I can’t believe it!!!! Forté Events turns 10 YEARS OLD on March 19, 2016!!!

In celebration of this momentous occasion, I thought I would share the top 10 truths I’ve learned in the last 10 years of business. I hope this inspires you and I hope you can partake in our joy as we reminisce on social media all month too! #Fortéis10

_MG_9022#10 Get your house in order. Understand financials and get help from people that know how to strengthen your bottom line. Stay out of debt personally and in business. Don’t let others tell you that you need things to be a “real” business if you don’t (offices, furniture, cars, staff, equipment, etc.) I know some types of businesses in our industry require more purchasing of things to survive and grow but do it in such a way that your goal is to be debt free. Commit to it and really do it. When you don’t have the burden of debt hanging over you, you can be free to experiment and be creative. You can donate to your favorite causes and help others. You can be much more profitable since your margins are yours and not going to pay off a bunch of debt. As a creative person, I am not naturally great at bookkeeping/accounting…generally any kind of math but once I learned how to read reports, project sales, and understand my numbers, I became immediately more successful and confident. Now, I enjoy the numbers and I’m not scared of the reports! Creating a sound financial plan and sticking to it will make your business and life so much more enjoyable.

#9 Only work with” perfect” clients. We define what “perfect” clients are for us each year and we only pursue and work with those who fit our criteria. Everyone else we say “no” to…even when we need work…even when it’s hard to say no. We do not budge on this. Working with clients that are not a great fit make for a miserable experience for them and for us. The joy of having your own business is that you can say no…most of us don’t do this often enough and wonder why we are exhausted, unfulfilled, underpaid, under appreciated and not happy. In fact, many companies cannot keep quality employees because they do not “protect” their teams from unfit clients. Moral suffers and the work is no longer fun. On the other hand, perfect clients refer other perfect clients and are fun to work with!

IMG_8324#8 Surround yourself with great mentors. I work with a business consultant, an attorney, and a CPA. I have a network of event professionals I can contact for support whom I’ve befriended over years of conferences and networking. I am also an active member of several professional organizations. I turn to my Husband and my parents for advice and support often. I am painfully aware that I do not know everything. I need support to stay successful and I actively seek it out. This has made all the difference!

#7 Delegate, delegate, delegate! Each of us at Forté Events only works the part of the project that we love and we are good at doing. If I had to do everything (sales, contract negotiations, customer service, logistics, billing, bookkeeping, vendor relations, communications, marketing, on-site event management, travel, networking, admin, speaking, consulting, etc.) I would be non-effective and stressed out! Instead, I delegate as much as I can to the team and I only concentrate on a few areas that I am good at and enjoy. If you never learn to delegate, your company will never grow. Delegating (and I mean hands off once you pass on the task) has allowed each team member to grow in his or her own careers and for me to focus on the bigger picture. I highly recommend it!

DSC_0932#6 Do not make fear based decisions. I could write a whole book on just this one point (don’t worry I won’t do that here). All fear-based decisions made in business will most likely result in failure. For example, money is tight so you decide to work with a client that is not a perfect fit for you; the schedule this month is so hectic, you decide to keep an employee that is not a fit for your team so they can help you finish the workload; you’re afraid an attorney will be expensive so you sign a contract without a professional opinion; you are unsure of the abilities of an industry partner but their price fits in the budget so you hire them despite your reservations. Any of these sound familiar? TRUST YOUR GUT…take your time, research, think before you act and never make decisions out of fear.

#5 Set personal goals vs. business goals. I know this flies in the face of all that is holy in the business world but it has made all the difference in my life. At Forté Events we ask each person to set personal goals: how many hours per week do they want to work? How much money do they want to make this year? How many vacations do they want to take? Are they buying a house? Selling a house? Buying or selling a car? Moving? Having a baby? Pursuing a new hobby? These are the goals we strive to achieve each year and we set the business sales goals to meet these personal milestones. We are focused on our lives not just the business. I set business goals only in 90-day increments. For me, I find 90-day goals more achievable than 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, etc. If I’m achieving everything in each 90-day increment, I’m doing well!

