Let's talk about the elephant in the room - the lack of diversity in the events industry! I'm excited to be joined by LESLIE Short to talk about this topic and see how we can help make our industry more inclusive and diverse!
Watch LIVE episodes each week on Tuesdays at 10:30am ET at www.facebook.com/lizkingevents
CONNECT WITH LESLIE:
This week, I get to chat with Chris Kelly - Co-Founder of Convene. Full disclosure - Convene is one of my favorite venues EVER, but this chat will be about more than just great venues. I'm really interested to learn about Chris' journey building such a successful brand that has grown so much over the years. We'll talk about his career, business growth, innovation and more!
Watch LIVE episodes each week on Tuesdays at 10:30am ET at www.facebook.com/lizkingevents
CONNECT WITH CHRIS:
On our first episode of The Event Hustlers, I had a great chat with Christina Rene, CEO of Voila Event Solutions in New York City. She is an expert in event production, working with raw spaces and sales & marketing so we talked about all this and more. Enjoy the conversation and definitely connect with Christina directly!
You’ve probably downloaded something using the torrent technology at least once in your life. Maybe you’ve downloaded a certain game you bought or a TV show, it was probably through a torrent client of some kind but you weren’t aware of it. Torrenting is so popular that some major tech companies use it for their internal operations. They use torrents to distribute patches, updates and fixes. But is this widespread technology safe? You want to learn how it actually works and how you can play with it safely?
What it really is
Torrenting is, simply put, a file sharing technology. Users, peers in this case, connect and share the files online. When you are using torrents you don’t download files from a single website or source. Files circulate around the peers who seed them. For example, you want to build a car. You get some pieces but your neighbors have the rest. Your neighbors also want to build their own cars and they might need the pieces you have. You guys will visit each other and take what you need until all of you have your complete products. Of course, torrenting means that you download stuff from one direct source but you also download chunks from other users of the same torrent. That enables a smooth transfer that’s hard to trace. But, your IP address may be visible if you’re not using a VPN. Each peer is a mini-server which reduces the stress on the network.
Terms you need to know about
In order to understand torrenting you have to posses some knowledge about the most important terms you’ll come across while visiting torrent sites and using this technology in general. As we’ve mentioned, peers are the users who are involved in the sharing process through torrent P2P network. You are a peer as long as you keep sharing files on the given network.
Seeders are users who are downloading but also uploading the file for other users to download. When you download something through torrent, you download certain amounts of data but you also upload a bit. That upload means that other users will get the chunk they need when you upload it.
Indexers are websites that work as search engines for the files and content that can be downloaded through torrents. Some people may refer to these as the torrent sites. And the best torrent sites that were really popular (especially in the world of pirates) were Piratebay, Torrentz and Zamunda (Bulgaria).
BitTorrent Client is an app that allows you to download torrent files. The most popular client is BitTorrent along with ‘uTorrent’. These apps or e.g. programs enable the process of combining the fragments from many seeds, assembling them and managing the whole download.
Trackers are servers that connect the peers. They are the ones who direct the packets from you to another peer, they help you find a peer on the network of a certain download.
How to use it?
It’s quite simple, first of all, you have to download a torrent client then find the torrent file you want and add it to the client. The downloading starts at that moment. However, the whole process isn’t that simple. Torrenting is awesome but there are some dangers that come with it. First of all, people who aren’t using torrents legally risk being incarcerated. It depends from one country to another but almost all ‘first world’ countries have strict copyright laws that could land you behind bars for 10 or more years if you download all the latest Hollywood movies and copyrighted music. You can also fall victim to online criminals, hackers, since your IP address could be visible while torrenting. And, last but not least, some hackers plant a virus into a seed and wait for you to start downloading. That way you download a virus without even knowing it.
The safe way of using it
You’ve probably heard of VPNs. A Virtual Private Network is a network that hides your identity and activity online. Many pirates use VPNs to safely download stuff they aren’t allowed to download through torrent or in any other way. For example, there is this software called ‘Tunnel Bear’. Tunnel Bear offers VPN services to its users. When you turn it off, the app changes your IP address from the real one to a phantom one in Romania, for example. This way you’re masking your real IP address so that you can’t get tracked or identified.
