Since very little of the business plan I wrote has actually played out since graduating I was honestly fearful I'd look like a failure in front of the new class of incoming business owners. I literally didn't want to do it. But a fellow graduate
So I did... And it gave me the exact motivation I needed.
There were things said on this alumni panel that I needed to hear from the other grads (most had been graduated for a while- so there was wisdom)... and things that I needed to hear myself say as a reminder that I still wanted to do Miss Party Mom. The past few months were unregrettably all about the kids, but Fall was upon us and it was obvious to me that I'd lost my entrepreneurial eagerness while building sandcastles all summer...
The WEV panel gave me the ability to once again grab hold of some business truths because here is what I realized... NEWSFLASH! The other panel members- they had worked hard for their success- they'd hustled to get to where they were! They hit the pavement, shaking hands and holding babies... Networking the heck out of Santa Barbara until they were able to meet someone would be throw them a bone.
And I had to ask myself... Kenna, have you done this? Have you met anyone outside of your comfort zone? Have you told key players you're even a party planner? When I started pondering these questions- I realized, WOW... I haven't done anything since graduating the program to help secure new clients, other than updating the pricing on my website and hoping people would stumble upon it (which I still hope!) and... wait for it... Complaining about how much I hate networking! I honestly would LOVE to operate like Mindy Weiss on a "clients find me" basis- as I feel that my work speaks for itself and I hate telling strangers how awesome I am...
In a town where I'm new that has about as many seasoned party planners as it has children... I realized that if I want this business to launch here (and not rely on Santa Maria and Los Angeles for parties) then yes, I was going to need what fellow panel-alumni and Santa Barbara photographer, Rachel Thurston panel kept calling, "TRUE GRIT".
True Grit... In non-definition like terms is when you're willing to do anything to make it happen- not giving up- even when you're not getting the results you want. Essentially true grit is pushing through the slow times and doing the things you dislike doing- all for the growth of your business.
I started wondering while Rachel was talking... Do I have true grit? I was on an alumni panel... I should have true grit!?
For me this means meeting people outside of my circle, finding ways to collaborate with other businesses, doing some volunteer work to help me get noticed, figuring out great advertising opportunities, donating to the right fundraisers... Just plain getting out there... and not giving up.
I was taking notes in my head as the other grads spoke... My mind was blown by what they had to say about their success! Scott Linde, creator of Sunpotion told the class, "In my business' infancy- I'd meet people everywhere- in the Vons Grocery store line! Anywhere I could pass out business cards I would. I'd promote my business to anyone who would listen... Because you never know who they might know and how they might be willing to help you..."
GULP. I hadn't even passed out business cards in the children's boutiques on State Street! I'd actually avoided handing people business cards as to not come across as annoying or pushy.
You've got A LOT of work to do.
I must say that since that alumni panel I have been working my butt of networking MPM the most I ever have. Meeting with wedding planners, store owners, well-connected moms... I've met with more people in the last few weeks than I have in my 8 months living in Santa Barbara. I came to the conclusion that if I quit now (out of frustration with not penetrating Santa Barbara) then I won't be able to say I gave it my all. And have I mentioned I'm not a quitter?
The crazy thing is that the more I network, the easier it gets... Which I honestly never thought I'd say. With each contact I make- a little more of the business-Kenna shines threw... She's in there somewhere! It's just getting her to come out and play and stop being that weird creative girl who just wants to sew canopies and play with the hot glue gun...
Here's to all of us solopreneurs, mommypreneurs and just straight entrepreneurs having what it takes: True Grit... May we look back on this time and say, "Damn I worked hard to get to wear I'm at- and I'm proud of myself for it!"
xo Party or Die xo