one networking event a month
You therefore have clear steps you need to take to achieve your goal. Before you know it you will be achieving each goal and moving on to the next - et voilà! You're on your way to a successful business!
2. Get organised - Once you know where you're going and what you need to do to get there, you now need to get organised. Having a diary or app that helps keep you on track is a great idea, not to mention you can now get some really pretty business organisers! Organising your time, and that of anyone who works for you is so important as it means that your business time will always be productive. If you don't have a list of daily, weekly, monthly tasks it can be easy to get distracted or end up working on something that isn't actually relevant to your business or achieving your goals.
As well as this, writing down your goals and tasks keeps you accountable and motivated. Two things that are sometimes difficult to achieve if you work on your own.
3. Get thrifty - For most small business owners, money is an issue. Both asking for it (we're very British and don't like saying 'pay me for that'!) and also having to spend it. When I started my business I had no marketing budget or money to invest in a website etc, I had just started, no-one was paying me for anything as I had nothing to offer at that point and I didn't want to go to the bank. So I had to get clever about what I was spending and where. I set myself a very limited weekly budget which had to cover all costs including the website, marketing material, online marketing etc. Because of this I went on the hunt for anything that could help grow my business and was free. Enter social media.
Social media is a brilliant marketing tool for any business but is particularly great for small businesses as it is free (or at least relatively cheap). You can set up a business Facebook page, Instagram account, Pinterest page, Twitter account, the list goes on and it's all for free. Obviously you can then promote posts which does cost money but you are in control of how much you spend. Lots of businesses have successfully used social media to grow their business, Carrie Green from the Female Entrepreneur Association is a perfect example. She grew her business by focusing her marketing on Facebook and has since built an amazingly successful and thriving business.
A few things I would say about using social media to promote your business: firstly, as mentioned above, pick a focus, don't try to do everything. If you want to have every social media account available then that is up to you, but just be aware that this can use your time that might be better spent on your actual business, rather than trying to keep nine different accounts up to date. My advice is to use one or two platforms with real focus. If you own a wedding photography business and you are selling yourself through your images then perhaps Instagram would be the best resource for you, if you are a style led business then it may be that Pinterest would work well for you and your clients, or it might be that having the interactive capabilities of Facebook would work best for your venue business. There is no right or wrong as to which platform you should use but do think carefully about what serves both yourself and your clients the best.
If possible, use a social media scheduling tool. There are loads of free ones available, such as Hootsuite or Buffer. We use Meet Edgar which is a paid tool and allows you to stream posts so our social media outlets always have content. We combine this with posts that we do ourselves so that our platforms are still 'social', personal and we are able to engage with our followers.
My final tip for using social media is this, most platforms are all about the images. Having good images of your products/services is a must. People will engage with your posts if they look good. Use social media as part of your brand and take as much care and attention over it as you would any other aspect of your business.
Want some other ways to get thrifty?
- Network, get out there, speak to people, tell them about what you do. There's nothing better than word of mouth.
- Say 'yes' to opportunities, whether it be being involved in a photo shoot or helping out at a wedding fair.
- Make the most of offers and discount codes. If you need marketing materials or a new website, find a company that has an offer on. Shop around and see whether you can negotiate on price.
4. Get consistent - This is so important, I cannot overemphasise this. You must be consistent in what you do. Whether it be social media, blogging, the quality of your work, the items you produce, your customer service, your brand, every aspect of your business should be maintained. This builds up trust with your clients who will know what they are getting from you. It also helps to give you a good reputation within the industry.
So often business owners will try something for a few weeks or months and then decide it hasn't worked. There aren't many things in life or business that work so quickly, give it time. If it clearly isn't working then by all means stop what you're doing and change it, but when you decide to take action, you must keep at it. Our Facebook group for business owners is a perfect example. When we first set it up there were only a few people in it. I would post every day, some days people would engage and comment on my post but often they wouldn't. At times I felt like I was talking to an empty room - but, I persevered and kept consistent. The group now has over 500 fabulous business owners in it and is a hive of activity. I wanted to create a space for talented people to come together, be creative, be positive, be supportive and ultimately grow their businesses. I've achieved this due to keeping consistent - I still post in the group every day.
5. Get giving - you must provide value to your clients. It goes without saying that people are only going to buy what you do if you do it well. Think about who your ideal client is, how are you going to give them what they need? Obviously the item or service that you sell is a big part of answering this question but there are other things you need to consider. Think about customer service, go the extra mile, do something special.
Talk, talk, talk! How are you going to keep your client up to date? Communication is such a big thing, especially in the wedding world. Most of your clients are brides and grooms-to-be who are often stressed, trying to manage and coordinate a number of different businesses. By keeping them up to date you are saving them time, stress and worry - they're not wondering what is going on because you have let them know every step of the way what you are doing and how amazing it is.
By giving clients a wonderful service/item and experience you are benefiting your business. They will tell their friends, they will share your creation on social media, they will leave you a fabulous review, all of which is generating further business. By giving, you will get it back in bucket loads - karma is a great thing!
6. Get a tribe - there's nothing better than having a group of lovely people all of whom like what you do, are there for you and support you. At the beginning this is usually your friends and family. Share your business with them and ask them to share it with their friends. Before long you will build up a loyal band of supporters who will like your posts, share your blog articles and often will buy from you too!
As well as building up your fanbase it's a good idea to network with like-minded business owners. You can do this through our Facebook group or via the many business and entrepreneurial groups that are out there. This is beneficial in so many ways: you can gain support and advice from experts in the industry. There is someone to listen to you on bad days. You have people to keep you accountable and motivated. They are there to shout about your achievements and pick you up after your falls. It helps to stop loneliness - having a tribe is worth it's weight in gold.
7. Get learning - 'I can't do it'. So many times I hear people say this in business and it is this phrase that is stopping them from achieving success. If you can't do something, learn. If you can't learn, pay someone else to do it, but not being able to do something should never be a reason not to take action. Whether it be learning how to photograph your items well or how to use Google Ads, there are courses and youtube videos out there that will teach you pretty much anything. You have no excuse. Learn, learn, learn and you (and your business) will grow.
Hand in hand with this is allowing yourself to make mistakes. We often see doing something wrong as a failure, but actually it is you learning what works and what doesn't. What matters here is what you do after you have made a mistake, the value comes in learning from it. So pick yourself up, evaluate what happened and think about how you can get it right/improve next time.
All our journeys are unique but together we can create truly amazing things by setting our sights high and taking action. It's a roller coaster - but you've got to love it!
Please do share your comments, tips and business pages below, we'd love to hear from you.
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