The Ins and Outs of Mastermind Groups

By Lane' Richards, Something Borrowed

You’ve probably heard of a Mastermind Group but aren’t exactly sure what all the hype is about. We all know as wedding professionals that your time, energy and resources are very limited. You don’t want to join yet another program that may not produce the results you were hoping for. Let's take a closer look at Masterminds and see how they can be of value to the growth of your wedding business.

 What is a Mastermind?

A Mastermind Group is peer-to-peer mentoring with a mixture of brainstorming, education and accountability. They are a way to accelerate the success of your business as you focus on your most important issues.

They are a concept first introduced in the early 1900’s by Napoleon Hill via his book, “The Law to Success.” They are new to most people, but have gained popularity over the past couple of years. Masterminds are a great way to get motivated and to make better business decisions and cost much less than working one on one with a business coach.

Is a Mastermind Group for You?

Masterminds are not for everyone. They can be intense and you must be open to both sharing and exploring new ideas with others. They’re ideal if you’re passionate about your business and want to not only reach but exceed your goals. You have to be willing to be an active participant to reap the full benefits. Each group member relies on your expertise to help guide them through an issue, so it’s not a place to be a bystander or sit quietly in the corner. What you put into it is what you’ll get out of it, so it’s important to not only show up, but be fully present.

What to Expect

Meeting consistency. Mastermind Groups meet once or twice a month at a set date and time, taking the guesswork out of finding a good time for the entire group.

Virtual collaboration. Since most Masterminds meet virtually, you are not tied to finding a group in your geographic location, opening the doors for you to be part of a group that fits with your niche, expertise and time constraints.

Small groups. Space is usually limited to up to 6-8 people which allows each person enough time on the Mastermind calls. A smaller group also means stronger connections.

Simple meeting structure. Mastermind Groups have standard format for each meeting. To get warmed up, they may open with a celebration or win from the previous meeting. Then, each participant has time in the “hot seat” to share the problem or challenge they are facing. All group members then take turns sharing ideas they have for the hot seat member. To close the meeting out, each member takes turns sharing one thing they’d like to be held accountable for.

When you take part in a Mastermind Group, you’ll start to see a shift in your confidence and what you accomplish. You’ll have breakthrough moments and a greater sense of clarity as you work through obstacles that may be holding you back. A coach and peers will guide you as you tackle challenges and solve problems together. Best of all, you’ll have fun participating in one!

 Lane’ Richards is the multidisciplinary entrepreneur and creative genius behind Something Borrowed Portland. In 2017 Lane’ started Wedding Pro Coaching; offering mastermind business coaching and educational programs to independent creatives looking to navigate - and succeed - in the crowded wedding industry.

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Tips to Make Business Forecasting Less Overwhelming

By Kevin Dennis, WeddingIQ

As the owner or manager of a growing business, you shoulder the responsibility not just of current day-to-day operations, but what will happen in the future as well. While a crystal ball would be super helpful, magic is not an option. You need to apply your expertise and your past experience to looking ahead and anticipating what is likely to come next so you can be totally prepared for the next opportunities and challenges. You need to learn to forecast like a pro.

Business forecasting, or looking into the future to predict what is to come, doesn’t have to be a daunting, overwhelming task, however. If you approach it wisely, it can easily become a routine – one with the power to help you navigate towards future success.

Forecasting Tools

One of our most valuable forecasting tools is our CRM software. It enables us to create a comprehensive database of our leads and our active and past clients. Part of knowing what to expect in the future is having an extremely clear view of what occurred in the past. Our database helps us see the areas and circumstances under which we were most successful, and to take note of the situations that were challenges.

What to Include

Set tangible goals or benchmarks in your forecast, like a monetary goal you hope to reach in the future, or a number of events you want to book in a given time period. You could also include the amount of money you anticipate your couples will spend per event. Figuring out where you want to go, then comparing it with the reality of your known and anticipated expenses and obstacles can help you create a plan that will help you overcome challenges and take advantage of opportunities.

When forecasting, it is important that your predictions be realistic. Don’t just anticipate the good times. Build in padding for the more difficult times as well. Being conservative with your income estimates and a little guarded about prospective success will ultimately help you find balance.

The Biggest Mistake

The single biggest mistake that most businesses make is not forecasting at all. Maybe it’s easier not to think about the future, or maybe you’re afraid you won’t like what you find. The only path forward, though, is one that acknowledges the successes and failures of the past, and attempts to prepare for them in the future.

Are you ready to guide your company through its next phases of growth? Start forecasting today!

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Reflecting and Planning for the Year Ahead

By Emily Sullivan, Emily Sullivan Events

This year is coming to a close, which means it’s time to put plans in place for the year ahead. As a wedding planner, this delights me to no end, but it’s not lost on me that for most business owners, it is a dreaded task.

To make things more manageable, I am going to walk you through my tried and true processes of analyzing 2017 and preparing for 2018.

Money, Money, Money

Finances are crucial to the success or failure of your business, but you shouldn't just be looking at the money as a whole. Instead, you need to break it down to find out when bookings are usually slower or what was your best time of year. When you look at these, you might be pleasantly surprised at what you discover. More importantly if you can thoroughly understand your earning cycle, then you can set realistic goals and plan for the slower time periods.

Marketing

Marketing normally makes up a significant portion of one’s business, so it deserves a proper review at least annually. Carve out time to take a look back at the number of leads you received from each promotional strategy, and then see how many of those actually turn into clients.