IMG_0517#4 Be a relationship builder. Although a lot of what I do is sales, I don’t like the slimy way some people go about it. I honestly love people. I’m interested in who people are, what they do, what they think, what inspires them, what makes them passionate…what makes them, them. Sadly, I think a lot of people in business are less interested in who people are and are more interested in what they can get from someone else. They are takers and only give what is necessary to bring a desired result. Don’t be like that. Build relationships with people whether they can do anything for you or not. Especially in business…seek out relationships that feed your soul not just you bank account. I believe we are here to find the people we are meant to know…who bring value to our lives. At the end of the day, this is something that matters. Invest in people always.

#3 Be a giver. I speak about this a lot at conferences and classes and I really mean it. I believe a lot of our success as a company is because we are all givers. We give money, time, talent…ourselves. I think many people today are afraid of giving. Afraid they will get nothing in return. Afraid to be vulnerable…especially in business where kindness can be seen as weakness. I’m here to encourage you…that is rubbish. Give of yourself…give everything expecting nothing in return. In the wise words of a great 80’s band, Missing Persons, “…give-when you have anything at all to give. You have everything to live for…after you’ve given all you can, give again give again…”

You’ll have no choice but to be successful and you’ll be a better person too.

IMG_0063#2 Take business risks. I know this might sound redundant since most business owners are risk takers by nature but sometimes it’s easy to fall into patterns and not break out into new opportunities. Nine years ago when a client asked me to produce an event in another state, I said, “yes!” even though I had never planned something remotely. I thought it must be the same as what we had done locally so we stretched and grew. A year later when a client asked if we could produce events overseas, guess what my answer was? Yep…stretched and grew again…now we are experts in international event planning. I try a lot of things…some work and some don’t. It’s costly in time and money but if I don’t keep trying things I might miss out on amazing opportunities for growth. And, let’s face it…after a while business can become boring if you don’t try new and scary things. Take the risk.

#1 I am not the business. I am a person who owns a business but I am not Forté Events. The company is a tool by which I can work in an industry I love with people I respect and projects I enjoy. The company provides the income we all need to live and have a fun life. My identity is not wrapped up in this business. I love the business but it is not who I am, it’s what I do. Because I understand this, it is easier to separate my emotions from business decisions and others’ reactions to our policies, products, services, and culture. A business will come and go. Projects will come and go. Clients will come and go. What’s left? You, your relationships, the memories you’ve made and the wisdom you’ve gained. If the business succeeds, you’re still you. If the business fails, you’re still you. I think a lot of business owners especially in the hospitality industry struggle with this separation…repeat after me: “I am not the business. This business is what I do, not who I am”.

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About Forté Events:

Forté Events is a strategic event design and production firm specializing in corporatenon-profit, and social events worldwide. Based in Colorado Springs, CO, and New York City this company produce events worldwide from Fortune 500 clients to families and charities. Forté Events specializes in helping clients attain their goals, realize return on investment, and achieve the most unique, creative experiences.

About Tami Forero:

Tami has set new standards and challenged traditional event ideas throughout her twenty one years as a corporate and independent event producer. Her unique approach to the business of events qualified her as a finalist for the 2006 Event Producer of the Year Spotlight Award and Event Production Company of the Year Spotlight Award in 2008. In 2010, Tami won the Rising Star Award from the Colorado Springs Business Journal and Forté Events won the 2010 ICON Award for the best non-profit event produced in Colorado. As a speaker for national event conferences, ISES chapters, CEO groups, training companies, and various industry associations, Tami teaches event professionals and corporations how to help clients make the most return on their event investments. Overall, Tami Forero represents the best the industry has to offer in creativity, innovation, and knowledge.

sold outOn any given night, people have numerous options regarding how they’ll spend their time and money. If you’re hosting an event, obviously you want more of those people to give those things to you. However, planning a sellout event is not something that just happens naturally. The entire marketing strategy surrounding the event must tie back to the overall mission and goals of an organization. Doing this effectively should create a happier customer base that will be much easier to sell to next time.

