“When you want something so much, sometimes you must push yourself out of your comfort zone for the sake of your business.”
It’s been an extremely busy few months for owner manager of The Wedding Planners Guild, Yvonne Bennett. As well as being invited to join SparkUp, a business acceleration programme in her home city of Liverpool, the entrepreneur has also been shortlisted for a prestigious business award. In her fifth blog for the IOEE, she tells us all her exciting news.
“Right now there’s a lot going on for The Wedding Planners Guild! Perhaps the most significant piece of news is that I was accepted onto Liverpool Chamber of Commerce’s SparkUp initiative. It’s a 12-week programme for entrepreneurs designed, ultimately, to encourage growth in the local economy and boost the business community. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have been invited onto SparkUp. It’s a real privilege, although I was very nervous during the selection process. I’m a member of the chamber, which is how I heard about SparkUp. I applied and was invited to a selection day during which there were team activities, as well as individual business pitches where we all had to go before a panel. I was on edge from the moment I walked in the door and even worse when I left because I was convinced I’d messed it up. When you want something so much, sometimes you must push yourself out of your comfort zone for the sake of your business. Thank goodness it worked and I got my place.
There are around 40 entrepreneurs on SparkUp and we share co-working space at the Chamber to encourage collaboration. You also get inspirational master-classes, workshops, plus a lot of one-to-one mentoring from leading Liverpudlian entrepreneurs - people who’ve really made a success of their own businesses. I’ve been exposed to a vast network of people I could potentially work with so it’s a fantastic opportunity to access the knowledge and support of a lot of experienced people. As well as master-classes on how to pitch perfectly, I’ve been learning about how to identify the problem in your market then set out to provide the solution. For me, some of the most interesting sessions have been on locating your target audience, defining who they are and how to reach them. The Wedding Planners Guild’s target audience remains the same at its core – aspiring and established wedding planners and hotel staff who would benefit from wedding planning training. However, SparkUp has inspired me to expand my net. When you work on your own it can sometimes be quite isolating so it’s nice to bounce ideas off people. I am now in touch with National Careers Week 2016 who will be running an article about me in their UK-wide publication. It will be a full page spread and the magazine goes out to all schools, colleges and universities in the UK. It’s a huge promotion for me and it will really raise awareness of the possibility of wedding planning as a profession.
My other big news is that I have been shortlisted for a Federation of Small Business award in the Best New Business category, which is just amazing. The awards ceremony is coming up – a black tie event at the Crown Plaza in Liverpool, which I’m really looking forward to because I love a bit of glamour. Whether I walk away with the award or not, it’s amazing just to have gotten this far and for someone to have recognised my hard work.”