Having taken a few months off from the wedding industry recently, it’s fascinating to see what’s new, what’s changed – and what hasn’t.
It got me looking further back to all the changes I’ve seen over the years, which of the “latest trends” stayed the distance and which sunk quickly without a trace.
The experts have been predicting the end of vintage styling for at least 3 years now, but couples just keep loving it. While chocolate fountains have lost out to Candy Buffets in the battle to wow those sweet-toothed guests.
There’s an incredible amount of innovation in the wedding industry – who had heard of wedding writers, button bouquets and live streaming a few years ago? But innovation is no guarantee of long term success. And copying someone else’s innovation can be a recipe for failure (how many cupcake businesses have come and gone in the last few years?). On the other hand, ignoring emerging trends can see your business lose it’s way as the wedding industry moves on.
So how do you give your wedding business the best chance of success and become a trendsetter rather than a fad follower?
Make sure your numbers add up
One of the most common mistakes is a simple failure to create a realistic business plan. You must do this before you launch your new business or change your existing business.
Many wedding businesses are constrained by the number of weddings in the local area and the availability of the business owner. Work out how many weddings you would need to service to make a decent profit and judge whether this is realistic. If you need every bride within a 25 mile radius to buy from you, then it’s not a viable business. So, at this stage, curb your natural optimism and don’t forget to take into account the seasonality of the wedding industry.
If you need to invest in new stock, equipment, marketing materials and/or website then understand how long it will take to see a return.
Test the market
If at all possible, test out your idea before you dive in head first. In these days of Facebook and Twitter, you don’t need to spend large sums on a website and advertising before you launch. Whether it’s adding a new service alongside your existing business or keeping the day job going while you get started, get your new idea in front of real brides as soon as you can – waiting until you’re 100% ready often just means that everyone else gets there ahead of you.
Listen to feedback
I’m not talking about the negative “it’ll never work” comments that often come from family and so-called friends when we want to try something different. Ignore that.
But do listen to constructive comments from supportive friends, clients, potential clients and your industry network. They may spot a gap or a flaw in your proposition and let you adjust things before it’s too late.
And once you’ve launched actively seek out feedback from your clients – most will be happy to help you get it right.
Once you’ve started, keep monitoring to check you are on track. Review your business plan against actual results regularly and keep a close eye on the competition. Trends often develop over time but be prepared to pull the plug if it looks like becoming a short-lived fad.