Ep. 43: How to Grow Your Event Planning Business at Your Own Speed, with Betsy McKay

November 9, 2021

Have you ever been to an amazing wedding, party or celebration and thought ‘damn, I can’t imagine what it took to bring this all together?’! Well, today, you get all the inside scoop on event planning and building a brand that allows you to plan and execute a range of celebrations. I am so excited to have Betsy McKay, founder of Salt events, on the show today telling me all about her experiences and tips on how she built her brand.

Betsy has a super interesting background, from being an executive assistant, to the director of admissions. She found that many of these roles involved event planning and that she was REALLY good at it. She talks to me about how she juggles both a full time job during the day and Salt as it continues to grow — time management is KEY for her. We then go into how COVID has impacted their industry and what she’s learned from others as she is navigating the craziness. Betsy then tells me what her schedule looks like with work and coordinating her kids schedules. We finish off with my favorite part of the discussion — setting boundaries with clients. She dives right into the mistakes she’s made before and how she has had to set rules for herself and how/when to respond.

Betsy was such an easy person to talk to and it was so great listening to how someone can build a service career from something they love and are good at. Make sure to check out her site, and socials – – and if you are in the Memphis area, be sure to reach out for all of your event planning needs!

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43. How to Grow Your Event Planning Business at Your Own Speed, with Betsy McKay

Have you ever been to an amazing wedding, party or celebration and thought ‘damn, I can’t imagine what it took to bring this all together?’! Well, today, you get all the inside scoop on event planning and building a brand that allows you to plan and execute a range of celebrations.

Full Transcript:

Dana: Are you dying at the thought of missing a single one of your baby’s first would have no idea how you’d give up the security that your nine to five job brings. My name is Dana Graham, and I had no clue how to escape that vicious 40 Hour Workweek cycle either until I did. As the wife of a traveling husband and mom of two tiny humans. I made the terrifying and totally bizarre leap from health insurance broker to successful newborn and family photographer, all with the amazing craziness of a two year old and the newborn into but I’m not the only one. I’m so glad you’re joining me as I chat with other moms who took the leap into entrepreneurship and created the ultimate best of both worlds life doing it all amidst the chaos

All right, everybody. Welcome back for another episode of amidst the chaos. I am Dana Graham and I’m here this week with an exciting guest Her name is Betsy and she is here to talk to us all about her journey and entrepreneurship and into her creative space that she lives in and breathes in and does all the things in so Betsy give us kind of a brief overview of what you do and oh, yeah, by the way, welcome.

Besty: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.

Dana: Great. I really am truly so glad you’re here. We’ve been looking for certain industries out there that people are in and certain businesses that people have started that I think appeal to the masses and it’s not something it’s not one off like a one off invention that you’ve made. Or you know, something that’s very specified to the previous experience that you’ve had. Maybe it’s something like it’s like a photographer for me, like so many people are like, Oh, I don’t know what I want to do. I’ll just be a photographer, you know, but you can if you if you learn and have the passion for it and do the education and work really hard, like a lot of people can do that. It’s not something that you need to be, you know, great at math or like have some bizarre skill, you know, and I think that your profession kind of lends itself to that a little bit. And not to say that it’s not hard work, but just that I think it’s appealing to a lot of people in a situation where they may be trying to escape a nine to five and to do something a little bit more creative.

Besty: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. So I love my job as an event planner, and after college kind of dabbled in a whole lot of different things like so many of us do. A lot of it was corporate. I work as an incoming wire operator at a financial firm. I’ve been a sales assistant director of admissions at a Catholic school. So I kind of dabbled in working for other people with that whole very strict, nine to five micromanage mentality and just kind of found it all to be really mundane and you know, just hated waking up in the morning having to pull myself out of bed to go and work for somebody else. And it just wasn’t really fulfilling and satisfying. So, um, and uh, in around 2012 I decided to really think about what do I like to do what am I good at and discovered you know that a lot of my past jobs had some things in common, like, surrounding event planning. Like when I was director of admissions, I would plan open houses and recruitment events for families. Back to the financial firm days. I would play in like conferences to talk about new stocks. So those were kind of the things that I gravitated towards and would really like go above and beyond on even though that wasn’t like my main you know, job, but I’ve always I grew up in a loving family that just loved to entertain every birthday was celebrated even the dogs. So I just grew up around parties and celebrations and so I had the unique opportunity to just kind of navigate starting an LLC and starting the business and here I am 10 years later.

