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It’s Not About The Money (Or – Is It?)

OK, people… let’s be real here. Starting and operating a business isn’t just about the money. If it were, there are many of us that would/should have stuck with corporate jobs. (I can speak for myself. Had I stuck with my accounting firm I’d easily be making 6 figures as a partner.)

We start businesses for reasons other than riches.* We want flexibility. We want freedom. We want creative careers. We want collaboration. We want to call the shots. We want to build something with our bare hands. We want to lead. We want to grow at our own pace. We don’t want a cubicle. We do want to define our own parameters. We want to be known for something.

And, so we start these businesses with all this fire in our bellies. ROARRRRRR!

But then… a couple years go by… and we begin to see…

…gosh darn’t…. this is REALLY hard work!

And, we tell ourselves: “I better figure out if I’m doing this right. I better figure out if I’m making any money.”

And – then it does become about the money. (Maybe not entirely, but it becomes a helluva lot more important.)

Listen – if you have no idea what your money is doing in your business, then it’s just one very expensive hobby. (And likely an exhausting hobby too if you’re fortunate enough to have a lot of clients to manage.)

And… so where does this put us?

It’s not all about the money… but the money does matter. Knowing if you’re making money is an important gauge for performance. Maybe the money doesn’t define your idea of success. (My idea of success is a peaceful state of mind and being.) But, the money does matter.

So – figure it out. Figure out your $ and ¢. (And if you’re not sure how to, email me.)

SageGiveawayTileWe’re doing a giveaway of 4 mini mentoring sessions! We’re about to hit our 1000 posts on our blog – this was our 996th post! Click here and learn more.


* I’ll concede that some people do start businesses to get rich. But, they likely aren’t doing it in the wedding industry. You can make a nice living in this industry. But – this is not the get rich quick path to success. (Remember – I look at wedding business financial reports all day. This is just the plain truth of the matter.)


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It’s Time to Self-Evaluate Your Business

As we are working our way to 1000 blog posts (CRAZY! See Michelle’s post yesterday with our fun contest details to celebrate), I am reflecting on all of the topics we’ve discussed, but more importantly the AMAZING entrepreneurs we have met over the past 5 years!  Whether it’s via social media or in person, so many of you have impacted us too.  As much as you are learning from us, I personally have learned a TON from you.  I’ve been in this industry now over 12 years (as a Wedding Planner outside of Sage Wedding Pros) and have learned a lot on my own, but over the past few years I have learned things from YOU that I never knew before – like how much coolers cost for a floral designer, the production process for a bakery, how many hours go into post-production of a wedding film, and the struggles of wearing 25 hats and being a sales person/janitor/designer/bookkeeper/client relations manager all with a huge smile during crazy season.

I think a lot of times we come across like we’re “experts” in the industry, when really there is SOOOO much more that we can learn – especially from each other.  Michelle’s post the other day, “Why I Hate the Term Expert” struck a chord for me and I wanted to add my two cents.  I love her thoughts about how you can master something, but being an expert implies finality.  I know for my Planning business I personally catch myself thinking, “we’re the best, we’re experts at what we do, etc.” because that’s what we think clients and colleagues want to hear and sometimes it’s part of our sales pitch/coming across confident.  In reality, we should be asking our clients after an event, “What could have made your experience better?”  We should be asking our colleagues, “What could we be doing to make your job easier?  What could we do in order to be a better florist/photographer/planner/invite designer, etc.?”

Feedback-SuggestionsIf your busy season has ended, or is about to end…take a few hours to self-evaluate your business, your leadership skills, your processes…what’s working well, what’s not?  Ask colleagues you respect and trust for their opinion – those who you know will be honest and give constructive feedback.  Ask your employees and contractors what they think your business can do better, as you NEED to know how they feel and they also want to be heard.  Ask for their feedback and start preparing to incorporate at least one change into your business next year.

