It’s a great time to be a creative entrepreneur. There are more and more people willing to share what they know. It wasn’t like this in 2004 when I launched my stationery business. Not only were people less willing to share, but also it was hard to get information. (You couldn’t google ‘how to price flowers’ and get too many valuable hits.)
I think people who’ve been in business a few years are usually happy to share what they can. I share what I can about having had a stationery business so that others can succeed. It’s one of the reasons why I started this blog almost 5 years ago. Kelly is the same way. I’ve seen her give very detailed information about her business to help a new wedding planner. She sometimes goes as far as sharing internal documents with that new planner.
But – here’s something you need to know – you can’t have ALL the trade secrets.
First, you need to build trust and credibility. (If I share this with you, will you use it wisely?)
Become visible in the industry: attend networking events, ask to have a coffee, build a relationship. THEN, after all that, people will be more willing to share.
It’s possible that this wedding pro becomes a friend and/or mentor… take the time to build that relationship.
Here are 3 rules to follow when someone is willing to share their business with you:
- Allow the wedding pro to volunteer what they want to share. Don’t pry.
- Be respectful of their business and know that they won’t (and shouldn’t) reveal their trade secrets.
- Give thanks (lots and lots and lots of THANKS).
Never expect someone to give you the secret sauce. There are trade secrets that no one should share. (Doing so would be incredibly foolish.)
There are things that one might share with you that may not apply or you will not be able to apply to your business. For example: The price/cost/profit/expense mix is so different for each individual, one can’t merely apply a formula to their business and expect success. (I recently saw someone ask a wedding designer how she priced her services, what costs were involved, and what she earned at the end of the day. This wedding pro was happy to share her prices, but anything beyond that is ‘secret sauce’ in my opinion.)
Be respectful. Respect that it may have taken them YEARS for the elder wedding pro to learn everything they know. Never pry for information that isn’t yours to have. (I had a stationery designer once ask me for the names of my suppliers. I spent years building relationships with these suppliers and they were proprietary to my designs. I didn’t think this was an appropriate question. But – I was more than happy to share a few printing sources with her.)
Lastly, please take the time to THANK the person. (Speaking from personal experience, it’s not often that I’m thanked for ‘answering a quick question’ – even via email.) It takes time to provide this help… even a quick 5 minute email response is incredibly valuable. A quick thank you response is enough acknowledgement that you are appreciative of their insight.
What do you think, wedding pros? What have you been happy to share? What is your limit? And – what’s been helpful to you when you were getting started?