It’s been a year for the books!
Like I mentioned in my last blog post, I am celebrating my business anniversary next week! I really don’t know how it happened. I mean, it’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since I brought my business to Georgia from that lone star state. Never in a million years did I think that I would be where I am today. While my first year establishing my business in a new place hasn’t always been easy, I have definitely learned so much over this past year. My hope is that I can share with you what I’ve learned to help anyone else who may find themselves going through a transition such as this down the road.
If you have any more tips that you’d like to share with my readers, I’d love for you to leave a comment!
How I Built a Business in a New Place + What I Learned
Do Your Research on the Market.
When it comes to starting a business or moving your business to a new place, I don’t think I could emphasize enough on the importance of doing your research. The awesome thing is that this is something that you can start on even before you move! (Thank you, Internet!) Every market and every location is different when it comes to finding your client. Especially in the wedding industry, you need to ask yourselves some questions:
- How big is the industry there?
- How are the styles of weddings different here? (Yes, I promise weddings from the midwest are very different in style from Atlanta or NYC!)
- How much are people spending on weddings?
- What are people paying for services like yours- and what are they getting for those prices?
Doing some research before you even get there will alleviate some stress of deciding where you want to position yourself in the market when you arrive. I found myself doing this while I was debating on whether or not to open my business in Atlanta. You can be amazed at what you find out about a place. For example, a big thing I learned about Atlanta was that summer weddings can be slim here while fall weddings are huge. Meanwhile back in Texas, everyone wants to get married in the summer! (And it’s even hotter there!)
Do It Right.
My philosophy with everything I do in life is to do it right or don’t do it at all. Over the past year, I’ve had the chance to meet a lot of people also in the process of building their business. Things were picking up fast, and soon they were left wondering how to back track and make their business legal for when they have to pay taxes.
Take the time and do the research on what you need to do to set up your business legally and properly. Getting a business license is as simple as a trip down to your county courthouse. Setting up an LLC is as simple as going to your state government’s website. Protect yourself, and get legal before you take on clients!
Your Brand is So Much More Important Than You Think.
It’s no secret that people interact with people, things, and businesses that resonate with them on a personal level. Like the wise woman Jasmine Star has once said, your brand is a set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that account for a consumer’s decision to choose your service over another.
Think of it like this. There are a lot of amazing wedding planners, photographer, calligraphers, and designers in this world. However, if you were a bride having to choose one over the other with the same qualifications, which one will they choose? They’d most likely choose the one they liked or related to the most, right? It’s just human nature. If your business doesn’t resonate with couple, what will make them choose you over the next person? It’s much easier to ask for a sale when they are already invested in your brand and are excited about what you have to offer.
Invest in Education.
I can honestly say this one of the best things I did for myself this past year was invest in education for myself. With starting or building up your business in a new place, it’s going to be slow at first. Take advantage of this lull in your calendar by investing in bettering yourself and your business. Do your research for workshops that are truly worth the investment and focus on what you need to grow yourself and your business.
If you’re a wedding planner who is not yet certified, I recommend getting your certification through The Bridal Society! I can promise that, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned planner, there’s something for everyone with the course. Not only did I learned so much, I have been given such amazing community and opportunities through the organization.
Network, Network, Network.
When I say network, I actually mean build community. Like John F. Kennedy said, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” When entrepreneurs help each other, instead of tearing at weaknesses, industries revolutionize and grow. When it comes to starting and building your business in a new place, who you call your competition can actually be your greatest asset.
Instead of going into business relationships wondering what you can get from other people, think of what you can offer of value to them in their life and business. By focusing on giving rather than taking, you will start to stick out in people’s minds. Genuine relationships in a creative industry start with deeper connections than just surface level. It’s about getting to know the stories and people behind the businesses.
I remember when I moved to Atlanta scared thinking, “How exactly am I suppose to be meeting people with no connections in a city that I had been to only a handful of times prior?” I felt like the creepy new girl who started following all these local creatives on social media, constantly commented and liked their work without ever meeting them in person. It wasn’t until one day when Linda of Linda Threadgill Photography sent me a message on Instagram and completely forced me out of my comfort zone. We met up for coffee and immediately hit it off. Actually, we talked for three and a half hours!
To this day I cherish the friendship I have with Linda, and I’ve grown so much since that day a year ago. Now I can say I LOVE meeting new people over coffee chats. (and they rarely are ever shorter than a couple hours!)
All that to say this: Don’t be afraid to just reach out to people. The worst they could say is no!
Create Your Tribe.
There are moments in life when you need those people who push, pull, and believe in you, even when you don’t believe in yourself. One of the things I’ve loved getting to do over this past year is build relationships with other professionals on a deeper level. Being an entrepreneur is so much more fun and rewarding when you have a tribe full of people who you can work alongside and fill each other’s gaps to help bring dreams to life.
With my heart for hosting and a brand that reflects that, I love bringing my connections all together, in addition to my one-on-one coffee dates, so that they may be able to make connections with one another. I do this by taking advantage of holidays like Friendsgiving and Galentine’s Day by hosting gatherings where we can gather, put work aside, and fellowship with one another.
Needless to say, you should find local organizations and business groups that you can jump into! I love the national Rising Tide Society. Their local Tuesdays Together chapters that meet once a month are actually where I’ve met most of my connections!
Take Advantage of Hashtags
Location, location, location! You may have heard with a lot of things in life that it’s all about location. Great SEO rankings can feel like one of those things that’s impossible to achieve. But here’s the thing about hashtags, they’re a great opportunity to get connected with your location. By using appropriate hashtags, you further your reach the market. (Even if you’re new!) For example, clients and local vendors searching hashtags like #atlantaweddingplanner or #atlantaweddingphotographer can have a higher chance of finding you than by using traditional Google searches.
One of the biggest things I can say about starting or building your business in a new place is this. No one said entrepreneurship was easy. If they did, they lied to you. If it was so easy, everyone would be hustling like you. Stay focused. Don’t get discouraged. But most importantly, don’t compare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 20. Everyone has to start somewhere. Everyone has their start story.