Your chance at selling out an event is much higher after its inaugural year, as long as you’ve taken the proper steps to follow up with and maintain your audience. This, along with a user-friendly website, ticket incentives and sponsorship acquisitions, can help to ensure sellout events in the years to follow:

Event Website Tips:
* Ensure your event page is live as soon as possible.
* Create a home landing page with a strong call to action.
* Choose a hosting service that is compatible with WordPress to ensure user-friendly updates.
* Insert SEO content on every page to attract higher ad ranks on search engines.
* Include links to all social media platforms.
* Own all of the content you use on the site.
* Make the site mobile responsive.
* Integrate ticket sales through the website.

Ticketing Tips:
* Make registration as easy as possible for your guests.
* Consider using ticketing software like EventBrite, Tix or Universe, which include ticket sale tracking tools.
* Course-correct your goals in the weeks and months leading up to your event based on ticket sales.
* Consider offering different ticket levels to appeal to new attendees and donors.
* If finances permit, consider implementing a discount program or bring-a-friend-for-free option to build new prospects.

Tips for Creating Happy Attendees:
* Give yourself at least a year to obtain sponsorships.
* Implement surveys and listen to the needs and desires of your attendees.
* Provide incentives for return attendees, such as discounts for registering early.

In conclusion when marketing your event be sure your strategy works with your organization’s mission and goals. Make sure you have a user-friendly website where attendees can easily buy tickets and keep your attendees in mind throughout the entire process.

WE’D LOVE FOR YOU TO SHARE THIS IN YOUR NEWSLETTER OR WEBSITE BUT PLEASE INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING COMPLETE INFORMATION: Event Planning Expert, Entrepreneur, and Coach, Annette Naif, Owner & Creative Director of Forté Events NYC and publisher of the E-Zine, “Forté Today.”

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About Forté Events:

Forté Events is a strategic event design and production firm specializing in corporatenon-profit, and social events worldwide.  Based in Colorado Springs, CO, and New York City this company produce events worldwide from Fortune 500 clients to families and charities. Forté Events specializes in helping clients attain their goals, realize return on investment, and achieve the most unique, creative experiences.

About Annette Naif:

Since 1986 Annette Naif has been designing and producing custom events. Helping clients create their unique signature style that translates into a memorable experience has been Annette’s passion from the beginning. Annette spent a number of years producing events for Sebastian International followed by 15 years in the motion picture industry where she helped coordinate numerous productions for film and episodic television programs. Since then she’s been running her own event design company, coaching other event planners and now leads the New York City branch of Forté Events.

simonForté Events is excited to announce that Simon Melser is now Director of Business Development. Simon has been in the events & hospitality industry for over 30 years in London, Colorado and Texas. He brings with him a national and international network of industry professionals from years working at hotels and production companies. Simon will use his experience to enhance Forté Events already impressive portfolio of strategic event planning services for Fortune 500 clients. Simon lives in Watkins Colorado with his partner Cara on their 20-acre ranch, with 3 horses, 2 dogs and a tractor!

About Forté Events:

Forté Events is a strategic event design and production firm specializing in corporate, non-profit, and social events worldwide. Based in Colorado Springs, CO, with offices in New York City, Forté Events specializes in helping clients attain their goals, realize return on investment, and achieve the most unique, creative experiences.    

(This article was originally published in Special Events Magazine.)

tami headshtOver the years I’ve been amused by the reaction I get when I tell people that I’m an event planner. It ranges from, “Oh, I always wanted to do that!” to “Wow–that sounds like so much fun!” to “Oh, you do weddings?”

Every year, members of the event industry–made up of event planners, caterers, decor designers, florists, photographers, AV and technical directors, venues, entertainers, and many more–are hired for corporate events, weddings, nonprofit fundraisers, military events, government events, consulting, concerts, fairs, graduations, celebrations of life, and many more events, resulting in billions of dollars into the economy. However, most people don’t understand what we do.