Dana: Oh, amazing. So yeah, I think it’s just so interesting because, you know, this is something that I think is important for people to realize that is a profession out there because if you’re not in the space where you’re around a lot of events or you’re in that industry or that it’s not that season of your life, like if you’re just getting married or just got engaged, you know that there are event planners out there, that is something that you know, but but if you’re not in that headspace, you don’t realize that like hey maybe you have been good at something like this your whole life and you are just not realizing like that’s a job you could do that you could make that happen. And I think it’s so cool that you really you know, kind of realize that after all this experience that you’ve had that everything kind of lended itself to starting your own business. So what made you go from having you know, all these different corporate experiences to making that big leap because you made it sound all calm, cool and collective. But that’s a big commitment. That’s a big job.

Besty: No, no, no, for sure. So I’m old enough where I grew up with that mentality, like, you get a job, you stay with that job, you retire there get the whole gold watch all that thing, just because that’s kind of what my parents and grandparents did. But like I said, I realized I can’t do this every day for the rest of my life working for other people. And then a big turning point for me was once my children were of the age to go to daycare. I quickly realized how expensive that was. And I was like, Okay, so I’m not Yeah, I’m not happy personally, you know, doing the whole corporate nine to five micromanagement thing. And then this is not paying our bills. And you know, once as you know, once you’re a mother kind of your your focus shifts to the kids and providing them with the best. And so that was really what, what drove me and a lot of my really good friends joke. They’re like, wow, that’s the look at you, Miss entrepreneur, because in high school, I would have told you, I’m going to be a housewife. I’m gonna have five kids. That’s gonna be my life. And now it’s very, very different.

Dana: But it’s so funny. And I think that’s kind of along the lines of why a lot of the guests on this podcast have started businesses but not only that, it’s not a money factor either. Like you have so much going on in your life that regardless of having the kids but then when the kids come on I think it just it just almost while they bring a lot of chaos. They also bring a lot of clarity of like, what’s important to me, where do I want to be spending these hours of my day? Where do I want to be spending this money? Like, am I doing the right thing for my family? And I think that while again, lots of chaos is brought by the tiny humans, a lot of clarity is brought to so talk to me about how you manage that transition with having kids how many kids did you have at the time, like, how did you actually get up and running? Did you work both jobs like what did that look like in a really tangible way?

Besty: Right, so it was 2012 when I started my business and my kids were around two and three at the time, they’re 18 months apart, which added to the chaos. I feel like yeah, I didn’t I did not know my name until they’re about four years old. But at the time, I was working at the Catholic school in admissions, and had just started my company like brand new, and then took a different job at a local paper Memphis Business Journal. It is national, it’s a national company to as their corporate planner and I thought, hey, this is perfect. I’m starting an event planning business. Now I’m going to get all this corporate experience, which was great, but the flexibility just wasn’t there. It was, you know, very much eight to five, not a whole lot of creativity due to budget constraints with the types of events we put on. And then having the business on the side. I was working corporate events during the week, and then my events on the weekend and it was just not allowing enough time for the kiddos. So I was approached by a local Memphis entrepreneur, gentleman by the name of Tommy Peters, who’s awesome music lover who owned a venue at the time in Downtown Memphis. And he kind of recruited me to come and work with him and I really didn’t think I was going to take that job. I was you know, very much trying to focus on salt and growing that to be big and only doing that. So I explained to him when I met with them the situation Avenue business, it’s a baby business, but I’m growing it want to do it full time. He was like Well, great. Come on board some of the new space for me, you’re already going to be talking to vendors and clients just you know work on them at the same time. And I was apprehensive about it, but it was seriously the biggest blessing. And so now I’ve had salt for 10 years. I’ve been working at the Qadri building for seven and a half. And it’s really just kind of like the perfect marriage. Qadri is very like I’m working on contracts, giving tours where salt is my creative outlet where I get to you know, work on pretty stationary items and flowers and food and music. So it’s worked out well.

Dana: That’s amazing. I think that having my do want you to speak to us a little bit about having, you know, obviously not all your eggs in one basket, right? You have a full blown full time business that you have started on your own that is your baby and that you’ve grown but like you also get this really cool, you know, kind of side hustle, that’s actually not for yourself, which is amazing. So talk to me about how you manage that on a day. To day like to do less business because I feel like my brain will be going crazy with like, Okay, kids and schedules there and then schedules with managing both of these almost full time jobs. How does that work?

