Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Have You Got a Friend?

I love friends.

I love having them and being one. I love how they challenge me. How they make me laugh. And how they comfort my pain.

I love how they lift me up. How they cheer me on. And how they always have my back. My friendships are truly one of the greatest blessings of my life.

But, there's one friendship in particular that I have grown to depend on and love. That's the friendship I share with another event planner who also works in the luxury market.

Why has this friendship become so important to me? Because there is no one who knows better the challenges I face on a daily basis. Or the joy I feel when the client says, 'Thank You!' at the end of an amazing night. She's a sounding board of reason. A grief counselor. And a fan. She's an amazing dynamo in her own right. And she's my event planner friend.

Too often event planners can be caddy, territorially and unkind to one another. So, finding that 'someone' you click with is sometimes like finding a needle in a haystack. But, there is no greater comfort to me than being able to pick up the phone and call my event planner friend and say, 'Hey, how would you handle this situation?'

I want to encourage each one of you to find that kind of friend within your industry; be it photography, floral, pastry, etc. Spend time developing that friendship and leaning on one another. No one will know better what to say to you in both good times and bad than that special friend who knows your job as well as you!


PS - Thank you for being my event planner friend, Lish!

Monday, January 17, 2011

The General Contractor

Hello. My name is Jodi. And I'm a General Contractor. If you're an event planner and you're reading this post, you're a General Contractor, too. And you're responsible for all of those sub-contractors you've hired to get the job of a 'wedding' done.

Chances are, some of you have never thought of yourselves this way. But, you are. And with that title, you've earned yourself a whole lot of responsibility. And liability. Yes, that's right. You are liable for your vendor recommendations. Let me say that again. You ARE liable for the vendors you recommend. And should you have a client that isn't pleased with the way a vendor performed at an event, you better be ready to open your pocketbook up and reimburse your client for a mistake that had absolutely nothing to do with you!

Why am I telling you this? Because, I learned the hard way that when a vendor screws-up and makes a client unhappy, the General Contractor gets to pay. And pay handsomely I did. But, my job is to keep my client happy. And my client had every right to be angry about the way the vendor performed. This vendor failed my client and was unwilling to make it right. Yes, it's mind boggling. But, there are vendors out there with no integrity that have no problem watching the General Contract {that's me!} take the heat for their mistakes. And then pay through the nose for it.

If you're new to the business or thinking about going out on your own, have you stopped to think about the amount of risk and liability you take on as someone recommending vendors? Even if you aren't signing contracts on behalf of your clients, did you know that your professional recommendations do, in fact, hold you legally liable in the face of vendor failure? Are you prepared to assume that risk?

They say there are many costs to doing business. This is one of those costs for us event planners. And if I had to guess, I bet there are a lot of you who have never thought through this. If you're one of those individuals, run, don't walk, to an insurance agency. Tell them what you do and that you need to protect yourself in the face of vendor failure. The future of your business may depend on that coverage!


Thursday, January 13, 2011

10 Things I Learned in 2010

It's hard to believe we're already 13 days into 2011! Where did 2010 go? The year feels like a bit of a blur to me. So many things happened in 2010. Some good and some bad. But all-in-all, it was a great year with a lot of blessings and a whole lot of 'lesson's learned'.

I thought it would be nice to share with you the Top 10 Things I Learned in 2010. From the standpoint of business ownership, 2010 was the toughest year to date. February marked the four-year anniversary of In Any Event by Jodi Bos. And with it came challenges that have shaped me into a better business woman.

I will admit, the past year has changed who I am and the generous spirit I once had. My husband says that's good. But it does sadden me because it doesn't feel like 'me.' But what I have discovered is that who I am as a business woman can be a little different than who I am as a business owner. Business and personal must be kept separate. And admittedly, I have blurred those lines for too many years.

So, with all of that said, let's take a look back at the Top 10 of 2010. My hope is that you, as event professionals and business owners, can learn from some of the mistakes I've made and save yourself a whole lot of grief in the end.

