Since launching Bottle Pop Party Company, my event planning business, back in September, I’ve had lots of questions and emails, mostly from people dying to start their own business. People working a job that no longer interested them and wanted out. People with ideas. Their questions ranged from “How did you know you were ready?” to “How much do you charge?” Granted, a lot of these questions were asked of me months ago and I’ve yet to answer them. I’ll tell you why. One…I wanted to give them the attention they deserved and over the past few months, I just haven’t had that opportunity. And two, I needed to see where this business was going. I didn’t think I had ANY answers just yet and I wanted to feel more confident in Bottle Pop before I went running my mouth, ya know? So here we are, I’m here to answer those questions for all you lovelies who asked. I’m sure there are a lot of you out there who may be wondering the same things and wouldn’t think to email someone whose blog they read, so this is for you too.
To make things a little more interesting, I’ve also asked some of my favorite small business owners to help me out. I picked a few really creative people who are in all different stages of business ownership and asked them for their stories too. So today I'll answer questions and then all this week you’ll hear from my fantastic guests too. I think it will be fun…and give you the chance to get the inside scoop on chasing your dreams. So without further ado, I give you…
What was it like to start your own business?
As you all know, I quit working when Gabe came along and I consider myself a stay-at-home-mom. Therefore, there was no day-job to quit. No steady income to lose. Any business I could drum up as an event planner would just be a nice addition to my wallet, we obviously weren’t depending on it to keep food on the table. On one hand, this is really nice because I can move at whatever pace I feel like and not suffer any bad consequences. On the other hand, I have to rely on my own determination to drive myself to make business happen. So when I decided to start Bottle Pop, I was mostly excited. I had, for years, known that I was meant to do something creative and finally put the billions of ideas in my head to use. Of course, I was nervous putting myself out there too. What if I went public with it and it flopped? While not tragic, it would be a blow to my self esteem. So to do it and have people respond in an awesomely favorable way, well it’s been pretty darn sweet.
What have you learned so far?
I’ve learned that people will not bang down my door, wanting my services without me doing something to get them here. I wanted to carefully control the image that my website and social media portrayed so I spent a lot of time on them. But unless you’re out there telling people to look at your social media, then what good is a fancy website?
How have you been promoting yourself?
I suppose the best thing I’ve done so far to intentionally promote myself was to contact a blogger with a large audience (MODGblog.com) and offer my services. It fell into place since I live near her and she’s all about promoting people who do good stuff. In addition to that, I think taking great pictures of the things I’ve done and showing them off is the way to get people interested. Above everything though, is word of mouth. You can’t pay for that kind of advertising. Unfortunately you can’t control it either. I’ve got to tell everyone I meet, ANYWHERE, about my business. You never know who knows somebody who’s cousin’s wife needs an event planner.
What did you have to do to get to the "launch point"?
Like I said, I had been wanting to start my own business for years. My best friend and I would dream up ideas all the time but it never really went farther than picking out a good font for our logo. It was actually my cousin’s wife who inspired me to just freaking do it. She had posted some pictures of a really cute, Hollywood themed party she threw for her daughter and I jokingly said, “we should start a party planning business!” Within minutes, we were emailing back and forth about it, making plans to sit down over a few bottles of wine and see if we could make this happen. Those meetings did happen and those plans were made. But after some health issues, she wasn’t able to continue in our partnership. I decided that I was too far into it, too giddy with plans, to let this dream die. So I said I was going to do it on my own.
Honestly, it was much easier, having someone to dream with...to bounce ideas around, to put money in, everything. But when it’s just you, you get to make all the decisions and you get to take all the credit. It’s good both ways. So I decided that the first thing I needed to do was create a name that hadn’t been taken, claim the website and get it looking good. I wrote an official business plan and researched the heck out of my state’s small business laws/guidelines. I wrote list after list after list. I gave myself a launch date and decided that the main components needed to be in place by then.
How'd you figure out your pricing?
Oy. This is the hard part. If it were up to me, I’d be crafting up stuff all day long for people for basically free. Because I love crafting! It’s fun to me! But luckily, my finance professional husband reminds me to reel it in. Deciding what to charge for your services, if you’re a service-based business, is tricky and will most likely be the part you keep questioning. I use a few different methods when figuring out how much to charge, all of which are explained pretty well here.
I know a lot of planners offer packages, and originally, that’s what I was going to use too. But I very quickly learned that every single event is so different and expectations are all over the place, so that wasn’t going to work. Every single customer of mine gets a custom quote based on their expectations.
And I would be curious - how do you get it all done with Gabe at home during the day?!
I’ve had to alter my own title in my head a bit. I switch back and forth from SAHM to WAHM all the time. If I’m working on an event and I need to be crafting it up, or researching things online, or on the phone with a caterer, I do not let myself feel guilty for not spending that time with Gabe. I consider myself “working”. During those times, he is either napping, watching some toons or playing by himself. I’m lucky that he plays well on his own and will let me work at the kitchen counter while he plays next to me. When it comes to the actual events, most (but not all!) are on the weekends so I’ve relied on John and our parents to help out with watching Gabe. It’s not a big deal at all and hopefully it continues so seamlessly.
So hopefully that was helpful in some small way. Obviously I have so much more to learn myself so I don't have all the answers. But when I lie awake at night, not being able to sleep because I'm thinking of ways to make an event the prettiest thing I can, I know I made the right decision.
Make sure you come back tomorrow for more small biz inspiration! And if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments or email me at ohshannanigans at gmail.com
Keep up with all the pretties on Bottle Pop's Facebook page too!