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sage wedding pros

PHOTOGRAPHERS

The Simple Plan: A Sage Wedding Pros Workshop

05.04.2010

This year I’ve been kind of a junkie. A workshop junkie. But I’ve always been the type to like to get my education on. And now, in the professional world that no longer means midterms and dissertations – but workshops.

And I’d like to give a plug to two very business savvy women in the industry – Kelly Simants and Michelle Loretta, the masterminds behind Sage Wedding Pros, and The Simple Plan.

The Simple Plan by Sage Wedding Pros

Both Kelly and Michelle are owners of their own successful companies in the wedding industry. Kelly Simants is owner of Sweet Pea Events with offices in Dallas and Seattle. Michelle is owner of mmm…paper, specializing in custom crafted wedding stationery from fine papers.

And of the many workshops I’ve been to, The Simple Plan has been amazing in my business life. There are so many things that I hadn’t even considered, and that many don’t consider when they go into business. And specifically in the wedding industry. Sometimes it seems like anyone can set up a website and instantly become a wedding planner, an invitation designer, or photographer. But there is so much more involved and Kelly and Michelle make it seriously pain free to write a business plan. And trust me, the plan becomes a map. And with a map you can know where you’re going!

And if you can’t attend one of their workshops, they also have a 13-Step Business Plan outline available FREE on their website. FREE!

For all of my California friends and colleagues – they are coming to you, NEXT WEEK! They will be in San Francisco May 10-11 and Los Angeles May 12-13.

PHOTOGRAPHERS, RESOURCES

Sharing is Caring: Get your Business in order with The Simple Plan

02.12.2010

I started this whole “Sharing is Caring” series a few weeks ago, simply as a way to share information, and it’s received so much great response, that I’ve decided to make it a regular thang on the blog! Yay!

Earlier this week I attended The Simple Plan hosted by the wonderful and talented Michelle Loretta and Kelly Simants, the brains behind Sage Wedding Pros. I’ve been following the Sage Wedding Pros blog since last summer when a Twitter friend tweeted their link. I hopped on over and saw that they were sharing loads of useful information, targeted at wedding professionals. Perfect! I really got glued when Michelle started stepping through writing a Business Plan.

The Simple Plan Dallas Sage Wedding Pros by Catie Ronquillo

You know, when I think “business plan” I think “corporate”, “scary”, “overwhelming”.  Things that don’t get me excited. However, through the series of posts about how to write a business plan, I saw that it wasn’t such a monster. And yet, even though I downloaded  the 13 Step Writing a Business Plan, I couldn’t get myself to do it.

The Simple Plan Dallas Sage Wedding Pros by Catie Ronquillo
The Simple Plan San Francisco Sage Wedding Pros by Catie Ronquillo
The Simple Plan Dallas Sage Wedding Pros by Catie Ronquillo

So when Kelly told me that they’d be bringing The Simple Plan to Dallas after their first round in Seattle, I knew it was something I’d have to attend. I knew the value of a business plan, and I needed to write one, so why not (in the spirit of living in Texas) Git’er done?!

The Simple Plan Dallas Sage Wedding Pros by Catie Ronquillo

After the first day of activities, Kelly and Michelle asked me for their thoughts. I told them, “It’s a sneaky way of getting us to write a business plan. It didn’t even feel like we were writing one!” Truly, Kelly, Michelle, and their guest speakers, and in Dallas it was Blair deLaubenfels, co-owner of Junebug Weddings and Shannon Streater, CEO of Texas Wedding Guide, know what they are talking about and share their passion for helping others create sustainable business. Because if you are starting a business, don’t you want it to last beyond 2 years? And it’s a fact that most small business doesn’t last past five years.

The Simple Plan Atlanta Sage Wedding Pros by Catie Ronquillo
The Simple Plan Atlanta Sage Wedding Pros by Catie Ronquillo

Take it from me. Kelly and Michelle make writing a business plan in two days not only possible, they make it fun and painless. Seriously. And it’s also a wonderful opportunity to meet other like-minded professionals, investing in their business, to get their business on track.

