A lot of wedding pros live and die by their checklists. You know, the one online to keep your couples on track, the one in your calendar to keep your life organized, and that paper list that you’ll even write completed tasks on after you’ve done them just to have the satisfaction of crossing them off! But, even if you obsessively keep lists for every aspect of your business, sometimes things still sneak up on you and, very often, they aren’t the tiny tasks.
Keeping up with all of your business tasks can be a challenge, especially when you are working through them on top of everything else. But, with COVID-19 clearing a lot of calendars, this forced down time does have a silver lining—time to work ON your business. And, in an environment where the ground seems to be shifting underneath our feet, it is more important than ever to make sure that you are taking care of things now in order to set yourself up for future success. So today, we want to talk about some of the essential business tasks you can (and should) be working through in order to make sure that you have all of your ducks in a row heading into 2021. Read on to see what business tasks you should be investing some time in as well as to get advice from four of our 2020 WeddingPro Educators.
When it comes to your business finances
Understanding the financial health of your business is perhaps the most important thing as a business owner, but it is especially true in the midst of an economic downturn. So, in addition to updating your budget and projections, creating a plan for saving and paying off any debt, and looking at where you can reduce your costs, WeddingPro Educator and CPA, Nadia Anderson, suggests that you complete these six financial tasks every year. (Pay close attention to her tips on preparing for 2021!)
- File your state and federal income taxes
- I encourage business owners to estimate their taxes quarterly so that you’re fully aware of your liability when it is time to file. If you’re not comfortable doing so on your own, consult with a CPA or your tax professional. And, this year, if you received any assistance during the pandemic, find out now how those items will impact your 2020 tax filings. You don’t want any surprises!
- Create a budget to set expectations for 2021
- Of course, it will be hard to estimate the coming year because 2020 derailed all of our plans and we’re still not quite sure what next wedding season will look like. A conservative budget would include all the expenses that you’re obligated to pay and those that increase your efficiency or that you’re able to pass along directly to your couples, along with a low estimate for the revenue that you’ll generate from weddings.
- Renew your local business license and state registration
- Review your insurance coverage and update for changes to staffing or your risk profile
- Evaluate your processes, systems, and software to remain efficient and cost effective
- The key in this is to update all contracts with your couples and any of your suppliers. The one thing we can all take away from 2020 is the importance of protecting our businesses from sudden changes in cash flow.
- Store your receipts and financial reports clearly marking the year and destroy date
WeddingPro Educator and wedding planner, Leah Weinberg of Color Pop Events, also offered up some sound advice:
Focus on your cash flow for the coming months. Depending on where you are located, weddings may not be happening for another several months, so we need to understand what money is coming in and what money is going out in order to ensure that our businesses can stay afloat. Money is definitely not most people’s favorite topic, but willfully ignoring your income and expenses right now can really get problematic the longer it takes for the wedding industry to rebound.
When it comes to your contracts
2020 has tested most business owners in a lot of ways. But, perhaps one of the more stressful is how it has tested contracts. “COVID-19 has revealed weaknesses in a lot of our service agreements and now is the time to make sure that we are properly protected with any new bookings going forward.” (Leah is also a former lawyer, did you know that?) So, be sure to work with an attorney to review any contracts that you ask clients, contractors, or employees to sign and update them as needed.
When it comes to your marketing strategy
Wedding pros across the country have been asking themselves and their confidants, “How do I even go about marketing my business right now?” And, while the answer is different for everyone, there are a few things that every wedding pro can do to prepare for the upcoming booking season.
- Review your website and make updates to your services, pricing, portfolio, sales copy, and backend (hello, SEO!)
- Update your marketing plan or create one if you haven’t yet
- Refresh your Storefronts on The Knot and WeddingWire with updated images and services (especially if you’ve added intimate weddings or elopements to your offerings)
- Review the numbers behind your website, marketing budgets, and social media accounts
In addition to completing these marketing tasks, WeddingPro Educator Kinsey Roberts of Vista View Events and the She Creates Business podcast, strongly suggests that you do a complete audit on an annual basis (not just in 2020 because of COVID):
Why should you and how will an audit help move your business forward? The answer is pretty simple: when we assess the facts and feelings around key parts of our business it helps inform us as to which areas need improvement and where we’re doing a great job. Without this data, we’re flying blind and leaving money on the table. And, when it comes down to it, marketing is math my friends. Get your data straight when it comes to all of these sections so you can make solid decisions about where to spend or save your marketing dollars and your precious time.
When it comes to your process and client experience
Planning a wedding during COVID-19 is definitely a very different experience than we are all used to. From extended planning periods because of postponements to longer checklists because of the additional steps you need to plan an event that is safe for everyone, what you need to do leading up to the wedding day has shifted (to say the least). And, those changes don’t just impact the work you and your team are doing, they impact the experience your couples are having with you.
WeddingPro Educator and florist, Bron Hansboro, says “It’s important to remember that the emotions you are facing as an event professional, your clients are too. Therefore, it’s important as we approach 2021, that we take into consideration a few ways to improve your overall client experience.” So, he recommends that you:
- Find creative ways to add value to your client experience. Send courtesy emails to see if there is a way that they can be better served. Share meaningful resources about planning during a pandemic and even consider sending a care package to clients that have had to postpone their wedding.
- Share the burden with your clients. Of course, we are all in business to make money but, let’s face it, there’s more to owning a business then just making money. Consider reworking your contract to accommodate circumstances that prior to COVID-19 would have never been a consideration.
- Partner with other vendors to create micro wedding packages that appeal to couples that want to still go through with their wedding in an intimate and safe way. This will add value to your clients by having a one stop shop, as well as create a new revenue stream.
Making sure your business is ready for the rest of the year and set up for success in 2021 will be a project—but absolutely one to prioritize. So, take the time to complete these essential business tasks and work these great tips into your plan to feel confident about all the effort you are putting into your business for the rest of the year and beyond!
Photo Credit: Dasha Petrenko/shutterstock.com