Torrenting is great but you have to be careful. There are harmful sites and files online. The people behind those files are always looking for new ways to get into your computer. So, do your own research and protect yourself while you torrent. Please do all the torrenting legally.
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
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
"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
Co-Founder, ATIV Software - Medical and Scientific Meeting Apps
CONNECTIONS ARE THE KEY TO SUCCESS
I believe in collaboration. Sharing your stories, successes and challenges with your peers is a great opportunity to grow. And with that in mind, I've launched a new private Facebook group for independent #eventprofs that I'd love for you to join!
This group is designed as a collaboration space for independent event planners - a safe space to swap ideas, solve problems and communicate with people who get the ups and downs of running a business doing something we love! The rules are simple: - Share value - Keep things confidential - Comment constructively - Collaborate. Anything else shall be moderated out ?
Who’s an “independent planner”?
I categorize this as anyone who plans events for a living and/or frequently. You also run a business and have to worry about things like sales, marketing, business development etc. You can work alone, with a team, or with a wide group of freelancers. Or - you might be a freelancer yourself! If you’re ultimately responsible for making a living and planning events, this is the community for you!!
It seems that everyone is obsessed with the words "influencer" and "thought leader". Buzz words, yes. But a new concept? Absolutely not!
Since the beginning of time, people purchase things from people they know, trust, and believe will do the job. They hire event planners who come highly recommended, which is why most of us get the majority of our business through word of mouth. They hire vendors based on a mix of research, reviews and recommendations.
In short, people hire people they trust. So becoming a thought leader is important for 2 reasons:
- It establishes you as a trustworthy person because they see your work, get to know your personality and learn to trust that you do what you say.
- The power of social media expands your reach and helps you become that trustworthy thought leader to a MUCH larger audience.
But when we hear these words, we think of the people with thousands of followers and a big, visible brand. We feel unworthy. We think we don't have what it takes to be the expert yet. We feel like imposters and can always count a million ways why we aren't "ready yet".
But here are a few key FACTS about thought leadership you need to embrace so you can make your biggest impact yet in the coming year.
- You don't have to be an expert to be an influencer. People relate to your journey and are more likely to become attached to you as you wade your way through the muck of life. They will appreciate your road to becoming successful rather than loving you once you're already a know-it-all.
- Even with that said, you are more of an expert than you give yourself credit for. Have you ever been able to teach or help someone with something you know? If so (and I know you have!), you have expertise. You don't have to be the biggest expert on a topic to talk about your journey, but you do have things you know that could be helpful to others.
I've been listening to the work of Dr. Valerie Young on a recommendation from one of my mentors, Carolyn Herfurth, about Imposter Syndrome - why so many people (especially women) often feel like we are imposters as we build our brands, even though we have plenty of experience. This podcast that Carolyn did with Valerie is a great listen and I highly recommend if you're just starting this journey of building your thought leadership and you hesitate because you don't think you have what it takes yet.
The truth is that the world needs to hear from you.
They need to learn from you. And you don't have to be rated #1 in your industry to have something to say. Put yourself out there as you are - be authentic - and share your journey and I bet you'll be surprised to see how many people care!
If you’re ready to step into your light as a thought leader to grow your business and could use some help, there are a few ways I support entrepreneurs like you!
- FREE PODCASTS: The “I’ve Been Thinking” podcast is a 3-5 min. series I’ve been doing to inspire you in your thinking as an event business owner. You can listen at the gym, in the car, or anywhere you have some time to challenge your thinking about your business!
- MEETUPS: Sometimes you need to get out of your office and swap war stories with other independent planners who are going through the same things. I’ve found there aren’t many resources for independent event planners so I created a space for us to get the networking we need – planners only so you won’t spend your night being pitched by vendors. Instead – you’ll be able to share war stories and best practices that arm you for success.
- DEFINE YOUR BRILLIANCE: One of the things I’ve noticed is that so many independent event planners have a hard time defining their unique value. And if they know what it is, they’re scared of “niche”ing. But this step is SO CRITICAL to growing your business. In this one-on-one short consulting, we’ll work together to find YOUR brilliance – so you can see the ripple effects of defining your value throughout your entire business.
