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!