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!



Kerri Banyas said...

very wise advice...I totally agree with all of it even though some of it I've had to learn the hard way. Great post!

John Pottenger said...

Inspirational, Motivational and Honest. Love it. Thank you Jodi!

*Danielle Josephine* said...

Your post was excellent. I am so sorry you had to learn these lessons the tough way but really appreciate you sharing them. As your #1 Super Fan :) I really admire you for your honesty and your strength! God bless you!!!

@Calisara said...

What an inspiring post, thank you for sharing your struggles with us and valuable tips. Yesterday I received an inquiry from a budding planner, and I shared your post with her, as it gives some food for thought in all areas of our business. Hope 2011 brings you much joy and more well-deserved success.

ben + laura said...

good stuff my friend. well written and well thought through.


fiddlefreak936 said...

After reading this I now know how smart and lucky your husband is. I am so blessed to one of your friends.

~Steve DeJong

Oh Sweet! By Norma Jeans said...

You will be one of the women that have seminars for women who want to start a business...your blog sure rung home for me, and made me take a big step back..and think! Thank you Jodi!

Jodi said...

Norma, that's so kind of you to say. Maybe one day I will take this 'show' on the road! :)

Jen K. said...

Love. And love you.