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You Can’t Be Everything to Everyone

June 12, 2017

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Wedding Industry Advice: You Can't Be Everything to Everyone

Living in the Caribbean for nearly three years has taught me so much about what I want for my business. I live in Barbados– which is a glittering gem of an island located in the southern Caribbean sea. The wedding industry here is highly competitive and secretive– and businesses strive to be a “one-stop-shop” for anyone looking to get married here. Continue reading below for more wedding industry advice…

In 2007, when I started by first business, Jubilee Events, I never wanted to be a one stop shop.

I wanted to focus on my strengths and offer my clients a unique and fun experience while planning their wedding. I knew I was good at managing people and details, and I had a love of interiors. I wanted to design weddings that were as functional as they were beautiful.

  • I can't arrange flowers, so I knew offering floral design was out of my scope. I also don't like arranging flowers and have a tendency to kill a plant before I can even get it home from the store. But I know what looks good– and so I partner with talented floral artists to make a vision come to life.
  • I have no idea how to run a rental company, nor do I have the capital to invest in a lot of products, so I didn't feel the need to offer rentals. Plus, that seems like a lot of work– and I have enough work already. I also have a dozen or so rental companies I can call on to create a unique look for my clients' event– so why add another option into the mix?
  • I have great music tastes, but I don't dare pretend to know how to play to a diverse audience of people– or anything about how to work a DJ deck. I also can't manage an event well if I'm also the MC and the entertainment!
  • I loathe DIY. Like, I seriously hate it. I can barely paint my nails without having an ADD fit, let alone drape a tent or hang chandeliers. I don't have the patience to build wooden signs or make photo booth props for my clients– so I didn't set out to be that kind of business. In art school, I nearly paid a fellow student to complete a project for me– which, while teetering on the fence of bad ethics– was resourceful (and being resourceful is my job now). Instead, I just source things from professionals who offer great products that will enhance my clients' events.

Plus, I was surrounded by diverse and professional businesses that provide all those services– often time in multiples. If I wanted high-end rustic rentals, I know exactly who to call. If my client wants a weird floral installation piece for their escort card display, all I have to do is pick up the phone and call my favorite florist who does weird and eccentric floral art.

My clients hire me because they want a wedding that is well organized, managed, and beautiful. They don't hire me to cook the food, arrange the flowers, play the music or perform the ceremony. They hire me so that I can manage all those things throughout the process and on the wedding day.  

Now I'm in a market where everyone offers everything; the caterer can do your flowers, the venue can design your event and the photographer can also coordinate your wedding. But I noticed that this phenomenon is not just here in Barbados, but all throughout the wedding industry– even in your market.

As we look to grow our business and diversify our revenue streams, it seems natural to add more services and products to our plate. If you are not making it on what you currently offer, why not just offer more and bring services you subcontract in house?

This strategy only works when you are fulfilling your business's purpose (I talk more about your business's purpose being tied to your brand here). If you are a wedding planner and you love floral arranging– then bringing that revenue into your business makes sense. But if you are a florist who offers wedding planning because you think you'll make more money, then you're going to be in for a rude awakening.

And by rude awakening I mean you are going to become stressed out, burnt out, overworked, and underappreciated. Why? Because your business is being motivated by money and not by what you want to do.

As business owners in the wedding industry, we wake up each day with a lot of responsibility. Responsibility to our clients, our staff/team, and our families. You and I both know that we work ungodly hours, and on some projects, when you break down the hours worked x the amount paid you to wonder: what in the hell am I doing this for? I could work for someone else and make twice as much– with less responsibility!

But the truth is, you do it because you love it. And you need to stick to that. You need to stick to what you are great at and what you love to do, rather than trying to fit everything under one roof.

The time you spend working in your business on things that you hate is time that you could have spent developing things that you love.

Instead of bringing everything in-house– why not grow the areas of your business that you defined in your business plan?

Focus on the core purpose of your business from the start, and develop those areas first. If you uncover a natural talent or knack to do something that your clients would appreciate–  embrace that! But don't try to be something you are not.

I truly believe that we should master what we set out to do first before expanding into things we know nothing about. Know that quote, “Jack of all trades, master of none?” Don't be that guy. Focus on being the very best at what you do–and up your game on how you do it–before you bring more services and products into your portfolio that don't have anything to do with what your business's purpose is.

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