Wedding decoration is one of those businesses that people choose to do once they believe they have a natural flare for beauty and decorating events. Most event decorators I know (including myself) have a talent when it comes to handling details. As such, you may be tempted to think, just because you have the talent, you require less effort. This brings us to the first lie you tell yourself.
I DON’T NEED HELP. I CAN DO IT ON MY OWN.
Asking for help is not something I do naturally. I need to be in dire need, before I ask for help. And yet doing this business made me realise, I could not handle everything on my own. I needed to build a team. Am sure, when you thought of starting your own business, you saw it as an opportunity to earn your dream salary on your terms, doing something you love and being your own boss. I had exactly the same dream. I did not forsee the bumps I will get along the road. Especially in the beginning. As a decorator, I was amazed at the logistics involved to get the job done. There was no way I could handle everything alone. I had to learn to identify all the skills I needed to complement my job and hire the right people to do it. It might sound easy. But getting the right team members is quite a difficult task. It’s like kissing several frogs before you find the prince. It took me a while to find the right people who understood what my business values stand for.
I DON’T NEED TO FOLLOW BASIC BUSINESS PRINCIPLES
When I started my business all I focused on was my ability to decorate, and tell me entourage that am decorating. In the beginning, I had friends and family asking if I could help out at their events. They did not pay much. In my mind, I needed to grab the opportunity and build a portfolio, which was a good thing. But eventually, when I started getting contacted by actual clients due to recommendations, I had a hard time. Out of 5 clients that contacted me I could barely confirm one client. It was tough. Also, most clients I managed to confirm were wedding out of Douala(where my business is based). Traveling all the time for gigs wasn’t easy. With time I understood what was lacking. It would have helped if I had asked the following questions.
– what are the prices that competitors are offering. After discussing with fellow colleagues I realized I was far off the pricing benchmark.
– What language am I using to promote my art. Cameroon is bilingual and I stuck to communicating in English only. As a result was contacted mostly by anglophone clients based in the south west and North west regions. I had to change that.
– How do I target a client base that can pay appropriately for my services. The wedding decor sector in Cameroon can be stressful to say the least. You’ll get in contact with clients who want huge, expressive, over the top wedding decor, but won’t be willing to pay the cost. Learning how to convince clients of cheaper alternatives (so as not to loose them to competition) was a skill that I had to learn over time.
– What is the statistics of weddings taking place in my community? Having statistics about the number of weddings taking place in my community helped me figure out how to improve on my marketing strategy and increase my client base. If in the council of Douala Vème alone there are up-to 40 weddings done on average every month, then I had to find a way to make sure I decorated at least 5 % of those weddings.
– Where do I see my business in 5 years time? This was a tough question. When I just started. I concentrated on taking the business one step at a time. I did not think too far ahead. But that was a great mistake. You see, having a vision makes you plan ahead of time. If your business does not have a vision, it may as well fail within the first 3 years. Businesses without vision end up being hand to mouth businesses. That is what my business looked like the first year. Every penny I made got spent doing something. I say something because I don’t remember what thing exactly. I was just excited I was making my own money on my terms and I did not really think of what I needed to do to grow my business. After that first year, I realised something had to change. I drew a business plan. I clearly defined my business’s Mission, Vision, and Motto. I asked myself the following questions: What do I need to do to be different from others? How can I market my business better? What makes me stand out from other decor businesses? how do I make sure my business continuously improves? And I started building. I stopped unnecessary expenditure. And I focused on growing the business according to my business plan.
HAVING A WORK-LIFE BALANCE WILL BE EASY.
One of the reasons I was excited about having my own business was because I wanted to be able to have time to do other stuff, that I knew I won’t be able to do if I worked for someone. I believed that somehow, instead of having the obligation to wake up every morning at 5 am, I could choose at what time to wake up in the morning. Then go about my chill-cool business. After all, I enjoy decorating, so why will it stress me. I was so wrong. There were days when I barely slept for one week straight. It was stressful. The only thing was that I actually enjoyed this stress. I wS stressing on my terms. I was doing something I had chosen and loved to do.
So, you should understand that work-life balance would not be easy. But if you absolutely LOVE what you do, you’ll figure out a way to make it happen.