The Simple Plan Dallas Sage Wedding Pros by Catie Ronquillo

Sage Wedding Pros is a consultancy with a mission to create sustainable business in the wedding industry. This February 22-23 (the 23rd is my birthday!) they will be in Atlanta with their business planning workshop, The Simple Plan.  It is an all-encompassing business strategy session where business owners will:

  • Write a mission statement and define a company vision
  • Set short and long term goals
  • Refine their target market and niche
  • Find the pricing sweet-spot
  • Determine how many weddings is needed to be profitable; write a sales plan
  • Examine branding and determine whether their branding projects their vision and values
  • Create a marketing plan, operational plan, and financial plan

It is open to all professionals who do business in the wedding industry: new and experienced, in all segments (photo, video, flowers, planners, etc.)  YOU WILL WALK OUT WITH A BUSINESS PLAN IN HAND, WRITTEN BY YOU.

Michelle Loretta & Kelly Simants, owners of Sage Wedding Pros, strongly believe that a business plan is at the core of business sustainability.  It is the one competitive advantage that successful businesses have over others in their industry.

Their next stops are Washington DC, Los Angeles, and San Francisco! If you have a chance, and want to build a roadmap for your business, be sure to check them out!

The Simple Plan Washington DC Sage Wedding Pros by Catie Ronquillo

Thanks to Jason Huang of Table4Weddings for taking this!

I don’t just believe in what Michelle and Kelly are doing, I whole-heartedly believe in them. One city at a time, they are helping raise the bar of our industry, by helping build sustainabale businesses in the wedding industry..

Stationery and paper goods by Carrie Foiles, owner of The Event Messenger

Florals by Debby Jewesson, owner of Branching Out Events

 

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PERSONAL, PHOTOGRAPHERS

For Each Other

02.09.2010

Last night I was just exhausted. Tired. Wiped out. And it must have shown because Cent looked at me and asked, “Are you okay?”

I was. I was tired. But in a good way.

As I tried to continue through the emails that I had missed during the day, he turned to me and said, “Go get ready for bed.”

And that’s why I love him. He can tell me when to just stop and attend to myself.

So I did.

And when I tried to sneak in a little more laptop time, he just looked at me, and I closed my laptop and headed to bed.

He’s looking out for me.

And I totally slept the best sleep in a while.

Photo by Travis Hoehne

Over the last two days my mind has been spinning from attending The Simple Plan here in Dallas. It is a Business Plan workshop hosted by two of my favorite people who have impacted my business in a huge way, Kelly Simants and Michelle Loretta, the masterminds behind Sage Wedding Pros. If you are a wedding professional, you MUST visit their blog. MUST. Go ahead. If you’re interested in The Simple Plan, be sure to visit Sage Wedding Pros. More about it later this week.

PHOTOGRAPHERS

Sharing is Caring: Networking & Dallas Photog Shootout

02.05.2010

Recently, a fellow Dallas wedding vendor said to me, “You’re a networking dynamo! You’re everywhere and you always know someone.”

Well Internet, I have a confession to make. A year ago, the idea of networking petrified me. Scared the bejeebus (yeah I made up the spelling) out of me. I would have never considered myself anywhere near “dynamo” status.

And it’s really interesting to me because I’ve only been in Dallas for six months. I’ve only been actively meeting people in the wedding industry for about four months. And yet, at nearly every function that I have been to, whether it be a networking group, a luncheon, or workshop, I had already met at least two people that were there previously. Crazy. I just received an email with fellow attendees for the Sage Wedding Pros’ The Simple Plan, and I know five of the attendees already.

Last week, I shared how I used social media to meet people in Dallas while I was still living in California.

Today, I want to share how I got myself off the couch and into the scene. Like I mentioned, the idea of networking has always freaked me out. I’ve never been one to initiate a conversation, although I will gladly chat with whoever speaks to me. So how do you get someone who is shy to push through the fear and start talking to people?

Networking often has this stigma of being almost a sleazy kind of game. People only trying to make as many contacts as possible so that they can get something. I encountered this recently. I went to networking event where another vendor asked what I did, pushed a ton of brochures into my hands, then turned back to her friend and continued chatting. Yeah, I don’t know if I can refer this vendor business, simply because I don’t know anything about the business or the person behind it. Just sayin’. This is the example of what not to do…

My spin on networking is totally about making friends. Because who couldn’t use a few more friends? And when you establish a relationship beyond business, you end up with posse of friends, who you can trust and turn to when you’re in a pinch. Win-win!

