Congratulations! You’ve decided to make your dream a reality and start a wedding business! With the economy slowly improving and the average cost of a wedding in the US at around $28,000 bucks, now is the time to discontinue frying fish in the kitchen and/or burning beans on the grill. In other words, it’s to claim your piece of that wedding money pie. But before you do, please consider the following:
1.) Protect Your Personal Stuff. The very first step is selecting an appropriate business entity. Most often, the principal consideration will be the level of liability that you are willing to risk. With a sole proprietorship (or partnership when dealing with multiple owners), the business is not distinct from the owner. Losses sustained by the sole proprietorship can be satisfied by the assets of the owner. In other words, creditors can take your stuff, dude. However, other business forms, like the limited liability company (LLC) or the corporation (INC, “the man”), in most instances protect the owners from the debts and liabilities of the business. While the sole proprietorship has certain advantages (taxes are usually lower, not as much red tape), having a ‘corporate veil’ around your personal stuff is often a good bet. This is one of the reasons why the LLC is one of fastest growing business forms in the country.
2.) Protect Your Business Stuff. In an unofficial poll that I just took, many wedding business pros do not have written contracts with their clients, or written agreements with sub-contractors (think assistants, second shooters, etc). This is a no-no. Setting out the terms of your obligations, in writing, to the client (and vice versa), helps reduce conflict (people trying to take your stuff). When playing Monopoly, did you ever get into fights about Free Parking? Like, the other guy thought it was simply a rent-free space, but you were absolutely certain that it comes with $500 (or the monies accumulating from Community Chest). Well, your contract functions like the bottom of the top of the box of Monopoly. It lays out the ground rules for your business relationships.
3.) Protect Your Professional Stuff. With great power comes great responsibility. Depending on where you operate your wedding business, you may be required to maintain professional licenses or certifications, or register with various agencies. Sometimes, the consequence for failing to follow these regulations is a slap on the hand. Sometimes, it’s a hard slap on the hand. Sometimes, the ability to work in your profession may be revoked. For those just starting out, I highly advise visiting a local trade association to get the skinny on the requirements in your hood.
Good luck out there!