No one is perfect, everyone can improve in one area or another.  Sometimes it’s hard to receive feedback, but often we need it to make our business even stronger.  If you decide not to listen to the feedback, that could slowly kill your business as you’re unwilling to take a look within and recognize you need to make changes.  Listen to those around you, for often they see things you don’t and can only help better you and your business.


You’ll probably learn something new.

We’re doing a giveaway of 4 mini mentoring sessions! We’re about to hit our 1000 posts on our blog – this was our 995th post! Click here and learn more.



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Countdown to 1000 Posts and Giveaway of 4 Mentoring Mini-Sessions

I started writing this blog in March 2009. I wanted to connect with other wedding pros nationwide in an effort to bring sales to my invitation business. (I love networking!) I had wanted to write a blog for some time, but I’m not a creative writer and I knew I would run out of ‘pretty vocabulary’ after a while. Business – on the other hand – well, I could write about business FOREVER.

Little did I know that Sage Wedding would evolve into a venture of it’s own. Kelly partnered with me a few months later. Since then when we launched The Simple Plan, Thursday Therapy, and The People Plan. We’re working on a new conference for 2014. (And – we have something else on the books with our business plan coaching too!)

In the first 3 years I committed to writing 1 post each weekday. I knew that I had to build a routine of writing continuously in order to stay focused. (It’s an ‘all or nothing’ attitude. I recommend it for big goals you might have in your business.) And, since then we’ve tapered to 2-3 posts/week.

While this quantity is impressive by any blogging standard, I do hope that the quality has been valuable for your business.

It is INCREDIBLE to me that we are about to hit 1000 published posts in 2 weeks.

**** ONE THOUSAND POSTS!!!! ****  (can you believe it?!)

Will you help us celebrate?!?!?!??!?

We want to give away 4 mini mentoring sessions on Monday, November 4th. (This will be our 1000th post day!) And – we’ll also throw in our easy-peasy goal books. (These have only been released at our workshops. so, they’re a special treat.)

Here’s what you have to do:

  • Post an image on Instagram, facebook, or Twitter that shows you working ON your business. (We want to see the behind the scenes of your business! Show us the blood, sweat, tears… the hard stuff. The stuff no one sees, but shows the true soul of business ownership.) Get creative! Have fun!
  • Make sure to call out our handle “Sage Wedding Pros” in the post. (For Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, we are “@SageWeddingPros”.)
  • And, include a tag: #SageWeddingPros1000Posts
  • Make sure your image is public so that we can see it.
  • Kelly and I will each pick 2 of our favorite images. We’ll announce winners on Monday, November 4th. And, we’ll email the winners to schedule a mini-mentoring session of 30 minutes on phone or skype. You can ask us for help with ANYTHING!
  • We’ll also snail-mail you our easy-peasy goal books that we’ve only released to attendees of our workshops.
  • You can submit up to 5 images.
  • Contest ends Sunday, November 3rd at 12pm EST.
  • Mentoring session must be scheduled before December 15, 2013 or you forfeit your prize.


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Why I Hate the Term ‘Expert’

Maybe I’ve done too much yoga in my life.


One of the fundamental tenets of yoga, as shared with me by a favorite yoga instructor, is that no one ever achieves perfection in yoga. Yoga is a practice. And – so – you practice yoga. This is the beauty of it. You come as you are, wherever and however you are. Everyone is working to better themselves.

This is life.

Everyone, where ever they find themselves in their business and personal life, is working towards betterment. Everyone is practicing how to be a better person. And, the more you practice, the better you will become at something. You may even become masterful (very very good) at something with enough practice.

But the finality of perfection? Nope. It’ll never happen.

This is why I hate the term ‘expert’. Is anyone really an expert? The term implies finality… as if you’ve achieved all there is in your field.

Practice does NOT make PERFECT. Practice makes BETTER. Better yourself with practice.