- IGNITE: If you’re ready to really dive in and uplevel, this year-long mentorship and consulting program is a life-changer. The eventprofs who have been through this course have seen a dramatic difference in their perception of their businesses, but more importantly, so have their clients. We work on defining your brand, up-leveling your business, raising your prices, finding the right clients and bringing in more revenue by leveraging thought leadership. This takes you from the roller coaster of entrepreneurship and puts you on the path towards sustainable revenue and a growing business.
When I first started my business, I wasn't sure how much to charge. Even when I figured out my pricing structure, when it came to putting it on paper, I was always nervous it was going to be too much. I didn't know my value - and worse - my clients didn't know either.
It was a few years into a certain client's event that I decided that the value I brought to the table was not being rewarded. It was my own fault, but I was charging way too little because I just wanted to "get the business" and I was afraid of claiming what I really thought I deserved. It was a tough time in my company - trying to take LKE from a side business to a serious FT business - and part of that transition was learning to charge what I believed I was worth (and building a business that reflected that value). I ended up raising my prices 4X that year and it has been a more successful business ever since.
I don't get every client, but I do get the ones that are perfect for me. This is important - and the process to get here was long, but worth every second. Here are a few tips I have if you're looking to change the perception of your business, uplevel and see exponential growth!
1. TAKE YOURSELF SERIOUSLY AS A BUSINESS
The first step in getting other people to respect you as a legit planner who is worth paying for - is to take yourself seriously. This isn't a side business. It's not a hobby. If you want to make a full-time income, you've got to make this your biggest priority. I've found that focusing on your planning as a serious business does a few things.
(1) It helps you believe that you bring something very special and unique to the table. You know how hard you work and you want to be paid accordingly.
(2) Your activity is evident to all those around you - they take you more seriously, expect to spend more money and determine that they want to work with you for a specific value you bring to the table.
If you're working with a full-time effort and want to command higher revenue, you've got to make it look legitimate. This would include spending your time on:
- Branding yourself as a high-class planner. This mandates that you focus on your BRILLIANCE and brand yourself accordingly. Yes - choosing a niche is important!
- A strong marketing plan. If you're spending hours and hours working on your business, some of that time should be on strong social media posts, an updated website, updated LinkedIn profile and a strong marketing plan.
- A defined, well-branded proposal process. What do your prospective clients receive from you the second they're interested? What is your proposal process and how does it speak to your ideal target clients? If it's giving away too much up front or not communicating your value, you're going to lose more potential clients than you could ever find.
In short, when everything you do looks like a successful business that provides a unique value to a specific target audience, you're on the right path!
2. CHARGE ETHICALLY AND APPROPRIATELY
It's not fair to our clients, or to ourselves, to make pricing a guessing game. The price of the day shouldn't be based on how you feel or how rich your client is. At the end of the day, you're selling a service that has an associated price. You're an event planner and that means you're involved in various aspects of throwing an event. Maybe you're more on the management side or full production, but you should know your service listings.
In determining how to charge, I've found a few pricing models that exist in our industry. Some do one way, others make a hybrid version, and still others make it up as they go along. Here are 3 popular pricing models I've seen and my opinions on each.
- A PERCENTAGE OF THE BUDGET
This model is simple - planners who charge this way take a % of their total budget. So let's say your client has a $100,000 budget and you take 20%, you get paid $20,000 (Look ma, I just did math!).This is very straightforward, but not my favorite way to charge because it has no reflection on the work you will need to do. Let's say the client's budget is $100,000, but they want you to manage 100 speakers. They may not be paying these speakers so it's doesn't factor into their budget, but managing 100 speakers is a HUGE, time-consuming task. You've really got to make sure your % is fair if you're using this model.
- A FLAT FEE
I'll be honest - I'm not 100% sure how people figure this model out (which is why I don't do it), but the general concept is that there is a flat fee. For example - on-site wedding management is $2,500 and full wedding management is $5,000. I'm guessing this is based on average workload, but I also have a feeling this changes frequently based on the whim of the day - and the projected "budget" of the client.