  1. I WISH I HAD LISTENED MORE CLOSELY TO MY HUSBAND - I can think of 4 situations that occurred this year that my husband warned me would happen if I didn't make changes. Image my horror when I had to tell him, 'You were right!' on four separate occasions! The words tasted like vinegar but in every instance, he deserved to hear them. The cool thing about my husband is that he thinks with the left side of his brain and I think with the right. Instead of fighting his advice, I learned I need to celebrate the fact that together, we're thinking with a full brain!

  2. A CIRCLE OF THOSE YOU CAN TRUST NEEDS TO BE REALLY SMALL - Don't allow too many people to become intimately involved in or have knowledge of your inner-company workings. You'll be awfully hurt/mad when you get seriously burned. And it will ruin relationships.

  3. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A ROCKIN' ATTORNEY - If you could see my attorney bills from 2010, you'd want to cry. Things I thought would never happen did, in fact, happen. My attorney was always calm, in control and had my best interest at heart. He gave me amazing advice. Tightened the screws on some things that were a little too lose and became a member of that really small circle of trust I mentioned above. Does it stink that I shelled out thousands of dollars to him this year regarding numerous issues? It does. But, he was worth his weight in gold if only to help me re-focus on running my business and not letting it run me.

  4. MAKE SURE YOU'VE GOT ALL THE NECESSARY INSURANCE COVERAGE - You can't anticipate the crazy things that might happen. So you better have a lot of liability coverage AND worker's compensation coverage. Here's a great example. I have my staff running errands for the business all the time. If one of them gets in an accident running to one of our vendor's offices, In Any Event is liable. Doesn't matter if they're contract or employee-status. Make sure you are FULLY covered!

  5. DON'T EMPLOY YOUR FRIENDS - Let me repeat this. Do NOT hire friends. Feelings will get hurt and friendships will be ruined. Trust me when I say this, I thought I was above this sage advice when it came to hiring friends. But I learned the hard way that I wasn't. Keep your business separate from your personal.

  6. ONLY HIRE VENDORS THAT ARE FINANCIALLY HEALTHY - The question begs itself; how do you know they're healthy? The answer isn't easy because it's not like you can ask a potential vendor to open their books up for you. So, hire those who have been in business for a while. Hire those who have good references. Hire those who can prove to you they have coverage. Ask new vendors how they would resolve conflict and/or compensate if a client is not happy. At the end of the day, if you are not hiring stable companies and you're the one signing contracts on behalf of your clients, you're going to end up compensating an unhappy client for a mistake caused by a vendor!

  7. TREAT THE HIRING OF PEOPLE WHO WORK FOR YOU VERY SERIOUSLY -Check references, check references and check references! In the words of my husband, 'People don't get fired from jobs because they were good.'

  8. DON'T GET CAUGHT UP IN THE POLITICS OF THE INDUSTRY - 'Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.' Whoever came up with that saying was an idiot because words DO hurt. They hurt really bad. Stay above the fray. Remove yourself from situations that only cause you anxious feelings and an unsettled heart. It's hard enough to run a healthy business in this economy without allowing what others think and say to influence and affect you. I know this is easier said than done. So take baby steps. Stop reading blogs that make you crazy. Don't follow people on twitter who make you feel bad about yourself. Take the power away and you'll instantly start to feel better. I promise, it works! :)

  9. LIVE BELOW YOUR MEANS - I have been fortunate to operate in the black since starting out 4 years ago. I made purchases as I could afford them. I didn't buy a company cargo van until I could write a check for it. The basement of my home is currently under massive construction to accommodate both my planning business and my letterpress invitation business. This, after 4 years of 'making-do' until I could pay cash to make these professional-grade renovations. I'm so glad I did it this way. But I will admit that I did covet beautiful office spaces. And it took everything in me not to jump the gun and over-extend myself. But now I get to have the beautiful work spaces and my business is healthier for not making any rash decisions before I could afford exactly what I wanted.

  10. DON'T THROW THE BABY OUT WITH THE BATH WATER - Some of the situations that I experienced this year were so painful that I wanted to close the doors to the business and 'be done with this crap!' {Yup, those words came out of my mouth about 100 times this year.}But, what I see now, after coming out the other side, is that these challenges were blessings that have smoothed the rough edges of my business. They've made me smarter. They've made me ask different questions. And they've shaped me into a stronger woman. The bathwater can get pretty murky sometimes but the baby is still beautiful and worthy of life!