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How Many Payments to Ask of Your Clients

CashInflowIs it better to ask for 2 payments from a client? Or, 4 payments?

Typically, wedding pros make this decision based on what they can manage in their workflow. (Asking for payment becomes a nightmare to people who don’t always have simple systems in place.) But – the real question is: what is the impact on your cash flow? If you have cash coming in year round, then it doesn’t matter. But, if you have a slow part of your season, you’ll want to specifically ask for a payment during that slow season.

Here’s an example:

July and August is slow for weddings in hot hot hot Texas. I would recommend that business owners in Texas have 3-payment plans: ask for a retainer/deposit when they book their client, a second payment due July 1st, and a 3rd payment due 2-4 weeks before the wedding.

By scheduling your 2nd payment to occur during slow times you’ll ensure that you have money coming in during an otherwise slow time. There is nothing that says your payments need to follow structured windows of time. WORK your cash flow to YOUR favor. Payments could be set up as such:

A Seattle business that asks for payments on December 1st (slow), February 2nd (slow), and June 1st.
A Florida business that asks for payments on April 1st, July 1st (slow), and September 1st.
A DC business that asks for payments on January 1st (slow), May 1st, and July 1st (slow).

Naturally, you can make exceptions if a client wants to break out the payments into more payments. I’m always a fan of working with the clients’ needs to streamline their cash flow too. They’re likely to book you if you can be flexible with payment plans.

Payments from clients are less a function of your operations and more a function of your finances. When will you need the money? Ask the client for it then.

Need help with your cash flow? Talk to me: michelle@sageweddingpros.com .


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October 15, 2013 - 12:39 pm

Madelyn Ridgeway - Great post! I’m wondering if you think posting that you accept payment plans on your website?

October 15, 2013 - 12:48 pm

Michelle Loretta - Hi Madelyn! It depends on how you say it on your site. I think that the typical infomercial marketing of ‘payment plans accepted’ may cheapen a brand in our industry. (Tiffany would NEVER advertise this on its jewelry site or marketing material.) I think, however, that placing this information in your process (whether on your site – or in your consultation marketing material) is a good idea so that people feel more comfort in being able to afford a premium service. CHECK OUT how Tiffany does it: http://www.tiffany.com/Expertise/Diamond/Pricing/ (It’s VERY discreet.) :)

October 15, 2013 - 3:17 pm

Jessica - This is such a great idea! Something I will definitely have to implement into my business plan going forward in 2014! Thank you so much for sharing!

October 19, 2013 - 2:06 pm

Kelly Karli - Michelle,
Great post! For my business I used to break it into 3 payments however what I have found for the best interest of my company and my client is doing monthly payments. We have a deposit/retainer up front then I bill the client every month until their last payment which is due about 1 week prior to the wedding. My clients love it because for my larger wedding package it makes the overall cost a little bit less intimidating. Cheers!

October 21, 2013 - 10:16 am

Michelle Loretta - This is fantastic, Kelly! I think splitting up these large luxury services up over several months is awesome for the client. It makes it seem like a smaller hit. AND – it’s really helpful for your cash flow also!

October 23, 2013 - 6:47 am

Bernadette Chapman - I’m an event planner and I have 3 payment instalments although if the lead time is short I reduce, if its over 18 months I increase. I think the key is to be flexible. So normally I take a 40% deposit upon booking, a further 40% 12 weeks before and the balance 2 weeks before. I find it balances out throughout the year. My other big tip is always ensure there is enough in the bank account to pay your salary during the quieter months, i.e don’t splurge it all in the summer thus ending up broke in the autumn!

I also manage clients budgets when asked, paying suppliers using a client account. Recently I had a situation with a stationer where there were 8 invoices/instalments from June-September. Drove me insane! Personally as a planner, and on behalf of clients, I know they prefer just 2 or 3 instalments for payments.

October 23, 2013 - 7:27 am

Michelle Loretta - So many great tips! Thanks Bernadette!

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