Betsy: Sure, sure. So time management and organization are obviously super important. And I try to kind of like carve out certain parts of my day. Like I know I’m always gonna focus my mornings and afternoons on Cadre doing tours, contracts many things, and then around like lunchtime, I’ll work on salt things, late afternoon, probably salt things, but a lot of times I might be meeting with a vendor, the Qadri building, talking about rental items and you know, linens and lounge furniture. And then in that very same meeting, I can say okay, let’s hop over to this date and talk about this client and their rental needs. So the two really go hand in hand. And then of course, you mentioned the family schedule. That’s a whole nother interesting thing. My boys are right now 11 and 13. And you know, whatever sports season it is that’s what they’re playing. So fortunately a lot I have a lot of family in town and they helped me you know shuffling boys to practices and I’ve to football games tonight. So it’s just a constant like, I’m old school like I do, you know, a Google Calendar, but like I have my planner where I have to write it down and I reference it 20 times a day. I always joke that my day is like very hour by hour. It’s like so scheduled out but that’s just how it has to be and it works.

Dana: No, I appreciate that. And I think it’s really important because I was just talking to somebody the other day about time blocking and that’s generally the system that I’ve used in the past couple years with my kids being so little my husband being gone so much and you have to have some level of flexibility when you’re that much of the only person that’s responsible for your kids so much of the time, right but now looking at it and moving here and the kids going to school and I’ve been definitely like, okay, hour by hour might work better for me now. Like I need a little bit more regimen and I think it’s really important to realize that there’s so many different methods of managing your time out there and to be able to hear stories from people in different phases of their life and realize that hey, like that kind of chapter of what I just went through is kind of closing a little bit and now I’m moving into a different chapter and maybe my schedule and the way my brain works about my calendar needs to change too. And that’s fine. I feel Yeah. are so hard and fast when you know the kind of planner they use and you know how they’re going to organize their time and their schedule and really it doesn’t have to be like that because your life changes and sometimes they organize it needs to to so I it’s so funny because you know the block scheduling and all these things are so trendy, but it’s so refreshing to hear you say like I have to be our by our like rice is how is the only way to function for me. And I think that’s that’s really should be really encouraging for those out there that, you know might schedule their time a little bit differently. Sure. So talk to me about how you actually got up and running and managed to get clients and have a successful business from the get go because you had two little children like how did you do that and run the rest of your life?

Besty: Sure. So it kind of was a gamble to be honest with you. I didn’t really know at the time that was going to take off. I’m like, You know what it either works or it doesn’t I file for the LLC got a bank account up and going and started off really slow, which was actually much needed and probably all I can manage started with like a few family, friends, weddings, a handful of referrals. So you know, in the early stages, it was a slow growth I would say it wasn’t until probably year five that it was like okay, I have stuff all the time. So it was kind of a natural progression, which sometimes I think for me was a blessing because if you start a company and then all of a sudden it just were like super popular. That’s that’s hard to just like yeah, introduce it to your life. So starting off slow was important to me. I unfortunately I always kind of learn under fire a lot of experience with a two by four method. One of the hardest things getting started was like I knew nothing about taxes, filing taxes, any of that stuff so figured out like okay I need to handle paint all that stuff over to a professional. So, you know, through slowly growing, I’ve learned Okay, I need a lawyer. I need a business tax person. And those have been really beneficial tools to me.

Dana: Yeah, I think being able to know your strengths and to be able to back off on the things that are not so strong is really important and, and that’s to something that I’ve talked about with several gas recently is hey, you need to be like even if like for you. You weren’t like Hey, I already have all these clients lined up. I know that we’re going to be hit the ground running. It’s going to be crazy huge to start with even though you didn’t know if that was going to happen or not. And in your case it didn’t for a little while. You still started with getting the LLC up getting your tax. I mean that is so important. And I think people like to skip that step just because they don’t think it’s not necessary. And nowadays you can get paid, you know in the click of three buttons on your iPhone, like it’s not difficult to be able to cash a check anymore and the wrong name and all the things and so I think people just skip it because they can just start a business and especially something that they think is just small and on the side especially if it’s something like consulting so I love that you went ahead and did that first. So talk to me about what you do like a day to day basis. What are some of the things you do because being an event planner, you could obviously it could be corporate events, it could be weddings, it could be like, Where have you kind of thrived? What’s your niche? What do you love to do there? Sure.