You’ll need to have an honest talk with yourself and decide whether you truly took advantage of the tools and perks that come with your advertising packages. Did you maintain your respective online profiles? Follow up with their leads lists?

This type of analysis will allow you to make better informed decisions about what investments make the most sense to continue in the coming year.

Team Members

Do not forget about the key players in your company. When I took a good hard look at my team, I realized that one of my members was exceptional at social media, blogging and search engine optimization. It is where she wanted to focus her attention, so we made the switch and it has equally benefitted my business as well as her own professional experience.

Also, get their opinions on how they feel execution of an event or daily processes can be simplified or delegated. Have them look at their productivity and schedule, and see how they think it can be improved. Take yourself and your team off-site to a retreat or lunch. Sometimes getting outside of your typical work environment will allow you to dive deeper and think clearer yielding exceptional results for a fruitful year!

Calendar

Before the start of the year, I always like to look at the calendar year ahead and see how it is shaping up. This will allow you to plan out a better work-life balance of knowing what months you are already overextended so you can plan around it. You can also see if you need to hire part-time employees to execute everything without sacrificing quality of work.

If you are looking to make the process even easier for 2018, I suggest breaking it down throughout the year. My team and I meet seasonally to discuss how we can improve and to reevaluate procedures. The worst thing is when you go an entire year struggling, when little things can be tweaked and changed to make it a more prosperous year for you.

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Handling Travel Expenses

By Kevin Dennis, WeddingIQ

Being able to travel for work is something that always sounds really fun and glamorous to people, and don’t get me wrong, sometimes it is. However, there is a lot of back-end work that goes into it. From scheduling to booking and of course, managing expenses. Your trip can quickly go from exciting to stressful, but with a few simple tips you’ll have no problem handling your travel expenses.

Get Organized

Good organization is the secret weapon for most seasoned travelers. For your hotels and airfare, using an app that stores everything in one place for quick and easy access is key. I use TripIt, which has been a huge time saver. As for other expenses while on the trip, be sure you’re keeping all of your receipts. I found that having a designated folder in my suitcase makes it easy for me to empty out my wallet at the end of each night. That way, I know everything is there and I can refer back to it when I’m home in the office.

Additional Employees

If you have additional employees joining you, you’re going to want to have some way for them easily get around, buy meals, etc. Issuing a company credit card has worked well for me. They are given a strict spending limit and are required to complete an expense report immediately following the trip. If you aren’t comfortable with that, the next best option is to simply reimburse them. Be sure they are keeping their receipts and have them fill out an expense report for everything they put on their card.

Set a Budget

Set a budget before your trip of what you’d be comfortable spending and stick to it. Remember that you’re there for work and not fun. I’ve seen a lot of people blow off conference classes to go out and see the sights, which means they’re spending money instead of learning how to make money. You paid to be there, so it’s your responsibility to get the most out of it.

Determine ROI

After the conference/trip, sit down and look at how much you spent and determine if the ROI is worth it. It’s going to be hard to evaluate, because results may take some time, but taking a close look at your finances can show you some changes you can make on another trip.

The only question left now is, where are you headed to next?

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Why Forecasting Should be a Priority in Your Business

By Audrey Isaac, 100 Candles

As wedding professionals, we know to start checking our weather apps weeks in advance for upcoming events. We plan rain and/or snow backups plans, because we see the issue coming and want to make sure it’s been taken care of beforehand. But are you doing the same thing for your business? Forecasting is critical to the success of a small business, and for those who don’t have a plan can find themselves in a place that they cannot recover from.   

Meeting Goals

Not meeting sales goals? It might be because you aren’t setting them effectively for yourself and your team. Look back on where you were the same time last year and you will probably find that you were having the exact same issue. It isn’t because your business is failing, it is because you are not properly setting it up for success. You need to communicate with your team exactly what goals they need to meet, but then also give them the tools and the knowledge to reach and exceed them. The only way to foreshadow and think through these issues is to evaluate what happened the year prior. Then you can share them with the team with a clear focus instead of “just increase sales.”       

 Challenges and Pitfalls

Forecasting can be a great way to alleviate some of your stress. You can effectively see where your company might encounter an obstacle by taking a look backwards at previous years. Look into things like, what time of year you normally see a dip in inquires or revenue, and create a plan ahead of time for a push on marketing and advertising to combat the problem. This will help minimize any future damage or setbacks. The next year you can look back and see what solutions worked and which ones didn’t, that way you are improving year after year.

 Stay on Track

Creating and implementing your plan for upward growth is necessary, but are you sharing that information with your employees? Do they know what your five or even 10-year plan looks like? This is extremely important so that they know what they are working towards with you, and can visualize the growth and know what role they play now and what role they can see themselves in in the future. Sometimes business owners and employees alike get too focused on the day-to-day tasks, and it can get mundane and even a little boring. But they need to see what track you’re on and where you’re headed so that they remain passionate, creative and striving for success.

Forecasting should not be saved for just at the end of the year. You should implement it as a practice each and every month to look back and assess your successes and failures. If you always wait until the end of the year, you are so far removed that you will forget. So add forecasting to your ‘to do’ list, you will be happy you did.

Audrey Isaac is the spokesperson of 100 Candles, a wholesale market for candles and lights. Since 2002, thousands of wedding and event professionals have entrusted 100 Candles with their wholesale candle accounts. For more information, please visit https://www.100candles.com/.

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