Hie! My name is Rue, and I am a full-time Event Specialist and Wedding Planner. I wanted to share a little bit about who I am, and I felt I am best understood through this - among a few other articles that I will share with you….
It is said that we spend approximately 30% of our lives sleeping. This means we probably spend just over 50% of our waking hours at work. In my line of work it’s probably over 60%. So if I don’t enjoy what I do, then I am unhappy for almost 60% of my waking hours. For the 10 years that I spent in what we like to call “formal employment” I was restless and unfulfilled at work, and I used to constantly repeat the saying: “Nobody enjoys work. That’s why people have to be paid to do it”.
I am now a full time events consultant, running my own business. I studied Hotel, Catering and Tourism Management at the School of Hospitality and Tourism in Bulawayo, and I also studied marketing with the Institute of Marketing Management. My years of work experience have mostly been in Hotel Operations, Travel and Marketing. Although job satisfaction was minimal for me, my work experience is what uncovered my passion for planning and organising events, especially weddings.
My first job out of college was in Victoria Falls as a functions coordinator, and that is when I decided that I wanted to be a Wedding Planner. After 8 years of working in the hospitality industry, I kick-started my business. In January 2007 I registered my company, ProEvents, and I started baking cakes on a part time basis. In May 2007 I radically left formal employment and began to advertise myself as a wedding planner.
Now if you were living in Zimbabwe in the year 2007, you will remember it was a nightmare year. It had to have been the worst time to resign from a fairly stable job and start a business. How do you run a baking business when you can’t find margarine, eggs, milk, flour and sugar anywhere, and people spend their entire day in either a bank queue or a bread queue? In the last 7 months of 2007, I managed to survive on baking, and I planned my first 2 weddings as a full time wedding planner. I was off to a good start. But I was traumatised by the year 2007, so I went back to formal employment in 2008. Thankfully, I did not give up completely on my passion. I carried on with my business as a part time wedding planner, and in 2012 I suddenly found myself without a job. It was then that I learnt how important it was for me to create my own stability and job security, to stay focused and get to live the life that I want to live.
I have no regrets. I learnt some invaluable lessons from my experience.
It is very important to HAVE A SOLID PLAN, but sometimes, when you have a good business idea, you need to give yourself a kick-start and just do it. We often spend too much time thinking and not enough time acting. I started advertising my baking business to friends, family and companies when I didn’t even have any baking utensils. But when you get that first order, you will find a way to make things happen, and after that there is no turning back.
START SMALL. Resigning from your full time job to start a business is not a universal formula at all. However, if you are going to start a business part time, doing something that you love to do, the long term goal should be to make that passion your full time job. Surveys have shown that as women, we mostly start our own businesses because we want freedom, flexibility and control. So at some stage in your business journey, it will make sense for you take a risk and let go of that “formal” job in order to embrace that freedom.
AS A WOMAN, BE NETWORKED WITH OTHER WOMEN IN BUSINESS. Women make great entrepreneurs. We are physically and mentally wired to be mothers and wives, and to run households. We plan and organise and manage. We multi-task and juggle all aspects of our lives on a daily basis, and that’s what a good entrepreneur needs to be able to do. Building a support network is very important. It keeps you motivated. Get to know other women in business, including your competitors, and share experiences. Join a business networking group where you will benefit from other business people and their areas of expertise. Be well networked because much of your business is likely to come through referrals. Also remember to give back to the community. Find a community project you can be involved in, and donate your expertise.
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. Build your self-confidence daily. When the going gets tough – and it will inevitably get tough, and you feel like giving up, self-help becomes very important. When we are in trouble we often look for support from friends or family. I am fortunate to have a very supportive family, as most of them have had entrepreneurial experiences. However, more often than not, friends and family may discourage you. They are well-meaning, and want what is best for you, but they may be risk averse. So yes, listen to advice, but believe in yourself and make your own decisions. When my self-confidence needs a boost, affirmations come in very handy for me… “I am very good at what I do!”
MAKE MONEY. When you are running a business you need to be profitable. Do not expect to become a millionaire over-night. It’s not likely to happen that way. With many business ideas, the first few years are tough financially. Do not be discouraged. Make sure that you have a proper accounting system in place so that you can monitor and manage your finances. If you find that you are not making any money, you may need to re-look at your product offering, your target market, your costs and your pricing. You may also need to start saying “no” to recurring profitless hard work.
DO SOMETHING THAT YOU LOVE TO DO. When you do something that you are passionate about, you will do it well, you will be energised and motivated, and you will do it well. Of course it’s not always smooth sailing, but it’s easier to persevere and stay focussed when you are spending that 60% of your waking hours doing something that you love to do. I enjoy my work. I am happy and fulfilled for most of my waking hours, I have freedom, flexibility and control, and I know I am doing what I do best.
Written by Ms Rufaro Mushonga, and originally published in The Standard Style Magazine