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Honeymoons Designed — lesson learned, don’t skimp on marketing

Being a one-person operation, how do you juggle it all? I mean we are running a business with all the behind the scenes tasks that come along with being self-employed. We are the face of our business, working directly with clients, potential clients, and peers, and then there is our personal life. I struggle with how to accomplish all of this daily, and I am sure many of you do as well.

Now that things have finally slowed down a little, I’ve been thinking about where my time is being spent. It can get a bit overwhelming at times. I have difficulty just keep up with the requests, consultations, and reservations. With a limited number of hours in the day, something has to get pushed aside, but what? How do you prioritize what is most important, next important, and so on?

So far 2015 has been my best year yet, and I am not complaining. With all of my current reservations (not counting those still in the works), I have met my 2014 total, and for that I am grateful. Being as busy as I was since the New Year, I have come to realize that what I thought were good processes and procedures still need some work. I need to streamline things even more so that I am not wasting time on the little things, and can have more time to focus on my clients, marketing, and running my business.

Since the beginning of the year, to keep up with my workload I have definitely neglected what I consider important items. I have done very little of my documented marketing plan, so in essence I am 5 months behind. I had a great marketing plan with specific tasks for each week that I was to do. It is in a detailed spreadsheet and covers items such as mail, email, blogs, and social media. However, I failed to pre-plan enough. This is the most detailed marketing plan I’ve ever had, so how can that not be enough? Well I should have utilized some of my December slow time to pre-prepare several weeks’ worth of marketing in advance (emails, blog posts, social media posts), so I could do a simple copy and paste, or even schedule to post on specified dates and times. Definitely a lesson learned for going into 2016.

I also struggle with deciding what doesn’t get done during the very busy months. I guess in a round-about way I made that decision. It was marketing, updating my website, updating processes and documents. Were those the correct ones to push aside? I’m not sure, but my gut says probably not. I should have done at least some marketing, whatever minimum I could fit in. That is another lesson learned for 2016. Don’t schedule as much for the first 4 months of the year, and more May – December when things aren’t as busy. I am also considering a very minimal marketing in December as well. With the holidays and pre-bridal show season, it’s a great time to prepare for the fast start of the New Year.

Earlier this week I attended a full day seminar with Alan Berg. He’s a very knowledgeable person and great speaker. His focus is mostly on the wedding market; however, much of what he presents can be applied to any small business. During his session entitled “Are you too busy to be successful?” I heard some very interesting points. One thing that stuck with me was the concept of creating two lists, a “Today List” and a “To-Do List.” Your Today List are things that you must get done “today.” Your To-Do List should be 3 larger items, and a bit more time consuming. You work on those a little each day/week until they are completed. The key with a To-Do list is you do not add any other items until you’ve completed those on the list. This helps to keep you focused and not continually work on the smaller, simpler tasks, but to make some real strides and accomplishments on more difficult goals as well. These can be business goals, personal goals, or whatever you see fit. I like the concept and will be trying it out here soon.

My takeaways preparing for the remainder of this year and 2016 are:

  1. Be prepared, maybe even over prepared to make things as simple as possible when it comes time to do the task,
  2. Simplify as much as possible, and
  3. Be consistent, even if that means cutting back due to time constraints.

Hopefully this sparks some new ideas on ways you can run your business more efficiently and effectively, making for a more successful year.

Stephanie Cannon is the owner of Honeymoons Designed, a home-based agency located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She has been a professional travel consultant since 2006 and specializes in Romance Travel. Her focus is on customizing unique, authentic and unforgettable experiences. Most of her client base consists of couples celebrating a honeymoon, destination wedding, anniversary, or vow renewal. She is a recent Certified Tahiti Specialist and currently enrolled in the CTA program.

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