Behind-The-Scenes: 5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Starting Out

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Dear Readers:

A few days ago, I met a young planner who was concerned about her ability to “make it” as a business owner.  She had just opened a space of her own and was planning to hire a few staff members and was both excited and terrified by the process.

Our discussion made me think about what it felt like so many years ago when I was in her position (35 years ago, can you believe it?) In today’s Behind-The-Scenes, I am going back in time and sharing five tips for those of you just starting out.

Create Your Own Opportunities.

When I started out, there was no social media; there was just word-of-mouth (and no way for a brand to respond if something negative was said). Today, we work in a globally-connected industry and have access to a number of wonderful networks (both online and off) that allow us access to potential partners, clients and vendors in real time. One thing I would love to see all of you do is to really take full advantage of the benefits of technology and a booming event industry. The more you do, the more you will see that there are so many possibilities around you. Whether it’s tweeting to colleagues, posting portfolio shots on Instagram, engaging a discussion on Facebook or even going so far as to host a seasonal “open house” in your own space, it’s essential that you not wait to be “discovered” and start discovering what is out there for you.

Have Faith In Yourself. This is a big one (and yes, I know that it’s tough). I’ll let you in on a little secret: When I started out, I had no idea what I was doing or where it would take me if I said “yes” to a job. Still, I made a pact with myself that I would always be open to what presented itself to me, and if I could figure it out, I would. If I could not and failed, at least I will have learned something. Through good and bad years, that promise has served me well. More than that, it has saved me from many “what should I do?” moments.  I knew I would always say “yes” to opportunities that made sense, regardless of my concern as to whether or not I could pull it off. Guess what? The more I did this, the more experience I had and the more opportunities I located.  It’s not that I had faith in my talent or success, but I had faith that I would be OK no matter what because of my faith in God.  Maybe you find your strength there or elsewhere (perhaps in your own track record and the resilience you have shown in the past). But until you can fully back yourself, you cannot expect others to.

Be An Example Of What You Seek To Find.  One thing we must do as professionals is to set the tone with our clients. If we are unsure, frazzled, disconnected or chaotic, they will pick up on it and the energy in the relationship will change instantly.  The same goes with colleagues, staff members and even the men and women we meet on the street.  What we put out there is often reflected back to us in someway, and if not directly, it causes a domino effect that can change the outcome of everything from a meeting to an event to a life.

Be Clear On Your Purpose. I once read a meditation book that suggested readers start every day asking three questions:

  1. Who am I?
  2. What do I want?
  3. What is my purpose?

The answers may change each time you ask yourself, but there is some real clarity and motivation in answering these questions.  I find these questions can be helpful for anyone before a number of events be it a presentation, staff meeting or even before a sales call.

Know The Person In Front Of You.

As a business owner, I manage a number of different areas and interact with very different personalities and working styles.  Each member of my staff has a unique set of talents, areas of opportunity and working styles (as do my clients). Bottom line: A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t always work as well in practice as it does in theory.  While we cannot adjust to every difference, maintaining an open-door policy, asking for feedback and offering positive and proactive feedback often works to the benefit of all parties involved, and the business itself.

What is your best piece of advice for this beginner?



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