Before I jumped whole-heartedly into meeting people, I realized a few things about myself. I’m more comfortable when I’m talking one-on-one or two-on-one. I let my personality shine through best at those times. I’m a good listener, and love listening to people’s stories. I try to offer ideas or encouragement to people whenever possible. I love getting to know people, what they enjoy doing, and what inspired them to start their business. And in most cases, we don’t end up talking about business until the next meeting.

So I’ve been setting up meetings. Either lunch or coffee. Casual. No strings attached. Just to meet and chat. And if we get to business, cool, added bonus.

Are you in a new market and don’t know anyone? Did you just move away from all your networks and need to start a brand new one?

Never fear, here are five tips for meeting and greeting new people:

  • Start following fellow wedding vendors or fellow photographers (if you’re a portrait photog) on Twitter. Follow their feeds and chime in when you think something is interesting, or congratulating them, or whatever. Engage in the conversation.
  • For photographers: Find your local PUG (Pictage User Group), SMUG (SmugMug User Group), or other photography related group. This is a great way to meet other photographers in person. Exchange cards and follow up. Photographers love to socialize!
  • For wedding vendors: Test the waters with a local wedding vendor association, and be sure to bring a friend. Be friendly and ready to meet people. But don’t be so quick to whip out the business card. Get a conversation going first. Then decide if you want to exchange cards. Then follow up and invite the people you connected with to coffee or lunch to chat more.
  • So I was told that I shouldn’t cold email people. But it’s worked for me, so I’m suggesting it anyway. It can be hit or miss, but it doesn’t hurt to try. Make sure you check out their website/blog. Send a quick and friendly email introducing yourself as having just moved to new location X. Invite them to coffee. Thank them for their time.
  • When you do meet up with someone, get to know them as a person, not just as a business. Find out what their needs are and offer to help if you can. Go in with the mindset to offer advice – whether it be how to set up a Facebook fan page, the benefits of using Twitter, a cool WordPress plugin that can save them from 1892834 spam comments – or whatever you can offer.

If you make meeting people about helping others and giving first, it won’t feel like the stereotypical networking. It will be making new friends. Yay!

ATTENTION DALLAS/FORT WORTH PHOTOGRAPHERS: Photog Shootout is going national! The Dallas stop is on Friday, February 26, so mark your calendars. We’ll have a fabulous location, models, and everyone gets to shoot! Want to be in on the details? Join the Dallas Photog GTG group on Facebook!

And because posts are always improved with a photo, check out this delicious idea:

Bakerella Red Velvet Cookie Sandwiches from www.bakerella.com

Red Velvet Cookie Sandwiches! Yum. These were cooked up by Bakerella. Click on the photo to get to the recipe. I so want to make these!

Happy Friday!

what next?

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  3. Subscribe to the new monthly e-newsletter Slice of Photo Cake containing exclusive tips and resources for photographers, from hobbyists to full-timers.  Click here to sign up or leave a comment below.

PERSONAL, PHOTOGRAPHERS

Soul Story featured on Sage Wedding Pros!

10.05.2009

I love the Sage Wedding Pros. Not just because they are totally business savvy and tailor their posts to the wedding industry, but because it’s run by two women who “get” it. They share knowledge freely and are givers. They welcome newcomers to the industry and believe in working together, rather than in fierce competition. Because they’ve been there. They’ve done that. And have lived to tell their stories.

I have to thank Michelle Loretta, owner of Mmm Paper in Seattle and founder of Sage Wedding Pros, (and the power of Twitter) for virtually introducing me to her Sage business partner, Kelly Simants, who owns Sweet Pea Events, and runs her biz out of Dallas. She has been nothing but wonderful in helping me get to know the Dallas wedding industry!

I have the honor of having my “soul story” featured on the Sage Wedding Pros’ blog. Thanks Michelle & Kelly!

Happy Monday!

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