I decided to become a wedding planner during a few sick days off from work in 2007, curled up in the coach binge-watching wedding shows. I was working a job I absolutely hated, so making the leap from side hustle to full-time wedding planner was a pretty big priority for me. Can you relate? Whether you love your day job or not, working while building a business is pretty damn exhausting. And almost every side hustling wedding planner I know is longing for the day they can quit their job and go full time! Inside this article, I'm sharing with you how to go from side hustle to full time wedding planner.
As I reflected on some of the wins we had in my mastermind during 2021, one of the things I am most proud of is how many wedding planners quit their day jobs last year and took their wedding business full time. And might I add, they've done it while we're still in the middle of a pandemic! Even though there's still some level of uncertainty around us. women are building businesses they love and best of all, trusting themselves to make it happen.
While I don't think you need to (or should!) quit your job with your last $7 in your pocket to go “all in”, I do have just a little advice if you have “become a full time wedding planner” on your 2022 vision board.
First, talk with your partner (if applicable) about your plans.
Going from side hustle to full time wedding planner is not something you want to tackle alone. Don't get me wrong, you don't need a supportive partner to succeed, but it can certainly make things easier. Plus, you have the chance to address any concerns they might have upfront. Is your partner worried about you working all the time? Now is a great time to set some working hour boundaries. Are they worried about the income fluctuation that entrepreneurship can notoriously bring? Talk to them about what they need to feel comfortable (so that they can support YOU and cheer you on when you make the leap!).
If you don't have a partner, consider a friend with similar goals to talk to and hold each other accountable. It can be scary to quit a “secure job” (if there really is such a thing!). Sharing your goals and getting an outside perspective from someone who cares about you can help you see blind spots (AND opportunities) as you take the next step in your business.
Create a plan to quit your 9-5 (and set an end date!)
My two cents? Make this plan realistic but still ambitious. Like I said in the beginning, I'm not one to encourage you to leap and hope the net appears. Once you have talked to your partner, it's time to create a plan to quit your 9-5. You probably already know you need to start a savings account (more on that next!) but you also want to make a list of what you need to have in place before you are ready to hand in your two weeks notice. Think about what your job is giving you that you'll need to replace (like health insurance and/or a retirement plan).
On top of that, think about what you want to be set up in your wedding business before quitting your day job. Perhaps you want to book a certain number of clients, finally get your CRM setup complete, or launch your new and improved website. Creating a goal to work toward, with your full time badge as a reward, is a good idea.
Save at least 3 months of income to cover your expenses
Possibly the least sexy part about becoming a full time wedding planner, right? As a general rule, I recommend saving at least 3 months of income to cover your expenses before you quit your day job. Although I have no doubt that you can hustle and make it work no matter what, having a savings account to fall back on ensures that during your first months as a full time wedding planner, you don't make decisions out of scarcity.
Here's the tea – taking on low-paying clients or ignoring red flags to get the sale (and pay your rent!) are just never worth it in the wedding industry. Seriously, as a full time wedding planner, you might work with each client for a year (or three, if heaven forbid events keep postponing in your area because of a global pandemic or something else unprecedented). Having a savings account helps keep off those rose-colored glasses and ensures you are making the right decisions for your business.
The other sad truth? Shitty clients are like a magnet for more shitty clients. If you don't know yet who your ideal clients are, I created the client cocktail for you to have this figured out this weekend.
While you are building your savings account, write your business plan.
Despite what some business gurus online are screaming at you, you don't have to wing it. In fact, I don't think you should. I'm a big fan of creating a solid business plan right from the start so you can have a strategy to move forward. If you already have one for your side hustle, pull that baby out and do a check in. Are you still working your plan? Are there any changes you want to make moving forward as you embark on your journey as a full time wedding planner?
If you've never built a business plan, you are not alone. I created a guide to writing your business plan outline, and it's still one of the most popular downloads in my freebie shop (that's right – you can shop here for FREE). Not only will your business plan (hopefully!) help you cement your vision, it forces you to put pen to paper on what it will really take to make your dream a reality. If you need a little extra nudge – make sure to read this post on what a business plan will reveal in your wedding business.
As you can tell, this is something I get pretty fired up about because I KNOW it's one of those steps you want to skip. But trust me, spend a little extra time on this one and it won't got to waste.
Invest in business coaching and/or community
I'm a firm believer that you shouldn't do business (or happy hour) alone. As a wedding planner coach for over a decade now, it's probably not a surprise that I believe before you take one of the biggest business leaps, that you should invest in a business coach who has been where you want to go. I don't believe there is a one size fits all approach when it comes to coaching either. If you are reading this and think I might be someone you want in your back pocket, you can learn more about different ways to work with me here.
Wondering what to invest in first? Here's a cheat sheet:
- If you are a wedding planner with less than 5 years in the industry, it's time to join The Planner's Playbook. There is even a community component to help you connect with other full time wedding planners inside (and it just might be your favorite part).
- If you are ready to scale your business (I'm talking growing your team, diversifying your revenue, and more), apply to join me in my signature group coaching program: WeddingPro Insiders.
- Finally, If you don't have ideal clients knocking on your door asking to work with you (yet), sign up now for instant access to my client cocktail.
The easiest way to get what to where you want to go is to learn from someone who has done it before you. With that said, if for whatever reason you don't want to invest in business coaching right now, I want to encourage you to still find community. The wedding industry is truly like no other. What better time to start curating and cultivating strong relationships than BEFORE you need them? Be intentional and pour into your community while you have the time to do so.
Next, Increase Your Prices (probably).
When you first set your prices, what did you do? If you are like most wedding planners, you either looked at what those around you were charging and chose something that was equal or less than the “going rate” OR you found an hourly rate you were comfortable with and started there. I hope that served you well so far (you don't want to burn out even BEFORE you are a full time wedding planner). However, before you take the leap and go full time, I want you to take another look at your pricing page.
Here are *just a few* things you need to think about when setting your wedding planner prices:
- Do your prices leave room to invest in your business? Education is lifelong and you want to set your pricing so you have room to attend those dreamy wedding conferences that are on your vision board.
- What about outsourcing? If your dream business idea has you working 20 hours a week and making a 6 figure salary, does your pricing include room to outsource the things you have no desire to do?
- If you continue to sell your current packages, do you have room to pay for the things you (as an employee) need? Health insurance? Retirement funds?
- Is your business making profit? After it pays YOU what you want to make?
Maybe you need to raise your prices, and maybe you need to scale back your offerings. Regardless, give your services page another look before you take the leap and go full time to make sure you are building both the business AND life that you want. As a business coach for wedding planners, this is a questions I get asked about (a LOT), so if you want a little extra reading, check out this post on how much to charge as a wedding planner.
Take the leap – you've done hard things before.
When I write these blogs, I'm pretty intentional about keeping them “no fluff”. But listen, you've done hard things before. I don't want this list of things to do before you quit your 9-5 to keep you stuck. That's NOT the goal. Instead, I want you to follow these steps while taking messy action and doing the thing anyway. You CAN do this.
Looking for your own community of wedding planners? I would love to invite you to join us inside the Planner's Playbook. This membership was created to set up new wedding planners for a lifetime of success in the wedding industry, and the community is truly icing on the cake. If you haven't found your people yet, they just might be in there!
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- How To Become A Wedding Planner With No Experience
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