I recently returned from an amazing trip to Virginia Beach and the ISES Hampton Roads chapter. They are a fantastic group of people who work together and remind me of our awesome event industry family in Colorado. While I was there I taught a 4-hour intensive and then spoke at their monthly ISES meeting. As usual, I spoke a lot about pricing, profitability and delegating. The one issue that became an overall theme at both sessions was the lack of work-life balance. Many attendees could see their family life suffering but didn’t know how to change it. (Tears were shed.) As we all shared stories, it became very obvious to me the root of the problem with this ”balance in the events industry” idea is letting fear rule decision making. Many people believe If you don’t work crazy long hours or cut your prices and increase your service offerings, you won’t get the business. Some think if you’re not available to the client 24 hours/day you’ll lose the business. In my experience, these concerns are not true. And if a client acts that way, they are not the right fit for you and not worth your time and energy. My advice to everyone in the event industry: separate the fear from the truth; have faith in yourself and your services.
Remember it’s great having nice clients, but they are not the #1 relationship in your life. Clients come and go, but your work team and family and friends will always be there. You should concentrate the majority of your energy on those relationships for long term growth. You are not your business or your job. I am not my business. I work at Forté Events where I help clients solve problems using events but I am a wife, a friend, a daughter, and many other things. My company is the tool by which I earn a living and create opportunities for myself and others but it is not who I am. You have to separate the two. It’s great to love your job…just don’t let it define your entire life. That’s how we lose balance.
One way to do this is to set clear expectations and boundaries at the beginning of any client relationship. Explain exactly what they should expect from you, how many hours of your time the fee includes and the number of meetings if applicable. Needless to say you’ll have many clients that you’ll have to remind of this; but remember you’re not giving away your time and energy for free.
Special warning to those in the wedding industry: It’s especially hard to not form a false emotional bond with your brides. You work so closely with them in an emotionally charged environment that’s easy to get caught up in. This can cause you to invest energy and sometimes do things for them that you’re not getting paid for and cut in to your family time. Don’t get me wrong, we’re in the hospitality industry and are supposed to give great service to our clients, just keep in mind that you’re still a professional and you may need to disconnect emotionally with certain clients and draw boundaries and stick to them.
I know from experience…I spent years doing all the wrong things myself and working insane hours for people I thought truly valued my contribution…and many did but they were not my long term relationships. The event industry tells us this is normal..expected…we have to do this! I say make your own path within the industry and find the work/life balance that’s right for you!
I just returned from the 2015 Special Event Conference & Tradeshow the other day. This year (I think I’ve been the last 10 now…I’ve lost track.) I taught 3 classes:
-The TRUTH about Planners and Vendors!
-How to Be REALLY Profitable
-Do You Want to Know What I Know?
I have to say I really loved Anaheim. The weather was great, the host hotels & convention center were all together and there was a Starbucks & plenty of restaurants within walking distance. I even got to meet up with some of my family while I was there!
Iwas most excited for my newest class, the advanced, Q&A style “Do You Want to Know What I Know” where I answered ANY questions attendees had. The room was full of experienced planners and vendors, many of which ended up learning a lot from each other. (I did too!) My favorite question was when someone asked me what life experience I credited with bringing me to where I am currently. I was touched that someone cared to ask something so personal. It was great being able to share how much my parents helped me as they were business owners as well.
I did take a controversial stance on budgets this year. The bottom line is that you will never be profitable unless you control the budget! For planners, this means that the end client pays you so you can control the pricing and then pay the vendors yourself. If you’re only charging a fee for hourly work, you’ll never make as much money as you can when you’re the project manager. Want to understand this better? Contact us.
I met lots of great people (as always) and was able to even have a few quick coffee meetings to discuss business practices with old friends and new friends. Looking forward to 2016! Thank you TSE for the opportunity and for a great conference!
What did you think of this years TSE? Comment below!
Two weeks ago I had a fantastic time speaking at the national American Agri-Women conference in Niagara Falls. For those of you that haven’t heard of the AAW, it is the nation’s largest coalition of farm, ranch and agribusiness women with over fifty state, commodity and agribusiness affiliate organizations throughout the country. It is an all-volunteer organization, working to advocate for agriculture since 1974.
I gave my presentations “Building the Business that Creates the Life You Want” and “Delegating: A Guide to Higher Profits for Control Freaks” to the (mostly) female attendees. I admit I was a little nervous. I thought, “what are these hardworking farmers and agricultural business leaders going to think of an event planner coming to tell them how to run their businesses?” I was wrong. The lessons I’ve learned and the changes I’ve implemented in my business were EXACTLY what these women needed to hear. I administered a little tough love when I made it clear that the only obstacle these business owners had was themselves. They need to set clear boundaries of time and tasks and stick to them…then delegate anything that they are not good at, don’t enjoy doing, or don’t make money doing. That is the only way to enjoy life while running a successful business and leading by example to the next generation of farmers and ranchers.
No matter what industry you’re in, you can have a successful business and balanced life! It doesn’t matter if you’re an event planner or a farmer. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in business one month or twenty years…change the business so that it is serving you! Set personal goals that the company can help you meet. Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks to others and hire help. Make changes as needed to the business…be flexible.
I have so much respect for the women in the the agriculture industry and was honored I could share my ideas with them.
# # #
CEO of Forté Events, Tami Forero is a veteran of the special event industry having planned hundreds of strategic corporate, social and non-profit events. She’s a sought after consultant and speaker with topics both on the event industry and business skills.
Last week I had one of the best experiences at a speaking engagement. I was invited to the 2013 ISES Northeast REC Conference “Innovation. Education. Inspiration.” outside of Washington DC. I didn’t have the best start; I got bumped off my first flight and missed many of the classes I was hoping to attend myself. Things started looking up as I arrived, this ISES region really knows how to throw an event! I made it in time to attend their Monday night social event. Their vendors went all out, Cort Furniture had created a gorgeous lounge and there was a $30,000 laser light show from GrooveBoston. Like I always say, if you’re going to sponsor something for event planners, go all out & really show them the best you can be!
The next morning was my ”Building a Business that Creates the Life You Want” class. The stars must have been aligned as it felt like so many people in the audience were in the same situation I was in years ago: working too much, not happy, no work/life balance, thinking “paying my dues” would pay off eventually, etc. You really can build a business to fit the lifestyle you want. You have to stick to specific goals, price yourself effectively, and delegate those things you don’t like or aren’t good at. It was an amazing experience for me as a speaker as I could see a mind shift happening in front of me. The reaction was visible, several people were even crying. I believe they needed to hear the things I was saying to help get them on the right path to a healthier work/life balance. I look forward to seeing many of them at a future Business Boot Camp here in Colorado Springs.