Whilst having my morning coffee today it occurred to me that I haven’t actually shared many negative experiences of running a business (and believe me, there have been a fair few!). It’s so easy to focus on all the amazing things but that’s not always relatable is it?
I know when I was in my first 18 months of running my creative business I was literally just winging it.
When I first started my wedding stationery business I had no idea there were Facebook groups for wedding businesses. No idea there were other people like me running a business and that there was so much support out there! To me at that moment, I’d started something because I needed something to do whilst on maternity leave (and then unfortunately not being in a position to go back to the job I loved but that’s a whole other story!). I needed something to give me a purpose other than being a new mum.
I wanted to be creative and even though it started as a hobby, people were paying me to do something I was really enjoying and actually quite good at!
So I did the typical thing of creating a logo and website in that first month with a business name I grew to hate because it just made me feel quite embarrassed when people would ask what my business was at networking events.
No clue about who my ideal client was or having a niche.
Although I came from creative content production roles in my employed career, they all had brand guidelines! So any designs and photography were created to work for each brand and an already existing tareget audience.
I never even considered that I’d need to do this exact same thing for my own business, because it was only me. Why would I need to niche down and have a specific target audience?
This was my biggest mistake (or I should say learning as every ‘mistake’ leads to learning something and helping you uplevel).
I ended up creating a brand that targeted everyone and anyone that was getting married.
Ok so yes I was speaking to brides in my messaging, so that’s halved the population.
But that was it. My target audience, or ideal client back then was brides to be.
But let me ask you something – when I say ‘bride to be’ what kind of person is that? Apart from having that one thing in common that they are obviously getting married, are they all the same person? Are they all the same age? Do they all have the same style of wedding? Do they have the same budget? Are they all having the same flowers and style of dress?
Because just because they are brides to be they are all looking for something different that appeals to them.
So where I was creating designs to suit all styles of weddings and just speaking to all brides. What I was actually doing was giving a confused message about what it was I was offering. I had no niche at all. My prices were also very low because I was charging what I thought was an affordable amount. Based on no research or knowledge apart from what I had paid for our own wedding invites.
This meant I was constantly attracting brides who wanted a discount.
Brides who would ghost me because they were ‘shopping around’.
Brides who wouldn’t remember me because nothing about my branding or messaging back then was recognisable or memorable.
So, what happened?
I invested in joining a wedding business networking group.
I invested in courses to help me understand the essentials of running a business.
I worked on who I WANTED to work with and created a dream client profile so I knew who I was speaking to in my messaging (and no this wasn’t just ‘brides to be’, this bride had a name, an age, a particular career, a personality. She was a ‘real’ person who I could imagine speaking to).
I rebranded with a new business name that I loved and a brand identity design that completely resonated with my new target audience.
I invested in working with a website designer (because back then I didn’t trust myself enough to create my own website that would do my new branding justice).
I created new collections that completely fitted with my new brand and would appeal to my dream client.
I ditched my old branded stationery and collections I’d had printed that didn’t fit with my new brand (and yes, this meant literally wasting hundreds of £s spent on prints BUT it literally served me no purpose and to hold my business back just because ‘I had just spent £600 on my new business cards’ was not a good enough reason to put this rebrand on hold).
Do you know what happened?
I launched my new branding with a proven launch plan.
I built excitement about my new brand.
I showed up with confidence.
Within one week I had received multiple enquiries from brides to be who, guess what, were my dream clients! The first booked with no hesitation after the very first email response and paid in full upfront. The second booked the following week and the third booked the following month when she had set the date for her wedding.
I then went on to continuously attract those dream clients and work on projects that I was so passionate about.
Sure I still got the odd enquiry from someone who couldn’t afford to work with me but that’s normal. Because I had created this strong brand that was working for my business, those few who didn’t convert meant that it was ok. I no longer felt fed up and deflated when that happened because I knew they weren’t the right fit for my brand. That’s ok!
So if you find yourself constantly attracting the wrong clients. Feeling deflated because you keep having to offer discounts to get that booking. Or if you just have no idea how to find out who your ideal/dream client is.
Come along to my free masterclass to help you with this exact topic!
Click below to sign up and get access to the masterclass on who and where your ideal client is.