Besty: So I really do everything corporate nonprofit. And wedding. I will say the past year and a half has been like 98% Weddings due to COVID because all nonprofit and corporate events were either canceled or postponed. And now since we’ve kind of had the COVID surge back, they’re just not in a place where they feel comfortable. You know, planning things out, which I get but I’m so ready to kind of mix it back up with my wedding events because there’s so so different to plan and the clients are yes, but I love my wedding events because they’re super detailed. Kind of a day in the life of me is you know getting up early, feeding the kids getting them off to school and then coming straight to my office. My office at Qadri is also my office for salt so that works super well having everything in one place. So amazing. Yeah, yeah. So that’s a benefit, but it’s really just phone calls, emails, texts a lot. of the day, also giving tours showing this space, and then a whole lot of like vendor conversations with people for salt clients for events we have coming up or vendors who need to get into the Qadri space to talk about how we’re gonna do the layout. So really a lot of communicating which is good I majored in communications and public relations. So that’s a good thing. So it’s just a really busy day. One thing I do for all of my clients is a really detailed timeline, kind of blow by blow of how their day or their weekend is going to go. And some clients will tell you like I’m a little OCD. It’s very like down to the minute that my fears I’m like, What if I get hit by a train like someone has to pick up this timeline and make it happen? So those timelines take up a lot of time. Sometimes I’ll work on those late at night once the kids have gone to sleep where it’s like quiet and I can hyper focus without like, being interrupted by phone calls and things. That’s kind of a day in the life.

Dana: I think that’s so funny. I don’t know if you noticed, but your own personal scheduling has flowed over into how you schedule for your clients. Very detailed, down to the hour down to a minute. I love that. I think that’s a huge perk of having somebody plan an event is that they probably need to be the one in charge of your schedule. So that’s perfect. So we talked about COVID a little bit how has that affected your business on both sides? Like how have you guys managed that? What has it looked like and are you seeing a crazy boom now that we’re kind of I feel like for months I’ve been saying towards the end of this but right. I don’t know, I think

Besty: yeah, yeah. Well, you know, just like everybody else, it just kind of came out of nowhere. And it had it’s not anything that I’ve dealt with or that older planners I know have dealt with so I really didn’t have anyone to go and call, you know, call on for advice and as a planner, we’re used to having you know, Plans A, B and C It’s like it rains or whatever, but like COVID has made us have to have like Plans A through Z for every scenario that could come up in 2020. Pretty much 70% of clients I would say just pushed their event they postponed it, someone on with events, but instead of doing their big venue or church we did private in home or backyard ceremonies which were actually really lovely and a really nice change that after you’ve done so many of those, you’re like okay, where’s the big party in the band right and right now let’s do this. Right? And so now it’s a really unique spot and that here locally in Memphis COVID is worse than its, you know ever been. But we don’t have any kind of capacity cap or restrictions, which is sort of to me a blessing and a curse. Certainly, like financially and for Sandy reasons. You know, I don’t know how I would have handled another shutdown. Right, then there’s the whole safety side of it. So I kind of let my clients be the guide on what they want to do. You know, as far as like, do you want temperature checks at the door? Do you want your cat guests wearing masks on the dance floor? So I kind of just take it case by case and of course the venue and the size, play a huge part in that. So we’re just having to think about different factors. But right now where we are surprisingly I’ve only had one client with an upcoming event postponed so we are out full swing and I’m rolling. Yeah, we’re doing it.

Dana: Yeah, I think we’re at the point where everybody’s just tired. I mean, everybody’s trying to do the best they could do it everybody. Everybody is so tired. But it is so interesting that I think almost every industry has been impacted in one way or another some it’s been really amazing. Not so much but what it has done I think for everybody is made everybody sit back and look at their client experience and like for you I’m sure your questionnaires have changed of like, okay, like you said, Do you want your temperature checks at the door and I think that it kind of gives us an opportunity now as especially for any any party listening that’s in customer service, client focused business, a business model. You have to be able to work with your clients and give them what they want but also fall within the rules and regulations of wherever you’re living. But it also gives you an opportunity to be like okay, how can I better serve them because they are especially for you, like your clients are? It’s rough. It is rough planning a wedding in 2020 and 2021. With no idea of what’s going to happen like that is some added stress. Planning a wedding is already stressful. That is a lot and I think that it’s so awesome because it really does give vendors the opportunity to sit back and be like, Okay, how can I make this easier on them, which is what we should have been thinking forever and I think I think most people were already thinking that but it gives you a chance especially for you know, somebody like you being in business for a while. It gives you an opportunity to actually you know, sit back and revamp some things and kind of really think about, you know, how can we make this a better and easier experience for you as the client?

