When Disaster Strikes: Is Your Business Prepared?

Talk It Out Tuesday: Coffee Chat

When Disaster Strikes

It is something that none of us want to think about, and the majority of the time don't prepare for... Sometimes, life has a funny way of smacking you upside the head and sending your whole world into a tailspin when you least expect it. Although we personally are never prepared for the emotional toll tragedy can inflict on our psyche, our businesses don't need to suffer. 

Is your business prepared if (heaven forbid) something unforeseeable happens? Learn what steps you can take to help your business stay on track and afloat when you need to pause the career to tend to the personal.

 
When Disaster Strikes
 

Episode 13 Coffee Chat Replay


Episode 13 Podcast

Our coffee chats are now available on iTunes! Listen to the episode by clicking the link below and be sure to subscribe to stay up to date on new episodes.


Links

Here are some apps and resources that helped me through this period. This page contains affiliate links. Rest assured, I only recommend products, resources, and shops that I personally love and that I think you’ll love too! 

Acuity: appointment scheduling app

Some people love calendar apps, others hate them. This will help you set boundaries and stay organized.

Zapier: connecting everything on the back end

If you have a client inquiry come in and you want them to be set up on your email list… it will automatically do this.

Tailwind: Pinterest lifesaver

I can plan out months worth of pins and I don’t have to give Pinterest another thought AND it helped to grow my email list and following.

Amazon Prime: subscribe and save! Try Amazon Prime FREE for 30 days!

If there are things you buy on the regular basis, save yourself from having to leave your house and make that trip to the store for that one item and use Amazon Prime! You get everything at a discount already and you won’t have to remember to do this.

Fantastical: making appointments easier

When Disaster Strikes - Is Your Business Prepared

It replaces my normal calendar on my phone and computers. Instead of having to say 4pm appointment at such and such a place… you can type like a normal person. “Lunch with Crystal and 12pm at Panera.” It will pull all of that information and create an appointment for you. I love it!

Buffer: social media scheduling app

Free! You can prep Instagram posts, helps you with spacing on your posts… even if you don’t have the capacity to write out captions (I never do) at that time in that moment, you can write out the prompt. Type something like “make a plug for the blog post about wedding workflows”. It will then give you a frame of reference for later on.

Dubsado: for the win!

If I didn’t have Dubsado to help me run the back end of my business I very well could’ve lost a couple of clients. Automated emails, invoices, proposals… it does it all! If you have never heard of Dubsado, look it up! Use the coupon code “weddingbosslife”, it gives you 15% off every month. Not a one time thing! Every month you’re getting a discount. Instead of it being a timeframe, like 14 day trial… the free trial is based on the number of clients you put on the system. You get up to three clients free. Hands down, the number one thing that saved my butt!

I wanted to give you a lot of actionable things to help prepare your business for tradgey. 


Transcript

Lauren Dragon-Cook: Hi guys! How is it going? Today we are chatting about prepping your business for the inevitable. Many of you know my father had a heart attack in February. It literally shook my world. He is my rock. He is my person. Before he became my person my grandmother was my person. He is like me but with a penis. When he suffered from a heart attack my business had been functioning as per usual. But literally everything came to a screeching halt. I decided I wanted to have this coffee chat because it is something that is not spoken about a lot within the creative industry.

I actually sat last night and I was trying to find information… but there is nothing out there! Nothing out there to help and prep… its all about saving money and having an emergency fund! Pretend that disaster is happening and prepare for it. Really? That is the advice you are going to give me? I don’t know what the hell I would do if my house flooded. But what would you have done? How do you prep for that? That’s why I wanted to have this conversation.

I wanted to show you what works for me and what I had done prior to my dad having a heart attack. I had to put pause not only on Wedding Boss and on my planning business. I was able to push pause on everything. I’m going to share those little tid bits that helped me.

Nobody is Perfect, Live in the Now

One thing I want to point out to you all and always keep in mind… because I think many of us run a tight ship and many of us treat out businesses as if we were the CEO and that is good! But the one thing you always need to remember regardless of what is going on in your life is… life is dynamic not static. Inevitably change and the unexpected crap storm is going to happen.

Even if you are a perfect angel and you believe in karma… eventually something is going to happen. Shit happens and then something better comes from it. It is almost preparing you for something better. I just want to remind you nobody is perfect and it is okay if you have to make last minute changes or adjustments. You have to go with the flow.

The other thing I want to remind you guys… always focus on where you are currently at. If you start living too much for in the future… I’m going to have 12 weddings by the end of the season or I’m going to make $150,000 by the end of the year… If you start living for the future, you truly get lost. “True happiness is found within the journey, not the destination”. Remember this at all times.

Our businesses and our lives kind of mesh a lot of the times and they should! If you live your life as a complete perfect angel then you are running your business as an a-hole… if they don’t mesh you are going to have chaos! Within your personal and your business! This isn’t to say you can’t set goals… just stay present.

