By Angela Proffitt, an EO Nashville member and creative designer and event producer of Angela Proffitt, LLC
For over a decade, I’ve served clients as a wedding designer and event planner during one of the most important moments of their lives—the beginning of their marriage. I find energy supporting others when it matters most. After successfully operating a small business the same length of time in the service industry, I frequently counsel other entrepreneurs based on my experiences; triumphs and trials, home runs and humbling mistakes.
Now, when I meet with entrepreneurs who are just getting started I always share the following advice:
1) You can keep your day job until your business creates enough income to safely make the leap.
Although I’m a professional in the event and wedding planning industry, this is not where my career started. I started down a pathway towards a stable career with a Bachelor of Science in Human Ecology and an emphasis in psychology and planned to work in mental health facilities. Upon completing an internship during my last semester of college, I realized I was not cut out for the challenge. However, I continued to work in the mental health field for stability and started to plan events for some of my friends. Word of mouth spread over the years and the passion I have flourished.
I worked two jobs (lived two lives) for nine years; one in the event industry and the other in healthcare, until I was faced with an opportunity to choose one. At that point, I leaped out of my comfort zone to leave my stable job. It was frightening, but it was the best decision I ever made. Fortunately, nine years of two incomes improved my transition and prevented my dream from becoming nightmare. However, I often do wonder how much further along I could be if I had only focused on my business 100%. But then remember all the experiences I had and mistakes I learned from that makes me a better business owner today.
Life seems short, but if you have a passion, go for it. Don’t wait; you could be so much happier.
2) Find ways to take advantage of your previous experiences, even if they don’t immediately appear useful.
My background is in psychology, but I’ve used it to appreciate and understand the importance of effective communication in the workplace. I even use a personality test called True Colors. The True Colors assessment is a model for better understanding yourself and others that you come in contact with. True Colors is able to provide one with insights into the different motivations, actions and communication approaches of others. By using True Colors, I am able to know and understand the best way to communicate with my clients and vendors in order to be more successful. I use this methodology on all my clients, teammates, and in every day life to be a better leader.
3) Operate a paperless organization as much as possible and back everything up.
One week before college graduation, and upon completing my psychology rotation to graduate, my computer got a virus and I lost everything. Six months of notes on my experience was gone. I didn’t know to back anything up. I had to stay up three days straight to recreate a project I had been working on for six months in order to graduate on time. From that point forward I made the commitment to never ever be caught in this situation again. I became a tech geek and learned anything I could about backing up documents, pictures, emails, etc up. Little did I know, more than a decade later I would be managing millions of details for others as a profession.
Successfully implementing technology to go paperless may not sound like much of a business strategy, but it is. As an entrepreneur, you have a lot on your plate and the assignments likely start and stop with you. Reduce stress and expenses by going paperless.
I personally use and recommend an array of applications such as Dropbox and Google Drive. I then use these applications to share documents with my clients and team members. And the best part is that the work is all back up in the cloud and can be accessed from anywhere in the world. These application have dramatically decreased the amount of emails and client questions because I allow clients to have access to all of their planning materials.
Every entrepreneur’s situation is different, but I’m quick to share these tips because they’re simple enough that anyone can do them yet they’ll have a big impact on their business right away.