Besty: For sure. And it’s kind of COVID has kind of made us ask different questions and think of events in a different way more so you know, liability has always been an issue with events and extra insurance and things like that. But now it’s more of a guest safety thing and just making sure you’re doing the event, you know, still a very fun way but a very safe way so that there aren’t, you know, it’s not a super spreader event after the Yeah, yeah, it’s been it’s been interesting. 2020 was like, rough and for me, you know, so many people, especially people a lot younger than me have so many different streams of revenue, and different jobs. Like I used to be like oh, look at me rule in the world with two jobs. And now I’m like, oh, that’s nothing people have like six and seven, you know, Chinese side hustles so the problem with me was, both of my jobs are in hospitality. Right? So I mean, that was just like dead. So it kind of made me think like, Hmm, do I need a third? A third job, right? But then luckily, when I started thinking that things got a little bit better for a while and now they’re not better health wise, but we’re just rocking and rolling with it.

Dana: Yeah, I know. It’s so hard. To it just so hard. Everything about everything about this whole situation is so hard for everybody. So what are your kids think about your business in general like do they realize like because you go to a job and you’ve done this and they were really little so like, do they realize how cool it is like you’ve started your own business and you have your own company like do they get that yet or no?

Besty: Yeah, they do. They think it’s super cool. In fact, my kids are at different schools now because of their ages. And in first grade where they both went to elementary school, they would have like a mystery guest and so the parent would come and then you know, you would do a big reveal on who the parent was and then they talk about their job. Well, when my oldest was in first grade, I was a mystery guest and they have to ask clues and guess who you are? Well, I brought a cute I brought a DJ with me. And so we kind of had like a DJ dance party and I had these little footballs made because they get on all boys school so they’re all about football, soccer balls, whatever. These little balls made with my you know logo on them and they’re throwing them around the room. And I thought that was the coolest thing. So a lot of times I’ll run into teachers or their friends was like man, do you remember that DJ party that was so cool. Mom of the year that was right, yes. Yeah. Legacy at that school, and now they’re of the age where they can actually help me on event days like unload boxes. And so we’re approaching like where they can be like, super helpful, but of course they’re like, am I getting paid? I might know that. We’re gonna call this an internship.

Dana: So how do you manage you know, you mentioned they were both in sports. How does it look? Because obviously your weekends sometimes can be taken up by events. So are you do you have to block out your calendar months in advance, like how does this work to be able to schedule because it’s not just the standard nine to five? Which right, again, a blessing and a curse? Here we are back again?

Besty: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. Will so when they were little, it was a little more challenging because their games were on the weekends. Now that they’re older. They’re on weeknights. Like for example, tonight, my youngest has a game at 530 My oldest has a game at 730. So I’ll go to you know the younger ones pick him up then we’ll go to my older sons and a lot of times they’ll have study halls after school so they can stay on campus then already be there. That’s a game changer. You know? That’s crucial. Yeah. When you don’t have to pick them up immediately when school dismisses. And one thing especially now since the majority of my clients are brides, brides book a year, year and a half out. And I’ve gotten to the point in my business because it’s doing so well where I try to only personally work two events a month. So that’s two weekends out of the month, where I’m out of pocket on a Friday night Saturday. And then the other two are just totally focused on them and family stuff. And I have event managers who work with me who can go and do those other events or let’s say I book more than one event on a weekend. They can go and physically be there. I’m still like the lead planner, I guess because I’m a control freak, want to do all the timelines, good all the meetings, all that but by the time event day comes, a lot of the hard work and legwork has been done. So as long as I have one of my trusted event managers there to make sure it’s all happening. I feel comfortable with that.

Dana: And so how does it look now versus at the beginning of your business? Because I know for me, like, I kind of got on this slippery slope where it’s like, oh, it’s a client. So I need to do whatever I need to do to make it happen. Because you do I mean when you first start like you need to make that happen. So was there a time where you recognize that that was maybe just going a little bit too fast? And you needed to kind of have a little bit more control? Or was it kind of like a controlled burn for you? Right where like, it grew at the speed because I mean, again, for me, it was like I just took everything I could and then I was like, Oh my gosh, this got out of control and I need to step back and figure out how I’m going to make it work where I can have a life right I can do what I set out to do by starting this business in the first place, but also have a really successful business.

Besty: Oh, sure. Yeah. In the beginning, it was kind of chaotic, trying to juggle everything and I feel like like you say in the beginning, you’re like, you know, I’m at your beck and call whoever the client is anytime a day. So now I think I’ve kind of taken a little bit more control of my schedule in and I won’t say that I’m perfect at it because one of my problems is even though it’s not really a nine to five job, it’s hospitality. You’re kind of working all kind of crazy hours. I try to do like my phone calls and emails and correspondence in a nine to five window. But a lot of my clients have nine to five jobs that don’t allow them to talk about event you know, they can’t talk about their wedding while they’re at their desk. So they’ll want to text me cake pictures or flower pictures at 10 o’clock at night. And I’ve done a good job lately of saying you know what, let’s see that can wait till the morning. You can just respond later. But every now and then I’m like, you know if the kids are asleep and I’m just watching TV, I might shoot back a text because I know how it is when you’re in planning mode. You just want those answers when you want. So it’s just a very fine line. Still, but I will say being able to schedule everything and not working for a corporate like I can schedule my tours at Cowdray and all of the vendor meetings and everything to where I don’t just have to sit in the office for eight hours waiting for someone to show up or maybe not show up.

