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Business Plan Case Study: Flora Nova

We feel pretty strongly that a business plan can help you to define your business goals and give you a road-map for the future of your company. But, what makes a company that has used a business plan different from others? How has a business plan made the difference for that business?

Studies have shown that having a business plan doubles your chances of success. It’s not the paper that is magical. It’s the process of writing, thinking, strategizing that puts you one step ahead of your competitors.

4.5 years ago we launched The Simple Plan workshop in Seattle. We follow up with attendees periodically to ensure they are still getting value from the investment they made. Here’s a pretty cool stat: of the 15 business owners who attended the Seattle 2009 workshop, 14 are still operating (and THRIVING at leaps and bounds!)

ChristianeZweiflerWe sat down with one of our attendees from our Seattle 2009 workshop, Christiane Zweifler of Flora Nova Floral and Event Design. Christiane is celebrating 10 years in business this year! We continue to work together quarterly on financial strategy.

Christiane shares what has worked for her in business planning…

Why a business plan is important…

When I first started my business 10 years ago I started writing a business plan but I never actually finished it. I had a somewhat good idea about the services, the business structure, the marketing strategies, even operations, but the financial part kept being a little fuzzy to me. My business never had any losses, but I never truly understood how to make a profit.

About 4 years ago I started to plan for a business expansion: I wanted to add design services beyond just flowers and wanted to purchase more expensive props to my rental inventory. But most importantly this expansion meant I needed to move my business to a much bigger space in order to run the larger operation. I was determined to rewrite my Business Plan  - this time with a solid financial plan.

What are some of the challenges you faced before having a business plan? How did the business plan help?

I hated numbers and compiling financial reports! I knew I would never just sit down on my own to tackle a solid business plan – I needed help. That’s when I heard about the Simple Plan seminars. I signed up to attend their workshop that same year. What I learned in class made writing my first complete business plan fun and yes, actually really “simple”! Besides many other things I learned the importance of calculating my business expenses and CoGs, to do sales forecasts, and setting clear goals – it helped me reach a point where I can be profitable and even keep expanding.

How often do you revisit your plan? How do you use it to guide you?

Now I look at my numbers on a regular basis – I would almost say that I even “like” doing my reviews because it forces me to stay focused and to look at my business from various angles. And this is by far the biggest improvement the Simple Plan has offered me: to better understand my business finances, to do quarterly reviews, to make sales forecasts, to adjust practices where necessary, to keep my expenses in check, and to think about how to reach my sales goals.

Thanks Christiane!

You can read more case studies here. Find our workshop schedule here.

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5 Years of Sage Wedding Pros

We hit a very exciting milestone last week! Sage Wedding Pros turned 5 years old! It’s hard to believe I started writing this blog as a way to connect with wedding pros nationwide. Within a few months, we had a nice following and Kelly partnered with me to launch The Simple Plan. Little did I know it would become a venture all its own.


Just a few of the things we’ve done since we launched…

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being part of this journey.

Join us this August for Be Sage Conference… the first of its kind for in-depth business learning. We’re looking forward to changing the education in our industry to be more meaningful, more thought-provoking, and to serve as a basis for your long-term career.

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March 25, 2014 - 11:28 am

nikki - Congrats you two! what an accomplishment :) so happy to get the chance to work with you both.

March 25, 2014 - 3:10 pm

Meredith from Here Comes The Guide - Wanted to say a huge congrats for 5 great years in business. I love reading your blog and both admire and support the clear, simple, straightforward advice you guys give.

And, as a working mom myself (I have 4 kids, youngest is 2!) I totally get the balance and discipline you have to have to be successful at being a mom and a business owner.

Virtual high five!

April 1, 2014 - 11:27 am

Adriaan - Congrats to you guys! Keep up the good work, you are making the world a better place for wedding planners!

April 1, 2014 - 2:52 pm

Natalie - CONGRATULATIONS LADIES!!!!!!! You have done a phenomenal job of educating the industry. You are appreciated. All the best!

Be Sage Conference Speaker: Barbara Taylor, Synergy Business Services

We are thrilled to partner with a range of amazing speakers for our Be Sage Conference this August. When we sat down to set our curriculum for Be Sage, we asked ourselves: “What are the challenges that experienced business owners have in the wedding industry?” We came up with a list of questions and found the best people to speak on these topics.

We are thrilled to introduce you to Barbara Taylor who is a business broker. (She helps people sell their businesses!)


