Have you ever been there, hustling so hard that you’re exhausted but telling yourself that when you get to X number of Instagram followers, Y number of bookings a year, published on this blog or win that award, then you’ll finally feel like you’ve “made it” and you can relax a bit? And when that day came, how often was that high short-lived? Today I want to take a look at why this feeling is SO COMMON for so many entrepreneurs. What is success in the wedding industry? Let’s start by taking a look at how success is often perceived in the wedding industry, and then look at how you can define what is success to you.
How The Wedding Industry Defines Success
Look around you and you’re bombarded with messages that seem to show how success another person is within the wedding industry. You know the ones I mean. The social media accounts with thousands, or hundreds of thousands of followers. The photographers posting images from those locations that have been on your bucket list for years that you’d sell your right leg to shoot. Then there are the awards and the publications. Or the industry leaders-turned educators who sell themselves and their successes based on the amount of money they made last year or the number of weddings worked.
I’m not trying to take anything away from these achievements. Whether it’s hitting your first 1k or 100k followers on Insta, that’s a great achievement. Winning an award or getting published is amazing recognition of your work.
The problem is, however, that many of these measurements for success don’t measure how successful a business is in the wedding industry, not really.
The Problems With External Success Markers
Many of the success markers above are commonly used when goal setting in the wedding industry. However, when these goals often come from a place of looking outwards at others within the industry who appear successful and wanting to emulate their success, you’re only seeing a very small part of the story. You compare your whole business only with the external markers of success that you can see from someone else’s business, without really knowing what’s going on behind the scenes.
The Comparison Trap & Pedestal Thinking
When you judge your success by external factors, it’s very easy to fall into the comparison trap. You see what other’s have and what you don’t. And you compare yourself at the start of your journey to those who have often been doing it for many years.
However, there’s a point when inspiration can turn into idolisation. And things can start to get messy. Putting someone on a pedestal means you stop seeing them as a real person who is imperfect and you focus on your idealistic perceptions of them. And the higher you raise them up on their pedestal, the more you notice your own flaws, feel crippled by your shortcomings and fail to see your own path to greatness.
There are so many inspiring people in the wedding industry doing incredible things, so I don’t blame you if you see some of their achievements and you want the same for yourself. But you know yourself how much of the life you share publicly is filtered to show only the good stuff.
So keep reminding yourself that what you see on the outside isn’t the whole story.
What are vanity metrics? They give the impression of success (intentionally or unintentionally) without actually saying anything about how success a particular business is. These are things such as:
- Social media followers
- Destination weddings
To the outside world, these metrics give the impression of being successful. That’s why they are so enticing, and why so many people sell courses promising to share with you their “success strategy” so you can achieve them too. But when you actually think about it, these metrics don’t really have anything to do with how successful or sustainably someone’s business runs.
These are easy goals to set because they have a clear finishing line. You know exactly when you’ve achieved them. Many people believe that when they hit these goals, they will get that success they have been working so hard for. But many people who have hit these goals will also tell you that the feeling on accomplishment is short lived when it doesn’t actually bring the results they were expecting. I’ve heard so many people say that even after they hit their goal of winning an award, getting published or hitting a new benchmark follower number, they don’t suddenly feel successful like they hoped they would and the bookings didn’t suddenly come flying in.
Not even turnover? Surely that’s a sign of a successful business?
Personally, I don’t like using turnover as a way of measuring success, at least when I see people selling courses on having a six or seven-figure business. Don’t get me wrong. It’s definitely an achievement to hit a six or seven figure turnover. But I know people who make that kind of money in their businesses and still struggle to actually bring in a profit and pay themselves. So while those numbers seem impressive at first, they don’t tell the whole story by a long way.
Alternative Measures of Success
Success is different for everyone. For some people it might be growing and scaling a business, hiring a team to allow you to expand, and shooting all around the world. For others it might be earning a full-time salary from working part-time hours so that you have an abundance of free time to spend doing the things outside of work that matter to you. Or perhaps success to you is building a business that allows you to support yourself and also allows you to give back and support causes that are important to you.
That to really understand what your definition of success is, you need to look past these external validators and go deep. What does the best version of your life and your business look like? This might be in one year, in five years, in ten years…
What would bring you the most happiness, joy and fulfilment in your business & your life?
Success & Sustainability
One thing that’s often overlooked in the sprint to be successful in the wedding industry, is how sustainable the business is that you are building. As in, are you building your business in a way that you can sustain, physically, mentally, and financially?
From the outside, a photographer shooting destination elopements around the world can certainly appear successful, but if their business isn’t profitable and their relationships suffer from so much time away from home, then it’s not going to be sustainable in the long-term. Working 100+ weddings a year might look good on paper, but if you’re physically and mentally exhausted all the time, there will be a point where you simply can’t carry on anymore – take it from me personally on this one as I prioritised my business above my health for the first year and a half, and one day my body just said NOPE and I was seriously ill for a few months and unable to work at all.
Burnout is a big issue with business owners across the wedding industry, so if you want to be still in business in five or ten years time, and still loving what you do, you need to build you business today in a way that aligns with your desired lifestyle.
What Does Success Feel Like?
So many small businesses fail, and I don’t believe for many that it’s because they don’t have the skills or talent. I do believe that there is so much focus on external goals as a measure of success, that even when they are achieved, the feeling of success still isn’t there. Because they were chasing the wrong goal.
Success is a feeling, and it should be one that drives you forward and motivates you. You goals should fill you with energy and pull you towards living the successful vision you have for your life.
If getting more Instagram followers doesn’t fill your soul with joy, then it’s probably not really what being success is about for you. So keep digging deeper. Ask yourself, what is it that I want, REALLY?