How to Eliminate Chaos and Clutter

Let’s actually dive into what helped me. One of the things I noticed that kept me afloat within the online portion of my business was I made it a really good point to utilize my content planner. It helped me plan out my media strategies and content for the month. Blog post, social media post, live Instagram story ideas… I like to keep it three months out. And what has helped me I had 12 months of posts ready to go. 

If you are thinking to yourself… there is no way in hell I will be able to plan out next week’s post let alone months in advance. Let me stop you there… lets go back. Watch last week’s coffee chat on batching content. I hate this quote BUT… if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Going into anything blind in your business or your life… its going to be a bit of a disaster. If you don’t have any plans for the week… maybe you’ll end up like me and watch too many episodes of Will and Grace. During the work day! Getting nothing accomplished.

Another element that helped me eliminate the chaos and unnecessary clutter was I had eliminated any unnecessary inbox subscriptions. Any newsletters or spam. Get rid of those. One easy way to do that is go to “unrollme.com” and it will find all of your subscriptions and you can choose which ones you want to set aside or archive. That is what I do now! I have on my computer set to flag certain emails based on priority. 

Another thing that helped to eliminate the clutter and sense of overwhelm… was truly to get rid of papers I don’t need anymore. Also, if I know something needs to be filed, I will have a filing pile and so I know where all those important documents are. It is just the little things that will help you in the long run. “Clutter free creative spree”. If you have all this crap just taking up space, how productive can you be?

I store all of my media within a folder in my google drive. What this translates as… if I need something quickly that is not planned out, I can easily grab an image, type what I need to type and it is done. Otherwise I would need to sit back down at my computer and sort through all my images. This has saved me a lot of running around. If you need blog graphics or social media graphics, just gather them all up now. If you are a photographer yourself have different folders… call one engagements, weddings, maternity. If you are a planner categorize it by couples or color themes. Something that works for you in your mind!

Help Yourself

If you are a service based business like I am, you need to truly figure out when you are going to be taking on new client work. What I was able to do on my LDC & Co. website, you can post on your site that you are booked until that date… booked through 2018! Now accepting applications for 2019. That way when someone pops on your website and inquire about your services, they will know you are booked and might want you even more now!

I also made it very clear that I was going to be preoccupied for a bit. I didn’t know how long that was going to be. This wasn’t so much preparing, but now that disaster has struck I needed to pick up the pieces a bit. 

I received a really long long email from one of my planning clients. It was “that” email. Every single question! So that email came in, and instead of worrying myself sick about how I hadn’t gotten back to her or leaving it on my to-do list… I kept those emails flagged so I knew I needed to send them a proper responses whenever I could. Instead of worrying myself sick about it, I just said 

“I’m so sorry I promise I will get back to you as I am able. I have a family emergency. I promise I will get back to you as soon as I can”.

Every single email I had to get to, that’s what I said. I got back to them all within 4 days and some of them even checked back in with me to see how I was doing. Which was super sweet! Don’t be afraid to be open and honest with your clients. If I had just left them in the dark it would’ve worked out differently. If you are not in the mindset to write an email back and answer their questions, tell them you will get back to them ASAP. This gives you some time to mentally prepare.

People can be more understanding than we sometimes expect them to be. It can be hard to not feel like we are put on a pedestal because they are our client and we need to be there for them. But we need to remember they are human too.

If you are a one woman or one man show, something I contemplated when I wasn’t sure how long this emergency would last… if it had lasted longer than it did I was going to hire a short term hire. If it is going to be longer than just a few days, the role that person will fulfill can help you a ton when you actually let them. A social media person… all you need to show them is where your images are and tell them what types of themes you’ve been working on. They can run with it!

Another thing I was really fortunate with and thought about after the fact was… what would I have done if everything had happened in July? Or August? Who are you going to call!? It ain’t Ghostbusters! Who can you rely on and fall back on? Don’t wait until something happens, have someone in the back of your mind. If for some reason if I have to take a leave of absence who can help me. Maybe even put this in your contract.

Get It Right, Get It Tight

Now, this is the “get it right, get it tight” plan. This is a funny name for all the processes you can do. You without even having to think about it go through your work day doing exactly what you know you should be doing, but have you ever taken the time to actually sit and write these steps down?

It is something that would take time to do, but if you start to document every day the tasks you do for your business. Not client work flows, but what do you do day by day. You will value this and it will be so much easier to hand over these instructions to someone that is helping you short term. You need to have something set up so if you are completely MIA you can hand it over to somebody.

You can use this business plan as a reference for your own self to make sure your processes are streamlined. The first step to doing this is just documenting! Write your stuff down! Don’t try to do it all at once though, you will burn yourself out. Build upon it. Spread it out. You are ultimately creating this game plan for yourself.

So what about my emails?! What would I have done if I didn’t have automated responses?! If I didn’t have those emails, I would have to go back in and search. Create a set of templates for yourself. You will save yourself so much time!

