New Orleans Business Owner: Lessons I've learned as an Entrepreneur



Several months ago my brother moved home (he's lived in Florida for a LONG time). He went to school out there and worked out there and had a life out there, but I'm guessing he thought it was finally time to come home. 

Once he did, he also decided he was going to start his own business. Now, New Orleans has been praised as a great place for entrepreneurs and young people, so this is a great place for him to start. But like so many other people looking to start their own business, he wasn't sure how to get moving or even where to start. So we sat down and made lists and worked on things together.

It's scary starting a new business. It's your own. You're constantly wondering if it will be a success and if the next client will come. You're investing time and money into this huge venture and there are absolutely no guarantees, but you do it anyway.

As entrepreneurs we’re often going after our dreams alone and it’s hard. There are so many ups and downs and it’s so easy to take a look at what other people are doing and wonder...“What is wrong with me? Why is it taking me soooo long? Will I ever be able to get to where I want to be?”

Being a business owner and someone that loves to see people happy and successful, I felt compelled to share some tough lessons because the more honest and open we all are about the reality and truth of entrepreneurship, the more we will empower each other to succeed. 
  1. IT WILL TAKE TIME - This was a big lesson I learned (and am still learning). I remember when I was starting It's Your Time Events, someone said it could take a long time...sometimes it's the 3rd year, and other times it's longer for a business to be successful. That definitely didn't help my fears, but I kept going anyway.

    It's been 3 years and there are still many times when I am not sure if I'm spinning my wheels in place or if I'll ever have another client or if I'm doing the right things. We live in a world where we want to achieve everything now…We want 10,000 subscribers now, 100,000 website visitors now, lots of sales now. And so often we get caught up looking at what other people are doing and then think, “why is it taking me sooooo long???????” But as the quote goes, “Rome wasn't built in a day.”  It takes time (and LOTS of patience, faith and hope!).

    Once I started to be okay with this, it was like a weight had lifted. I stopped beating myself up about how long it was all taking and began to enjoy the journey more, because that’s what it’s all about anyway.  So, if you ever think to yourself, “why is it taking me so long?” just remember that it does take time, stick with it and be okay with it, because it’ll help you to enjoy your life right now more.

    I started It's Your Time Events because it made me happy. For every wedding and couple I worked with, I saw a future....I saw the hope that it represented. I started my business because I wanted to be a part of that and contribute to someone else's day. I started it because my daytime jobs did not meet my social or creative needs. That’s why I started It's Your Time Events. To be a part of helping others' special moments....to ensure they are able to enjoy those moments.
  2. YOU NEED TO BE MENTALLY TOUGH - This follows on nicely from the first lesson I learned because entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint and in order to keep on going, you have to have mental strength – that’s what will get you to the finishing line (not that there’s really a finishing line in business, the line is always moving!).

    This is by far one of the toughest lessons to learn....and toughest hurdles to get over. Success begins with YOU. It’s an inside job and it’s something that you have to do on purpose, day in, day out. Heck yes it's scary! You're trying to achieve something you've never done before and you're doing it primarily on your own.  I know all of the excuses because I've said them to myself... “I don’t have the time, the money, the knowledge, I’m not ready yet etc.”

    I literally had to tell myself that I can do this. I will make it happen. I am going to start my own business. I had to condition myself, and you will have to do the same, to overcome the fear, to tell the excuses to go away and allow myself to step up and be the person I need to be in order to make it happen.

    When the challenges arise, when things go wrong, when everything feels like it’s taking foreverrrr, you have to have the right mindset to be able to deal with it and keep moving FORWARD.  This will be your BIGGEST asset in life, because the right attitude will help you to start manifesting a life and business you love.
  3. IT TAKES MONEY TO MAKE MONEY - This is a lesson I learned early on - to make money, you've got to spend money. Because of my background in communications and marketing, I knew where I wanted to be to reach my audience. However, I also knew it is best to talk to those already in the industry for suggestions. So I figured it all out and with a credit card and a small spending limit a day, I was able to get my business and my offering in front of my audience from day one.

    I think so often we build a website, create a product or service and think that somehow people will discover us, that somehow miraculously we’ll be able to build a big list and make lots of sales. The truth us that if you want to want to grow faster (get more traffic, more subscribers, more sales) you have to pay. And I’m not talking about spending thousands… you can start off with an advertising budget of a couple of dollars a day.
  4. YOU ARE NOT ALONE - Make friends with like-minded people, who get you and want to help you along your journey. This is one of the most valuable things I've ever done, not just in terms of my business, but in terms of my sanity!

