Running a business is hard work – there are few classes and even fewer ways to find proven business lessons. It’s a sad state of affairs, but many independent event planners (and business owners in general) just end up flying by the seat of their pants and learning things the hard way. And the only real benefit we get from learning things this way is when we get to share them with all the people who are hustling just as hard as us.
That’s why when I shared the questions of “What’s one business lesson you learned the hard way?” in our Event Hustlers Facebook group, we had many great answers. In fact – the content was so great, I thought we should share it here on the blog to let people see what kind of insights we’ve gleaned through many years of running our businesses.
Here’s what I and several other group members had to say:
“Learn to trust my intuition. I often listen to the advice and thoughts of other people who do not know my business or industry as well as I do and missed out on many opportunities because I didn’t trust my gut.
Another thing I learned the HARD way was that partnerships are great, but only if you set the right relationship up front. Do you really compliment each other? Do you both bring something valuable to the table? What are all the things that could go wrong? And what could go right? And get it ALL on paper!!!”
Liz King Caruso, Liz King Events
“I’ve learned the hard way that a glowing resume and outstanding credentials on paper doesn’t always make someone an excellent choice or a good fit. I’ve also learned it is imperative to trust your gut and cut ties early to avoid more complicated problems down the road.”
“Don’t just “handle” additional requests as a courtesy, charge for them! I’m happy to do that for you, but it’s outside our current scope of work. I can push that to the end of our work and if I have time I’ll work on that but if you need me to get off my current track/path to do that, then we need to add some additional (time, budget, etc). This is the equivalent to shoplifting of (your) time!”
“Get it ALL in writing, always. Always NEGOTIATE boilerplate. Don’t just sign contracts, get YOUR terms when you can and have those written in too.
This especially goes for industry “non-compete” clauses. Negotiate the scope, narrow it so it is fair to both sides.”
“One should confirm all conversational agreements in a email for clarity and documentation. The email should define the NOW (status and timeline moving forward) process for service or task completion. It should clarify the expense obligation and responsible parties for meeting that commitment.”
Founding Partner JBVproductionweb
“Ask for what you’re worth. And please stop cutting down the price in hopes they’ll hire you for being such a bargain. You’re not a bargain. You’re a god damn beacon of hope, a firefighter, a dream maker, a master magician, a therapist and all the other things that come from having a client. GET PAID for it. You’re doing the job of several people. Do not compromise your worth. People will pay you what you’re worth. The best clients won’t blink eye about your quote because they see your value and they know you’re worth every penny.”
“There is always someone charging more than you. I struggled to price myself appropriately for 4 years and in the last 6 months, I doubled our minimum rates, kept all of our best clients, said goodbye to all of our tough clients, doubled our service-based revenue, and gave myself a week off per quarter (because we didn’t have to do as much hustling since our revenue was higher per quarter). I wish I would have started off with incremental price increases with each new client, instead of a huge rate hike all at once, because it would have been way less scary to do it incrementally (and I probably would have made more overall instead of struggling for 4 years).
“Saying ‘No’ to a client request that does not fit the business strategy, while difficult the moment, is an important business lesson we have learned. For a software company, any code change introduces risk (especially for last minute requests), may cause unexpected delays, and detracts you from your core strategy. Your end product and capacity to provide excellent service will benefit from staying focused. Don’t be afraid to say “No.”
Co-Founder, ATIV Software – Medical and Scientific Meeting Apps