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Building Your Business While Working for Someone Else
By Tonia Adleta, PBC™, Aribella Events, Hockessin, Del.

Tonia Headhsot Syed higresYour alarm is ringing, already. It’s morning again, and you’re wondering where last week went, much less yesterday. Before your feet even hit the floor, your mind flips between the to-do list for your business—update website, write blog post, schedule lunch with the new venue coordinator, RSVP for the upcoming LNG meeting—and the to-do list for your “day job”—reply to boss’ email(s), compile and submit last month’s expense report by 2 p.m., when was that meeting scheduled for again?

Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. And engaging in entrepreneurship while still working for someone else requires an extra dose of stamina and smarts.  If you’re among the many budding wedding professionals who are trying to balance their lives while burning the candle at both ends, lean in for four quick tips from those who have been where you are now.

1. “Take this job and….”
Odds are high that your mind finished that sentence quickly, perhaps with added emphasis, by adding the phrase “shove it.” Instead, I’d suggest that you add “love it.” Often, part-time entrepreneurs become frustrated that they haven’t reached some level of independence through their own business yet and begin to resent their day job. This sets you up to become disengaged and perform poorly. In short, it won’t make you a candidate for “employee of the month.” Once you start celebrating the things your day job allows you to do—like provide for your family, create capital for your business, offer daily interaction with others, etc.—your attitude will begin to shift to a place of gratitude. Look for the hidden benefits that are a “win” for you as a wedding professional and your employer. For example, check with your human resources department about getting first aid and CPR training. Motivational speaker Brian Tracy says it best, “Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.” It all starts with gratitude.

2. Act with integrity.
Shay Freeman, MBC™, Bells & Bows, Little Rock, Ark., succinctly sums up her advice in one word, “Integrity.”  Only you can know the political climate of your day job and whether or not you can afford to be vocal about your love for all things wedding. Even if you can feel free to talk about your business at work, recognize that you are there to earn a paycheck and perform to the best of your abilities for your employer. And if a client or fellow wedding professional asks you if you work full-time, and you do, answer honestly. Odds are high that you work more than 40 hours a week on your business and that your employment requires skills that cross over into your business. Use that in your reply. For example, “Yes, in addition to working full-time on (name of your business,) I’m also a financial analyst, so you know your budget is in good hands with me.” Among your wedding industry peers, vulnerability and openness regarding your employment could go a long way in solidifying friendships, creating partnerships, and sharing “working smart” tips as you build your businesses together. Consider looking for internships in markets other than your own. Make an effort to attend national conferences, which make great forums to find mentors from whom you can learn and others in similar situations with whom to network.

3. Know Yourself and Know Your “Why.”
We all know how exhausting entrepreneurship can be, especially in the wedding and special events industries. It’s simply not sustainable to tear down a wedding at 12:47 a.m. and be working toward “inbox zero” at 5:02 a.m. the next morning, week in and week out. When you add a 20-40+ hour per week job, along with family or community involvement, it’s easy to see why we have such a high turnover rate. What motivates you to do what you do? What is the goal you are working so hard to achieve? Identify your “why” and post it somewhere visible so you can draw inspiration from your goals as needed. Christopher Confero of Christopher Confero Designs in Birmingham, Ala., adds, “Know what you want and how to position yourself accordingly.” Be reasonable with yourself and your expectations, but don’t be afraid to go after your goals.

4. Define Success
Clear your mind for a moment and ask one question, “How do I define success?” Forget about the traditional expectations, set aside the voices in your head that sound an awful lot like your parents, and answer the question for yourself. If you’re stuck, look to Ralph Waldo Emerson: “To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.  This is to have succeeded!” Is it possible that you’re already living a successful life, but you just haven’t realized it yet because you’re using someone else’s definition?

This article is the first of a two-part series, “Burning the Candle at Both Ends.”  The November/December issue of Wedding Planner Magazine will include part II, practical tips in transitioning to your business full-time.

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