Dana: Right. Yeah, that’s amazing. And I think again, finding that line of like, okay, I want to serve my clients well and I want to do the right thing for them and be available to them when I when it’s convenient for them at the same time keeping boundaries on yourself. I I didn’t understand that for a long time. I mean, I heard people say it right. You hear people talk about it, just like we’re having this conversation. Now somebody is gonna listen to this podcast episode. And be like, Yeah, I’m always available like my phone’s always on it has to be and that’s fine. And I and I thought that too. And even when I told myself that I had gotten over that I didn’t like I would still check my email. At night I would still look at my like, because my emails on my phone and I would still be like, have that anxiety before I went to bed. Let me tell you something about moving across the world. You don’t have same schedule as everyone else around you. And so now I go to sleep when it’s 2pm Your time you know what? I’m like, I’m going to bed and so I will not be answering emails or even no, but for my mental health. It’s been amazing because then I can wake up and respond to people while everybody else is asleep. Now, that’s not a solution that most people have. You can’t just like move to Turkey because I know you need to have better time management. That’s not that’s not an option. But what it does prove is that you can just take a step back, I would now feel comfortable taking email off of my phone. Now seeing it in action for the past month and being like okay, like granted, I’m not doing as much client facing work, because I’m not shooting but but it still goes to show that like you can take that time and truly check out and it makes such a big difference.

Besty: Sure, sure. Absolutely. No, I get that and I get I kind of get through waves like I used to be that person where you could always reach me on vacation. And now that I’m getting older I’m a little bit better about being like No, I’m not even responding to text. I’m just, you know, I’m just not I’m really gonna be all in on vacation. I constantly remind myself when I’ll get like all worked up. I’m like, You’re not a brain surgeon. You were planning a party. Yes, you want it to be awesome and amazing for your client but like at the end of the day, you know, no one’s gonna die if you don’t answer the text right now.

Dana: Yes. And I think again, it is just so hard because that fire of like you being so passionate, that’s what makes you go to your job. And so I’m like, if I turn that down, and if I say okay, like chill, it’s gonna be fine like just take a breath. You don’t need to respond right now and everything’s gonna be just fine. Still, to me, I still have a block where I’m like, Nope, I’m not serving them as well as I can. But you can’t just be a slave to your clients. And I think that’s that’s so important for people to realize and it’s one of those things that you just kind of have to know that other people in the industry and other people that are entrepreneurs feel the exact same way and they’re working through it in their own possible way. And it goes in cycles, right? You’re going to feel like this and then you’re going to go on a vacation and you’re gonna be like, No, I could check my email and be fine with that or this time. Absolutely not. And you have to realize that there’s no no, I’ll be all of your business in terms of customer service. You can always change something you can always change how you want to approach it. Just like your calendar, you can change how you want to schedule out your day. It’s the same exact way with customer service. You can absolutely have different timeframes for when you respond and when you don’t and it’d be perfectly fine

Besty: 100% For sure.

Dana: So talk to me about how you are managing all of these things and what your plan is for the next few years with the business do like how busy you are right now. Like what is your How do you feel about your company? Sure.

Besty: I so I like how busy I am, I would say 2019 For Qadri and for salt was like our biggest and busiest year to date. And I kind of loved that crazy gas. I actually like thrive when there’s like no time. So we’re, we’re slowly getting back to that point. But I don’t do well with idle time and feel like I got to make up a project or like for example, I’m going out of town next week. So I’ve done like timelines from now through Christmas because I was like okay, I really want to focus on my trip and not like have to stress about anything. So we’re busy but I’d like to be a tad bit busier like we were pre COVID But long term you know this job is very physical. You know people think oh emails meetings, but like event day is like 12 hours minimum. Yeah, your seat lifting moving chairs and so I realized at some point my body is going to wear out and my children will not want to work with me forever. So long term, I’d love to still plan maybe in a part time capacity or you know, a lower capacity and really have some great event managers who I do trust to kind of just take over. This is funny back in 2012 when I was naming the business, I named it salt because you know salt adds flavor to everything. It makes me think of the beach and the ocean air and so I wanted to be that person that you know makes the event stress free and beautiful and refreshing. And so I was like yeah, we’re gonna name it salt and I’m gonna retire at the beach and just do like a beach wedding. So that’s still my in love.