Money, Money, Money

At that point I didn’t need to generate a ton of cash. I hadn’t been off the grid for long enough where I didn’t have those resources. I had some money set aside, I’m fortunate for that. But a tool that helped me do that was “Qapital”. Its an app. Any time a set amount of money comes in… a client makes a deposit… any time my account sees there is an amount of X amount of dollars, it takes a certain percentage of that, or rounds it up to the next dollar and put that’s amount in a savings account. You never notice it! You don’t even realize it is gone and then you have this little side account.

But if you need a bit more money to help you get by, think of ways you can do that. If you’re a photographer, maybe do a set of mini sessions… you could do just an entire weekend of mini sessions. If you are a florist or a designer you could do a workshop. Put together a workshop and market the crap out of it, tell your friends, tell your family!

You can always upsell your existing clients on another service. That is probably the easiest and fastest way because you’ve already built a repour with the people who had hired you. Maybe you’ve had people ask you to do things that are not in the realm of your scope and maybe you just let it go… but you can say 

“Hey I noticed you really need a bit more guidance on this… have you ever thought about adding an engagement session on your wedding package?”

Sell them on a service you already offer. These aren’t new concepts, but if something tragic happens then at least you know you can go back to this post and hopefully pull something from this!


A Little Woo Woo

One last thing I want to do is talk about Mercury Retrograde. It will be happening in a couple of days. If you are noticing your clients or you yourself start going kind of crazy and nutty, you know why! As an added… YOU CAN DO THIS! YOU CAN GET THROUGH THIS! I wanted to do a quick card reading.

So Mercury Retrograde has to do with seasonal shifts. Right now the way Mercury is currently lined up, this is what is then called Retrograde. If you have a big decision to make, if you are making a big change in your life… WAIT. This is not the time to make decisions that are heavily waited.

In your head… pick 1, 2, or 3. Don’t change it.

#1 - Words of Abundance

  • You have the ability to instantly manifest words of abundance, choosing positively powerful words. Always describe your own and the worlds’ economic situation in loving and optimistic terms and that is what you attract for yourself and others.

The angels bring you thins card as a teaching tool to increase your flow of abundance, affirmations or phrases that you can repeat to yourself in order to achieve a desired outcome. In truth everything you say is an affirmation of your reality. If you affirm you are having money difficulties, that is what you will receive more of. The angels urge you to affirm only words of abundance. For example, you can post a note with the positive affirmation “I am filled with abundance, every aspect of my life is provided for”. This helps spring your true abundant nature into reality and brings in security and faith. You start to believe that you are abundant through affirming the positive and very soon your life is abundant. When we believe we are abundant we shift our mindset towards more positive and the universe responds in like ways.

#2 - Power of Prayer

  • Give this situation to God and be open and lifting to miracles. Heaven’s unlimited resources, love, and answers are awaiting your prayers. Be sure to act upon the divine goddess/god gives to you in response to your prayers.

This card usually appears when you’ve been worrying and trying to figure out how your situation will be resolved. The angels are guiding you to replace worry with prayer. It doesn’t matter how you pray or what words you use, but only that you do pray and think sincerely from your heart. 

#3 - Obstacles and Blocks are Lifted

  • Congratulations! All your good positive work and personal energy shift have overcome previous obstacles and blocks are lifted away. You will now experience progress and forward movement with your projects. Stay centered in gratitude to assure that your flow of abundance continues.

All your personal work has disentangled you from the snares of fear based blocks. All systems are go and you are on your way. The key now is for you to stay centered in positive energy. Any doubts or worries must be immediately faced and dealt with. Such as giving them to God or just releasing them to be healed. Do not allow your mind to wander to worst case scenarios. Do not manifest those fears into reality. Remember that God (the universe) gave you that spiritual power of creation. Use it to craft your masterpiece that will lead a helpful and inspiring legacy.

That is wrapping up this coffee chat! Next week is outsourcing! We are going to talk about how to outsource your crap for wedding creatives. Thank you so much for joining me! 


Q + A 

Q: Is there a system out there that I can use that will remind me after one year after a session that will remind me to send out an email for a follow up session?

A: Yes. Dubsado. You can have it be part of your automated workflow, you never have to think about it. It can also a year after the wedding it will say “Happy Anniversary” in an email. However tip… make sure the people are still together a year after the wedding. 

 

Q: How the heck do I set up workflows to remind clients down the road?

A: You would set it up for the relative date. Say they have an appointment scheduled for Mach 20th. Within your workflow you would create a “send email” and go six months relative to that. Then your email would go out “Yay! Can’t believe its already been 6 months!”.

 

Q: Is there anything else other than Dubsado to help with my workflow?

A: You can always write it down. Use pen and paper. Add it into your calendar as a reminder… “don’t forget to send so and so an email”. But to be totally honest… even if its on a piece of paper for me it is a 50/50 chance of it happening.


Lauren Dragon-Cook

Wedding Boss Life, 205 Sugar Maple Lane, Spofford, NH, 03462