    Knowing that I have people I can turn to to talk about my experiences and challenges and get perspective and advice, and people who are there to celebrate with me when I have a win, makes such a huge difference. I would go insane without my business friends, who are actually scattered all over the world.

    Being an entrepreneur can be so lonely, if you let it be… so don’t. Start getting better connected by reaching out to people who you resonate with, send an email, join Facebook groups, go to networking events, attend conferences – hang out where other like-minded people hang out and start building friendships.
  5. BE CONSISTENT & FOCUSED - I actually learned this lesson when I was training for marathons and half marathons and a half ironman in DC. It takes a commitment and it take focus to make it happen.

    If you want to be great at something you have to practice being great at it consistently and you have to stay focused on it. I would have never thought I would be able to run a mile let alone do a half ironman! At one time in my life I would have thought that was impossible. But all that training and commitment and focus, showed me that I am capable of doing things I never thought were possible. Those races showed me what it takes to make big things happen.  

    It’s exactly the same in business, if you want to be great you have to practice being great every day… even when you haven't gotten a client in a month or more, even when you feel like you keep doing things wrong, even when you have hardly any followers/fans/subscribers.

    I get it. It's tough and scary and disheartening and so you want to try every different angle to improve, to make it happen. It’s sooo easy to feel the need to hop around from one idea/strategy, to the next, but this often leads to inconsistency. You start doing one thing and before long, you've moved on to something else… never allowing yourself the chance to become really great at it.

    So instead of doing a million things, just focus on being consistent at one thing (or a few), and then once you’re great, keep up the practice and, if you want, move on to something else too.
  6. KEEP IT SIMPLE - You're starting a business. You have family and friends. You probably have a daytime job which pays the bills. There is a LOT going on in your life. Starting and maintaining a business can quickly become overwhelming and chaotic because there are a million and one things we need to be doing. It’s exhausting. It will be okay though. You can do this!!

    I've found keeping things simple is best. I literally have to list my priorities and focus on one thing at a time and make life easy by planning out the what and the when. I review my priorities and goals and needs and wants and if something doesn't fit within those goals or needs, then it's not on the list. It'll just have to get addressed later. When you know what you need to do and when you need to do it, it makes life so much easier!

    For me, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't carry my Emily Ley Simplified Planner. I literally schedule EVERYTHING: daytime work, It's Your Time Events work, family time, and I try for social and me time, but that doesn't always work out.  I know myself. If I don't keep track of my time and my priorities and what I'm doing or not doing, I will feel overwhelmed...I go insane. I get emotional and stressed and frantic and unable to focus on anything.   When you are intentional about your day and keep things simple and plan things out, I promise, you’ll feel so much happier and make lots more progress.  

Not entirely sure of what your priorities are or what your ultimate goal is? Here's a worksheet to get you rolling. Or we can set up a session to talk. I love coaching others and seeing their dreams come true! 

It's Your Time Events owner, Erin St Pierre England, is now offering Coaching sessions on starting and managing your business. If you have any questions or would like to discuss where you are in your process, we'd love to help! Contact us at Erin@Itsyourtimeevents.com

I can & I will. Watch me make it happen

So many people ask me how I can always be so positive and why I started my business and how I got here and where do I see it going. It's ongoing. And I love it! I love sharing my adventures with people who want to know. So I figured why not do it officially....

This blog is not just about weddings and planning, it's also a part of me and who I am and what I do. So I'm starting to document my adventures as an individual and as an entrepreneur....self-employed....and all the nuts and bolts and feelings and craziness that can go along with it.

We're going to talk about staying positive and things I do to stay on my own path (others can use it as an example, but ultimately we each create our own path). We will cover starting a business in Louisiana (whether it is in the wedding industry or not, we all pretty much start in the same place). And we'll talk about business plans and setting goals and being focused and moving forward. We'll research and review how to go about doing business in New Orleans, and get specific with wedding items like Second Line permits and escorts. With each lesson I learn, I'm going to post the story on here (both for myself and for anyone who needs it).

If you have a particular topic you'd like to hear about, let me know! I'm an open book!

