The Harsh Reality of Business Ownership, and 5 Things You Need to Do to Survive

The Harsh Reality of Business Ownership, and 5 Things You Need to Do to Survive

If there's one thing I know to be true in business (and in life), it's that nothing is ever constant. By their very nature, businesses are dynamic, and we all need to be mindful of that if we want them to thrive. We, as business owners, have to be willing to face the reality of what we've built, something that's often easier said than done.

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WeddingIQ Retrospective: Why Competition Isn't a Bad Thing, Revisited

WeddingIQ Retrospective: Why Competition Isn't a Bad Thing, Revisited

(Editor's Note: In Kyle's and Jennifer's May 2015 post, "Why Competition Isn't a Bad Thing," we explained how the new hot focus in the wedding industry and other creative fields, that of #communityovercompetition, was both compelling and confusing. Today, Kyle looks back at our original article and shares her current thoughts.)

I don’t know when competition became a dirty word in our industry, but it has done nothing but help me define my business, strive to create better products and services, and serve as inspiration to constantly improve my technique. When I began my business, I spent hours poring over competitors' websites and blogs to research the local market, gain an understanding of pricing structures, then work to set myself apart and create a viable (and competitive) offering to potential clients.

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More Thoughts on Inspiration: How Does Sugar-Coating the Reality of Business Hurt Us?

More Thoughts on Inspiration: How Does Sugar-Coating the Reality of Business Hurt Us?

The response I received to last week's inspiration post was really overwhelming, in the best possible way. Blogging about potentially controversial perspectives can be scary at times; even while I'm not usually too concerned with whether people agree with me, I also don't want my intentions to be misunderstood, nor do I want to take the wind out of any well-meaning people's sails. (I've put way too much effort into supporting other business owners to then haphazardly do something to tear anyone down.) I was really moved to see how many people seemed to get where I was coming from, and voiced their support in the form of blog comments, private messages and social media shares.

One of the comments from the post got me thinking on another potential issue with some of the "inspiration" groups out there: that of experienced business owners being expected to help and mentor newcomers to the industry, because that somehow is the good or "right" thing to do. There almost seems to be some kind of moral obligation attached to it, and while the more popular and socially acceptable response seems to rally around the idea of "paying it forward" in this way, I'm seeing many wedding professionals bristling about the unrealistic expectations being placed on them. (I touched on this briefly in Kyle's and my post about competition not being an inherently bad thing, where I pointed out, "To imply to newcomers that success in business is, or should be, anything other than a meritocracy doesn't do anyone any good. In fact, it's instilling false hope to send the message that any amount of cheerleading and handholding can come close to the real work that goes into making a business thrive."

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Why Competition Isn't a Bad Thing

Why Competition Isn't a Bad Thing

Many of our readers are probably familiar with Ben Sasso’s 2014 blog post “The Photographer’s Manifesto,” which promoted a message of “Community Over Competition” that really resonated with a lot of people. His article was also published on Fstoppers and referenced in Rangefinder Magazine, and was linked in about a zillion social media posts, blogs and Pinterest boards.

It’s a fabulous post: kind, vulnerable, insightful, and (clearly) inspiring. There’s a lot to love there.

What has us thinking, though, is this…as compelling as Ben’s “Community Over Competition” message is, when did the word competition become negative in and of itself? It’s as though competitive is seen as the same as cutthroat. Perhaps not so much in Ben’s original writing, but definitely in the comments and conversations it’s launched.

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Stop Worrying What Everyone Else is Doing

 Stop Worrying What Everyone Else is Doing

(Editor's Note: Today's post comes courtesy of Allison Barnhill of Allison Barnhill Designs, an Annapolis, MD based stationery designer and friend of ours - we're thrilled to feature her! Learn more about Allison at the end of the post!)

When I first started Allison Barnhill Designs, over 12 years ago, I was obsessed with what every other person in the industry was doing. I thought that if I wanted to be "successful," I had to do all the same things that they were doing. If a "successful" vendor did a certain bridal show, I thought I had to do that show too. If they had an ad in a bridal magazine, I thought I had to do that too. I spent a lot of my time worrying about what everyone else was doing. And, that wasn't really getting me anywhere, except losing sight of my own business.

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