The last 3 months working with Mary Phan, Very Merry Events has been an amazing and enjoyable experience. She has taught me many lessons that to take back home for my future challenges. (I will buy a good telephone and printer)
Mary came from a interior design background and started her business 5 years ago in San Francisco, Bay Area. Today, she plans wedding that are 75K and up. It truly a once in a lifetime opportunity to be able to work side by side with her.
When Mary threw me a project to design her PORTFOLIO, I almost died – design a book from scratch to print, by a business student with little design skills. I took on the challenge and learn InDesign from scratch, but where from? YouTube. I always tell people you can learn anything YouTube, this still hold truth. YouTube rocks!
Why did you decide to start your own business?
I had always known I would start a business one day, but not sure what. Prior to owning my own business, I worked for a lot of companies; some small start ups to big organizations. By 2008, I had been laid off twice within a short time and wasn’t sure if I could face another turnover. This was the push I needed to start my own business. I had always had dreams of being an event planner and I knew I could really help people and so I pursued my passion. So, with a lot of support and sound advice – I took the leap and that was 5 years ago.
What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting off?
Hmm…not sure if I got any memorable business advice. But I have plenty to give now that I’ve been in business for a while.
What was the most difficult part of starting your business?
Is having the discipline to shut off. When you are passionate about your work, you never mentally shut off, and after years of not knowing when work ends and starts you can burn out pretty quickly. It’s also having a lack of focus at times because there’s only one of you, but as an entrepreneur you wear many hats.
Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running a business?
I’ve learned that it takes an army and a village to become successful. Be kind and respectful and always help others achieve success. For a long time, I felt isolated in my business and that hindered me a bit. I say surround yourself with lots of people that make you laugh, with whom you respect, and can push you along. Don’t treat people like they are your competitors, treat them like they are your friends, create community…You could learn a thing or two from each other and in times of need you’ll have someone to turn to.
Can you name a moment of failure in your business experiences?
I don’t think of anything as a failure because through those lessons, I’ve learned a lot. Failures are good, a pain on the ass, but good for not making those mistakes again.
Can you name your greatest success in your business experiences?
Being in my business for 5 years and looking back and seeing how many lives and people we’ve impacted. In our wedding industry, the joy is seeing it all come together no matter how tough the journey was.
What business books/resources (if any) would you recommend to someone starting a creative business of their own?
– Read Creative, inc by meg Mateo ilasco and joy deranged elect cho
– I would enroll in a tax course and business classes offered through your city/state/college
– Find a lawyer and a good accountant
– Have good insurance
In your opinion, what are the top three things someone should consider before starting their own business?
1. Create a business plan
2) have a business mentor
3) know that the first 5-7 years is the average time a business either makes it or breaks it. There’s so many more, but I will leave that as my top 3.
Getting ready for Mexico… Viva la Mexico!