~erin

Getting to Know Your Vendors - Makeup by Meggan LLC

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of working with Meggan Dupre Ory of Makeup by Meggan during the Roques-Robichaux wedding. All of the ladies from Amanda and Chris's big day were absolutely beautiful!  Meggan was also the first vendor to respond to my wanting to do these vendor spotlights. She was so friendly, beautiful inside and out, and the session was so relaxing!

We started the session talking about each other. I loved that Meggan wanted to get to know me too! Getting to know your vendors is so important. If you can't communicate with or work with one of them, it can definitely make the entire process more stressful than it needs to be. It is so good to know I can definitely work with Meggan!

She began working with makeup while studying psychology. She started working for MAC when she was only 19 years old and had absolutely no idea what she was doing. Clearly they saw something in her work because they hired her and she has worked off and on with them over the years. It is through MAC that she went through much of her training. And to better herself, Meggan also went through training at Aveda for Esthetics.

From MAC, Stacy Marks helped get her to where she is today. "With the help of Stacy Marks...the first bride I ever did make up on was one of his bride models. He invited me over, I did her make up, and that was the first time I'd ever done make up on a bride per say. And that's how I got started, and he was like, 'You should do it.'" He helped and inspired her to get where she is today. Nice job Stacy Marks for noticing this gem!

While she recognizes some items and products might be better than others, Meggan doesn't put all her eggs in one basket though. "As far as brands go, I don't believe one brand has it all. So I pull from whatever brand has the texture I'm looking for."

But, she does have some fav tools:
  1. Inglot - Meggan describes this as the following: You know how if you have black eye liner on, a few hours later it can build up in the tear duct area? It can get really messy and nasty looking. Well on your wedding day you don't want that. Inglot looks like tar. And it's not sold anywhere in the US (to our knowledge). This product does not move. 
  2. Eve Pearl - the mother of the bride often worries about wrinkles. A lot of times make up can accentuate those areas. Eve Pearl covers it all really well, is "emollient and moisturizing," and Meggan uses it on all her "mature" ladies.
  3. Fast Response Eye Cream - Meggan puts this on everyone because this de-puffs the eye really well. 
  4. Beauty blender - one of the best inventions ever for makeup! Meggan uses it to apply foundation. 

And if you opened her bag, you might be surprised to find one of her favorite items is a pallet, so she can mix colors! She's a true artist!

Being a true artist, Meggan knows technique is important. A lot of times when brides are looking for a makeup artist, they are looking for someone who can do a better job than they are able to do. To truly be better than the average person or makeup artists you need technique. It's so important to know what is popular for this season and to be able to adjust for who she is working with at the moment. MAC and Bare Essentials trained Meggan in the true techniques makeup artists use, which can set her apart from other makeup artists. And Meggan continues to better herself by following trends and continuing to work with MAC. Every fall, spring, summer and winter she goes through training and watches a lot of youtube and researches through magazines as well. 

And while Meggan doesn't give out much advice, because it's more about guiding and asking questions to discover what clients really want, Meggan does have one tip to give clients - take care of your skin.  She highly recommends, if you're going to have a major event, like getting married, go get a few facials to prep for your big day. Get your skin looking as healthy as possible because that is how much better your makeup will look in the end. 

Makeup By Meggan was real in January 2013! And since then she's been doing weddings, proms formals, ect. Her website will be up shortly but you can find her on facebook. Most recently Meggan's makeup was featured on the cover of and throughout nola wedding guide's Summer Issue. This is by far her proudest moment - having her make up on the cover of a magazine (which is pretty awesome!).

 
More than that, though, it's important to Meggan her clients feel more beautiful and more self confident when they look in the mirror. To do that, is truly a success in her book.  

Meggan has her set rates, seen below. 


This blog was done by It's Your Time Events in an effort to become more of a resource to brides and others looking to have events in New Orleans. If you are interested in having It's Your Time Events plan your big day (or any other event), please email erin@itsyourtimeevents.com or call us at 985-234-9757. 

Why Use a Wedding Coordinator?

You only get one day to make this happen. Having a coordinator can make all the difference in the world. That is why I always recommend having at least a "day of coordinator."

I've heard it said before, weddings are a like a choreographed show or ballet. There are producers (your parents or yourselves), actors (you, your wedding party, and your guests), florists, decorators, videographers and photographers, so many more and there is a director. A wedding coordinator ensures the finished product appears seamless and beautiful to you and to others. But to get this finished product, there is planning and coordination that happens throughout the planning process.

