I was on my way to building my new business, something that I have long been wanting to do: wedding planning. I would no longer be the wedding reception host, someone helping out in the registration, the bridesmaid, or even the bride, but the coordinator behind someone else’s wedding. However, just when I thought I’ve already got it and my very first client, who also happened to be a good college buddy, and I have already started making some progress, she suddenly called things off. She said she couldn’t refuse her mother who insisted on organizing the whole wedding herself and threatened to disown her if she would not allow her to plan her big day.
At first, I was very sympathetic. After all, her siblings were already married and she’s the youngest child. My feelings of sympathy for her turned to bewilderment then disappointment, however, as reality hit me. I tried not to let disappointment get the better of me. And I think, I somehow succeeded in doing that after a lot of praying. There are lessons to learn, nevertheless, and I’d rather think that God was probably telling me something and I ought to be grateful that things turned out that way instead.
Regarding lessons learned, well, here are some of them. First, to establish a business, one must have clear goals and a strong desire to succeed. After years of just thinking about it, now I’ve finally made a move towards that dream. I have started building my own list of suppliers, website, etc. I am getting more organized now than ever, and I just need to prioritize the right people and stuff. However, with the sudden change in plans, my resolve was challenged, and I had some difficulty seeing past the incident. I guess I simply need to move on from such setbacks, and this would have been easy if I had clear goals and approached this business with 100% determination.
Second, stick to your priorities and learn to distinguish a real client from a potential client (and someone who does not even think that she is the client). As much as I hate to think about it, I can’t help feeling bad sometimes for giving away free hours of consultation when I should be paying more attention to my daughters, attending to house chores, and working on my deadlines both at work and graduate school. I was like a doctor who was on call since I would receive calls on my cell phone on ungodly hours because my supposed client lives in the other part of the globe, not minding the time zone. Now I understand why consultation has a price and why one of my business mentors had to stress that she was giving me f-r-e-e consultation whenever she would give me some tips. Indeed, “time is gold” and I have to stick to my priorities and schedule.
Third, be (more) assertive and learn to separate business from personal matters. Everything has a price and business is a business. “Ask for a down payment and prepare the contract right away before you start working or sharing your creative ideas.” I remember reading that on a wedding planning website, but because the client was one of my close friends in college, I didn’t think I should be so formal about it. I understand that I can’t expect everyone to fulfill an agreement, especially verbal–friend or no friend–but at least it would remind the other party that he/she is bound to a commitment and I mean business.
Fourth, if things don’t turn out well, just take things as it is and charge it to experience without losing your dignity. Heck! She even asked me to receive the money that was supposedly for me to budget and give it personally to her father–with an offer to pay for my transportation expenses–instead of sending the money directly to him.
My husband was outraged when he heard it, and now I can’t believe that I had been so gullible to initially agree to it. I had thought of being good natured about it, without realizing that my former client had gotten so self-absorbed and had seemed to have totally forgotten the meaning of etiquette, not to mention friendship. There was no offer of payment for the hours of consultation she had from me, and she even had the guts to tell me to do things for her after what happened. No, I never even heard her say the magic words please, thank you, and I’m sorry, or even pasensya na (Tagalog), which would have at least appeased my husband and my bruised feelings. I was simply told of the situation and was expected to understand it and let it pass. Period.
Finally, it really pays to have someone who cares for you, fights for you, picks you up when you’ve been trashed (ouch!), and even makes you laugh at your own blunders, like my husband. It also helps to have many advisers and listen not only to them but to your own instincts as well.
I guess that’s all for now. One of these days, I am sure the Lord will bring a delightful client my way who will both help me and my wedding planning business grow; that is, if I am truly meant to have this type of business. For now, I should try not to burn bridges, but be gracious instead. Another friend’s getting married soon, anyway, and I’ll be helping her out with some stuff. Yes, helping out, no charge. ❤