At Two Bright Lights, we can’t help but get excited about smart, savvy business advice. Today, we’re thrilled to share our interview with Michelle Loretta of Sage Wedding Pros! You may have seen her feature on Two Bright Lights several weeks ago, but today we want to introduce you to her and to the amazing work she does to help wedding pros build strong, sustainable businesses!
Introducing Michelle Loretta of Sage Wedding Pros
How did you get started with Sage Wedding Pros?
In 2009, I started writing Sage Wedding Pros blog. Having worked in accounting and sales prior to starting my wedding invitation business, I wanted to share some of the business knowledge I had with other creative professionals. It seemed like the talk would always turn to “dorky business issues” when I’d meet with a wedding pro for coffee and I LOVED that. I wanted more of this conversation. At the time, there wasn’t a lot of concrete information on HOW to do things when running a small business. The goal for Sage Wedding Pros was (and is) to get beyond business theory and give people actual tools to help them build a better business.
The blog picked up traction much quicker than I had expected (thank you, social media!) Soon people were asking me to take the show on the road. I partnered with Kelly Simants, owner of Sweet Pea events, and we started developing the curriculum for The Simple Plan, our business planning workshop. These days I spend most of my time coaching, teaching, and speaking on the business of weddings. I love it!
What is your goal as a company?
Our mission is to help create financially sustainable businesses in the wedding industry. Theory is fantastic. It makes us think differently and it broadens our minds. But, at times, we need to get back to business basics. We need to think about things like branding and niche, hiring strategies and training manuals, cash flow plans and profit & loss statements. This isn’t sexy at ALL. But it’s what business owners need to do in order to have all the pegs in place to be financially sustainable.
What do you offer to wedding professionals?
These days, we’ve expanded the workshop and offer The Simple Plan Exclusive which is our 1-to-1 business planning for wedding pros. This is typically conducted virtually with people worldwide. We see the business plan as a perfect structure to examine all facets of a business: the company vision, the marketing plan, the operational structure, and the financial strategy. A business plan is one big set of goals for your business and it evolves and grows over time. We also consult small business owners on specific projects. My background is finance-related so I tend to do a lot of analyses on business profitability and cash flow. Kelly’s background is in operations so her strength is in helping business owners with hiring and training, systems and processes.
We love how your blog talks about not only the practical side of being a small business owner—marketing, finance, etc—but also about the personal side. What has been the most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur for you? What has been the most challenging?
The most rewarding has also been the most challenging. Being an entrepreneur has given me the flexibility to create my own lifestyle. When my husband and I were married in 2004 we discussed the kind of life we wanted to create for ourselves. In hindsight, this was one of the smartest things we ever did. We decided that we wanted the opportunity to raise our children TOGETHER. And, so we embarked on a life that would allow us to be home with our children – each of us active in their lives. I began my stationery business. And, my husband continued his consulting business. Being entrepreneurs has afforded us this lifestyle. I truly have an equal partner in marriage and family.
While this is rewarding, it is also a challenge. For the first 16 months of my daughter’s life (a few years back) we were her only caretakers and we ran 2-3 businesses. This was an incredible shuffle of schedules and baby passing. Slowly we took on additional help: babysitting and then preschool. But initially we were the only ones caring for our child. It’s what we want. And, it was crazy hard. But, we look back and say, “We were both there!”
Tell us something about yourself that your readers don’t know!
A couple years out of college, while working at Deloitte, I was doing a lot of soul-searching. I wasn’t sure what I wanted out of life, but I knew it was more than auditing for Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP, if you will.) I took all sorts of classes and courses in photography, screen-writing, acting… basically all of those quarter-life crisis explorations. And, I was in a small production of Annie! I played the floozy Lily St. Regis and got to sing, dance, and chomp gum to the song Easy Street – oh, and kidnap Annie – all in a thick New Jersey accent. It was really fun. And, that was the end of my Broadway career.