The wedding is broken up into several "acts - planning, rehearsal, make up and pre-ceremony, ceremony, and reception. Within each of these "acts" are scenes being played out. If all the actors and participants are not doing what they are supposed to be doing or where they are supposed to be, unexpected accidents can happen. But with the event coordinator, the event is completely choreographed, so it appears seamless to the outside eye.

Do not be frightened by the words "schedule" and "choreography". I hear it all the time, brides do not want a wedding planner because they just want to "have fun" and do not want to be regimented so much so that they aren't able to have fun and enjoy it. Once you and your wedding coordinator have worked together to place all of the moving pieces and parts in their roles, you can let go and live in the moment. Much like an artist on stage, her dance may be choreographed, but on stage she is able let go and it is beautiful and flows and the director can sit back and watch to cue others in the dance.

It costs money to put on a well choreographed wedding. You have to dress yourself and possibly others. You need a setting/venue. You need to feed yourself and those attending. You need to a photographers and videographers that work best with you. Figuring out who you should use to fill these roles can take a lot of time. Time is valuable. Your director, or wedding coordinator, will work to present you with options and suggestions on how to fill these roles to fit within your budget and to fit your personality.

Thinking about not having a coordinator?
Some couples choose to forgo a day-of coordinator because their reception venue includes a coordinator. Although this may sound similar to a day-of coordinator, beware: It is not exactly the same. It's important that you identify exactly what your needs will be on wedding day and know ahead of time exactly what your venue coordinator is able and willing to do. Keep in mind that they may not be able to call the limo driver who is running late, or assist the groom who can't find his shirt.

If it's cost, reach out anyway. Talk to the coordinators and see who can work with you on your day.

"Day of" Coordination
No matter if people hire me, my first recommendation when planning a wedding is to get a wedding coordinator, even if it's just for the day of the event.

When your day-of coordinator comes on board, she or he will be the new point of contact for your vendors. They will introduce themselves to your vendors and get an idea of what to expect on the wedding day. Also, the coordinator will review your contracts and understand exactly who is doing what and when. She will create your day-of timeline, which will break down all the details regarding arrival times, setup and breakdown. This one is very important: Your coordinator will do a site visit with you, and discuss all of the details you have planned, to get an idea of how you envision the space on your wedding day. The day before your wedding, your coordinator will run your rehearsal, and on your wedding day, she will be there to run the show! For me, it's sometimes a 15-hour day, and we're there to make sure that each hour of your wedding day is worry-free and seamless. Depending on your arrangement with your coordinator, she will pack all of your goodies up at the end of the evening (cake knives, flutes and gifts), distribute the tips, and ensure the hotel has "romanced" your bridal suite, if she was not able to do it herself.

I do want my clients to be aware though of things they shouldn't expect from their coordinator. We coordinate, we aren't there for manual labor. Your vendors have been hired for a reason. We want to use them. If you're expecting more than just coordination you can probably expect more costs.

As solution oriented people, once we are on board we usually want to do any and everything we can to make the last moments of planning a breeze. If you hire your day-of coordinator a month before the wedding and you still do not have major planning details in place, such as a photographer or caterer, you should anticipate an additional planning charge to get these last minute details in place. If your coordinator is gracious enough and does not charge for this additional planning, then consider that when you're tipping on wedding night.

Getting to know Coordinators
When looking for your director, or wedding coordinator, there are several items to consider:
  • are they available for your date?
  • are they flexible with your needs and wants? 
  • how do they communicate with their clients? are they reliable and responsive to your emails, phone calls or in person? 
  • do they have experience with many types of people and places?
  • can they manage a budget? 
  • are they personally going to be at your wedding or are they using a team? (and then ask yourself what do you want - for them to be there or are you okay with the assistant.)
What are you going to do? 
Who is going to be your director on your big day? Can you tell that family member who volunteered that things are not the way you want them? Will your friend who volunteered also enjoy the wedding while she is working to ensure the timeline stays on track? Let your mom, your friend or you family member enjoy your day with you. Hire a coordinator. Let a professional direct your wedding so you and your family and friends can just enjoy the day.

Still not sure if you want or need a coordinator or planner? Take this quiz from About.com.

I don't just say it because I am one  (It's Your Time Events), I say it because I used one (thanks Ms. Cathy with Fleur De Lis Weddings and Events). And I'm not the only one who says it. You can find many other vendors in the industry saying it - a wedding coordinator can help you, guide you and make sure you have the day of your dreams (Cat Guidry, photographer).