Unfortunately, I think that some of the “reality” television shows and, sadly, some of our colleagues have misrepresented the event industry as a whole. I know those shows are made to play up the drama, and I know a lot of real life planners who thrive on chaos, but the real reality of our business should not be that way.

event planner1WHO ARE WE? If we ever intend to be taken more seriously, paid what we’re worth, and offered new and improved opportunities, we should do a better job of showing what we’re capable of accomplishing.  The “event heroes” of the world are often overlooked.  The professionals who are making a difference by creating jobs, positively affecting their city’s economy, helping their company thrive, raising awareness and monies for important causes, and generally making a positive impact need to be more known.

The opportunities for event professionals are unlimited, and I believe we’ve only scratched the surface. For example, my business–Forté Events–predominantly helps companies and organizations solve problems using events. We’ve helped clients when they have high employee turnover, bad product launches, ineffective training deliveries, negative press, low event attendance, and lack of sponsors. We create strategic events that result in a return on their event investment.  We are problem-solving project managers who use creative ideas that result in profits.  Did you know an event planning firm could do that?

Also, a friend of mine works as a consultant to hotels, architects and construction firms.  When companies build or remodel hotels, they contact her for advice on what they should include or delete from their design plans to ensure they attract the most business from event planners and their clients. So smart!

WHO MATTERS? There are a lot of awe-inspiring people doing important work representing the event industry, but often all we see are over-the-top purveyors of shenanigans that provide entertainment. It’s time out for this!

We need the larger community to know who we are and what we can offer. We need future generations of the event industry to aspire to higher levels of opportunity that we create for them now.  We need to understand business–how to price, how to convey our worth to clients, how to be thought-leaders and not just order-takers, how to create new ideas and build teams to achieve them, and how to more elegantly portray this amazing industry to the world.

If you have questions about our industry, contact us…we’re happy to share!

forte_labsFWant to learn more about how we do things?  Come to one of our upcoming Forté Labs, a 2-½ day intensive workshop we have developed with an amazing “hands on” curriculum that will help you build a business that will create the life you want.

# # #

About Forté Events:

Forté Events is a strategic event design and production firm specializing in corporatenon-profit, and social events worldwide. Based in Colorado Springs, CO, and New York City this company produce events worldwide from Fortune 500 clients to families and charities. Forté Events specializes in helping clients attain their goals, realize return on investment, and achieve the most unique, creative experiences.

About Tami Forero:

Tami has set new standards and challenged traditional event ideas throughout her twenty one years as a corporate and independent event producer. Her unique approach to the business of events qualified her as a finalist for the 2006 Event Producer of the Year Spotlight Award and Event Production Company of the Year Spotlight Award in 2008. In 2010, Tami won the Rising Star Award from the Colorado Springs Business Journal and Forté Events won the 2010 ICON Award for the best non-profit event produced in Colorado. As a speaker for national event conferences, ISES chapters, CEO groups, training companies, and various industry associations, Tami teaches event professionals and corporations how to help clients make the most return on their event investments. Overall, Tami Forero represents the best the industry has to offer in creativity, innovation, and knowledge.

(This article was originally published in Special Events Magazine.)

Did you know that Event Planning is ranked among the top ten most stressful jobs? (Check out the latest list from Career Cast.) We are on the list with Soldiers and Doctors! It is true that our industry is very time intensive and often the clients we choose can be demanding and unrealistic. However, it is my experience that most of the stress is a result of poor business practices in the beginning of the client relationship. Ouch! Let me explain…

event planner 2First, independent Event Planners who own a business usually work extremely hard especially in the early years to create a brand, establish clients, and hire a team. Sometimes years go by and the exhausted owner is still holding on to the dream of “someday”. Someday I’ll get to go on vacations. Someday I’ll earn enough money to pay myself a good salary. Someday this will all be worth it. Meanwhile, they are in an industry notorious for sucking all their time and energy making sure everyone else is happy…this is the hospitality industry after all…often at the expense of their relationships, health, and finances. Sounds great right? Ready to sign up?

