About Lisa Zaro
How I Became a Successful Small Business Owner and Entrepreneur
After becoming a first-time Mom at age 40 in 2011, the last thing I wanted to do is go back to my office job. That’s all it was to me at the time. A job. A means to pay bills. When Joe and Anthony came into the world, that changed. I didn’t want to leave them and the salary I was making was nowhere near what we would need to cover daycare. I had only done a few ceremonies by the point, so I was nervous about not going back to what many people think is the only way to make a living… work for someone else. At the time, I was a travel agency manager. I felt overworked, underappreciated, I lacked enthusiasm for the position, and my heart was with my family at home.
I started out as a Professional Wedding Officiant. My first wedding ceremony was in 2010. It was nerve-wracking and so exciting! I can’t even begin to tell you how great it felt to marry two people so deeply in love. My first booking = $150. That included the ceremony writing, client meetings, the rehearsal, ceremony and travel. I thought I was making big bucks back then! Now, I am going help you learn from my mistakes.
A peek into my first mistake…
Not valuing my time and the work I was doing. Sure, I thought I was doing better than working at a big box store, or I would have had to put in 10 hours to receive the same amount of money I made in 4, but it wasn’t a fee that could carry me through to full-time.
My goal back then was always to do weddings and events full-time. $150 per event would mean I would have to do 200 per year just to make $30K! Oh, don’t forget that is 400+ bookings just for me because I was including the ceremony and the rehearsal in my fee. Obviously, there aren’t 400 days in a year and I knew I didn’t want to even attempt to work every day of my life and double-up some days. Nope.
So, what did I do?
I quickly changed the financial structure of my business. Now, for the same services, I am charging much more.
I am able to qualify my clients through some of the website tools that are in place already.
I use software to help streamline some of the work that I used to have to do one email, text or calendar event at a time.
I outsource some of the work so that I am not doing all of the things that need to get done.
I have taken our business to another level by adding a variety of packages and service options (intro to premium packages; officiating, photo booths and photography.)
I choose to make time for my family vs. stressing about getting everything done.
I frequently remind myself of why I started in the event business. It’s about enjoying what I do and having time for my family, friends and myself. It’s also about my passion for events – making the best days of our clients’ lives even better! Growing our event business has been very lucrative and has afforded me opportunities to do things with my family that many people don’t have the time to do. It is work, but it is also a stress-relieving job. Imagine if you didn’t have to worry about someone being home when your kids get off of the bus; if a snow day is called or a kid is sick, who will be home with your children; you want to take off the 3rd Saturday in July and the 2nd Friday in August and you are the only one you have to answer to. What do you think your answer is going to be? Well, you can say YES to yourself, right?! There are ways to build your business so that you have time for everything. Prioritizing and planning are just 2 of the key elements to balance.