Dana: Oh, I love that. I love that you had the foresight to be like, Okay, we’re gonna name it something that I’m just putting it out into the universe now that this is happening and this is how it’s gonna go.

Besty: Yeah, it’s really at the beach. Yeah. I love that.

Dana: So in your current role, and how you’re currently doing these different events where you’re going to some of them, but you’re kind of managing everything from the back end for all of these. How did you build that team? How did you even find these trusted event managers that you’re talking about? I can only imagine how hard it was for you to give up any portion of the rain. So talk to me about how you launched into that part of your business.

Betsy: Sure. So fortunately enough, at Cowdray, I had an event manager who I worked with for about six and a half, seven years. And so I was like hey, you know, I definitely trusted her obviously, and was like, would you ever be interested in working some salt events and so she would kind of shadow and work beside me if I had a salt event that was also at Cowdray to the point where then I was like, Okay, now you can go work these other venues to other event managers. I have my former boss owns several restaurants in town. And some of these were his sales people and event managers at those restaurants. So they would come to Qadri from time to time for corporate meetings and I got to know them and see how they worked in his restaurant units to know okay, these people are on top of their game I can trust to work my events. So I really have only like three or four people I call on and if they absolutely can’t work that 100% You know, I’ll try to be there. But yeah, it is definitely hard and sometimes I’ll even go and help with setup and then be like, Okay, well I’m going to leave around 430 or five and let you run with it and then I’m still there when guests are showing up. It’s like really hard for me and they’re like go like go be your kid. So I’m like okay, all right, you got this I’m leaving.

Dana: It is so hard to find like okay, I trust these people. I trust that it’s gonna go fine. I know I’m confident in it, but at the same time you want to be able to live your life as well. And I think, you know, finding that balance is really difficult. So you said that you you know you mentioned that you were looking for some people eventually to have the who you would really trust in what are you thinking for that? And I asked this question because if I was looking to get into the event planning industry that seems like a way I would go first. Like I would try to find an event planner and see if they knew event manager like that sounds like a really good idea to get some experience. So what would be your advice for someone who’s trying to get into the industry? Would it be to pursue something like that, or would you take other steps?

Besty: No. 100% I think one problem with this job is everyone’s like, Oh, you know, party planning. That’s so fun. I want to do that. I can do that. In fact, I’ve had several brides start a company and unfortunately it doesn’t work out because they’re like, oh, wow, like I didn’t know what all was involved. My advice is like don’t although it did work out for me. I would say don’t just jump right into it like do shadow some planners, or even in turn for a venue. The great thing about a venue is you work with every single vendor vendor from catering to photographer to ban so you kind of see all the aspects and a lot of times by working a venue you realize, okay, maybe I don’t want to be the planner, maybe I want to be the florist or maybe I want to you know, own a catering company. So venues are a great place to shadow. And then of course working alongside a really good planner will definitely help you make your decision and get that much needed experience.

Dana: Yeah, I think that’s fantastic advice and it’s so hard to break into an industry especially like this because you know, I think I don’t know about for you but in the photographer world it’s like this buzzword phrases community over competition. How do you feel like the event planning industry is like is a very competitive like between vendors, like how does that play into your life currently, like, Do you have a lot of friends in the industry? Because I think it goes both ways. Like it can be really competitive or people can be really good friends. So how does that look? I guess in Memphis, really?

Betsy: Yeah, yeah, well in Memphis, and I will say my kind of mindset on it has changed over time. I personally like I tell all my clients when we’re planning stuff, Memphis has no shortage of like, just awesome vendors and every category I have a recommended list I give clients from like hair and makeup to abandon DJ. So if they don’t know a vendor, they want you know, I’ve got this great list. I really try to meet with clients to get to know their personality, so I can steer them to say, hey, this photographer you guys off and it would be awesome. But um, oh yeah. Great friends with the vendors. I work with kind of got my foot in the door there at Memphis Business Journal doing those corporate events. So I’ve kind of had long standing relationships with with a lot of them. But one thing I worried about that I no longer do is the Memphis market is very saturated with event planners. And so I used to wonder like, how am I ever going to get bookings? There’s all these people to choose from. And I quickly realized with the planner, it’s all about your report, and the planners personality and the clients personality. Not every planner is going to be perfect for every client. And I’ve even had coffee meetings with clients where I’m like, this event is maybe going in a direction that I don’t love or it’s not my area of expertise. I’m going to refer one or two other people who I think would be great for you to work with. Another unique thing is because I get to work on the venue side of Qadri, I work with all the planners so we’re in you know, we’re in conversations weekly about their events here. So it’s great and every, every one of them brings a little something different to the table. So it’s not like you know, one size fits all.