Our business is different. We set personal goals; not business goals. I’m sure MBA’s worldwide are gasping for breath at this but I’m convinced: If I’m a business owner with all the risks, I should gain all the rewards. I don’t want to serve my business with hopes of someday. I want a business that serves me. My business is a tool by which I can achieve personal goals. This is also true of everyone that works in my business…not just me. Each of us sets personal goals and works toward meeting them using the vehicle, Forté Events to do so. This mind shift has made all the difference in my life and my company. We are all working toward a goal together which is fulfilling each person’s life goals each year.

Second, most Event Planners I know are often desperate for work. I’ve been there and I know what it is to need income but the key word is desperate. When someone needs work so badly, they will often accept clients and projects they may not otherwise consider. Your gut usually tells you during your first meeting but because of fear, you take a job that can be a nightmare later.

Our business is different. We only work with “perfect” clients. As a team, we create a profile for each type of event client we work with that details their personality traits, their expectations, goals, etc. Once we establish the kind of clients we are looking for, we only say “yes” to clients who fit that description. We say no to everyone else…even if we need the work. Especially when we need the work. Only taking on projects with “perfect” clients will save you time, energy, stress, and make you more profitable.

Third, and this is a big one, many Event Planners do not understand their worth and are not confident when it comes to pricing. Without sounding too dramatic, I honestly think that this fact is single handedly crumbling our entire industry. I’m serious. When Event Planners cannot justify their fees to themselves or their clients, they lower the pricing standards of the entire industry. They train clients that our time, talent, and expertise are not worth very much. They lower and lower the pricing bar until they go out of business but not before they ruin it for the rest of us.

Our business is different. We know exactly how much our time is worth. We look at each job as a project and determine how many hours of pre-planning and how many hours of on-site work will be required to create a great event in an unstressed environment and that goes into our price. We consider how much our ideas are worth…our intellectual property…and we add that in too. We quantify time for phone calls, texts, meetings, on-site walk thrus, more meetings, and meals with clients, vendors, venues, and our internal team. We remember the business needs to profit as well for all overhead expenses unrelated to just one event and we add that in too. Once the pricing is figured (usually 20-30% of the total budget), we are PROUD to present it to prospective perfect clients. We know that it is our responsibility to explain to them why we are worth it and what they will get for their investment…my favorite thing to do! We have not had any issues selling our pricing…we understand it, we believe in it, and we know it’s in the client’s best interest to create what they need to be successful at their event. You can do this too!

These are some of the ways our business is different. I hope in the near future, I can write that our business is not that different…that most Event Planners are enjoying less stress and more profits by setting personal goals, working with “perfect” clients, and pricing appropriately and confidently for success. If you want to run your business this way but don’t know how, contact us…we’re happy to share!

forte_labsFWant to learn more about how we do things?  Come to one of our upcoming Forté Labs, a 2-½ day intensive workshop we have developed with an amazing “hands on” curriculum that will help you build a business that will create the life you want.

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About Forté Events:

Forté Events is a strategic event design and production firm specializing in corporatenon-profit, and social events worldwide. Based in Colorado Springs, CO, and New York City this company produce events worldwide from Fortune 500 clients to families and charities. Forté Events specializes in helping clients attain their goals, realize return on investment, and achieve the most unique, creative experiences.

About Tami Forero:

Tami has set new standards and challenged traditional event ideas throughout her twenty one years as a corporate and independent event producer. Her unique approach to the business of events qualified her as a finalist for the 2006 Event Producer of the Year Spotlight Award and Event Production Company of the Year Spotlight Award in 2008. In 2010, Tami won the Rising Star Award from the Colorado Springs Business Journal and Forté Events won the 2010 ICON Award for the best non-profit event produced in Colorado. As a speaker for national event conferences, ISES chapters, CEO groups, training companies, and various industry associations, Tami teaches event professionals and corporations how to help clients make the most return on their event investments. Overall, Tami Forero represents the best the industry has to offer in creativity, innovation, and knowledge.