Building a business isn’t a matter of setting up a foundation that lasts its lifetime. Instead, it requires constant refinement and optimization to remain competitive in today’s market. So while your “job” may involve producing spectacular events, you must also become savvy in business to sustain a career in an industry with such high standards.
To stay ahead of the curve, you must adopt a growth mindset to avoid stagnation. Stay tuned into your business and look for opportunities to improve in every area. If you’re wondering where to start, here are a few signs your business is calling for an upgrade in 2023.
When things stop flowing
You’ll have seasons when everything runs smoothly, but at a certain point, you’ll likely find that your workflows break down and need some attention. A little TLC goes a long way, but you first need to identify when it’s time for a refresh.
“If you keep having to redo something or get frustrated with your current process, then it's time for an upgrade,” assures Meredith Ryncarz of The Restart Specialist. “When your current system and way of doing things cause frustration for your clients, that indicates something needs to change.”
Keep a finger on the pulse of your clients and team members, as you may notice signs of friction that call for operational updates.
When you’re wasting time
A well-oiled business operates efficiently, so if you notice that you’re unable to meet demands, it’s wise to consider how you’re spending your time. In many cases, you can identify tasks that eat up more time than necessary.
Merri’s Randi Bushell recommends “doing a time study to analyze how your time—your great and most precious resource—is being spent. If you find yourself saying, ‘I'm spending WAY too much time on [x] every week/month,’ or ‘I can't get [x] out to a client or partner because I'm waiting on [y],’ then it's time to re-evaluate what your workflows look like to make the most of your time.”
Fortunately, countless digital tools are available to save time, automate processes, and reclaim your schedule. So, with your time audit in hand, start looking for apps and software that can streamline your operations and reduce your workload.
When you can’t say “yes”
Sometimes, the inability to meet demands is less about efficiency and more about total bandwidth. So if you’ve fine-tuned every corner of your business but still find yourself turning away new clients, it’s time to consider expanding to increase capacity.
“Insufficient staffing to manage your workload can be a significant problem in any business,” says Jacqueline Vizcaino of Tinted Event Design & Planning. “Consider investing in training programs or hiring new staff to ensure you have the right people to move your business forward.”
Hiring more support allows you to stick to what you love without stretching yourself too thin on tasks that don’t fit your skillset. Plus, more hands on deck means you can take on more clients and grow into new markets.
When your clients aren’t a fit
Attracting leads that don’t align with your brand is a sign to revisit your marketing strategy. As market trends change, what has worked for years can start sending the wrong traffic, so it’s worth evaluating your brand messaging and how you’re reaching prospective clients.
“If you don’t like the inquiries you’re getting, and it’s not the type of work you want, it might be time to explore getting inquiries from another avenue, such as Pinterest,” suggests Julianne Smith. “First, think about where the customers you want hang out and then work to put your business there.”
Spend some time performing market research to learn more about your ideal customers and how they interact with similar brands. Then, review what your competitors are doing right (and wrong!), and adjust your marketing approach accordingly.
So, are you convinced you need an upgrade in 2023? Whether you’re pivoting your offerings, entering new markets, or simply needing a refresh, here are a few tips to navigate your business upgrades with ease.
Run a complete business audit
You have to know what’s broken before you can fix it. So before signing up for new software or overhauling your workflows, start shining a light on your business’s gaps.
“Do an inventory of where your business stands at this moment,” recommends Nora Sheils of Rock Paper Coin and Bridal Bliss. “What are your biggest pain points? Where do you feel the most disorganized? Even small red flags can grow into a significant problem (usually when you have the least capacity to handle it!), so it’s best to nip any inefficiencies in the bud.”
If you rely on a team for support, ask for feedback to identify areas for improvement. For instance, does your salesperson have ideas to increase your closing rate? You may not know if a process is flawed if you don’t have your hands in it!
Ask around for help
You can also find support outside of your company, which can provide fresh perspectives on where to take your business. From colleagues to coaches, don’t be afraid to lean on trusted industry peers for advice.
“Another good way to implement new processes and tools is to ask your peers what they are doing or what systems/tools they use for efficiency and why,” says Kariss Farris of Pharris Photography. “Finally, if you need help and have it in your budget, hire an assistant or a coach, and attend a conference or workshop by a vendor/coach that you look up to!”
Remember: Nobody builds a business on their own. There’s no need to make the same mistakes your peers have already made, so look to your network for guidance!
Make time for steady progress
Growth takes time, so accept that significant improvements may not happen immediately. Practice patience with the understanding that the time invested is worth it.
“As you start making changes and improvements, create time to learn new programs and make the changes and test out the improvements,” urges Samantha Leenheer of Samantha Joy Events.
It also helps to break down your updates into digestible action steps. Otherwise, ideas can pile up and become an intimidating to-do list of tasks. “Creating or updating a process feels more overwhelming than it has to be,” affirms Amber Anderson of Refine for Wedding Planners.
Anderson suggests “documenting as you go, then setting aside a couple of hours to review your notes for proper formatting. This is less daunting than sitting down to a blank slate. Take things step by step, and don't feel you need to redo the entire process overnight.”
It’s also wise to set aside time to address business updates rather than trying to fit them into your regular schedule—and inevitably letting them fall to the back burner.
“Mark your calendar once a month or each quarter to make new tweaks, so you don't have a backlog at the end of the year,” Leenheer adds.
So long as you gain momentum in the right direction, you’ll see positive results in due time. It took time to build your business to this point, so allow time to grow it to the next level.
As we progress through 2023, remember that there’s no such thing as a “perfect” company. Every business owner is in the process of learning, adapting, and growing. So avoid holding yourself to unrealistic standards, and give your business the love it deserves!
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.