Dana: Yeah, and I think that’s so important because you have to realize and this is what I’ve told some of the students that I’ve been coding photography students is like you are so different. It doesn’t matter that you edit the same way. It doesn’t matter that your final product looks sort of similar when you’re you know, taking it at a 10,000 foot view. It’s not the same like you are a completely different person, they are looking for someone that’s going to, you know, make a great experience for them all the way around. And I think that everybody has so many different skill sets just because you edit similarly or have similar pricing doesn’t mean that it’s oversaturated and you’re not going to be able to find business. So what would you tell what would you tell somebody that’s in that position where they’re feeling really down on, you know, the saturated industry that they’re in? How would you tell them to kind of get out of that mindset and be confident and realize that they could, they can make it just on their own merit? Oh, sure.

Besty: One thing I like to tell younger people is you’re the only you there’s no one else like you. So you have something to offer totally unique from someone else in your field. So really, it’s just about meeting as many people as you can and finding those people that you gel and mesh with, and then those people are going to once you’ve done a great job for them. refer business to you and give you a good Google review or whatever. So it’s really just getting out there and just trusting the process. And I think a lot of it like comes with age like I just remember starting off like being so insecure, and having these other people that I looked up to thinking oh my gosh, how am I ever going to get there? Or B is well respected and if you work hard, and love what you do it just it just comes

Dana: I love that that’s so amazing. And it is true. Like you do have to love what you’re doing and you have to you have to put your heart and soul into it. And I think if I think that shows, I think you get more clients but the more enthusiastic you are about your business but it has to be genuine. I mean you have to feel that Yes. And you have to you have to truly feel that way and exude it and you know I am definitely one of those that like over shares of like how much I love my job and like I definitely you know, and and that’s annoying to some people but those aren’t the people that I want to be photographing anyway those it’s a two way street. Like just because you obviously need the income and you need the bookings. It doesn’t mean that that’s necessarily the best fit for you. And I think, you know, telling this is another one of those topics where you could tell somebody until that you’re blue in the face, but until you really experienced that and see like, okay, not every client is my client, then right? It’s just hard to get there. Yeah, it’s hard to actually see it.

Betsy: Yeah, it’s hard to actually see it. It’s kind of that saying like, I’m an acquired taste. I’m not for everybody, which everybody you know, that’s why we have certain groups of friends and things like that. So and I’m like really partial and like so proud of my clients always, like brag on them. I’m like, I have the best clients. But I mean, I really, I really feel that not just because they booked me, they’re just really cool people. Right?

Dana: And they probably booked you because they thought you were a really cool person. It’s a two way street. Well, Betsy, thank you so so much for chatting with me today. So tell everybody where they can find you and online. All the places around Memphis all the things?

Betsy: Sure. So salt Memphis is my instagram handle. I try to post events there. Also, you know, Facebook and Twitter. Have a website. I feel like that’s sort of a thing of the past but it’s salt events calm and then I do some features in southern bride magazine. So just look me up.

Dana: I love it. I love it. Well, thank you so so much and I am just honored that you made the time for us today. I started saying this in the beginning. I have been we’ve been looking for an event planner specifically because it was something that I really, really felt was like just really something great in the industry that a lot of people are interested in like you said a ton of your Brian had tried to, to go down that path and I think it’s something that is great to hear from your perspective of you know, the hardships and the benefits of doing what you do. So I really appreciate your insight and thanks again for being here.

Betsy: Yeah, no, I appreciate you having me coming on. And one more thing. I work probably most closely on event day with photographers, you know, I’m sure they capture the shots and everything. So I knew I knew we’d hit it off. So if you ever want to come to Memphis, we would love to have you shoot here.

Dana: I love it. I love that. Well thanks, Betsy. And we will talk to you soon.

Betsy: Okay, thanks so much.

Dana: I am so honored you spent any minutes of your day listening to me babble about living this entrepreneur life amidst the chaos of any moms normal day to day. If you loved what you heard any more snippets of knowledge about this mom Boss Life, head over to our website at amidst the chaos podcast.com For show notes and links to anything mentioned in today’s episode. If you’re really feeling inspired, it will mean the world to me and my family if you take the time to read. Thanks for joining me amidst the chaos

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