Market shifts are inevitable. Whether it’s a recession or natural disaster or health crisis, our small businesses will always be tested, it just so happens that this COVID-19 crisis directly impacts the event industry and wedding professionals are being hit extra hard. On March 15th, the CDC recommended cancelling (or hopefully postponing) any gatherings with 50+ attendees for 8 weeks.
All of us in the events industry have been derailed and have likely lost months & months of expected revenue. The one positive about this is that we have a longer “slow season” and more time to bolster our businesses, work on back-end tasks, and prepare for the upcoming season. In a way, this is a great reality check & opportunity to make sure our businesses are resilient and able to withstand hardships.
I know it’s an incredibly overwhelming time. Don’t allow yourself to get paralyzed by all of the chaos and unknowns related to the Coronavirus pandemic. Now more than ever it’s crucial to stay focused to ensure that your business stays afloat.
With lots of events being rescheduled for late summer & fall, all of our bookings are likely going to be compressed into the end of the year, so it’s crucial that we take care of as many administrative tasks now before we get slammed with a much busier “busy season” than usual.
It can feel like a lot of decisions are being made for us (by clients and government & health officials), but it’s important to remember there are lots of things we can control. Here’s a checklist of some tasks you can do now to ensure that your business stays successful through this shift.
Take Advantage of the Situation:
• Plan and write out your response to any clients who ask to reschedule their wedding or event. Though I would normally recommend strictly following the terms laid out in your contract (“You have a contract for a reason”), this is an incredibly special circumstance. I highly recommend being flexible with your clients and allowing them to reschedule their wedding date without losing their deposit or paying any extra fees. Would you rather lose a booking, turn a client into an enemy, receive terrible reviews, and possible go to court or be accommodating, keep your expected revenue, and blow them away with your great client experience?
• While the stock market is down, now is the perfect time to contribute to your retirement accounts (the deadline for many contributions is 4/15, though that may be extended this year). If you’re financially able to, I highly encourage you to take advantage of the economic situation and max out your Solo 401(k) / invest in the stock market!
• Cull your business expenses. Take a look at your most recent bookkeeping records. What expenses can you eliminate to make your business more lean & self sustaining? Are you subscribed to any services or memberships that you don’t use? Can you avoid purchasing any supplies or equipment you won’t be needing for a while?
• During your office hours, turn off the news, log out of social media, silence your phone, or do whatever you have to to keep your mind focused on the task at hand and stay in a “business as usual” mindset.
• Stay healthy! If you’re having trouble sleeping at night because your mind is racing, I love listening to sleep stories or guided meditations from the Calm app. Take your vitamins and consider adding more Vitamin C, echinacea, elderberry, turmeric, ginger, or reishi to your diet. This goes without staying but please adhere to all health official’s recommendations and stay away from others as much as possible.
• Make sure your contracts are up to date and legally sound. Add/modify any clauses that need changing, especially cancellation, rescheduling, and Force Majure clauses. Make sure all contact information is up to date. Create new contracts for any new offerings and delete any contracts for services you no longer offer. (Archive all old contracts just in case.)
• Update your workflows. Create detailed descriptions for every step of every process in your business so you can outsource to an assistant in the event that you get sick, hospitalized, quarantined, or don’t have the ability to work.
• Use this time to read any business books or complete any online courses you’ve been meaning to.
• Network and connect with industry peers that you didn’t have time for during “busy season”. Many networking groups are switching to Zoom calls or virtual meetings so now there’s no excuse for not attending!
Get All of Your Small Business Tasks Taken Care Of:
• Take this time reflect upon last year’s goals & set new goals for 2020.
• If you haven’t already, prepare & file your taxes:
– Box up/scan all 2019 receipts & create a new box for 2020 receipts.
– Finish up/proofread 2019 bookkeeping records.
– Finish up mileage records for 2019. Start a new log for 2020.
• Take new headshots or stock photos for your business and plan out your content calendar for the year.
• Update packages – consider raising your prices, adjust your package structure to accommodate any common requests/trends you’ve been seeing. Create new packages for any new offerings + archive any old offerings.
• Backup & create an organized archive for all past documents – past client galleries, past contracts, past invoices, obsolete templates, etc.
• Backup & delete all unused files from your phone.
• Run a Time Machine backup of your computer, back up all of your blog files, and backup any important text/information/copy from “rented” sites (sites you don’t control or have autonomy over such as: Instagram captions; Facebook posts; reviews on The Knot, WeddingWire, Google, etc.) or any other valuable content you could lose.
• Uninstall any phone apps you infrequently use.
• Delete unused/temporary files from your computer (ex: CleanMyMac 3 – system junk, log files, caches, temporary files, mail attachments, etc).
• Update/change passwords, especially for high-risk sites.
And some extra tasks for photographers & videographers:
• Clean, organize, and sanitize all of your equipment. (Viruses hang around longer on hard surfaces like plastics.) Clean all camera sensors. Since you probably don’t have any shoots coming up for a while, now is a good time to send any equipment to get serviced or repaired.
• Make sure all equipment is labeled (with your name/contact information), especially any new equipment.
• Take inventory of your “arsenal.” Upgrade any equipment that needs it. Purchase any new equipment you’ve been needing.
• Take a look at your upcoming 2020 jobs. Make sure all tasks & workflows for each client are scheduled and on track.
• Update website – change any copy that needs updating, change pricing/upload new package PDFs, add new “best of 2019” photos, remove any “less favorite” photos.
• Update photos on online storefronts such as The Knot, WeddingWire, Yelp, Google Maps, etc.
• Send images to your favorite vendors you worked with throughout the past year so they can cross-promote you during their booking season.
• Encourage clients to place their album orders, if they haven’t already, so you can finish their design process before busy season resumes.
And finally… REST.
If you’re a self-admitted workaholic like me, you feel this weird sense of “guilt” when you’re not working or being productive, but it’s so important to also take some time to REST, charge up your “batteries”, and prep yourself mentally and physically for busy season. (Pro Tip: When I think of time off as “charging my batteries”, it feels more in line with how I prep my gear for a shoot, so I feel less guilty about it and it just feels like crossing off an important step on my To Do List!)