- A PROJECT FEE BASED ON PROJECTED # OF HOURS
This is the model I love the most, and it's what I use for all of our clients. I lay out a very specific scope of work. Like -VERY specific - and then use that to determine how many hours I think I will have to spend. Of course, I also include staff time as well. This estimation of hours is then multiplied by my hourly rate and then given as a flat fee. So - if I end up spending more time than I thought, that's my fault. My clients don't pay more. If I spend less time (which RARELY happens), I still get paid the same flat fee. But - I do reduce for the client the next time around to make sure it's in line with reality so they aren't overpaying.The reason I love this model so much is that it's a direct reflection of the work. If I give a proposal for $40,000 and my client can only afford $10,000, I can still take the contract by reducing the scope and lessening my fee. I know how much work I'll need to do, and reducing my fee and scope allows me to take on other clients. It's also much more transparent to the client as they know they're being charged only for work I'm doing. It helps me when the client's budget is lower than my proposal - I don't just have to do all the same work for the same price.
Now just because the third model is my favorite, doesn't mean it's the only right answer. You have to find a solution that you feel comfortable with. The main goal here is to decide on a pricing model - make it clear to your clients - and stick with it. If you know HOW you charge, you can then determine HOW MUCH!
3. STICK TO YOUR GUNS
If we want our clients to take us seriously, we have to take ourselves seriously. And the biggest way we do that is sticking to our pricing strategy. Once you've done the two things above, you're really sure that you deliver great value to your clients. You're also clear on HOW you price your services and HOW MUCH makes sense for each project. Once you've established this - you come to the hardest part of all - sticking to your guns.
Remember that story I told in the beginning about raising my prices by 4X? Well the first time I did that, I lost the client. They couldn't understand why I had to raise my prices so much and they didn't value the work that I brought to the table. It was a hard loss and I really had to push through a lot of doubt and uncertainty about this new pricing strategy. But you know what? After 2 years, that same client came back and paid the 4X amount. They had hired other companies and didn't get the same quality - and when they came back - they knew why I was worth every penny.
I know this is easier to say than to do, but when you truly believe in the value you bring to the table, you take yourself seriously, and you have a smart pricing strategy - you will find that the right clients are the ones who will pay you. You'll have to let the ones who don't see your value fall away. You'll lose some business. You might even lose some of your best current customers.
But you're also opening the doors to a whole new ballgame.
When you brand yourself and price accordingly, you open up all new doors.
- Clients who love you and will pay top dollar to work with you.
- New revenue opportunities from thought leadership.
- No more justifying your value every step of the way and arguing with clients who don't have clear expectations.
- Getting paid WELL for work you LOVE to do.
It may not be easy, which is why many people don't do it, but those who take the time to walk this path will be some of the most powerful event hustlers in the business!
This may be one of the largest articles I've ever written, but raising your prices is not a simple task. It's a lot of work and there are a lot of nuances. I found out (the hard way) that much of this takes support from people who have been there before.
If you're ready to take action on these items and could use some help, there are a few ways I support entrepreneurs like you!
- FREE PODCASTS: The "I've Been Thinking" podcast is a 3-5 min. series I've been doing to inspire you in your thinking as an event business owner. You can listen at the gym, in the car, or anywhere you have some time to challenge your thinking about your business!
- MEETUPS: Sometimes you need to get out of your office and swap war stories with other independent planners who are going through the same things. I've found there aren't many resources for independent event planners so I created a space for us to get the networking we need - planners only so you won't spend your night being pitched by vendors. Instead - you'll be able to share war stories and best practices that arm you for success.
- DEFINE YOUR BRILLIANCE: One of the things I've noticed is that so many independent event planners have a hard time defining their unique value. And if they know what it is, they're scared of "niche"ing. But this step is SO CRITICAL to growing your business. In this one-on-one short consulting, we'll work together to find YOUR brilliance - so you can see the ripple effects of defining your value throughout your entire business.
- IGNITE: If you're ready to really dive in and uplevel, this year-long mentorship and consulting program is a life-changer. The eventprofs who have been through this course have seen a dramatic difference in their perception of their businesses, but more importantly, so have their clients. We work on defining your brand, up-leveling your business, raising your prices, finding the right clients and bringing in more revenue by leveraging thought leadership. This takes you from the roller coaster of entrepreneurship and puts you on the path towards sustainable revenue and a growing business.