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Emily Sullivan

Be Brave: How to Take Risks to Build Your Event Business

You can build a better business if you have the backbone and the brains. Here are four tips to make it happen.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “With great risk comes great reward.” This has certainly been true in my business journey.

There was a time when I was a successful makeup artist with young children and the dream of the kind of life that I wanted them to have. I desired control over my own schedule as well as something new to fulfill my aspirations. Changing directions was a huge risk, but it led to a dream career and new opportunities I couldn’t even imagine at the time.

If you want to enjoy “great rewards,” you too will have to step outside your comfort zone towards your next big thing. Here are some ways to take some of the danger out of the process when preparing to take a risk with your events business.

1. Acknowledge that the journey will sometimes be rough.
One of the first things you’ll realize when you set about taking a business risk is that it’s really hard--sometimes for an extended period of time. You’re going to be figuring things out, stretching your income further than you may have had to recently, and investing more of your personal time and energy, so prepare to be in survival mode for a while. While it will feel like you can’t catch up, it does get better as you navigate the new waters day to day.

2. Choose your timing wisely.
No matter how talented, promising or popular you are, if you’re surviving from event to event right now, you cannot afford to take a risk. Booking events just to book events is a recipe for disaster, not success. Address the weaknesses in your current operations before you take on a whole new set of issues that will need your immediate attention. Prepare in advance to scale up or change directions and ensure that you have a strong foundation before embarking on your new venture.

3. Move forward when you are ready.
Even if someone is strongly encouraging you to set off in a new direction without delay, don’t commit until you’re absolutely ready, because you will need all of the personal buy-in you can possibly muster. Wait until you feel the time is right so you have the momentum necessary to see you through the rough days. Think long-term, not overnight success.

4. Have a tribe and stay current.
No business is an island. Seek counsel from wise people. Consult your team, fellow creative professionals with solid track records, and business owners both in and out of the industry who have made similar changes to their own companies in the past.

When you hear advice that you know is solid, take it! Don’t just shrug it off because it doesn’t match your current vision. Hand-pick mentors and sages, and put faith in their guidance.

Calculated risk is the only way to break out of your current orbit and propel your career to new heights. Be smart and courageous, and enjoy the journey!

Emily Sullivan is the owner of Emily Sullivan Events, a full-service wedding planning company based in New Orleans and serving couples everywhere.



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