Introducing: Barbara Taylor, Owner of Synergy Business Services

Barbara is the co-founder of Synergy Business Services, a full service business brokerage firm located in Bentonville, Arkansas. She began her entrepreneurial journey after moving from Seattle to Northwest Arkansas, where she and her husband started a popular retail espresso chain. They successfully sold the business in 2006. In her role as a business broker, Barbara combines her first-hand experience as a selling owner with her extensive knowledge of the selling process to help business owners cash out and move on.

Barbara is a regular contributor to the New York Times’ online feature “You’re the Boss – the Art of Running a Small Business.” Her blog Transaction, addresses the mechanics of buying, selling, and valuing privately-held companies.  Her work has also appeared in Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur, The Huffington Post and AOL Small Business. She was recently named one of “7 People Every Entrepreneur Should Follow on Twitter” on BNET (now CBS MoneyWatch).

5 Things You’ll Learn from Barbara:

1. How buyers will value your business
2. What characteristics build value in your business
3. How to make your business more sellable
4. What kind of buyer might purchase your business
5. The process of selling

We feel pretty strongly about partnering with companies and individuals that mirror and augment our own core values. Here are 3 core values that are fundamental to Synergy and how they do business:

1. Transparency
2. Setting realistic expectations
3. Commitment

We hope you’ll join us this August!


Ticket sales are open for Be Sage Conference and limited to the first 100 people to sign up. We do expect this conference to sell out.


Here’s a little refresher if you missed our post last month about our new conference:

We want you to have a deeper business strategy that will take your business to the next level. This isn’t a business theory conference. And, while you will certainly be inspired, we aim to prepare you with actual tools to use in your business (not just a hope and dream.)

We will continue to add conference details at: www.besageconference.com

Greenhouse Loft, Chicago | August 3-5, 2014
Tickets go on sale February 10th at 9am PST


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We’re Speaking at Biz Bash Live: The Expo in South Florida ~ 5 Ways to Make Your Event Business Profitable

We are so thrilled to partner with Biz Bash this year to present at one of their workshops.

This year the morning workshops at BizBash Live: The Expo were fashioned to provide you with the highest quality educational content available anywhere in the event industry. This new slate of intensive workshops is designed to give you the hands on skills needed to hone your craft and advance your career, while preparing you to tackle new challenges and opportunities.

downloadMichelle will be there to present:

5 Ways to Make Your Event Business Profitable

Do the words investing, budgeting, and accounting scare you? Do you feel you’d be more competitive if you made better decisions with your business dollars? In this session, Michelle Loretta from Sage Wedding Pros will offer five financial tips to improve your competitive edge and make money for your business. Boost your knowledge of budgeting, tax deductions, and profit and loss, plus learn important ways to increase profitability.

 Register Here.


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Onboarding Plan for New Hires

One of the best things you can do as you’re bringing on a new employee, contractor, or intern is to provide them with an “Onboarding Plan”.  This is simply a step-by-step plan for how you’re going to set them up for success with your company.  So often we just throw people into their position, on-the-job training is the only form of learning they receive, and it’s a fly-by-night experience.  Instead of offering that type of experience to your new hire, why not prepare for them to join your team, and provide them with a little structure and plan so that they feel welcomed, excited about their new position, and that you’ve taken more than 5 minutes to think about their role.

Screenshot_2_28_14_8_09_PMWe’ve tried to make it EASY PEASY for you to create an Onboarding Plan for your new hire – check out this new download that’s available to you to edit and use for your own company.

Add to Cart

Of course this is just a template so you’ll have a lot you can customize, but at least it will give you a start of things you should be thinking about, and a great format to use!  This example is specific to Wedding Planning, but super easy for you to tweak for your segment in the industry.

One bit of wisdom with new hires – plan on the first 90 days really being their “immersion” into your company.  So often we expect people will just jump right in and figure out what has taken you 5 years to learn…so just know that if you give them time and space to learn, that will help both of you be less frustrated and you’ll have better expectations of them.  Contrary to what most people believe, bringing on a new hire often won’t save you time initially, so you’ll need to plan for at least 2-4 hours/week to train them as you’re making an investment in them AND your business.

If you’re looking for more people related templates and forms to make your life easier when hiring, be sure to check out The People Plan that we have available to you as a resource as well – your small biz “HR in a Box”!

Happy hiring!

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April 5, 2014 - 6:09 pm

Lane' @ Something Borrowed Portland - Is the Onboarding plan included in The People Plan?

April 6, 2014 - 11:55 am

Michelle Loretta - Hi Lane! The onboarding plan is not a part of The People Plan.

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